and sometimes, people surprise you

I spent about 15 minutes putting on makeup after my shower this morning.  Because I’ve been sick for over two months, some of which was spent only able to get from bed to chair and most of which which was spent not being able to walk further than the pharmacy on the corner, because I felt grotty and tired, because I have a turquoise t-shirt with a squid on it and that is awesome, because I need a haircut SO BADLY[1], because I spent time last night sorting out all my makeup and how it’s stored, because I wanted to.

And I was scared, going out.  I always am.  On the “being a bloke wearing makeup” front, and because of the possibility that it’d get me misread as female.  Every time I go out like this I literally put my life in danger – not just from bigots (and anyway, everything I’ve seen so far in my neighbourhood suggests that, unlike some other places I’ve lived, no one is going to take a swing at me in the street in the middle of the day), but because being misread as female makes me suicidal (I have personal reasons for this, it’s not sexism).

So there I am, in my turquoise squid shirt and my jeans that’re too big since I lost 30lb in a couple of weeks from c diff, and my brown fake leather jacket and my cheap brown fake leather boots with a bit of a heel, and my tiny scruffy chinbeard, and makeup. Eyeliner and eyeshadow and a little bit of lipstick and lip gloss, a little bit of glitter on my lips and eyes.  (And Evil Shades’ “The Shine Killer” on my skin, because my skin produces enough grease to supply an entire chain of fast food restaurants.)

I don’t know how I looked to other people.  I stared at myself in the mirror, and it was like one of those pictures where you can either see two faces OR a candlestick, the old woman OR the young one.  It felt like with one eye I could see what I wanted to see, and with the other all I could see was acne scars and prednisone rash and double chin and out-of-control hair and so on.  Too old and pudgy to be the pretty-androgynous-boy-in-makeup, too short and ambiguous (and pudgy) to be the unquestionably-male-bearded-dude-in-makeup.

I felt sick and anxious.  But fuck it, I needed my Red Bull.  Do not get between me and caffeine.  And I also felt happy at the same time, because I like playing with shiny things, pretty colours, changing my appearance.  I like, finally, after a lifetime of hate and ambiguity towards it, wearing makeup.

And my squid shirt was pretty rad.

So I went out.  Not far, cos I still can’t walk far.  Just the block to the dépanneur[2].  Even so I thought about slinking through the back alleys so few people would see me.  But it was sunny and autumnal and I was outside again after being so fucking ill for so fucking long, and I don’t want to be a coward.  (Did I mention my squid shirt is rad as fuck?  Oh yeah.)

So I walked to the dep, along the main road.  And yeah, I got a couple of looks.  I looked nervously at my reflection in every damn window (and kept thinking, fuck, I need jeans that fit me).  Do I look female?  Do I look too ambiguous?  Am I going to get grief?

Got to the dep, grabbed my Red Bull, headed to the counter.  The vaguely-familiar young woman behind the counter looked at me, gave me a big smile and said, “Oh!  No wife?”

I blinked.  What was this?  Was this going to be her starting something?  I could feel everything tense up.  “I’m sorry…?”

“Oh, I used to work at the Asian supermarket on the corner.  I used to see you and your wife a lot, buying vegetables.  How is she?”

“Oh!  Oh.  Uh, she’s at work today.  So I’m, you know.  Loading up on the caffeine.”

“Haha, yeah.  Well, say hello to her for me!”

…And then I went home.  And beyond a couple of odd looks, no one was mean to me.  And it was a beautiful day in this neighbourhood.


[1] For other dudes it seems like when their hair gets shaggy it just makes them look like Wolverine or something.  For me, it makes me look like this.

[2] Corner store/convenience store/newsagents, btw.  Not the car breakdown rescue people.


3 Responses to “and sometimes, people surprise you”

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  3. glasgowtremontaine Says:

    Is it the turquoise squid t-shirt where the squid is pretending to be a Loch Ness monster? I fucking love that shirt.

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