Category Archives: Style
middleagebutch, who blogs The Flannel Files has named me the Biggest Lesbian, Ever. My qualification? I got engaged. And got a Drive By Truckers trucker’s cap.
Aww, thanks, MAB.
I feel … validated. I feel … like I belong. I feel … like a real lesbian!
I spent my whole life
admiring women. I knew what I was, but I buried it. I didn’t act on it. With the help of a wonderful minister, I accepted myself in my early 30s. Then, with his help, I met and fell in love with the most extraordinary woman in the world.
I don’t have a butch bone in my body. I wear Pendleton plaids and jeans out West, but so do the straight girls. The butchest things I own are hard hats, which, I admit, are pretty butch.
I can fix a power plant, but I can’t change a light bulb. I can design an efficient internal combustion engine, but I can’t change a sparkplug.
My Love is a ranch girl. She can rewire a house or rebuild an engine, but she’s even more feminine than I am.
I wear a skirt. I wear (a little) makeup. I don’t wear heels.
So MAB says the award was for biggest lesbian, ever. Not biggest butch, ever. And getting engaged to the woman of my (and everyone else’s) dreams is pretty lez.
It validates that we lesbians are a diverse bunch. We don’t all fall into stereotypes.
So, thanks, middleagebutch! The prize was more than the prize!
PS: The prize was the ebook of middleagebutch’s memoir: Rae Theodore, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Everybody: go out and buy it! Even though neither my Love nor I is butch, and we’re both attracted to feminine women, it has had a lot to say to me. And it’s funny.
National Coffee Day
Bumbi’s Mom has a love letter to coffee, which pretty much sums it up.
Until I met my Love, coffee was whatever came out of the urn at a jobsite or a diner nearby.
My Love, on the other hand … “Fanatic” would not be too strong a word.
Just to give you an idea: She has three burr grinders, one set for the filter coffeemaker, one for the French press and one for the espresso machine. The espresso machine is a brass, lever-action Pavoni – a gorgeous work of art.
My Love is NOT a morning person.
On the first morning I stayed in her apartment, I was up first. I made coffee. When she woke up, I brought her a cup in bed.
She took one sip. Without a word, she got up, went to the kitchen, poured the cup down the drain, picked up the pot and poured it down the drain. Then,
Sweetie, I love you more than life itself. But if I have to get up before you to keep you from making ghastly coffee, this is going to be a short romance.
And she showed me how to make coffee. It took me a half-dozen tries before I made a pot that she would even taste.
She wouldn’t let me touch the Pavoni until I’d been in New York for months. It was a month before I could pull an espresso that didn’t taste like hot water soaked in the butts of cheap cigars. It was another month before I could pull an acceptable crema.
Now, she will even drink my espresso. I’ve never been so proud of any accomplishment. I bask in the glow of her favor.
And I’m as fanatic as she is about coffee.
So that’s why they’re called “love apples”
This past weekend, we stopped at a farm stand and got heirloom tomatoes.
I’ve never had a garden. My only experiences with tomatoes are canned tomatoes (delicious for cooking) and supermarket tomatoes (paint them white and use them for baseballs).
I’ve never liked raw tomatoes. I don’t dislike them; I just never got the point.
My Love insisted that we buy a pound of them. I thought she was nuts, but I indulged her.
She showed me how to select tomatoes. I was amazed that they had a nice firm softness, like – well, like something I would describe in a protected post. Her most important advice:
Always get the ugliest tomatoes.
That was Friday afternoon. Saturday for lunch, we had tomato sandwiches.
- Two slices of slightly stale bread, preferably something that will disintegrate when wet (e.g., Portuguese corn broa)
- sliced tomato
- bottled beer
Smear mayo on bread. Stack at least 3/4 inch (20mm) of salted tomato slices between mayo’ed bread.
Eat. Drink beer from bottle. Repeat until sick.
- Don’t bother with a plate. Eat it over the sink. If the tomato is properly ripe, the juice will run down your forearms and off your elbows into the sink.
- Don’t wear a white shirt. In fact, don’t wear a shirt at all. Before starting, my Love stripped to her bra and undies and encouraged me to do the same. I wondered why she was wearing her yoga bra and undies. Now I know.
- My Love says you can substitute olive oil for mayo.
- Don’t drink the beer from a glass. Be careful with the bottle. Your hands will be slick.
- Part of the trick is to finish the sandwich before the bread completely disintegrates.
So, if you see two 30-somethings in their worst bras and undies standing over the sink, drooling red, making obscene slurping sounds, swigging beer from the bottle and laughing, you’ll know you’re at the right place.
I’ve always thought the world divided itself between beach people and mountain people.
Maybe I’m too binary. Too beacheononormative. Maybe there’s a Kinsey scale for Beach/Mountain.
I love the mountains.
I grew up in a small town in the mountains.
I love to ski. I love to pack into the wilderness and camp. I love the smell of the mountains. I love the way the sun comes up and the sun goes down. I love the sky. I love the clouds. I love the dry air. I love the hot summer days and cool summer nights. I love the cold winter days and the colder winter nights. I love snow.
I hate the beach.
I get bored at a beach after 10 minutes. I’m irritable after 20 minutes. I’m a stark, raving, homicidal maniac after half an hour. If I can find a little kid, we’ll build a sand castle. That will keep me occupied for as long as it takes. But when I’m done, I feel like I’ve just wasted time I’ll never get back.
Plus, I hate sand. The inside of every swimsuit I’ve ever had: a sand magnet. Sand down there, ugh. Sandpaper in my bra? Ouch.
(Aside: I absolutely, positively do not believe anyone who says she’s had sex on a beach. A movie love scene on a beach kills my libido for days. Ewww.)
My Love is also a mountain person.
She grew up on a ranch in the mountains.
She’s a terrific skiier. We skiied together a few times last winter. I thought I was good, but she took me places at Alta and Big Sky that scared the daylights out of me.
Since starting her business, she’s spent Augusts at her parents’ ranch, recharging her batteries, putting up hay, riding fence, doctoring cows and calves, planning a new irrigation system with her father and packing into the wilderness behind the ranch.
But … She is also a beach person.
She has spent a lot of time working in Rio de Janeiro.
Her idea of heaven is to sit on Copacabana in front of the Palace, get served caipirinhas, read and watch the kids play futebol (soccer) and futevolei (volleyball played with feet instead of hands).
[Aside: I haven’t been to Rio. From what I understand about fitness and dress standards on Copacabana, how could she have failed to realize that she’s a lesbian?]
[Aside 2: Her beach reading tends to be either
- Work: A mathematical model predicting the probability of outcomes of a multibillion dollar business decision
- Self-improvement: A monograph on algebraic number fields
- Leisure: A novel by Henry James, Willa Cather or Marilynne Robinson
How she can do that and drink a caipirinha? I keep telling you, she is amazing.]
[Aside 3: A caipirinha is a lime, cut in eighths, muddled in a glass with sugar, doused with cachaça (Brazilian moonshine that doubles as paint remover) and finished with ice. Deadly. Delicious. Deadly.
I don’t drink much (I haven’t been drunk since I was in high school) and I’m a cheap date. Two of those and I’d be a babbling idiot.]
Now, anything that includes a caipirinha, women in Brazilian bikinis and futebol/futevolei has to be good. So Rio doesn’t count in this Beach/Mountain dichotomy.
Still, she claims to like the beach.
I don’t get it.
PS: No, she is definitely not bisexual.
Bad Lesbian: Headgear
This is going to out me as a bad lesbian,
with no sense of lesbian style,
but I gotta calls ’em as I sees ’em.
What is it with lesbians and headgear?
Do not wear a seed-corn cap unless you are a farmer or rancher.
[A seed-corn cap is like a baseball cap, except that instead of the logo of a ballclub, it has the logo of a seed-corn, cattle-feed or farm implement company, or of a farm-and-ranch store.]
You are not being hip. You are not being ironic. You are being a clueless hipster. Your are insulting the good, hardworking people who fill your table.
I see a city slicker in a seed-corn cap and my non-violent disposition is sorely tested.
You may wear a seed-corn cap if you are driving a pickup truck with a manual transmission.
You may wear a seed-corn cap if you have a farmer tan (about which I will write more later).
To my dear butch friends: Please do not take this wrong. I still love you with all my heart. But –
To be entitled to wear a seed-corn cap, you must go full butch and get a farmer tan.
Otherwise, wear a baseball cap with the logo of your favorite sporting team (as long as it is not the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs or the New England Patriots). And, of course, if you ride a motorcycle, a cap with its logo is 100% OK, although I would prefer that you wear a helmet.
Aside: One of my Love’s most prized possessions is a cap from a bull semen dealer. I mean, is that lesbian style, or what?
Do not wear your cap backward.
Why the blazes do you think they put the bill on the damn thing? To keep the sun out of your eyes!
If there’s one thing that annoys me more than a city slicker wearing a seed-corn cap, it’s somebody wearing a cap backward.
I just do not get it.
You may wear your cap backward if you are a catcher. (My little brother was a catcher in Legion ball. He wore his cap backward under his catcher’s skull cap. He gets a little crazy if he sees someone other than a catcher wearing a cap backward.)
My heart leaps up: A sense of wonder
I don’t know much about literature. That’s my Love’s department – although she has gotten me hooked.
I didn’t take any literature courses in college. I had one high school literature course: Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, a novel by Dickens (which left so little impression on me that I don’t remember its plot or title) and some poetry.
I didn’t see the point of poetry, with one exception: My heart leaps up, by William Wordsworth. My Dad will recite it at the drop of a hat. It’s been a touchstone of my life.
When I was very small, Dad told me,
Never lose your sense of wonder.
Whenever a meteor shower was predicted, Dad would take me out into the mountains, where the air would be clear and free of light pollution. We would lay on our backs and look up at the sky and watch the show. He’d tell me,
Never lose your sense of wonder.
When I was small he showed me a video tape of Galloping Gertie. He told me,
Never lose your sense of wonder.
Whenever a thunderstorm was predicted, he and I would sit out on the porch swing and watch it roll in over the mountains, the black line of clouds, the indistinct lightning in the clouds and beyond the mountains, the guttural rumble of distant thunder.
The smell, from afar off, of approaching rain in the high desert.
Then the flash of lightning nearby, the crack of thunder, the smell of ozone, the pummeling rain, pouring over the eaves on the far side of the porch.
He’d tell me,
Never lose your sense of wonder.
The older I get, the more important that is to me, the more profound it seems to me. He doesn’t need to tell me,
Never lose your sense of wonder.
It’s the one thing I want to pass on to my children.
Never lose your sense of wonder.
I’m in love for the first time at age 35. I’m glad I never lost my sense of wonder.
Is Jello a dessert?
Baroness Buttercup has nominated me for The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. I will do a proper post (amalgamating it with the other nominations I’ve received). But her first question, viz.,
Should Jello ever be considered a dessert? Why, or why not?
requires immediate response.
With respect, Your Ladyship, it is plain that, in your youth on the baronial estate, you were isolated from rural Scandinavian Lutherans.
Jello is the canonical Lutheran Church basement pot-luck dessert. It is served at all weddings, funerals, Bible School graduations, Sunday School awards, Tuesday Clubs, Men’s Bible Study … . It would be served at the Gay-Straight Alliance meetings, if there were any gays.
But not just any Jello:
Lime Jello with mandarin orange slices topped with Miracle Whip!
Out at the West Jerkwater Evangelical Lutheran Church, they still talk about how daring Mrs Larson was to use red Jello! Of course, that was back in the 60s, and Mrs Larson had some radical tendencies. She even voted Democrat once. She claims that felt sorry for that nice Mr Truman, who was going to lose so badly to Mr Dewey.
It is rumored that the Methodists mix in marshmallows, and substitute Cool Whip for Miracle Whip. Just another indication that the Methodists are heretics, if not outright blasphemers.
But not all Jello is dessert.
Make Jello in a cake tin. Cut it into rectangles about three inches long by one inch wide. These make the most amazing toys.
They wiggle and shimmer.
If you put one on the table and push at one end, it will crawl along the table like an inchworm.
When it breaks, you have to eat it.
I don’t know if my family was exceedingly inventive, or exceedingly easy to amuse or just exceedingly goofy, but a tray of jello rectangles could keep me amused for hours. Even when I was a sullen teenager. Even though I hate Jello.
Which just goes to show you how exciting life can be out in West Jerkwater.
Jell-O and Miracle Whip are trademarks of Kraft Foods. No Lutherans or Methodists were harmed in the production of this post.
A few days ago, I read a blog post on the silly questions that straight people ask lesbians who are engaged. One of the questions was
Who is the one that’s supposed to propose?
I didn’t think that was such a silly question. Frankly, I was asking it of myself.
My Love and I agreed on some things before I came East. I would have my own apartment. We wouldn’t discuss getting engaged until we’d known each other a year. If the law changed in our home state, we’d marry at her parents’ ranch, but not before next year.
While I sat in the waiting room as my Love had an emergency appendectomy, I had a lot of time to worry and pray. And to think.
I understood emptiness for the first time in my life. It frightened me to my core.
I had never loved anyone before. I had walled out love all my life. I couldn’t be hurt, because I had nothing to hurt.
Now, I had glimpsed something beautiful, something sublime. I know that she’s human, fallible, imperfect. So am I, and she knows it. I know that we have much to learn about each other. I know that nine months, less than half in the same city, is little time compared to the rest of our lives.
I know that I see her, and our future, through a glass, darkly:
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
But sitting in that waiting room, I also glimpsed what life might be without her.
Of course, I would go on. We’re bred tough out on the range. We have our day of mourning, then get on with life. It’s a harsh land. Only the strong survive. Only the dead bury their dead.
She lived. But that knowledge of emptiness lives, too.
I resolved that when my Love finished her antibiotics and could drink a glass of champagne, I would break our agreement and propose marriage.
I wondered: Who is supposed to propose? She’s (a little) older and (a little) taller. Should I tell her I want to propose, so we could make it a joint operation? I’m an old-fashioned girl; I needed to ask her parents’ blessing. Did I need to fly home to do that in person? How could I do that without tipping her off?
On Sunday, after church, she solved my problem.
The only girl in the room
In our previous episode, I extolled the virtues of a clawfoot tub and Jo Malone bath oil. Soft skin. Nice scent. A girly girl, no?
I like being a woman. No: I love being a woman.
I like men. I don’t want to sleep with one, but I like working with them.
Men dominate my profession and work environment to a greater degree than any other profession. At my level, I’m usually the only woman in the room. Usually, I’m the person with the ultimate responsibility to the owner or the bank.
I want my style to send three messages:
- I am a woman.
- I am selling competence.
- Everything else is a distraction.
My style is quiet, conservative, traditionally feminine. A dress or a skirt, knee length. Not short. Not tight. Not peek-a-boo. Blue, gray or a neutral color. Flats or low pumps. Nude stockings. Light natural makeup. Natural hair color, medium length. A little gold or pearl necklace. Stud earrings.
I’m not Barbie. I’m not selling sex. I’m not making a political point. I’m not a canvas for tattoos or a pegboard for piercings.
Is that bending to heteronormativity? Advancing the patriarchy? I don’t care. I have a job to do: Build or fix something. Something useful. Something that makes people’s lives better. That job is far more important than smashing the patriarchy.
Besides, I like this style. It’s comfortable. It doesn’t distract from the message. Am I brainwashed? A cowardly conformist? So be it.
Of course, if I’m inspecting conduit or storm drains, I wear a Pendleton plaid shirt, Levi 5o5’s, Red Wing boots, a neckerchief, leather work gloves, a hardhat and Chapstick.
Just call me Butch.
As in, You just keep thinkin’, Butch. That’s what you’re good at.