Friday, 7 November 2014

Other People's Weirdness

Before I post the photo I'm about to post, please note that we live most of our year in crepuscular or possibly Stygian darkness and also that my camera is rubbish, so this might not even end up showing what I want it to, but anyway, for what it's worth, here it is:

Yeah, not terribly marvellous is it?

Anyway, suppose you were walking along some street somewhere in Leicester and you saw the above strolling past.  You would probably think something along the lines of what a presumed penis-owner who went past shouted at me last night about "dressing up as a woman", to which I had a number of possibly witty and definitely unuttered responses which I could share with you, such as to ask back why they artificially restricted their clothing choices too, and also to point out that I'm not merely dressing up as a woman but trying to reduce the disconcerting mismatch between who I am and how I look.  However, if that would be your impression, it would completely miss what was the bigger weirdness for me.

OK, so someone's weirdness might be centred around the skirt and possibly the fluffy cardigan, although in fact I've lost the plot entirely there and have no idea if that falls into the feminine or masculine category for most people in these isles at this time.  If you know me well or have read this blog, you will probably realise what I'm about to say, but I'll say it anyway.

To me, that skirt is just warm and an extra layer on top of the leggings.  I'm wearing the probably invisible banana socks because they're a present from our daughter who is visiting today and again because they're warm.  I'm wearing the cardigan because it's warm.  I mean, obviously I also like all the clobber, but, and this is no word of a lie, to me the most remarkable thing by far, way beyond all the others, is that I'm wearing a button-up blouse and that it isn't freaking me out even a tiny bit.

If you'd asked me two years ago to rank which of the following items of clothing I'd be wearing on 7th November 2014 - scarf, cardigan, blouse, skirt, leggings, socks - it would have been in the following order from most to least likely:  socks, leggings, then a big gap followed by scarf and skirt, then an absolute gulf of subjective degree of belief followed by the vanishingly tiny probability that I would be wearing a cardigan or a blouse.  Those last two items, particularly the final one, are way more improbable and unlike me considered as a 47-year long process of consciousness.  Seriously, you just have no idea unless you also have an unusual phobia, how very improbable that I would be wearing that last item would have seemed at that point.  And in fact I have still never worn a button-up cardigan.

I've said similar things to this before, of course, but this time I'm trying to make a different point.  To me, wearing a skirt is nothing, particularly a dull and apparently impossible to see tartan one in view of my ancestry (yes, I know a skirt is not a kilt, but if the skirt fits, wear it).  My grandfather went into battle wearing one and struck fear into the hearts of his opponents too, unfortunately, said to be one of "die Damen aus der Hölle" although this appelation may be mythical.  It's no big deal in my world.  The buttons are one heck of a big deal.  It's very unlikely that anyone would guess that if they didn't know me, and this is the thing:  you simply don't know what someone's internal world is like.  I'm capable of looking at this situation as an outsider and realising that this is very unusual and probably unique,

There's a story about someone diagnosed as schizophrenic who was interviewed by a psychiatrist and presumably was seen to exhibit some of the usual features of his condition.  At the end of the session, the psychiatrist asked "Is there anything else I can help you with?" to which the schizophrenic replied "oh, yes please.  Can I have some sleeping pills?  The aliens wake me up every night when they land their flying saucer on my roof."  To him, the fact that there were aliens landing on his roof was not the point - it was entirely prosaic and quotidian that such a thing would happen.  The question arises of what else was in this guy's world upon which he hadn't considered it worthwhile to pass comment.

I have pointed out a few times to Sarada that this kind of thing:

(which is mine) is easily remedied (actually it's disappointingly tidy but still, you see my point), but also that I am going to have to tread very carefully here.  To me, this mess represents a residual deposit of masculinity.  That is very much a stereotype, so maybe I should re-word it as "this mess represents a vestige of my former self".  I can nowadays quite easily resolve to be tidy if need be.  However, just as Sarada used to exhort me not to wear tracksuits any more, not realising what counted as "normal" clothes to me, and then I gave her what I thought she wanted and stopped wearing them, I have absolutely no idea whether anything else which seems like an integral part of behaving in this manner, i.e. "tidy Mandy", stereotype though it of course is, would also be visited upon this household and this relationship which she might find less desirable.  Sarada characterises this as
in the inimitable way only a Londoner can.

I should emphasise that it's really not something I do on purpose, and although it may be something people can easily spot in me, it's probably something everyone does.  We all make assumptions and live in our own worlds.  Now, I can look outside myself, as it were, and see that perceiving a bloke in a skirt might seem more remarkable than perceiving a bloke in a blouse, particularly one which isn't particularly feminine (or is it?  I have literally no idea!), but that doesn't mean it seems that way to me.  I literally prefer drinking my own urine to drinking tea, and believe me, I am no urine-drinking fan.  The fact that I am surrounded by people who drink tea doesn't make that any more comprehensible to me than the fact that for most apparent men, even the mislabelled ones, wearing something with buttons is a smaller step than wearing a skirt.

For this reason, the recent decision by Sarada to blog more about the situation between her and me with regard to my GID is a very good one.  For me, it's just how I am, in the same way as I write in English or drink coffee first thing in the morning.  It is remarkable, because it's new and also a great relief finally to express it.  However, I don't necessarily see it as odd, and also I probably don't know most of how it seems strange to others.  Therefore, congratulations to her regarding what's about to happen, and a vote of thanks to the people who are making it happen.  

Oh wad some pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!