The other day at lunch time, I went to the mall near my office – to a jewelry store I frequent. I’ve been going there for about five years or so, and the same salesperson – a woman in her fifties – usually takes care of me. She knows I’m married (as I’ve bought enough stuff there for my wife) and have kids. And while it has never come up in conversation, I know she recognizes I’m ‘different’ – and it has never seemed to bother her in the least.
I went to order my wedding band to match the one I gave my wife for our twentieth anniversary – it’s a special order and I wanted to make sure she like the band before I ordered mine. Barbara (the salesperson) was checking on the availability and and prices and needed to consult with the manager – a woman in her late thirties who also knows me. Their conversation went something like this:
- Barbara : “This is the price we told him a few weeks ago.”
- Manager : “But she knew the price might go up.”
- Barbara : “Remember, he purchase the other band for his wife.”
- Manager : “Did she pick it up yet?”
- Barbara : “Yes, the other week.”
- Manager : “Oh, she did? ” – turns to me – “How did she like it?”
- Me : “My wife loved it. That’s why I’m back to order mine.”
- Manager : “Great!” – to Barbara – “Give it to her for what we originally said.”
My gaze shifted from one to the other – and I watched my gender flip/flop – as they referred to me in their conversation: Barbara referring to me as ‘he/him’ and the manager referring to me as ‘she/her’ – neither fazed by the seeming incongruity of the conversation – neither bothering to ask me ‘which is correct’ or to apologize for using the ‘wrong’ identifier – not that I cared. Each had decided ‘what I was’ and I found it interesting / amusing that the manager continued to address me in the feminine despite Barbara’s use of masculine pronouns and the discussion of my wife. I can only assume that what she ‘saw’ overrode what she heard.
Where others might have been frustrated by the lack of ‘consistency’, I have to say I felt just a small sense of pride at my success in ‘queering’ the binary – presenting as ‘both and neither’ at the same time.
“I love it when a plan comes together.” 🙂