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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Mail call for Middle-age Butch

They came today.

Shipping box

A box inside a box.

Converse box

There they were.  Nestled under a tissue paper blanket.

Converse wrapped in tissue paper

I slowly peeled back the paper.  A thousand tiny angels started to sing.  It was beautiful.  Like when the Indigo Girls hit that note in “Closer to Fine.”  But better because these were angels.

Converse sneakers

I almost wept.  But then remembered I’m a butch.

Brand new custom Converse

Custom Converse.  White with navy blue tongues, laces and stitching.  Paisley/skull pattern inset.  Black rubber racing stripes.  Silver eyelets.  Navy blue outer heel stripes.

Custom Converse

With the date of the wedding stitched on the back.

Custom Converse with wedding date

 

 

 

The one where Middle-age butch hijacks the wedding

Or blue is the warmest wedding color

When W and I started planning our wedding, we decided to keep it casual. I told her I wanted to wear jeans and sneakers.  She decided on a white dress because she is a girl and all.  Not a fancy bridal gown but a simple white dress.

W said she didn’t want a color theme like we had at our commitment ceremony. Back then, our colors were various shades of pink and rose.  I happily wore an antique pink rose boutonniere and a matching vintage tie W had picked out at an antique store.  She was the bride after all.

This time around when I decided to wear a bowtie, I had unlimited color and pattern options. What doesn’t match white?

xx

I see trouble ahead for you, Middle-age Butch.

When the Jack & Ennis navy blue bowtie (that’s the one in the bandana pattern) was chosen by 40 percent of y’all, I placed my order with the tie bar. Some all-knowing butches out there commented that they would match their tie to their bride, but my bride said she was just wearing a white dress.

I ordered a matching pair of sneakers and called it a day.

So, when I went to make the programs for the wedding this weekend, I needed a color. Can you say navy blue?  The cake?  The icing is navy blue.

Yes, I’ve hijacked the wedding or at least the wedding color. Yesterday, W went to pick out a sweater to wear over her dress.  (The wedding is being held at a park.)  She got one in white and one in navy blue.

What’s a butch to do?

It’s butch etiquette to let the lady pick out things like flowers and colors (see Butch Handbook, page 23).

So, I feel bad and like a bully.  At least a color bully.

W doesn’t seem to mind.  In fact, she seems tickled that we’re using the color navy because of my bowtie.  She’s a good sport and a good woman.

xx

I love this bowtie!

The bowtie came by the way.  In a small white box tucked under a blanket of tissue paper.

It took me three tries to get it tied.

This butch says thanks for the bowtie tying lesson, Stay Fly 101 of youtube fame.

One thing to cross off my bucket list.

Learn how to tie a bowtie.

Now, I just have to figure out if I’m too old to be fly.  Word.

Questioning the luck of the potluck

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— Source: icanhas.cheezburger.com

“You’re a terrible lesbian,” W said to me yesterday.

I knew exactly what she was talking about.

“You mean the potluck.  Because I have no faith in the luck of the potluck,” I replied.

We’re having a potluck at the wedding to cut down on costs.  I’m worried there won’t be enough substantial food for our guests.  I was going to make two trays of ziti and now I’m afraid that won’t be enough.  I was thinking about testing out some crockpot recipes this weekend.

“Whatever you want, baby,” W says.

That’s what she tells me when she knows my head is about to explode.

W is cool and calm about the potluck.

“If we get five kinds of potato salad, we get five kinds of potato salad,” she says.  This has become her potluck mantra

Maybe I should just pray to the potluck goddesses for a plentiful spread.  Or perhaps sacrifice one of those mini crockpots or a tray of deviled eggs and call it a day.

* * *

The wedding is only two weeks away, so I will be posting short wedding-related posts as we count down to “she do” and “she do, too.”

Gone Girl teaches this girl a lesson

gone-girl-book-cover-med[1]I had forgotten how much I love books.

It’s not that I haven’t been reading.  I read every night for at least 20 minutes or so.  I try to sneak in reading wherever I can — at the doctor’s office, in the car waiting to pick up my son, sprawled out on the couch for a quick work break.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of nonfiction: a book on introverts, books on gender, an essay collection.  Nonfiction seems substantial and important.  Worthy of my precious time.  They are books that say look at me, look at the important things I’m reading.

And then I spotted a hardcover copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl on a rack in a thrift store for $2.25.  I bought it.  I had heard from another writer that the writing was good, exceptional even.  Besides, the book only cost as much as an 8 ounce can of Red Bull.  What did I have to lose?

I knew Gone Girl had appeared on various best seller lists a few years ago.  I didn’t let this stop me.  I’m usually not a fan of mainstream books.  My name is Middle-age Butch, and I am a book snob.

Gone Girl isn’t even the genre that I typically read.  I’m not big into mysteries or thrillers.  Sorry, Agatha Christie.

But Flynn had me in the palm of her at the get go.

Gone Girl is about a suburban wife who goes missing.  That’s where the story starts.  Is the husband the killer?  I found my allegiance switching from the wife to the husband and back again a whole bunch of times.

Flynn writes beautifully.  I couldn’t put this book down.  I started to pace myself near the end, because I didn’t want the ride to end.

Thank you, Gillian Flynn for reminding me that books don’t have to be heavy and serious to be worthy.  They can be fun.

* * *

Have you read Gone Girl?  What are you reading right now?