Or, Why I Wear Men's Clothes(The following blog post is from real life, not fantasy or sci-fi. I am not sorry for writing a blog post that has nothing to do with dragons, zombies, or aliens. Enjoy!)
July, 2014"...and that's the last of the paperwork!" John cheered, my new boss. He gathered up all the scattered papers while I tried to massage some feeling back into my right hand. Why the hell did this company need me to write the same information--name, social security number, address, contact info--twenty times on different colored paper?
"Let me get you a shirt and hat," John said. "And we need to take your picture for your ID."
Despite the onslaught of paperwork, I was practically buzzing with excitement. Sure, door-to-door sales wasn't exactly glamorous, but I was good at sales. More importantly, this job paid $10 an hour plus commission, which is a friggin' gold mine to a college student. And if it totally sucked, I could get a new job in the fall. Easy peasy.
Up the stairs and through the conference room was John's office. I hung outside his doorway so I was still sorta in the conference room, with my new coworkers.
Who were all male.
Shit, I thought. Well, this isn't the whole team. Maybe there are some women who just aren't in today.
I looked at the board. The names of every coworker was listed, as well as the number of sales they made each week and...yup, those were all guy names.
Guess I better find out where HR is, I thought just as one of them came over. They'll want to know why I've slapped someone within an inch of their life.
But to my pleasant surprise, nobody raised a word about gender or gave me any bullshit. And the flirting was so obviously joking that even I was able to throw it back, and I suck at flirting.
John came back with a green shirt in one hand and a hat in the other. "Okay, I've got good news and I got bad news. The bad news is, we don't have any girl shirts."
I rolled my eyes and snatched the shirt from John. "I wear guys clothes all the time, so I really don't care. What's the good news?"
He put the hat on my head. "The good news is we have plenty of hats! Your start Monday, 1:00 sharp."
RbA: What we lack in women's clothes, we make up for in window quality.
December, 2014"We got your Christmas wish list," Mom said.
"Great." I almost dropped my phone with shaking fingers and cursed when I barely caught it.
I was too distracted to talk to Mom right now. It was f***ing freezing in the sorority house because our landlord was a cheapskate who didn't install proper heating and was going to end up with a bunch of dead sorority sisters if he didn't do something about it. It was finals next week, which meant all I could focus on was Japanese katakana symbols and Latin American historical figures. I swore I would be taking no more classes about Japan or Latin America, because this was ridiculous. Forget the East Asian Studies major, and if I had to do a concentration on my history major, it definitely wasn't going to be Mexico. My head was swimming with Spanish and Aztec names that I couldn't even pronounce. I'd almost forgotten the taste of real food, eating roman noodles every damn night and vending machine snacks every damn day. And on top of that, there was my canvassing job, which had gotten considerably less fun in subzero temperatures.
Having said that, the job was still manageable. Even enjoyable, since I was actually good at sales (which is weird for a writer; I must be really good at pretending to be an extrovert). So I wasn't complaining.
Well, I was complaining, actually. But not about my job. Just about everything else.
"Your grandparents and I were wondering about one thing, though," Mom continued, as if my sanity wasn't crumbling around the fringes of my mind. "Why do you have a baton on your wish list?"
I stared at the phone. A baton? Like a police baton? What the hell was she...
Oh, the baton.
"Yeah, one of my friends has one of those pop-out batons that she keeps in her purse. The ones where you flick your wrist and it shoots out to three times its length?" I said.
"Okay, but why do you want one?"
"Uh, because I canvass in unfamiliar neighborhoods and go into strangers' houses?" Not that anything had happened, but there had been a time or two where my creep radar had spiked.
"...fair point. But you know the one you asked for costs $200 on Amazon, right? Your grandparents say they can get you one for much cheaper elsewhere."
"Will it still dent a pervert's head?" I asked.
"Sweetie. It'd be a gift from your grandparents. The people who got you a goddamn bow two years ago after teaching you how to fire five different types of guns."
"...right. That was a stupid question."
Apparently, the place where Grandma and Grandpa got the baton was having a sale on mace. So I got both for Christmas, and I carry both whenever I canvass.
Which was fine in winter. RbA loans out some amazing winter coats for canvassers. Granted, they make us look like yellow marshmallows, but they're essentially hunting coats. You don't get cold. At all. And they have really deep pockets where I can stash anything. Apple juice, a snack, a baton, some mace, my cell phone...
But the Starks' slogan is incomplete. Winter is Coming is very true. But so is spring, and the end of winter coats and their deep pockets. (Wow, that was both nerdy and lame. Anyway...)
Don't want any windows? Really? Are you sure?
August, 2015"Welcome to Eddie Bower! Can I help you?"
Mom and I are the weirdest shoppers ever. We went to the Mall of America for some girl time and the day went something like this:
-have lunch at Masu Sushi & Robata (great place, highly recommended)
-get books from Barnes and Noble
-go to Williams Sonoma, but don't buy anything because Mom already got everything she needed from birthday presents that week
-go to Teavana, but only to steal their free tea samples
-go to Nordstrom, but only to steal a perfume sample that my mom used half of to go with her leggings and baggy t-shirt
-go to DSW so I can get boots (in August) and so Mom can get an exact replica of the type of shoes she already has
-go to Eddie Bower to get baggy canvassing pants, with Mom carrying my baton in her purse, as I didn't bring my own purse (I'd offered to bring it, since we were shopping, after all; the death glare Mom gave me almost burned holes in my skull; I didn't dare offer to pay for anything in any of the stores)
"Yeah, actually. Mom, can I have the baton?"
While Mom dug into her purse, I explained to the very nice clerk that I needed a pair (or two, or twenty) of pants that looked somewhat professional but had deep pockets.
"...and they have to be deep enough for this," I said, taking the baton from Mom.
The clerk frowned. "What is that?"
"It's a baton. See?" I flicked my wrist and the baton shot out to three times its length.
The man jumped back. "Okay. Um...where do you canvass?"
"Twin Cities area. Why?"
Mom rolled her eyes. "Her grandfather insists."
"Yeah, and I'm not an idiot," I said. "I'm going into strangers' houses for crying out loud..."
"Sweetie, why don't you fold up your baton?"
The thing with re-folding the baton is that you have to slam it into the ground to do it; it's the only way to get enough force to close the damn thing. Most of the floor of Eddie Bower was wood. Since I didn't want to blow a hole through that, I found a patch of cement and slammed the baton closed. Which caused a few customers to give me weird looks.
"What?" I asked, waving the baton around. "Haven't you seen a girl with a modernized club before?"
For some reason, they decided to avoid me.
Which was fine, because the clerk was trying to find the pants I needed. He, Mom, and I scoured the women's section, but none of the pants's pockets were deep enough. Probably because every woman is supposed to carry a purse, or drag our wardrobes around by a chain on our ankle or something.
"Well...I suppose we could try a man's pair," the clerk said, going to the other section. "See; these pockets look deep enough."
"Great," I said. Because really, who cares?
Of course, there were a couple problems with that, the biggest being that men's clothes are sized differently from women's. And I give the clerk full credit, because when I said my general pants size (12/14), he immediately said, "Well, these should work," and pulled a pair with the exact same waist size (34/32).
The second problem was brought up by my mom. "I don't know," she said. "You're pretty curvy, Chris."
Oh, basic biology and anatomy. You've screwed us over.
"Yeah, but I have a belt," I said, lifting up my shirt to reveal the belt around my jeans. "Let's just try it."
So Mom shrugged, the clerk unlocked a changing room, and I went to try it out.
Thirty seconds later, I burst out wearing the pants and shouted, "Why the hell is men's clothing so much more comfortable than woman's? This is not fair!"
It was unreal. The pants fit perfectly, even though they were specifically designed for people without hips. I almost didn't have to wear the belt. And they were unbelievably comfortable. I did not understand it.
And this is true for the rest of the wardrobe. Mom and I are constantly raiding Dad's closet because men's coats offer more comfort and freedom than a woman's. Have you tried wearing a woman's coat? You can't move your arms! You can barely turn your head! Those coats are prisons! So Mom and I have man-coats (which we bought, because Dad kept getting pissed about not having an appropriate coat to wear to work).
Shirts are debatable, especially for women who have a bit of chest (like myself; I got big boobs and I like 'em). Women's shirts look better and tend to fit women better. That's just a fact. But I'd worked for RbA for a year in men's shirts and that was just fine (John dug up a bunch of really old women's shirts from, like, decades ago and gave them to me just last week, but I still wore the guy shirts when the others were in the wash).
Socks and shoes are just stupid. I have no idea why those are gendered because, seriously, what's the big difference between a guy's sock and a girl's if there's no lace or pink fluff? (And Dad gets even more pissed when someone gets careless with laundry and ends up wearing his socks, whether it's me, Mom, or my brother; he is inconsolable when he runs out of socks because we keep wearing them, but it's not our fault he gets really comfy socks!)
But now, apparently, male pants have been added to the list. Everything but underwear has been proven to be more comfortable when designed for men no matter what biological sex is wearing them. Wait, scratch that. There's a very popular type of women's underwear called "boy shorts."
So now, I've decided to say "F*** all" and do the majority of my shopping in the men's section. Because, let's face it. Guys clothes are more comfortable, but women make them look good.
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