Hump Day: Mid-week Musings

March 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings)

Just Call Me Sir: 

Well, it is Hump Day again and it has been an interesting week–at least in regard to my daily androgynous walk through life.  While I do not do anything to try to look the way that I do, most people who know me would agree that I am more than comfortable with it and that I do–on occasion–play with it.  Some might even have noticed that I have gotten to a place where I like the ambiguity of my appearance more and more as I age.  As I settle into my midlife, and enjoy myself even more as a person, I find I enjoy my ability to confound the rabble who need a label for all that is around them.  But I also get a kick out of the innocent mistakes that folks make when they see me.  There is a huge difference between a person honestly mistaking me for a male and a person who calls me “Sir” with an attitude of intentional disapproval.  Those people say what they say to be nasty, to make the point that they get that I am female but it pisses them off that I am a female who looks like a man.  To them, it is a choice I make and I am to be held accountable for how I look as well as for their sense of being offended.  Thankfully, this week, I had none of that verbally from people and only a few confounded stares.   This week was different in regard to the gender issue.  It was even kind of interesting and enjoyable.

To begin with, I was addressed in the formal masculine twice this week by the same person.  I walked into the same Wilco gas station I have been patronizing for the past ten years.  There was a fairly short line of people in front of me and only one person working the second shift.  The young man behind the counter was, maybe, 21 years old at the outside.  He was kind of cute and well-kept—an unusual thing for a night shift stop-and-rob employee.  He had a kind face.  The line got shorter and the guys in front of me were collecting their 40 ounces and smokes as the young man tried to keep the line moving.  He raised his head, looked me straight in the eyes, tilted his head to encourage me to move forward, and politely said: “Sir, I can help you now.”

I smiled as I moved to the counter to pay for my Sunday paper.  I looked up at him, still smiling, and met his eyes. Immediately, the boy went a few shades of red and nearly stuttered, “Oh, ma’am’ I’m sorry…”   I assured him that it was all right, it happens all the time, and I was not offended.  He felt the need to apologize again.  And, again, as I paid for my paper.  “Don’t sweat it, man;”  I said again.  “It really is OK.”  The man behind me watched with an air of mild amusement and nodded my way when I wished the young man a good evening.

The very next day, I was in the store again to grab some snacks for work–I have to eat every few hours or my blood sugar drops and I get kind of wonky in the head.  The same young man was working again.  There was a very large woman in front of me with a small truckload of candy bars, a soda or two, and some gum.  She, of course, refused a bag when it was offered to her, so she was working hard to stash all that junk food in her pockets, purse and any other hole she could find.  The poor kid was alone again and was working hard to keep is line going.  He looked up, met my gaze, and said: “Sir, I can take you now.”  [Really? I mused to myself.]  I smiled again and walked to the counter.  Recognition fell over his face as if the woman had dropped her load of junk food on him.  He went several shades of red this time, then, apparently shocked even himself with what he said:

“Oh shit! I’m so sorry; I just did that last night.”  For a brief second, I thought he was going to cry.  I could not have stood that.  Man crying gets to me. I never know quite what to do.  I assured him again that it was OK, not to worry, I have been dealing with this for 40 years or more.  That seemed to embarrass him again.  I guessed this because he repeated it.  I affirmed that I was well over 40 and, again, that it was OK.  In the end, I think he was better when I left.  I had, after all, reassured him several times.  The man behind me muffled giggles as I left.

I left there and went to the community theatre where I have been working building scenery.  We were actually loading in parts of the set that day.  So, I was working on bringing in flats and doing my thing when the Director of the theatre walked in to take a look at how things were going.  He and I were chatting as we often do.  He is an elegant, old-school gay man and I really enjoy him.  I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but we were bantering as we often do. I asked him some question I don’t recall.  It was a “yes” or “no” kind of thing, that I do know.  Then, the surprise came.  Norman smiled at me and answered me by saying:  “Yes, Sir.”  You could have knocked me over with a blown kiss from far stage left.  I did not miss a beat, however, and replied:  “Thanks for that, Norman.”  I finished by winking at him.  Of course, he winked back.  I must say, I found the exchange oddly flattering and affirming.  I believe he meant it kindly–an expression of kinship and acceptance.

It was an interesting week, indeed.

I have a friend whose response to bad days thrown into the mix of good days and mediocre days is to say:  some days, you eat the bear; and, some days, the bear eats you.  I have always loved this perspective and borrow it from him whenever it is appropriate.  In keeping with the same philosophy, the point of this week’s story is this:

Some days, they call you Sir and you wink [if only to fluster them more]; and, some days, they call you Sir and they wink [lovingly].


NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.


  1. Scintillectual said,

    Climbing out of my bed of misery long enough to tell you how proud I am of you. I think it is amazing how you have come to accept being you, the unique and wonderful you, just as you are. No apologies, no trying to make others feel better about it so that THEY are more comfortable, doing nothing more than taking it all in stride and moving along through your life. I love that you were so flattered when Norman called you “Sir” and I know he meant it with the utmost respect and a certain sense of comaraderie (sp…too dull-witted today). I also love that you keep going back to Wilco despite that poor kid’s misfortune to keep fumbling over himself…I am glad you didn’t jump over the counter and hug him though, I imagine that would have just done him in.

    I love being part of your life and seeing how you stretch and grow every single day. You fit your skin quite well, indeed, my darling. I love you always and in all ways.

    • androgynonamous said,

      Again, you have expressed to me a love and an acceptance unlike any I have known before…but, then, it has always been there, this thing we share, this bond and understanding and very big love. That you can express it to me like this, publicly [and privately] is a thing of power and beauty. I am so very glad for our returning, for your presence in my life, for all we share. I, too, love being part your life and the growing and evolving you go through and share with me. I am proud of you, proud to love you, proud that you love me. I cannot imagine being at this place in my life and moving forward where it leads me and not sharing it with you. You are, indeed, my one true friend, my one true love.
      On a lighter note, I am also glad I did not hug the poor kid too; I think it would have done us both in. I wonder how he’ll react when I am in there in street clothes rather than saw-dusty work clothes or old jeans, a sweatshirt and a ball cap…
      In any case, I love you with all that is within me, all ways, always and I am ever yours.

  2. Blazer said,

    I loved this story and can relate to it so well. Around the holidays, my girlfriend and I were out shopping and a man approached us to offer car detailing services. I talked to him about prices and told him I would think about it while we were shopping. As we walked away he said “Thank you sir”. My girlfriend corrected him and we went on our way. An hour later he approached us again and he said “Excuse me sir, have you made a decision”. I stopped my girlfriend from correcting him again. Got his card and as we left my girlfriend looked at me puzzled. She reminded me on how in the past his error would have upset me and asked what had changed. After thinking about if for a bit, I realized that I finally don’t care. Both male and female pronouns seem to fit depending on the situation. It’s been a long time coming but I glad to finally be there.

    • androgynonamous said,

      Thanks so much for this sharing of your experience. I completely relate to the adaptation to male and female pronouns fitting at different times and places…and to the coming to a place where is really doesn’t matter one way or the other. As I get older, more settled [as we do], it all–for me–is really more about being seen for who I am and some level of recognition; whether that represents acceptance or distain really is not the point anymore. I accept myself as I am, as do those who love me–the rest is kind of ancillary, if you know what I mean. The kind of exchange you and I have about my posts is, in large part, why I am here now doing this: to be open, put things out there, and stimulate some discussion, some kinship for all of us who show up here. It means a lot to me. I hope you keep coming back and we continue to talk like this. I’m enjoying getting to know you. Peace to you, today…and tomorrow.

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