Tales of Very Hairy Men

13 08 2010

A burly, bearded person came to the door today while I was reading Ivan E. Coyote over lunch.

As I have been engaged for several weeks in the long and cluttery process of moving into a new apartment it felt downright decorous to actually eat a meal at the dining table. And as if it weren’t enough to be using the dining table for its intended purpose, I was wearing both underwear and shorts, not to mention using a glass for my juice. I sat down to my meal of Special K and freeze pops feeling like a mature, productive member of society.

Alas, in spite of all that gravitas, I hadn’t the slightest clue where I might find a shirt. I heard the screen door squeak and I froze. Marking my page in Ivan’s account of gendered bathrooms, I cast about silently for a t-shirt, a button-down, a toga—anything. The boxes within reach yielded frying pans, Nespresso pods, moccasins, a mug full of pennies.

Thus it transpired that I toplessly answered the door to the burly bearded person.

This person greeted me with, “Hey buddy.” I looked down at my pink, peach-fuzzy man-chest, took a breath, and replied, “Hey, man.”

“We’re working on your boiler,” he explained in an authoritative but not unfriendly Boston accent. “I just need you to flip the switch for a minute or two.”

I chewed my lip, trying not to look like I had no clue what this man was asking me to do. “The switch,” I said, nodding. “Just… flip it?”

He eyed me suspiciously. This guy doesn’t know his ass from his elbows, his look said. This guy couldn’t find his way around an on/off switch if his pet bunny’s life depended on it.

“I don’t, uh, know exactly where that switch is,” I explained, trying to assure him that not only do I know exactly how to operate an on/off switch, but I also have some vague notion of what a boiler does.

He stepped inside and glanced around my kitchen. “You should know where your boiler switch is,” he told me.

“Yeah,” I agreed, as though I was fully aware of the various serious hazards that arise when people don’t know where their boiler switch is. “We just moved in, so I haven’t had time…”

He’d already found the switch, flipped it, and made for the door. “Remember that switch,” he advised, and then he was gone.

I’d been pulling my abs tight, a nervous habit, a carry-over from being a girl and compensating for anxious situations by making myself seem as thin as possible. I released them, sat down. My eyes met Ivan’s, staring up from the back cover of my book. Be less nervous, I told both of us, though I don’t know that Ivan really needed my advice. Sucking parts of my body in doesn’t change anything but the depth of my breathing.

What I need is a little more confidence in my own ownership of this body and this gender. Boiler switch man had no interest in policing my gender; he really did just need to find the boiler switch.

This is my house, this is my chest, this is my goddamn boiler switch. I will henceforth stop flipping it on and off trying to figure out which lamp it controls.

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3 responses

14 08 2010
Caroline

Going the other way and I really should keep something handy to slip on when I open the door!

You are making a better guy than I ever did even if I did know where the boiler control was!

21 08 2010
Calie

Loved this post! You know, I’m great at pulling off the guy act. Been doing it all my life. With you, now, it’s not an act and it sounds like you’re doing just fine. West coast folks will not identify with the “switch” thing you mentioned. No boilers out here, at least in Cali, but I do recall the switch from my days in New England.

Calie xx

23 09 2010
Page

I was giggling uncontrollably the entire time I read this post 🙂

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