Rest in peace, Leslie Feinberg

Leslie Feinberg You were THE BUTCH among butches.  You lived your life according to your terms, letting others know such a thing was possible.

Middle-age butch checks in

I’m alive.

Coming up for air.

Writing like a big bad butch.

This update is brought to you by Red Bull. And all the cups of coffee I’ve consumed.  Thank you, Red Bull and coffee.

Things that have happened since my last post:

I have learned that marriage is a money saver.  Straight people have been sitting on this secret for years.  When we paid our auto insurance premium last month, we updated our status to married.  Progressive ended up sending us a check for $46.  That’s right, married people get free money.  For being married.  So, if you live in a state that allows same-sex marriage, go for it.  Because free money.

xx

Married people get free money just for being married.

I changed one of the main characters in my novel in progress from a former beauty queen to a former female wrestler. Does anyone out there remember GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling)? It debuted in 1986. C’mon lesbians, think.  Extra points if you can name any of these spandexed gals.

Do you remember this show?

Do you remember this show?  Do you know these women?

W is on a lavender kick. She bought this new lavender butter (not for toast!) that she rubs on before bed. After she coats herself in a thin coat of lavender, she rubs it on my cheeks and my chin and under my nose. I giggle because it seems so girly.  But I have been sleeping like a giant butch baby.  Zzzzzzz.

This is what I dream about at night?

This is what I dream about at night?

And W is great.  She humors me about this crazy writing thing.  Like when I start talking to myself, she gently asks who I’m talking to.  And at night when I say that maybe I’m not a fiction writer after all, she just rolls over and says “goodnight, baby.”

Back to the grind. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, feel free to add me  as a buddy(my handle is rtheo).

Middle-age Butch to embark on crazy writing journey

Dear Flannel Files Followers,

Your favorite butch is taking leave from blogging and her sanity for the month of November. Yes, I will be partaking of National Novel Writing Month.  For those of you who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a commitment to write 50,000 words in one month.

Melissa EtheridgeConsider it challenging and insane, like trying to count the number of lesbians at a Melissa Etheridge concert. 59, 60, 61 … Did I already count the one with the short hair?

I have an idea for a novel. And very little free time.  Which should make for an interesting combo.

Plus, I’ve never written a novel before. Or even fiction for that matter.  I’ve always found enough material examining my own life, self-involved butch that I am.

I will try to check in once in awhile. Because I just can’t quit you people!

Fifty thousand words in 30 days. Talk about crazy.  Talk about butch.

StraightjacketSend good thoughts or straightjackets, in flannel, preferably.

If you’re doing NanoWriMo this year, give a shout back. Misery, company and all that good stuff.

Middle-age Butch

 

 

P.S. Supplies purchased today from big box store.

Red Bull and Skinny Pop

Not butch enough for haunted things

My W is here.

My W is here.

“My hersband is too afraid to go,” W texted her friends from work.

They are going to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary tonight. The website bills it as “A Massive Haunted House in a REAL PRISON.”

No thanks. Count me out.  I will stay home and watch reruns of Orange Is the New Black, which is a comedy set in a FAKE PRISON.

I know what you’re thinking, faithful followers.  Middle-age Butch, you are the butchest person I know.  Aren’t you butch enough for a little old haunted house?

Um, no.

I am butch enough to wear flannel everyday of the week.  I am butch enough to arm wrestle k.d. lang.  I am butch enough to wear a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress.

But this butch doesn’t do haunted houses or haunted hayrides or anything else that involves paying a fee to be scared.

That is not butch. That is stupid.

W is paying $20 to be scared by chainsaw-wielding strangers wearing face paint and fake blood.

If anyone out there wants a really good fright, mail me $20.  Tell me your worst fear, or I can make one up for you.

  • Dear Netflix Subscriber, We regret to inform you that there will not be a Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black.
  • Good news!  I’ve cleared my calendar and will be able to stay with you through the holidays!  All of them!!  Love, Mom
  • Dear Former Student, It wasn’t just a recurring bad dream.  You really are three credits short.  We will be revoking your diploma.

When I was a teenager, my father took me to a haunted house at the New Jersey shore.  I remember crowding into a room that was supposed to be an elevator with a bunch or other people and being scared to death.  I thought I was going to die.  It was the last time I held my dad’s hand.

The Shining

Too much blood for this butch.

I am not a fan of horror movies either. I can count the scary movies that I’ve seen on two hands (hands missing several digits due to an accident involving farm equipment) — Poltergeist, Children of the Corn, Silence of the Lambs, The Blair Witch Project.  I started watching The Shining when I was in college, but my friends had to remove me from the theater because I was turning green and about to pass out from all the blood.

Alas, I am a delicate butch.

I did tell W that if she doesn’t come home tonight I will look for her.

In the morning.

When the sun comes up.

It’s what any butch would do.

* * *

Do you like haunted houses and scary movies?

Butch wife

I never wanted a wife.

I never wanted to be a wife.

Kate and Allie

Kate and Allie: I would have been the hilarious one on the right.

I figured a way around all of that tradition sometime in the ’80s. I suggested to my college roommate that after graduation we get a place and live, you know, like Kate and Allie.  It would be a 24/7 slumber party eating raw cookie dough right from the tube and staying up late to watch reruns of The Facts of Life.  (I watched way too much TV back then).  I would be Allie, played by comedy legend and pioneer Jane Curtain, because of my rapier wit and she could be Kate, played by Susan Saint James, because she had darker hair.

“Yeah, no,” she replied.

I offered for her to be Allie, but she still wasn’t buying into my vision of two women living under the same roof and raising kids.

Yes, she was narrow minded.

And I was deep in the closet, back with the unused ski equipment and broken umbrella.

Flash forward almost 30 years, and I am a wife. I have a wife, too.  Who even knew such things were possible?

I do not look like a wife.

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Wilma Flintstone was a wife. Donna Reed, wife.  June Cleaver.  Laura Petrie.  Carol Brady.  Jane Jetson.

Before W and I said I do, we had a conversation about her referring to me as her wife.

“I wouldn’t say anything in front of anyone, but I would cringe inside every time you said the word ‘wife,'” I said.

It is the association with traditional female roles and stereotypes that bothers me. It is fingernails on chalkboard.

It is the same way I felt when I was 10-years-old and forced to pick out back-to-school clothes from the girls’ section of the department store.

W comes home these days and greets me as she’s walking through the door.

“Hi, wifey.”

“There you are, wife.”

I laugh.  She laughs.

We are still dumbstruck by the fact that we are married. Legally married.  Like non-gay people.

It is all new. We are still adjusting.

When W asks what she should call me, I tell her I don’t know. I don’t know yet.  Sometimes I feel I’m still in transition, in flux.  That it’ll all shake out one day.  That I’ll know the answer then.

I feel bad for W, because I make everything so difficult.

If I’m not a wife, what am I?  I’m not a husband.  A spouse?  Partner?  That’s how we referred to each other in the old days, before we had a piece of paper that says we’re married.

I think about what it means to be a butch. Sure, it is about flannel shirts and comfortable shoes and football on Sunday and Monday and every other day of the week and beer and treating your lady like a queen.

images[7]But it is also about having the courage to be different, to be who you are. To answer to “sir” when you are anything but.  To be mistaken for a young man when you are nearing menopause.  It is about wearing a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress.  And venturing into the women’s bathroom — that room with a door marked with the silhouette of a person wearing a dress — when you don’t know what kind of reception awaits.

So, yeah. Butch wife.  Maybe I can handle that.  On my terms.  In my way.

Listening to sports radio when I bake cookies for the kids. Or wearing a tie when I take my wife out to dinner on date night.

Anyone got a problem with that?

* * *

What do you call your significant other?

What I learned about love (and bowties) on my wedding day

Keep calmW and I were going to say “I do” in about two hours. I had this marriage thing, this love thing down.

I have been married before.  And civil unioned.  Practice makes perfect they say.  Third time’s the charm.  This time around, there would be no surprises.  How could there be?  What could this 47-year-old butch not know about commitment, about love?

A group of friends and family were at the pavilion stringing up lights and placing vintage Mason jars filled with fall flowers on the picnic tables.

W and I were at home getting dressed.

I knew to stay out of W’s way as it would take her longer to get ready, W being the bride and all.

I was looking good.

I was looking good.

I took my time and put on my jeans and white button-down shirt, rolling up the sleeves just so. I slid on my custom Converse with the wedding date emblazoned in back and laced them up.  I folded up my vows and placed them in my front shirt pocket.  Only one thing left to do.  I flipped up my collar, wrapped my bowtie around my neck and went to use the mirror in the downstairs bathroom to tie that bad boy.

I almost got it on the first try. But then my nerves got the best of me.  Despite all the YouTube videos and the bowtie tying drills earlier in the week, I just couldn’t get it tied.  I took some deep breaths and kept trying.

One side longer. Over, under.  Long side out of the way.  Form a bow.  Long side down in front.  Taco, taco.  Stuff.

Now I was sweating. A lot.  I brought my iPad in the bathroom for video aid.  Still no luck.

Stay calm. You can do this.

I thought a change in venue might help, so I tried the upstairs bathroom.  There was no bowtie tying magic in there.

I was starting to panic. And curse.  We had to leave soon.  What if I couldn’t get the bowtie tied?  I had been blogging about this damn bowtie for a month.  What would I wear?  It was too late to run out and buy a necktie.  And at this point, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to tie a one of those.

“I can’t do it,” I yelled out to W.

“Yes, you can,” she encouraged.

I ventured into our bedroom where W was getting dressed.

“It’s too hard,” I said, pouting like only a middle-age butch and a six-year-old girl can.

“I don’t want to hear it,” W said. “I have to put on Spanx.  You want to trade places?”

I quickly left the bedroom and continued my futile attempts at tying a bowtie. I swore more quietly so W wouldn’t hear.

One side longer. Long side out of the way.  Form a bow.  Long side down in front.  Taco, taco.  Stuff.

Time was running out. We were already running late.  The bowtie is aptly named the Jack & Ennis after the leads in Brokeback MountainI can’t quit you or tie you! I yelled out to no one in particular.

It was time to think alternatives. Glue gun.  Or maybe nail gun.  I needed tools of some kind.  Possibly a Dremel.

xx

I almost looked like this guy.

Or maybe I could wear the bowtie like a tiny, jaunty silk scarf. Or tie it in a big bow and wear it Colonel Sanders style.  Desperate times and all.

I retreated to the bedroom one last time and sat down on the bed next to W. W grabbed her iPad and watched a two-minute YouTube video.  She tied the bowtie perfectly on her first try.

“Just so you know, I will learn how to tie my own bowtie,” I said.  It was my attempt at piecing back together my butch bravado that lay scattered in tiny shards on the floor around my custom Converse.

“You don’t have to,” W said.

xx

Perfect.

When we got to the pavilion, W pointed out my bowtie to some of the guests.

“Doesn’t it look great?”

I just smiled and told everyone that I had pulled on my own underwear in the morning and that’s about all I had done. That is pretty much the truth not true at all.

We had about a half hour before we were to say our vows. Usually, I’m not good on the fly, but I was able to work the bowtie into my vows.  It was the least I could do.

Here are some snippets:

You are the first person with whom I share good news and bad.

You are the person I go to when I am feeling down, scared, unsure or frustrated.

You are the person I look for when I am feeling happy or triumphant and want to share my good luck and fortune.

And you are the person I go to on my wedding day when I can’t tie my bowtie.

* * *

There’s a line in a Melissa Etheridge song that I quote to you all the time.

“You found out to love me, you have to climb some fences.”

You climb those fences with grace and most times even a smile on your face.

But isn’t that what love is? Climbing fences.

And that is my promise to you. To love you, to support you, to encourage you, to forgive you.

And climb those fences every once in awhile so you know that I am here and that I’m not going anywhere and that you are worth the extra effort every single time.

I figure I scored some butch bonus points for admitting that I didn’t tie the bowtie.  (And working in a Melissa Etheridge song.)

* * *

Today, I’m fairly confident that I will be able to master the tying of the bowtie. I mean, I can drive a car and give a cat a pill and remove spaghetti sauce stains from a white shirt.  But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.

I like the idea of having W tie my bowties from this day forward.  While W is tying, we will laugh about our wedding day and my bowtie tying ineptitude and how she saved the day.  We will be reminded that we are not on this journey alone but have a constant companion to share the ups and downs of life.  I will remember that I can’t do everything on my own — contrary to what my butch ego says — and that there is wisdom and courage in asking for and accepting help.  And that I am so very lucky to have by my side a strong, competent woman (who happens to excel at tying things) as my wife.

Wedding tomorrow … gulp

WeddingThe wedding is tomorrow and this butch has a case of the nerves.

We have an outside venue, and it is supposed to rain, at least in the morning.  Looks like we are clear in the afternoon when our event will be taking place.  Phew.

It is supposed to be cooler than we had expected.  Right around 60 degrees.  I ran out this week and bought that old lesbian staple to wear over my white button-down and keep me warm — a navy blue knit vest.

xx

This is where everything will be happening.

W picked this park/pavilion because it has a fireplace, so we will have a source of heat.  It was supposed to be for “atmosphere” but now it looks like it will be for “warming of people.”

We are organized and ready to go, which helps.  Everything we are bringing is boxed and labeled.

I keep worrying that I’ll forget how to tie my bowtie.  (I got it tied on last night’s practice run in under two minutes.)  Or that my custom Converse will get muddy.  Or that I will totally freeze when it is my turn to say my vows.  Did I mention that I hate speaking into microphones?  These are the things this butch worries about.

Ok, time to take a deep breath and get through today.  I need to make the ziti.  Press my shirt.  Get a haircut.  Finish writing my vows.  Pack a bag for the weekend.

What do you do in times of craziness and stress to calm yourself down?  Any suggestions for your favorite butch?