Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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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

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.


Anonymous lightspeed said...

I admit that I am really surprised by this. I think I have seen two pictures of you and I've never questioned that you are female. My guess is that it is your height - ?
I can empathize with one aspect, though. I have (and have always had, even as a kid) a deep voice. I have many times over the phone and the radio been called "Sir". While I've been hearing this response for years, it does still tweak me.

Re: your posts below...
Unbelievable! To see your daughter that clearly! Both exciting and a bit frightening. What a lovely gift from Parisjasmal!

10:38 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger mreenymo said...

I think that cashier was having a very bad day, K! There's nothing about you that looks like a man to me at all. Sure, you are tall, lanky, and whatever, but that describes most of today's supermodels. LOL!

Let's just say that you are my supermodel mommy-to-be. :):)

I will try to email you as soon as I can come up for some air.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and G!


11:24 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Jonniker said...

Aw man. Even though you know intellectually that it's them, not you, it still feels like YOU when it's you. I mean that sincerely, not just as a vague, "He's just not that into you," kind of way.

I wear my hair short, and I'm often greeted with a "Can I help you, sir?" which annoys me to no freaking END. I just pity them, usually, considering that they are clearly blind. Or so I tell myself. :)

2:19 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger katiedid said...

I don't know what to say here, as I have never had to experience that really. But I have to say, even when you rant you entertain me: "upper rack of the dishwasher." You have the best turns of phrase.

2:57 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger PFG said...

This is hysterical. Indeed, the hoop earrings might have given it away. Still, I think I might have one that is on par with this. I was about 25. I woke up one day at about 5 a.m. with the beginning of cramps for my period, which had delightfully decided to arrive early. I had no pads and no motrin so I threw on yesterday's clothes and hightailed it to the store hoping to get the needed supplies before the day one of sheer misery began. After the cashier rang my purchases (party sized bottle of advil, pads, a large dark chocolate candy bar, and a bag of chips) he said "Will that be paper or plastic Sir?"
I didn't reply for a moment. I just looked at the cashier, then glanced pointedly at the pads. So strange what information people use for perception of someone's sex.

9:31 PM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

ROFL! Oh, that's priceless. Thanks for making me feel less weird. :-)

8:20 AM, November 23, 2005  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

aw, geez Kris, its not you, its them. You're lovely (and tall and lanky and I hate you,,,just kidding)
Obviously that hilarious story by pfg shows you how unobservant people can be.

4:48 PM, November 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kris I have seen your insides and "the darling baby".I know what perfumes you love & how you display them. I know what you eat and your blood sugar readings ....but I do not know if that picture above is of you. Could you please tell me if that picture is you?

I think that picture is of a wondeful face,I am not one to give flattery flipantly. But I do know beauty and if it is you , you have a face of a real classic beauty. As I said above one that painters search out to immortalizeon canvas. AS a person who is called cute(how I loath that)an damm I am ,just think for a second of all the times I get patted on the top of my little blond petite head and have my fat cute cheeks pinched,LOL. Bet thst never happens to you ...up for a swap Kris,na I did not think so. Take care lovely lady OX's Katie

9:02 AM, November 25, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Hi Katie,

Sorry for the delay; I've been traveling and just saw your post today. That picture is of none other than Cillian Murphy, actor, dressed in drag. And he IS gorgeous, far more beautiful than I will ever be. :-)


12:57 PM, November 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks kris I was going crazy about who it was cause of the picture of you in NY has a similar look .Well you do have the same curly hair and maybe having a baby had changed your face, no am I not back stepping. It just did not add up to be you but had me have me thinking you look like a dude you see??? By the way you do have a pretty utreus. Can not say if you look like a dude or not as have not seen you in person but if you do please let it be him you look like.....Gawd he is devine,he is Michaelangleos David. Oh my can not spell time for food OX's Katie

11:03 PM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger cjblue said...

This completely boggles me. I have had the pleasure of meeting you in person and I don't find you the least bit masculine. So you don't have big boobs. So you're tall. You are beautiful and absolutely femenine. I asked my husband and he was confused too. Even without a large pregnant belly, you are undoubtedly all woman.

My older daughter was bald for 18 months. Still, I rebelled against the pink headband things. And S said they made him think of tiny little cancer patients, so there were no bald babies with bows in my house. Unafraid people are confident saying "What a beautiful baby! Boy or girl?" Who would be offended by that?

I like your response to the clerk, but am mystified still by the mistake.

11:18 AM, November 29, 2005  

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