Someone paid me a compliment. At least she said it was a compliment but I’m not totally convinced that it was. A straight woman, who is a friend of a friend and we’ve hung out a couple of times, referred to me as a “geek” in her conversation with the other two women sitting at the table. All I could do was look at her in disbelief. She tried to quickly laugh it off but I didn’t laugh. That is when she went on to say that it was okay, a compliment even, because I am a “cute geek.” I still didn’t smile.
I will admit, I am not the most butchy of the butch. I don’t wear ties, I’m not that mechanical and I pray that one of our cats will take care of any creepy crawly thing with more than 4 legs that has the audacity to enter our home. . . not that I regularly adhere to stereotypes or labels. I’ve always viewed myself as falling under the butch umbrella, somewhere between soft and sporty. However, the older I get the less actively sporty I am. But darn it, none of that is what I would call geek-like.
Actually, the “compliment” wasn’t insulting, it’s what it did to my ego and self-esteem that annoys me. Once I knew how that woman viewed me, I was right back to my early twenties when I came out; to myself and others. At that point, for the first time in my life, I cared how other people viewed me, well at least a certain part of the population. Up until that point I didn’t know what made me different and I hadn’t gotten around to worrying about not having a love life. But once I figured it out, hello! My hair, clothes and shoes all needed to be just so. And now thanks to her opinion I was conscious of how others may view me: my hair, the cargo shorts I had on or my new glasses.
For the rest of that night all I kept trying to figure out was what it was about me, was it just one thing in particular or the ensemble that made someone view me as a geek. I thought it was because I wasn’t butch enough. So then I started mentally going through my closet, checking out the clothes and shoes. The following morning I had a mental list of things I thought I needed to buy to get back to the butch I knew myself to be. That explains why I bought a more masculine cologne, nothing gender neutral, and a new belt while at a store yesterday.
Today, after SK noticed my new cologne and gave it a positive review, I realized what that “compliment” did to me, how it made me feel, how it led me to question my reputation and worry I wasn’t butch enough. I invented myself over 15 years ago and yes, it’s evolving as I grow older, but I do not need nor want to re-invent who I am. So now I understand it’s not important that the woman viewed me as a geek, no, what’s important is that she thought I am cute, ah, just kidding.