I've mentioned before that my dear ex-husband (DXH) and I are good friends. Since he just snagged an *awesome* job, we decided to hit the outlet stores to celebrate (because, yes, that's the kind of crazy-ass, free-wheeling kids we are).
We went to the Nordstrom Rack, where we found some killer shirts at decent prices. Since the cut of shirts ALWAYS varies from one brand to another (more details on this in a later post), it's always good to try things on. I took about 12 shirts into the dressing room; DXH took four. He was directed into a room at the end of the hall, but *I* was stopped by a saleswoman, who asked: "Do you know what shirt size you are?"
It was a busy Sunday, and men had been entering and exiting the dressing room unimpeded. If she had redirected me to the women's dressing room, I'd have at least known what she was thinking. But I was so taken aback that I asked her to repeat the question. She did, but it still struck me as a bizarrely idiotic thing to ask someone who was CLEARLY about to try 12 shirts on. I stammered, "Uh, 17-32."
OH, I thought as I answered. NOW I get it. She's about to offer to measure my neck. Unnecessary, but I appreciate the thought. I started down the hall when she stopped me again, and asked: "And are those shirts 17s?"
"No," I wanted to say. "They're 15s. But I wanted to see if I could rip the collars by buttoning them SUPER TIGHT and then flexing my neck ." WTF? Instead, I said, "Yeah," and continued down the hall in order to snag a room next to DXH, whereupon Rude Woman REDIRECTED me to the first room by the door (presumably because I needed to be watched).
If she was trying to intimidate me, she did a damn good job. I HATE being in the dressing room by the door, because it ensures that I will see as MANY men as possible while I'm going out to look in the mirror. Which is exactly what happened, and I got more stares and glares and surprised looks than has occurred since I entered the women's bathroom at a Chinese church (I am tallish and white, and I was wearing a tie--it was not a pleasant scene).
As DXH pointed out afterward, it wasn't a locker room; it was a dressing room. Complete with individual, lockable doors. WHY did this woman feel the need to police me (and police me so strangely!)? The whole thing made me super uncomfortable.
And then I was angry at myself for being uncomfortable.
Yesterday evening was a little trippy, but wonderful. I went out for dinner with my girlfriend, my ex-husband, my ex-girlfriend and her girlfriend, and another couple. My ex-husband thought it was *hilarious* that I had slept with half the people at the table. He and my gf were kind of making fun of me together, and I loved it, because they're two of the most important people in my life, and if I can spend time with both of them together, it makes my life feel a lot more complete.
I wonder how other butches out there balance their past and present, especially if they are still close to people who knew them before they were out as gay--or even before they were "out" as butch (to the extent that one comes "out" as butch--more on this another time). At the root of it all, I'm still the same person that I was five years ago, but I look different and carry myself differently, and am much more confident in who I am. It's got to be strange for people to see someone they care about so much go through such a big transformation.
I don't want to discount the extreme pain that can result when one's relationship with others changes. God knows I went through things I'd never want to relive. I'll probably blog in more detail about this later, but my divorce, and the couple of years leading up to it, were the worst time in my life. But it's also worth noting that it's absolutely remarkable what people can get used to, and what they can come to see as "normal"--especially if, at the root of it all, they really love each other.