shopping while butch

After reading one of TPQ’s posts a few weeks ago where there was talk of black pants shopping I realized I didn’t own a pair of plain black dress pants either and decided to do something about it.  So my partner and i went shopping.  This was especially hard for my partner, who hates to shop for clothes.  She has this great system though, which involves her mother buying her a full wardrobe every christmas and me buying her random things i see that i think will look really hot on her.  This system severely reduces the need for her to shop, which is good, because shopping for clothes (or even the proposal) makes her pout like a six year old.

I thought about suggesting a thrift store, but was afraid that would send my partner over the edge, as i tend to spend way more time in thrift stores than regular stores.  Once at the store we spent some time looking at a billion variations of black dress pants for me to try on.  I decided i also needed a black button up shirt, because i have this red tie that would look good with a black shirt.  This train of thought led me to ties, so we went over to that rack.  There i made my unenthusiastic partner help me search for skinny and/or non-shiny ties, while explaining (for the 100th time) that these are my favorite qualities in a tie.  She looked as though she might: a) fall asleep b) be wondering if skinny or regular-width ties would make a better noose with which to put me out of my misery.  She said she wanted to look for jeans, so i took the hint and we started over to the “women’s” side.

Then we stood around in the middle of the store for awhile trying to remember the difference between “misses”, “juniors”, “women’s”, etc.  Eventually we gave up and visited the jeans rack of all of the above.  Looking at the “women’s” jeans helped me understand why my partner is unexcited about shopping for clothes.  What the hell?  About 98% of the jeans were ugly and/or stupid looking.  She found a few pairs and we moved over to the dressing rooms.

This is the part of shopping that can be anxiety producing for me, as a genderqueer.  This place had one line, a “women’s” and a “men’s” side, and an attendant that gives you a card that says either “women” or “men”.  The last time we were at this place the attendant gave me a “women” card, so me and my partner were able to share the same stall thingie; and i was kind of hoping that would happen again so we could get each other’s opinion on our selections.  I was wondering how i might be able to make this happen when the attendant handed me a “men’s” card and told me that there was a woman with a child on the men’s side so i had to wait outside until they came out.  I went to lean against the wall beside the entrance to that side, but the attendant thought i was going in and yelled “Wait sir!  There’s a woman and baby in there!”  Seriously?  Mind you, even if i had walked through the entrance i would have not been in the actual dressing room, just in the hall outside the stall door.

So i wait.  Forever.  Apparently the Woman and Baby (these words are capitalized because that is how the attendant said them) were trying on every article of clothing in the store.  I watch hordes of women go through the line while i wait.  Two teenage boys get in line, and the attendant gives them the Woman and Baby spiel, but does not give them a “women’s” or a “men’s” card, so they wander away.  My partner comes out of the other side and goes back to look for more jeans, having not liked any of the first batch.

I wait some more.  I wonder why they only have one “men’s” stall, because i can remember the “women’s” side has like 10.  I wonder if i showed the attendant my i.d. if she would let me switch cards/sides (what can i say, i’m a gender opportunist…i’ll use which ever bathroom looks cleaner or whichever line is moving fastest).  I decide that trying to switch sides now will cause a scene, and not be faster at all in the long run…plus probably really unpleasant.

The attendant tells me she wishes she had my patience.  The teenagers come back and ask me if i’m still waiting.  Finally, the Woman and Baby come out and i am given the okay to go in.  Once in the entrance i see that they don’t have just one “men’s” stall.  They have three.  I waited for like 15 minutes because the attendant thought it would be inappropriate for me to walk by a stall with a Woman and Baby in it to use one of the other two.  Me and the teenagers could have tried our stuff on ages ago.  I could probably attempt some smart analysis of the situation and the gendered division of public space, but i think this pretty much sums up how i felt about it: Ugh.

One Response to “shopping while butch”
  1. This is freaking ridiculous, GQ. Sorry I prompted you to undertake a shopping experience. Weren’t you wearing black pants when I saw you the other day? Maybe not, they might have been jeans. Lin hates shopping for pants, too – primarily because she prefers men’s styles, but her hips and butt are too large for them… dammit. So, we end up in the women’s section. I also prefer men’s jeans, but since I have a 46 inch waist, I find it tremendously difficult to find them in my size. When I do, the crotch hangs down to my knees and since I don’t have hips… yikes.

    Anyway, should I feel bad for laughing at the comedic images in my head of your shopping experience? Lin and I try everything on (at least what we can without breaking public indecency laws) outside of the dressing rooms next to the mirrors they put up for you to try on hats and sunglasses.

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