My name is Middle-age butch, and I am addicted to sneakers

My first pair of Nikes looked like this.

My first pair of Nikes looked like this.

I got my first pair of Nikes when I was about 11 years old.  Ladies Roadrunners, light blue with darker blue swooshes.  My mom bought them for me from a sporting goods store in the Berkshire Mall.  I slipped them on, laced them up and raced around the perimeter of the store.  I insisted I could run faster, jump higher in these expensive running shoes.  Each time I looked down at my feet, I broke out in a big, silly grin that these days I reserve for Sofia Vergara and clips of Beyoncé in concert.

The Nikes came in a bright orange box with a map of the world on the front.  The map showed the shoes were made in Beaverton, Ore., and sold all over the world.

Beaverton, Oregon.  How special and exotic, my 11-year-old self said.

My 47-year-old lesbian self says he he he he he he.

I was hooked.  It was with that pair of Nikes that I became obsessed with athletic shoes.  Tennis shoes.  Sneakers.  Kicks.  Whatever you call them, I love them.

I came back for more Nikes.  My next pair were Nike Roadrunners, dark blue with complimentary light blue swooshes.  They were the Bizarro version of my first pair — the same thing just reversed.

I can’t remember all of my sneakers (that’s what we call them in the Philadelphia suburbs).  There have been so many:

xx

Always a classic.

The high-top gray Chucks that I bought with money I made working at McDonald’s.

The three-quarter cut Reebok basketball shoes with the black and neon pink accents.  Note: These were the most expensive pair of sneakers I ever purchased.  I shelled out $125 for them in the 1990s using the money I made working register and stocking shelves at Drug Emporium.

xx

These were my party shoes in 1985.  These were my dress-up shoes in 1985.

I wore a pair of white Asics wrestling shoes with black stripes my freshman year of college.

I told my mom everyone was wearing them.

No one was wearing them.

Except for me.

And the wrestling team.

There were others:

A pair of white Asics high-tops with red stripes.  They were a half-size too small, which meant my toes pushed into the end of these exquisite high-tops every time I wore them.  My toes are curling as I type this.  But, god, they were cool.

xx

Everybody had a pair of these.

Reebok classic high-tops with velcro straps.

Bright white Nike tennis shoes (shoes meant to play tennis in) with light blue swooshes.

Black Nike sneakers with white swooshes like a referee would wear.

I don’t associate these shoes with specific memories.  Instead, they remind me of periods of my life.

Today, I can pretty much afford to buy whatever sneakers I want.  I usually buy them from the men’s clearance rack though.  I stockpile them and break out a new pair as needed.  I’m not so fussy anymore.  Sometimes I’ll splurge, but what really turns me on is a good bargain.

I look through the sports store catalogs in the Sunday paper as if they are porn magazines.

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Enough said.

“Look at these,” I say to W.

“Sweet,” she responds.

She knows not to call them “cute.”

We’ve been over that.

My tastes have changed over the years.

I’m more fond of Adidas these days.  I wore a pair of gray suede Adidas Neo shoes for most of the summer.

I’ve learned that New Balance might not be the best looking shoes on the shelf, but they are sturdy and incredibly comfortable.  If I were a sneaker, I’d probably be a New Balance.

My feet have changed, too.  I can’t wear most Nikes these days unless I find a pair in a wide.

Sneakers bring out the kid in me.  That little boy/girl somewhere inside.  Every once in a while, I’ll catch myself grinning as I work my foot into a brand new pair of checkered Vans or striped Adidas or Nikes that look like those ones I wanted back in the day.  These are the shoes, I tell myself.  The ones that will make me run faster and jump higher.

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What about you?  What was your all-time favorite pair of sneakers?  What do you rock these days?

Tying the knot

Keep CalmW and I are counting down the days. We are getting married one month from today.

We got our marriage license last week. Yay, P-A!

There’s a lot more to do. W has taken the lead on most of the preparation because it is a wedding and she is a girl.  Besides, she is the one with the vision.  Not some creepy-scary vision of werewolves or bloody fingerprints but a vision of vintage tablecloths and fresh-cut flowers in antique mason jars.

As for attire, she has to worry about a dress and undergarments, jewelry, nail polish, a shawl or around-the-shoulder wrap of some kind.

I am in charge of a few things. Purchasing a Polaroid camera and film for a mock photo booth.  Outfitting myself.

We are keeping it casual. I am planning on wearing a pair of jeans and a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

I am usually a necktie guy. I love ties.

I am thinking about changing things up and wearing a bowtie for the wedding. See, I can be crazy and spontaneous (as long as the spontaneity is planned).

Jesse Tyler Ferguson has his “Tie the Knot” collection that he sells through the tie bar.  Each bowtie costs $25, and $20 from each purchase goes to organizations fighting for marriage equality.  Count me in.

Which bowtie should I buy?

My favorite color is red, so that’s my go-to color for accent pieces.

I’m thinking about going in a whole new direction.

Navy blue.

Crazy, I know.

The Delacorte caught my eye first. It’s a navy blue bowtie with floral accents in emerald green.

The Delacorte

The Delacorte

Or, I could go all Brokeback with the Jack & Ennis, a classic bandana pattern in navy.  I can yell out during the vows: I can’t quit you, W!  It would be real romantic and all.

The Jack & Ennis

The Jack & Ennis

I’m definitely thinking navy.  But, I also like this light blue one.

BT087_l[1]

The Kushner

Take the poll, below, and tell me what you think.

That only leaves a few details.

1. Learning to tie a bowtie.

2. Buying a new pair of matching kicks.

Right now, I’m thinking:

Nike Blazer low

Nike Blazer low

Or,

Classic Checkered Vans

Classic Checkered Vans

Ah, butch fashion dilemmas.

Help me out!  Calling all butches and anyone else with an opinion.

 

Shaking hands with Star-Lord

W and I did the picnic thing over the long Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday, we went to a potluck picnic at a winery.  Everyone knows a potluck never really begins until the lesbians arrive.

We brought a banana cake with cream cheese icing.

The party had officially started.

I spent a good portion of my time talking with a guy who’s about my age.  We’ve met before at other events thrown by these hosts.

xx

I was at a picnic with Star-Lord.

Mostly, we talked about Guardians of the Galaxy, baseball (my team the Phillies and his team the Orioles), football (my team the Steelers and his team the Ravens) and his bathroom home improvement project.  I’ll call him Star-Lord (not his real name) because we talked a lot about Guardians of the Galaxy.  Besideswhat’s not to like about Star-Lord?  Anyone who dances to music from the 1970s — Cherry Bomb, anyone? — is ok in my book.

I have a difficult time connecting with men in general.  There are only a handful of guys that I feel comfortable around.  Star-Lord is one of those guys.

When Star-Lord was leaving the potluck, he confidently stuck out his hand.

We shook hands, and that’s how we said goodbye.

Maybe that’s why Star-Lord and I get along so well.  We have a lot in common (even though he’s a Ravens fan and I’m a Steelers fan). He gets me.  He’s not uncomfortable with how I present.  He sees me as I am: A masculine-centered woman who would prefer to shake hands as a farewell gesture instead of hug.

I was not raised by huggers.

My brother and I fist bump.

xx

I side hug you.

Sometimes my mother hugs me, but it is more of a side hug as if we are Duggar daughters on a date.

W comes from a long line of huggers.

Her brothers get a kick out of rushing me and hugging me long and hard like human bears because they know I am not a hugger.

I appreciate that they have accepted me into their family.  I participate in their hugging ritual because it means I am part of things.  I am in the mix.  I am one of the guys.

The worst is the half hug.  You know, when someone leans in but doesn’t really commit.  I get stuck on the receiving end of those a lot.  Sometimes people don’t know what to do with me.  The half hug is uncomfortable and awkward.

That’s why I appreciated Star-Lord’s extended hand.

There was no guessing, no stumbling, no fumbling.

Sometimes a firm, decisive handshake says it all.

* * *

How about you? Are you a hugger or a handshaker?

The butch and the bat

We had a lot of excitement here last night.

It was about 1:30 a.m. and W and I were sound asleep when one of the children yelled something about a bat in the house.

We both put on our glasses and got out of bed.

There were shouts of “bat!” and “where?”

And that’s when we saw it.  A bat in the second-floor hallway.

This next part is fuzzy.  There was screaming.  Mine.  And running.  Me.

After venturing into the hallway, I spotted the bat flying back and forth in the enclosed space.  I ran back into our bedroom with my hands covering my head.  Because what bat wouldn’t try to get all tangled up in this butch’s perfect hairdo?

W says my arms were flailing, but really it was a windmill move purposefully designed to ward off bats.  Get all up in this space motherfucker, and I will cut you, I communicated with my wildly swinging hands that were now weapons.  Bat cutting weapons.

xx

It’s wings were THIS big.

Seriously, this sucker was huge.  It had a Brittney Griner wingspan.  For realz.

When the bat appeared to disappear, we determined it had made its way to the third floor.

“Good luck!” we yelled to the kid who sleeps on the third floor.

At this point, it was every man for himself.

I secured the door at the bottom of the steps leading up to the third floor.  W went to the bathroom because of excitement! and bladder!  The child who had first spotted the bat was in his room with the door closed.

And then I heard it.  A skree skree.  Or I will kill you when I get the chance or at least get tangled up in that butch hair you love so much.

And then I saw it.  The bat squeezing out the bottom of the door that I was holding shut.  I swear that bat folded itself up like some kind of origami project gone horribly wrong and slid under the door as if it was passing itself as a note.  A terrible black furry note with pointy teeth and possibly rabies.

xx

Me.

I screamed.  Again.  That tiny girl part somewhere deep inside me screamed.  It was loud and shrill.  I couldn’t control it.  I was that kid in Home Alone.  If that kid was a little girl.

All the doors on the second floor were closed.  The bat was on the loose again in the hallway.

I ran downstairs.  To plot my next move.  Or sit on the couch.  I can’t be sure.  I was in an adrenaline-fueled fog.

xx

Stunned and captured.

I could hear W upstairs.  Apparently, the bat was now in our bedroom circling the room.  Our cat Magic was on our bed jumping at the circling bat.  W says Magic looked at her and nodded her feline head as if to say “I’ve got this.” Magic knocked the bat down and stunned the creature, and W was able to capture it by putting a waste can on top of it.

I could hear W getting all MacGyver.  Yelling out instructions for some makeshift bat catch-and-release kit.  Something thin, something sturdy.  Now!

In the end, she slid a piece of cardboard under the waste can, carried the can outside and released the bat into the night.

I tried to gather all of my butch dignity as I made my way upstairs and into bed.

 

Fire in the hole! We’re getting married!

Red buttonWe sent out electronic invites to our wedding this week.

Before hitting the send button, W asked if I was ready.

I yelled out something like “fire in the hole!” or “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

I can’t be sure.  It all happened so fast.

And they were gone.

We held our breath for a really long time.

The world didn’t explode.

We laid sideways on our bed on our stomachs, stared at W’s iPad and waited for the first response.  We had set the over-under line at 10 minutes.  W took the under.  I took the over.

W won.

We giggled like schoolgirls laying on our bed like that with our feet dangling off the edge, wondering what we just set in motion.

So, we are busy planning our wedding.  It’s going to be an informal picnic-style affair.  Pot luck, of course, because after all we are lesbians.  (See page 23 of Lesbian Handbook.)

PennsylvaniaWe had a formal commitment ceremony a few years ago with all the bells and whistles.  This is just a party with vows because now we can get legally hitched in Pennsylvania.  We get to celebrate that we are still in love and still choose each other.  We have another opportunity to get together with friends and family.  I have a close friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, so right now I am acutely aware of how little time we spend with the people we love most.

Just this once I think we get the sweeter deal. We get two wedding celebrations because we’re gay.  Take that straight people!

Every once in a while, W asks me if I’m sure I want to marry her.  Like when she’s in wedding-planning mode.

Every once in a while, I ask W if she’s sure she wants to marry me.  Like when I’m setting over-under lines for everything and making her watch another “quirky” movie.

We pretend to call it off every couple of days.

I thought I would be more nervous than I am.  Because this time it’s for realz.

But I’m ok.  (And not just my normal butch I-told-you-I’m-ok-now-leave-me-the-hell-alone ok, but really ok.)

I think of me and W stretched out on our bed and laughing like kids.  I want to bottle that feeling of lightness and happiness and connection.

I guess I’ll just marry her instead.

 

I’m a sexy beast

It’s true.

I’m a sexy beast.

It says so right here.  On this purple velvety card that W gave me on Saturday.

Sexy beast

Do believe everything you read.

Especially if it makes you feel 10 feet tall and all tingly inside.

 

 

Taboo Tales: Looking for submissions

Here’s a project I’m working on.  Take a gander and feel free to submit if you are so moved or pass onto others in the writing community.

* * *

MARGINS CALL is accepting submissions for its Anthology Volume:

Taboo Tales: Writing Off The Limits

We are seeking prose from writers in all communities and all walks of life.   All submissions must be first time unpublished works.

We also invite submissions of photography and artwork to be considered for the anthology’s front and back jacket covers.

Content of submissions should be for and about those identified with how Taboo created negative and/or positive experiences in their lives.

MARGINS CALL Volume Theme is Taboo.

“Stigma’s power lies in silence, the silence that persists when discussion and action should be taking place.  The silence one imposes on another for speaking up on a taboo subject, branding them with a label until they are rendered mute or preferably unheard.”

― M.B. Dallocchio

Fiction, non-fiction and creative non-fiction submissions should be a maximum of 5,000 words.  Only unpublished, first-time submissions will be accepted.  Paste your single-spaced submission into the body of your e-mail.  Attachments will only be accepted if you are submitting photography or artwork.  Only one submission per person permitted.  A photo or artwork is considered one submission.  Please include a 50-word bio.

Submissions for MARGINS CALL should be directed to 2tab00tales@gmail.com

All submissions will be acknowledged when received and everyone will be notified of the editor’s selections.

Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the anthology upon publication.

Deadline for submissions is October 30, 2014.