Monday, March 28, 2011

to be butch with a baby at a mall

I’m sitting here streaming college basketball and loving the delicious sound of swish.
The moon is in super mode; my two loves are relaxing in the living room, and I am living this full life with tired eyes, a heavy, happy heart and a mind that reels madly through the thickness of too much to think about and analyze and then act upon.

In all of this calm and turbulence, I needed to make sure to sit down and write about my day at the mall. I walked as tall as possible through the stares and dirty looks and all together strangeness that my non-conformity to gender norms conjures in the worlds of people so steeped in their own hetero-normalcy and non-fluid/dualistic/binary gender roles that they can barely breathe without making sure to make the people whom they otherize feel their disapproval.

Today (well a week ago now as time slips away due to being overly busy), I walked my daughter around twelve oaks mall in her stroller. K had a facial with her good friend at the salon in Macy’s. And, since Willa is in deny-the-bottle-with-all-of-her-might-mode, we went with her to the mall. I then proceeded to walk with willa in her hot blue stroller all through the mall.

I know I live in a bubble within our state. Ypsi/ann arbor is full up of queers and working class folks (well ypsi is) and genuine difference and good weirdness.

Whereas, Novi (the place where the mall is located) is surrounded by wealth which sometimes takes any racial or cultural differences and coats the masses in sameness. I know this is not a very deep analyses of race, class, gender, etc. But, I just want to get to the point of my day: I felt like a fish out of water, times ten, walking my child through the mall today. Had k been by my side, it might have been better, but she was not.

The main characters: will and me.

The costumes: willa, purple pants, dinosaur onsie, white bambi hoodie, and bald ness. me, gray khaki pants, black t-shirt, red and black flannel, some hot red wing boots, and short hair with small hawkish mullet in back (got barbered last saturday; hair is currently very short on sides; short but thick on top, and the bit of mulletish stuff on neck).

The prop: will’s super fly (but exceedingly yuppie) uppa stroller with carriage mount ( it was the thing we asked money for our shower/gifts).

The setting: scary as hell. malls scare me to begin with, but the parking lot should have been warning enough for me to stay in the car because we had to park a mile away it was so packed. The economy must not be too fucked, since people were out in hordes buying lots of stuff. 600 dollars worth of pool table stuff, 2500 dollar riding mowers, etc...make-up, and fancy clothes (you catch my drift).

The plot: There really was none. I was just planning to blow an hour walking willa through the mall. I did this, but I really did not foresee the climax.

The climax: The stares, dirty looks, and befuddled looks of mostly woman as I walked through the mall with my daughter. And, Ultimately, an escape to the hardware/fitness/outdoor equipment of sears.

I consider myself a pretty subtle person. I am not soft-spoken. Nor am I loud in appearance or demeanor. I wear men’s underwear and try to keep my breasts from standing out. I keep short hair and do not wear a stitch of make-up except lip balm (clear) in order to keep my lips from cracking off my face. I drift. I get loud when injustice surfaces in my sphere, but I always get loud with strategy behind my voice and actions.

However, on this day, I felt like a rhino on the loose amidst florescent lights and too much stuff. I really did get scowls and disapproving stares.

I escaped to sears. We walked in circles looking at tools and weight benches. And, finally, I ventured to the men’s clothing dept. of sears and found some underwear on hardcore sale.

I walked back to the hardware check-out and purchased a precision screw driver set for kk and the pack of briefs for me. And, then Will and I set out to find her mama-ma in order to escape the oppressive climate of commodities and stares galore.

The security that k brings to my butch step is profound. she helps me feel invincible to the judgment of others. She makes me sure-footed and strong. She heals the scowls with some kind of salve that creates gentleness on the eyes. She is a good deal of my strength.

So, we left the chaos of striving for sameness and entered the calm of the chilly sun-filled afternoon. Our queer little family; comfortable and in love with one another.

she is now four months old...


eeny meany said...

Fluorescent lights freak me out, too. And conservative middle American folk.

Willa gets more and more beautiful. I love her nickname Will.

Lesbonurse said...

I know this might be out of left field, but I have an item of baby clothing that my babe has just grown out of, and I think it would look great on Willa. If you'd like, email me your mailing address to and I'll send it your way.

Dani said...

Awesome post. I don't think I've ever commented before, but I enjoy your blog quite a lot. As a very obviously queer nanny, I understand those stares. Whenever I take the kids I care for out, I get all sorts of stares and judgment from people who don't understand who would ever trust their children with some sort of queer boygirl mess. But I feel strong when the kids are with me. The stares mean nothing.

ang said...

love that pic! sorry you had to endure the mall bullshit. malls are always scary to me too. next time call me and we can be freaks together. :)

starrhillgirl said...

Yeah. I present as pretty gender-normative and I still get stares. Fun!

tiff said...

Willa is beautiful!! love that shot.