Since my dad is planning on trading my and Ignatius' cars in for new ones, I have had the pleasure lately of going to dealerships and test-driving cars.
Now, the first salesman (Mazda, for the record) was quite nice. Looked me in the eye, didn't seem surprise when my handshake wasn't limp (I sometimes get comments on the fact that I have a grip, which I think is sad), explained all the mechanical components of the engine and whatnot along with all the twiddly little details about the car. (Like the sound system controls on the steering wheel, which I thought was kinda spiffy.) I wasn't familiar with the area the dealership was in so he gave me a route to test-drive which included some twists and bumps so I could get a better idea of how the car handled, which I appreciated.
Last salesman (Nissan) was busy helping a bunch of other people, so left me to poke about on my own after asking if that was okay with me, which it was. I asked him the few questions I had and got pretty straightforward answers. I test-drove it by myself as well, which was kinda nice.
The second salesguy, though, at Toyota, made the mistake of trying to sell me a car as if I were a girl.
I am a young, Caucasian, upper-middle-class female, a demographic which is probably deservedly notorious for not knowing shit about cars. I will freely admit that in general the term "independent multi-link Macpherson suspension" doesn't mean a whole lot to me. However, I'm quite familiar with things like gas mileage, horsepower and torque, and passenger/cargo space. I'm a decently skilled driver, at least on automatic. I actually researched the cars in question online and already knew most of the features and comparisons between them. So when a salesman asks me if I have a color preference as to which car I test-drive, and repeatedly informs me that "we need to put [me] in" a "peppy," "sporty" car, especially after I tell him that I really don't give a flying fuck about appearance (albeit phrased more politely), I get a little irked.
Especially when after I evince knowledge of the capabilities of the car, I'm told that since I've "done my homework" I'll "make someone a good wife someday." I think he caught the Look I gave him after that.
Seriously, he described the car as "peppy" something like six times. I asked him what he could tell me about the engine, expecting to get something about 1.8 versus 2.3 liters maybe, and he described it as "peppy." Fuck "peppy," I'd like something approaching specificity about the damn hunk of metal bits.
I thought about telling him what his mistake was, since I'm sure as hell not buying that car now (not solely as a result of his gross miscalculation of his customer, but it didn't help), but I figure that if he wants to stereotype every chick that walks into the showroom he can reap the results of doing so.
Thing is, there's really nothing in my appearance that would signal that I would appreciate that kind of treatment. I'm wearing plain dark jeans and t-shirts with sneakers and a leather jacket. I don't wear makeup. I had glasses on (which I actually did on purpose for the "intellectual" angle they can provide). I looked him in the eye, asked relatively technical questions and quite bluntly told him what I needed. I don't think I look like the kind of girl who wants a car to match her heels and thinks the lack of makeup mirrors on the sun visors is a dealbreaker. So what compelled him to sell the car to my tits instead of my brain?
Who knows. Maybe my ass is too nice and it looks like I work out.
In retrospect, it's more amusing than angering, since he's the one who's losing a sale. It takes a certain sort of idiocy to make that kind of error, somewhat analogous to the kind needed to try to sell a subscription to Bitch magazine to Pat Buchanan.
On Facebook recently, someone I went to high school with (I'll call him Friedrich) messaged me wondering about my profile. He wanted to know if my "interested in: women" was a joke or actuality.
I know it probably should be obvious, but I was actually somewhat surprised to find out that I was not the only queer that went to Eastchester.
Eastchester is your prototypical WASP-y private academy. I can count on one hand the number of students that weren't white when I was there, and religious diversity only extended to Protestant denomination. The vast majority of the families were upper-middle-class (if not downright filthy-rich) conservative white evangelicals.
I was notable among the student body (which was tiny; my graduating class was thirty-seven people) for being an outspoken liberal. I was recruited for the debate team because I'd developed a well-earned reputation for being argumentative and articulate. My Bible teachers tended to regard me with a mix of amusement and exasperation. Most of my classmates tended to think that "love the sinner, hate the sin" was downright progressive, and there I was unapologetically identifying myself as a feminist and a non-Republican. Frankly, I'd be surprised if there were never rumors about a deeper meaning to my love of comfortable shoes.
It actually wasn't that difficult to maintain a "straight facade." The student body being as small as it was, there actually wasn't much dating on-campus; I was never questioned about my lack of boyfriends because hardly any girls did have one. I wasn't visibly butch, since for a long time I maintained long hair. Mostly, though, there was an underlying assumption of default heterosexuality that no one bothered to question. The idea that one of their classmates might be gay simply never occured to them for the most part because homosexuality was something that occurred Out There, not In Here where it's Normal. As long as you didn't raise the question yourself, no one would think to ask it.
In some ways I guess I fell for the same thinking, because before I told any of my friends I felt horribly alone and isolated. Nobody else seemed to be asking the same questions about their sexuality that I was. For most girls, it seemed to be a question of which boy and how far to go. For me, it was who I wanted and why, and if I would ever find a chance to go anywhere at all. I assumed my classmates were all essentially straight.
Friedrich apparently thought that he too was "the only one who escaped the gender-unfriendly brainwashing of the [...] fire and brimstone empire," as he put it. He made the point that both of us were seen as "discontents," which is pretty accurate, though in his case it was for being publically atheist.
I have to wonder if being gay in high school, for us, was a reason for the discontent. When you find yourself questioning the most basic tenets upon which your educational society operates, like "girls go with boys, full stop," there's precious little stopping you from questioning secondary concerns like whether chapel attendance should be mandatory, or whether the Creationism Vs. Evolution class is composed of pure bullshit.
I wonder, then, who else was simply trying to blend in as hard as they could. Whoever did it was pretty convincing since I never gaydared anyone positively, though I had my guesses. I knew of a couple of bisexual (to some extent; both are currently dating men) girls, but no one else. Friedrich says he had "more than suspicions" but no solid evidence, though given the environment I'd be more surprised if there were any. I can't say I'd be totally shocked to go to a class reunion to see at least one other person bringing a same-sex spouse, but I'd probably be surprised to find out which one.
My parents moved from a big house to a smaller house awhile back, and in the process of moving, my books got lost.
I'm a bookslut. A "voracious reader," if you prefer to be polite about it. I suppose if I were a professional reviewer or critic I would be getting paid to read a lot of books and could thus be accurately called a bookwhore, but alas, my literary promiscuity is entirely unpaid. Basically, I love books. I really, really love books. Reading and writing alike, though I have yet to write more than short stories. If I had not been an art major I would have been an English major and worked as a librarian. Hell, I'd still like to be a librarian.
I like to say I spent my childhood with books instead of other children. I wasn't as interested in playing with other kids as I was with sitting by myself and immersing myself in alternate worlds. I remember being in third grade and finishing my checked-out books before even leaving the library. My teacher wouldn't let me pick books above a 3rd-grade level and by that time I was reading at a high-school rate. (I also read almost abnormally fast. Your average mass-market paperback, at about 200-300 pages, takes me about an hour to finish.)
I devoured books on Greco-Roman and Norse mythology and marveled at the epic oddity of a universe where gods were just really, really big people. Half of everything written for kids is historical fiction (it's educational, y'know) so I did read a bunch of it, but I never really developed much of a liking for it. I liked my books to be otherworldly, something to escape to. From there most of my fiction reading (and the bulk of my reading has always been fiction) has been sci-fi and fantasy, with a liberal helping of horror and other unclassifiable weirdness.
Over the years, then, I've amassed a pretty hefty collection of well-loved paperbacks. Since I go through books so fast, I reread them frequently, and since most of them are long, dense trilogies or series, they provide plenty of reread value. Most of them are in decent shape; I started collecting the Dragonriders of Pern books back in sixth grade and they're all still intact, if somewhat dog-eared.
I packed all these books in two boxes (one big one of all the paperbacks and another of hardbacks and weird-sized trade paperbacks) when my parents moved. They accomplished the transfer while I was at school, and I came back to the new house.
After a couple of days in the new room, I noticed something missing.
"Mom, I had two boxes of books, and they're not in my room. Where are they?"
"Are they not in your closet?" (With all the other boxes of junk.)
"Nope." (The small box of hardbacks and trades was, but not the big one.)
"They must be in the garage."
So I went out to the garage. It was packed almost up to the ceiling in identical brown boxes. And being me, I had only labeled mine on the top, not on all sides.
Saving some time, then, I never found my books, so I went without my familiar rereads for the past couple of years, until this weekend, when my dad cleaned up the garage-- and FOUND MY BOOKS.
It was incredibly comforting to rip open cardboard and find stacks of familiar books that I'd thought would be gone until my parents moved again. I stole the shelves from the hallway to accomodate my old friends. (I still have a ton of books on borrowed space in the boys' and Aelgifu's rooms, but the main ones are in here.)
And now my room really feels like my room now. It never felt quite comfortable to me, but now that my books are in the corner crammed onto a dinky little bookshelf, it feels more like... a home, I suppose.
Maybe home to me will always be where my books are.