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Girl September 13, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Sometimes I think I’m not really a girl. That is, I don’t seem to have picked up certain behaviors one often associates with being female. I don’t sew or knit or bake. I can cook, but cook is a big word for what I usually do, and I tend to see it as a means to an end, not as a delightful process. I don’t wear makeup (well, not so that you’d notice); I don’t bother with my hair beyond the occasional blow dry; I don’t really know how to use product. I don’t have my nails done. In fact, when they get too long, it makes me crazy.

I had a maternal instinct once, when I was about twenty-eight, but I closed my eyes, counted to 100, and it was gone.

I have one plant that is still alive in spite of me. I may be one of the only gardenless women in my state. I don’t have pets. Clearly, I am not overindulging a caretaker instinct.

Unfortunately, I’m not really a boy, either. That is, I don’t seem to have picked up certain behaviors one often associates with being male. I don’t know how to fix things around the house or change the oil in my car. I don’t know how to build anything. The edges of my yard are choked with weeds and god knows what. I do not have a high-paying, competitive job that pays me hundreds of thousands of dollars. Gym-class team sports were so traumatic for me as a child that I never learned how to throw any object more than about a foot away from me.

It’s not that I don’t want to ever learn any of these things other girls and boys are good at. It just seems that I haven’t time. I work a lot. I’m good at meeting deadlines. I’m good at keeping the books and knowing the schedule. When that’s done, I’m really tired. Then I tend to do rather gender-neutral stuff, like read, watch a DVD, go to happy hour.

In the past maybe half-dozen years, though, something has happened that makes me realize that I am, in fact, a girl.


I want them.

Suddenly, I find myself eyeing jewelry: rings (finger, thumb, toe), bracelets, earrings. I went through a stage when I decided I wanted a dozen watches. I’m still not big into necklaces, which I’m sure has something to do with my flat chest and its accompanying wardrobe; still, I await the perfect, shorter possibility.

Shoes. I have some cute shoes. When did this happen? When did I start caring about shoes?

Tuesday night, when I arrived in Portland, Tim and I met a friend of ours for dinner. He’s a stylist for an overpriced fashion company and can get me his discount. I’d been thinking about a particular pocketbook (oh my god, Indigo—can you hear yourself?) for long enough that I took him up on the offer. When I wrote that check, at 50% off retail, I spent more money than I have ever spent on a bag. Ever. May that record stand for awhile. (An aside: This bag arrived in its own protective yummy-soft cloth bag. A bag with its own bag. Just sayin’.)

How did all-practical-all-the-time Indigo become all about the bling? I have never been all about the bling. What has the middle-aged self-indulgent Indigo done with the young selfless Indigo?

Well, apparently she hasn’t completely ditched her, because as much as I drool over the Sundance jewelry catalog and as often as I drop by the artisan places, actual purchase is rare. Practical Indigo is still keeping the spending in check relative to desire. Practical Indigo is still saying, “It costs what? That’s immoral. There are people starving in the world.” Practical Indigo is still winning more often than not.

But it’s this accessory desire, lately, that has made it clear: I’m a girl.

Maybe someday I’ll want to go to a prom.


1. Cedar Waxwing - September 13, 2008

Lovely post, IB.

I expect to see a picture of this bag sometime.

I’m not a typical girl either, although I do have kids and occasionally bake. I don’t like jewelry or shoes (unless they are comfortable) or handbags. I’ve never gotten my nails done, although I do go to the salon for my hair.

2. bettyslocombe - September 13, 2008

There is no gender neutral stuff: you are a big girly girl; and I should know because I am a big girl’s blouse.
I’ve tagged you: mwah.

3. Bridgett - September 13, 2008

I’m there. I think it was the flip flops with rhinestone slides on the straps that did me in. Went from practical to fluff in one purchase.

4. Adam Byrn Tritt - September 13, 2008

We’ve had discussions quite similar to this in my home; a home where my wife claims I am a much better wife than she.

I am not sure she has worn anything but dungarees in over two decades with the exception of three occasions. I can recall each of them. One wedding, one bar mitzvah and one charity event. I wish to point out that wedding was not even our own. To that we each wore dungarees and t-shirts. If I count pagan festivals, over the course of the last twenty-five years I think I might actually have worn skirts and such more often than her. Makeup? Ha! Cooking? My territory.

Sewing the holes in the clothes? Mine (after she threads the needle or me).

Her shoes are as sensible as can be – Murrels made for sanding. The blow drier is never used except by my son. She is a pick the clothes from the pile, wash’n’go, no frills cheap-date of a gal I adore more than the bright stars or the loamy Earth.

And I don’t dare take her into a lesbian bookstore or I need to fight to keep her. I do this as often as I can.

If there were continuum for gender-behaviour, with guyishness staff and girlishness distaff, my Lee would be a bit right of center. I would be a bit left. It all balances out to who the hell cares.

But she does like her purses. Stone Mountain, Dooney and Bourke, Coach. She looks and looks and looks but never bought. She tells her patients they need to ditch their purses and use backpacks. She follows her own advice on this.

Last birthday she decided to treat herself to a purse she has long wanted. A Stone Mountain bag. She spent nearly two hundred on it. She used it for two days and returned it. Not worth what she spent. She was cured.

Then, a few months ago, I found at a local auction a Prada bag. I grabbed it or $35.00. She is delighted. She has her girlie-bag. It is a back pack, of course.

As far s myself, well, I don’t build, I do garden a bit but I do not do lawn work. Fix the house? HA! My father and wife, many years ago, got together and sold all my powertools while I was on a trip. For my own good, they told me. I didn’t argue. Of course, that is the same way I ended up moving in with my wife, that is a different story.

I don’t tinker with my car. I sold my truck a few weeks ago. The truck festooned with breast cancer awareness magnets and a sticker that said “Real men change diapers.” You know, a real guy truck.
Ok, now to rebuild what feels to be my diminishing masculinity, I’m going to go tell my wife to cook something and have her get me a beer.

I’d better go buy some first. And make dinner reservations.

5. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - September 14, 2008

As a gay guy, I’m in the middle of the gender-role spectrum already. In some things, I’m absurdly stereotypical. I might throw a Super Bowl party, but you’ll find me in the kitchen cooking and listening to show tunes, and delivering tacos periodically to the crowd in front of the television. I’m the good son who stays behind to take care of an ailing parent. I love Broadway and Project Runway. But I am not by any stretch of the imagination neat and tidy. I’m not a huge fan of opera (though I do like classical). I dress like an inveterate slob, the quintessential fat straight guy in a ratty t-shirt. I use words like “inveterate,” but I’m not fussy about other things. I don’t care for trends or pop divas, and I don’t tend to swish.

Which is all right by me. Most of my friends have tended toward the center of the spectrum, behavior-wise. It’s just never made sense to try to fit into a role that others set for you.

6. Adam Byrn Tritt - September 14, 2008

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Audre Lorde

I love opera, but I always retranslate the songs. They are all about cows and barnyard life.

I would rather have a migraine than watch football. Really. I find them less painfull and more interesting. They also don’t last as long.

I’ll play soccer but watch sports? Like on a TV? No thank you.

Not fitting into a set role makes it easier to allow other people not to fit into roles either.

7. indigo bunting - September 14, 2008

OK, I am loving this long, entertaining conversation.

Adam, I believe you could just pick this up and post it at your blog. Which I’m quite behind in reading, btw (although I’ve often lurked there sans commenting). I definitely think Tim might be the better wife than I. I also respect your wife’s love of Stone Mountain, even though she may have cured herself. I had one of their pocketbooks for years, but it was when they didn’t cost so much, and I likely got it on sale.

Cedar, I may send you a link to the bag so it ain’t so public.

And Mrs. S, thanks for the heads up on the tag AND the mwah. I am way behind in reading all blogs. I will do my best to catch up soon, and now I have an assignment from you. I wonder what that copy of Uncle is worth?

Sewa: You’re gay?

8. Adam Byrn Tritt - September 14, 2008
9. Deloney - September 14, 2008

I’m into boxing, bull-fighting and big-game hunting. And I turn into a quivering bowl of jello when I see a polydactyl cat.

–Ernest Hemingway (call me Ernie)

10. She She - September 15, 2008

Coming late to the discussion. I find that the older I get, the less girly I become although I never was much. I realized last Friday that I actually left the house in the morning without looking into a mirror once.

I love the word pocketbook. It makes me nostalgic, for what I don’t know.

11. Lynda - September 15, 2008

I actually still use the word “pocketbook” as well, however I am leaning closer and closer toward “handbag”, after having worked alongside gals from Long Island and Manhattan for the past 3 years.

But if we’re talking most nostalgic, I have to cast my vote for “Dungarees”. LOL! I haven’t heard that since my grandmother took me school clothes shopping 25 years ago.

Good for you, IB. I am so glad you bit the bullet and wrote the check. This was not a decision that was taken lightly.

And to the rest of you: I’ve seen it, it’s real, and it’s SPECTACULAR!

~the girly-girl next door.

12. indigo bunting - September 15, 2008

She She: Weren’t there old paperbacks called Pocket Books?

And Lynda: I NEVER thought that that quote would ever be tossed in my direction!

13. Mali - September 15, 2008

Pocketbook is definitely an Americanism. I wanna see it. I’m jealous – a handbag with its own bag!

I read something on Sunday that suggested that women over 40 should forget about what they’re wearing (presumably because we’re so past it we look dreadful in whatever we wear!!), and concentrate on having a good handbag. Hmmmmmmm.

14. bettyslocombe - September 15, 2008

You’ll hate me: I’ve given you an award as well!

15. indigobunting - September 16, 2008

Mali: Hmmmmmm indeed.

Mrs. S: An award? Ah, my first. I’m blushing. I’ve caught up on the meme and with any luck at all will get to the awarding before too many days have passed. Thanks for your kind words, and hey, it’s a pretty one!

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