The secret handshake of Alpha Beta Butch

I was in a local convenience store the other day when I spotted a baby dyke emerging from the potato chip aisle.

She was cute.  Petite but muscular with a short haircut topped off by a baseball cap.  I think we were wearing matching cargo shorts.

We nodded at each other.

Her with a classic downward nod and me with my characteristic upward nod.  It’s a chin raise of about half an inch topped off with a slight arch of the eyebrows.

It’s a butch-to-butch ritual of recognition.

It’s quick and quiet and if you blink your eyes you just might miss it.

The nod lets you know that there’s at least one other masculine lesbian in proximity buying potato chips, shopping in the young men’s section, looking at power tools or purchasing a pack of boxer shorts.  It’s a secret fraternity of sorts.  Alpha Beta Butch, or something like that.

When I left the store, I had a smile on my face.  I live in a small town, so it’s always nice to spot a sister, even if it’s only at more obvious lesbian haunts like Home Depot.

On the way home though, I felt wistful.  What I wouldn’t give to turn back the clock and be a baby dyke.

I wasted the prime of my youth trying to fit in.  Trying to hide my broad shoulders to get some guy — any guy — to notice me.  Pretending that bowling isn’t all that great and gee isn’t that boy cute.

Shit, teen me or 20-something me would have made a first-class dyke.  I was athletic and strong.  Tan and toned.

But that’s not the path that I traveled.  I took my gay self and tried to force it into heterosexual relationships.  No matter how much I twisted or forced or changed or altered it never worked out.   Epic fail every time.

About a year ago, I attended a meeting for a local lesbian social group.  The attendees were complaining about the local bar scene.

“I can’t stand going to Sisters anymore,” one of them said.  “It’s just a bunch of baby dykes drinking their beers and leering at women.”

“No offense,” she said, looking directly at me.

“None taken,” I replied, secretly overjoyed that I had just been called a baby dyke.

It wasn’t the “baby” part that tickled me, even though I’m half-past 40.  It was the “dyke” part.  She had recognized me as a legitimate member of the lesbian community.  Even if she did lump all of us flannel-wearing, side-burn sporting dykes together as lecherous and annoying.

It was just like that butch-to-butch head nod in the convenience store.

One silent nod and I belonged.

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11 responses to “The secret handshake of Alpha Beta Butch

  1. ilovemacaroniart

    Forgive me, maybe I am jumping the gun & will learn this in later posts, but how long have you been with your wife? Have you had other relationships with women prior to being with her?
    Jess is the first woman I have been with (& if I have it my way, only), though I knew I was gay when I was a teenager. Part of me wishes I would have been braver then & experienced more…but we can’t turn back time can we?

    • My life story is married to a man for nine years. I came out in my late 30s. I fell in love with my first girlfriend. It was a stereotypical over-intense first lesbian relationship. I got together with W after that relationship ended. We have been together for 7 years or so now.

      I think I am past that phase of mourning all of that lost time. All of the women I could have dated, all of that time I could have been living a more authentic life.

      No, we can’t turn back time. That’s why it’s so important to live our best life right now.

      • ilovemacaroniart

        I completely agree! I was married to a man for 8 years….met my fiancee online & picked up & moved 1,200 miles to be with her. I’ve loved her since the moment I saw her, well before then really or I wouldn’t have gotten on the plane.
        I hate that we live in a society where ww have to hide who we are…we can’t legally get married here yet & who knows when it will finally be legal? 😦

      • Where do you live? We are in Pa. and same-sex marriage is now legal here. Who would have thunk. We will be making it official in a few months.

      • ilovemacaroniart

        We’re in Michigan. Yeah we could go to Illinois & get it done, but Jess doesn’t see the point of it if it’s not legal here …so we wait

      • Be patient. We were not expecting the tide to turn in Pa. so quickly. But then it did. And now we can say “I do.”

      • ilovemacaroniart

        I am definitely trying to be patient, mostly because I don’t have any other choice lol.

      • Well, there’s that, too.

  2. Pingback: Leaving Normal: An Interview | Temperature's Rising

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