Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

My Photo
Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dude looks like a lady

Lady Looks Like a Dude

Every few years I get mistaken for a man.

As a child I was constantly mistaken for a boy. I fooled myself into thinking it was a gestalt thing: My parents had two older boys, so I suppose the brains of onlookers were driven toward the perception of continuity. (It didn't help that my hair was short and I wore my brothers' hand-me-downs.)

But what do you do when you're mistaken for a man at twenty? The first time it happened during my adult life, I was working as a ride operator at a renaissance fair(e). The ride had a lot of protruding parts that could have caught and ripped long skirts, so I wore the men's uniform: white billowy shirt, knickers, floppy cap. The job was grueling -- no mechanized parts, everything set into motion via man- or womanpower -- so we took frequent rest breaks.

One day I was lying back on a bench near the ride when a man right next to me told his son, "Shhhh, don't disturb him. He's napping. These boys work hard." I also received plenty of "thank you sirs" at the conclusion of the ride. I never corrected anyone because, in a strange and unexpected way, it was fun being in drag.

But the second time it happened -- I was rollerblading dressed shoulder-to-knee in spandex -- was understandably less pleasant. I was actually called a "fag" by a bunch of guys on a park bench. Okay, I get it: I'm flat-chested. And guys nowadays wear their hair long, so my ponytail was no giveaway. But don't hips count for something?

Good grief.

Neither of these experiences, however, compared to Sunday's event. Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that I would be mistaken for a man at nearly 7 months pregnant.

I was waiting my turn in a line of five or six people in an airport shop. The person in front of me paid for his items and turned away. At that point the clerk looked me squarely in the face and said, "Can I help you sir?" There was a 3-second moment of silence during which her face contorted in shock at her mistake. I don't know what tipped her off. My pink blush and lipstick? My big hoop earrings? My purse? My DRESS?

Everyone in line laughed anxiously as I decided how to handle the situation. As usual, I tried to be funny: "Hey, this is a pregnant belly, not a beer belly." Heh heh. She muttered something about my height and quickly gave me my change, hoping I'd get out of there pronto. Mortified, I complied.

As someone who's always considered herself to be fairly androgynous, I've had trouble accepting my pregnancy because it's just so female. Pregnancy brands a woman completely and totally by her sex -- not her gender, her sex. But being branded a man when one is a woman, and a pregnant woman at that, is flat-out alarming. It's like walking around with your name on your shirt and still being called something else. It makes you wonder what it is about you that screams MAN. I realize I'm tall and lanky and don't have much in the upper rack of the dishwasher, but don't a hairless face and arched eyebrows count for anything?

Sigh. Now I know why my parents made me wear a tiny gold bracelet when I was a toddler. And why people put those ridiculous stretchy pink headbands on their female infants. It's not done in an effort to introduce the kid to gender norms before she's even tried solid foods; it's done as a warning to other people: "Don't you dare call my little she a HE."

I wonder if they make those headbands in adult sizes.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mmmm, delicious acorn...


This past weekend my dad came out to visit. He accompanied us to a hospital outside Chicago, where we got to experience the most kick-ass thing imaginable: 3D/4D ultrasound. Okay, maybe it's only kick-ass to a pregnant woman, but it's still cool as hell. Bonus: I got to meet the perfume phenom who set the whole thing up, Parisjasmal (see her blog, Monkeyposh, at right). Since I've used the word "kick-ass" twice already -- you cannot grow up in Detroit in the '70s without "kick-ass" becoming part of your lexicon -- I'll use it again: Parisjasmal is kick-ass. She offered the service (via her kick-ass husband) gratis, and doubled our pleasure by lunching with us afterward. Not only is she kick-ass, she's kind, smart, funny, and almost unbearably cute. How many people eat their pickle with a knife and fork?

Not my fetus, that's for sure. As you can see from the picture above, all objects will likely be delivered from plate (ground, shrub, scalp) to mouth via grubby little fingers.

When my mother-in-law found out we'd had a 3D/4D ultrasound, she said, "Did you cry when you saw her face??" Greg and I were like, Cry? How can you cry in the face of such cool technology?

So, about the technology: just what makes it so kick-ass?

First, you can see contours and actually get an idea what the baby will look like. Here were my thoughts, in rapid succession, upon first seeing my daughter's face: (1) What the hell is all that crap in my uterus? (2) She looks just like my mom after a face-squishing nap. (3) She looks just like my brother Todd the-morning-after-the-night-before, when the aspirin has yet to kick in. (4) She has her father's semi-prognathic brow ridge. (5) She's so cute!

Second (and this is the part that turns my brain into a mobius strip), you can actually cut away chunks of the image just like you'd crop a picture using Photoshop, but what's left behind isn't a planar slice. What's left behind is the part of the body that would be revealed if you'd removed the undesired portion with your bare hands, like a sculptor. In other words, all contours are intact and you can see features that were previously covered up in the image. PJ's hubby hacked off the back of my daughter's head (okay, cropped it) and rotated the image to show us the backs of her eyeballs.

I know, I know: I've just blown your mind.

Getting to see a reasonable facsimile of the face your child will have after she's born is a trip. It also complicates things. Greg and I have been trying to narrow down our list of names, and now some of our top candidates don't seem to fit. Jermajesty is out for sure; likewise Jermajestina. Blanche, Mabel, Ethelda, Muffy: out. Even some of the Czech names on our list now seem ludicrous. I believe you need to name a child for the adult it will become, not the baby it is, but still, look at that face and think Zdislava. Doesn't work now, won't work 50 years from now.

Despite such minor challenges, the whole experience was, on balance, a tremendous gift. Now I can imagine my daughter's little knitted brow while she punches me from inside (using both hands). And I get to amaze my technophile friends and colleagues with the 3D images, thereby temporarily raising my status in Geek World. And now that I have a face to look at, I'm finally motivated to cut back on all the smoking and drinking.

And that's probably the biggest gift of all.

(Come on, people, it was a joke.)