This week I did something pretty stupid. And definitely very un-butch.
W pointed it out.
“You’re not a very good butch,” she said.
I had had the same exact thought myself and told her so.
I knew that she was only referring to this specific incident, so I wasn’t really insulted. I’m usually just the right amount of butch for her. No complaints in that department, if you know what I mean.
“I’m done beating myself up about it,” I said, even though I wasn’t.
It had to do with my car. I am a butch, but I am not mechanically inclined.
A month or so ago, I had a new fuel pump installed in my 10-year-old Nissan Altima. Ever since, the car has been ruining weird. It’s been loud and hard to start. I had assumed that everything stemmed from this new fuel pump. Maybe it was a faulty pump. Maybe the fuel tank needed de-gunked. This is what happens when you know nothing about cars and google “loud fuel pump.”
Last week, my car wouldn’t start. Long story short, I ignored the obvious — a dead battery — and jumped to the conclusion that it was the fuel pump or something much worse. Prior to the new fuel pump, another garage had insisted that my car needed $1,400 worth of work.
So, I paid $65 to have the car towed to the mechanic’s. Because I had a dead battery.
I felt like an idiot. Worse, I felt like I should hand in my butch card. You know, the one with the flannel border.
My dad taught my brother how to change the oil in his car and put in new spark plugs. He taught me how to jump a battery — a skill that everyone young woman should know for safety reasons, of course — but held back on other car repair skills.
I learned things from my mother — how to cook and bake and scrub a toilet and fold laundry.
We were a family that followed strict gender roles. My father went to work and my mother stayed home and maintained the house. My dad cut the grass and drove the family car. Always. My mother cooked dinner and did the laundry. Always.
When my brother and I were teens, he started cutting the grass. I had to cook dinner.
It’s just the way it was. The way things were supposed to be in the 80s. If we didn’t see anything wrong with spiky hair and acid-washed jeans and Boy George, we certainly didn’t bat an eye when it came to boy chores and girl chores.
I always had an interest in male-centric activities though. My dad taught me to fish and play poker and throw a baseball. He taught me how to keep score at a baseball game and shoot pool and even how to tie a perfect Windsor knot. Hey, it was the 80s and ties were big.
Today, I consider myself a butch even though I don’t change the oil in my car. and apparently can’t even tell when my car battery is dead.
Things in our household our all topsy-turvy.
W is the bread winner. I work from home and cook dinner and do the laundry.
I do some home repairs. But I have to look everything up on the Internet, and it takes me a really long time to do pretty much everything.
W does most of the driving. I am terrible with directions. I get lost all of the time. W never gets lost. Even when she tries.
W is good with computers. I bake a hell of a banana cake.
I drive the kids to appointments and practices.
I clip coupons.
And file them in my coupon organizer.
Sometimes I wonder if these things — these traditional female tasks like baking and shopping and homemaking — make me any less a butch.
But most days I’m glad that I don’t have to live inside a blue box or a pink box or do only boy things or girl things. A skill is a skill, whether it’s baking a cake or jumping a car battery or sewing a button on a shirt.
And when I bake my famous banana cake for W and her co-workers, she is always very appreciative, if you know what I mean.
At those times, I feel like the biggest butch in the world.
What about you? Where do you fall when it comes to “boy stuff” and “girl stuff”?