It’s been a awhile since I’ve posted.
I’ve been faithfully attending my writing group and working on my memoir, even though a little voice inside me says things like:
“You can’t do it.”
“You’re not that funny”
“Who would want to read that?”
My inner critic can be a real jackass.
But I’m plugging away.
I’ve been writing a lot about me as a kid — middle-age butch in the making — and gender roles and norms and expectations.
I asked W the other day if she ever wanted to shave when she was a little kid. I know it’s a weird question. I’ve never wanted to be a real boy like Pinocchio or even look like a boy. I just favor masculine things like Old Spice, menswear, short haircuts and professional wrestling.
I love ties and suspenders and baseball caps. I always have.
In the 80s, ties are trendy and deemed appropriate for women. I have two that I wear on a regular basis with button-down oxford shirts.
Here’s a rough-draft excerpt from my memoir:
My dad teaches me how to tie a Windsor knot. One morning before school, he slips into my bedroom and stands behind me while I am facing the mirror attached to my dresser. He shows me how to wrap the material around and around, up and through. It is a skill that I learn with pride, a right of passage like learning to drive or registering to vote.
I wonder what it would have been like to learn how to shave. I imagine him standing behind me in front of the bathroom mirror showing me how to lather my face and pull the razor down in long, straight strokes.
Even though I will never grow a beard, shaving seems like a useful skill unlike makeup application and hairstyling.
I am seduced by the ritual. My dad’s shaving cream smells clean and earthy like fresh laundry and pine needles. His aftershave is stored in a small green glass bottle like a magic potion. I sit quietly on the bathroom counter as he shakes out three small splashes into a single cupped palm, rubs both hands together and slaps his face twice on each cheek. I can feel the cool sting just by smelling the air.
I think it’s unfair that such majestic behind-the-scenes pageantry is reserved for boys.
My mother wears makeup that she buys from the Clinique counter and Chanel No. 5 on special occasions. I can’t recall the color of her lipstick or the face that she makes in the mirror when she applies her blush. I am certain that she has her rituals, too, but they hold no allure.
* * *
Even now, I’m jealous. Upscale men’s haircutting establishments modeled after old-fashioned barber shops are popping up all over the place. Something about getting a short haircut and a shave appeals to me. The smell of the shaving cream, the feel of a straight razor on my face, the luxury of a hot towel.
What about you? What rituals were you fascinated with as a kid? Did you favor things typically associated with the opposite sex?