Sunday, March 30, 2008

I Speak Man

That's right, I speak man...at least a couple of dialects....I am most fluent in blue-collar-man (BCM). Although I will never be totally fluent having not been born a man so never will I have the total embodied experience one needs to be fluent. But I get by more than most women....with my female accent and all.

I am in Kino Bay, Mexico, at the edge of the eastern shore of the Sea of Cortez. I spent the day with my world traveled and learned friend Catherine, and two scrappy middle-aged blue collar blokes we met and ended up venturing into the dessert with for a day of dusty exploration on two quads....and so I spent much of the day speaking BCM.

Unlike many of my beautiful straight friends most of the time when such men meet me it is not fucking me that seems forefront on their minds. It was not long ago that a wise and beautiful friend of mine (queer of course) pointed out the obvious...that although I do not present as a picture of femininity, I relate well to men...and that it is actually my masculine energy that they connect with. It is not blurred with the veil of desire...sexual desire.

So when I meet a blue collar dude I start to speak their language and reveal that I can cast pretty far in the surf and know how to grease a spinning reel or that I have ridden an old Honda 175 as a crow flies across chunks of Death Valley ...and I can talk about the old noisy two-stroke engine with enough tork to climb a tree. I have ridden an old ATC Honda 185 with a thumb throttle that when held down firm will get you to 50mph on a dry lake bed. And I can talk about the recoil of 306 or a Remington 870 twelve gauge or call a spoon lure by name or point out a whooly-bugger in a tackle box...I can tie a nail knot, a fishermans loop, and a bowline...the latter two with my eyes closed. I can talk bikes and guns and fishing and marine engines. I draw from my past when I was a gun-toting motorcyle riding hard drinkin' desert rat...(before I morphed into an REI shopping low-impact camping environmentally aware yuppie...but that's another dialect).

I can meet men, sailors, and go on for some time talking about messing about in our floating sweethearts and the interminable frustrations and joys. My exes brother-in-law, John (a man with south Philly roots whose dad is a game warden and works the rivers off a boat catching poachers) and I would talk for hours troubleshooting the frustrating overheating problem I was having with my old Atomic 4 marine engine. We prattled on about raw water cooling and manifold rust and temperamental thermostats and heat exchangers and compression and the fact that no matter how small the job, when one works on a boat engine, one leaves with a bloody knuckle...or three. My exes father-in-law would look at us and and say, "what the hell are they talking about...they're speaking another language." We were. He doesn't speak BCM...at least not very well.

I remember years ago a poignant moment of bonding with such a man...it involved an old Buck knife. I was living on my boat at the time and had attended an advanced coastal navigation class taught by old salty sailors. Our last class we all brought food to share...I came with various cheeses and crackers and my old Buck knife. The knife was given to me by my high school boyfriend whom I rode motorcycles with through the desert and drank an ungodly amount of beer with sitting around campfires in the middle of nowhere. For my birthday, Drew gave me the Buck knife....a handsome implement of quiet peerless quality. I felt very grateful for the gift as it showed that Drew got me...to some degree....even tho I was a closeted butch dyke with whom he had no hope of a future.

My Buck knife has traveled with me for over two decades up tall mountains, into the back country of many states...I have slept with it for protection when camping alone...I have cut my steaks and ropes and cheese and vegetables...opened boxes and cut slivers out of my own flesh. It is a loyal companion for which I have a seemingly unreasonable affection....its weight, the way it feels in my grip...the way I have trained myself to open it with one hand.

Back to the sailor party....that night I left and forgot my knife. Hours later I realized my error and I was panicked! How stupid was I! I called the teachers and no answer...left messages. At last an old salt called me back, said he had my knife....I explained that it was a special knife that had been with me a long time. He heard the profound relief in my voice and gave me directions to his house. An hour later I was on his porch, shaking his hand, telling him of my panic, thanking him profusely....and he nodded knowingly.... and in BCM, with laconic precision, said, "I understand." And I knew he did.

1 comment:

Peripet said...

I had no idea, Mer...but it fits, it really does. I envy your ability to move between and among worlds. Love, your biggest fan...