My name is unusual. Not unusual like being named after fruit (I’m talking to you, Gwyneth) but unusual enough to make it stand out in a crowd. In a room full of my age cohorts, there will be a 27% Karen, 19% Scott, and 38% Erin/Aaron mix. My name lingers around the .07% saturation, with more than three-quarters of THAT insignificant sum replying ‘Male” or “yes please” to the check box question of sex.
Boys are so immature.
My name is not only a conundrum of assumed gender, it is also wrapped up in the bonus of tall stature, a deep voice and an aversion to traditional feminine roles. I cannot count how many times I have been mistaken for a man. I also cannot count how many times I have posed as a man.
I’m sensing a need for some additional information right about now…
Besides my gender neutral name, I was also blessed with a deep voice. Imagine warm dulcet vocal honey evocative of Lauren Bacall, or James Earl Jones when I have a chest cold. Although unable to harmonize or match any tone occurring in nature, it is often suggested to me that I must have a beautiful tenor singing voice, or that I should consider a career in radio. I like to think that last one isn’t a “she has a face for radio” veiled insult. Haters.
So what is a girl to do about having a neutral name that swings wildly to the male side when she speaks? She poses as a man, of course.
Now, I probably shouldn’t be telling this story, but seriously…who is going to read this other than a few friends and maybe a bot wanting to sell me advertising banners on this blog for Ensure? My secret is possibly safe with you.
On more than one occasion I have posed as a man on the phone. Not in a dirty, predatory, prosecutable way of course. Rather, in a prosecutable, assumed identity way. BIG difference. Some would insist on the word “fraudulent” here. I prefer “dramatized”.
Tell me this though, oh ye of higher moral standards, wouldn’t you want to use it for un-indictable fun on occasion just because it had been naturally happening to you for years? Confuse children at the park as to my gender based on my voice and unfortunate haircut? Done it. Be in a long term phone relationship with a co-worker who had never met me but assumed I was a man, yet I never had the nerve to come clean, instead waiting until she retired to tell this story? Done that too. Negotiate with the Government of Canada about repayment of my husbands student loans while posing as said husband on the phone? Challenge accepted! Have a birth certificate that identified you as male until you’re 4, so your dad had to make you wear a dress to go plead your case to be registered as a girl at Vital Statistics? Surprisingly…did that too***
Sure, it sounds like fun, but there is a dark downside to this curse. I have also been asked to meet after work to go “be men and shoot some guns sometime” by a business contact at a huntin’ and fishin’ outlet. I’ve been asked IN PERSON once if I was a drag queen. Yes. IN PERSON. In his defence, it was 1990 and we all kind of looked like that guy from Dead Or Alive. Also I was hanging out at a gay bar at the time, but still…
Over the years I have become more dedicated at inserting the pronoun I identify as into mistaken identity phone conversations. Sometimes someone has to do it for me though. Shortly before I remarried, my soon-to-be husband and I were taking care of some housekeeping/life joining administrative things and having my email address added to his internet provider account. I was on the phone with the ISP, detailing my request, when I was asked if my fiancé was there in order to confirm and accept the change made to the account. This was what I heard when I passed him the phone;
“Yes….yes…..OK….no…he’s a she. She’s my fiancé.”
That’s why I love him. My husband, not the internet service provider. He can bite me. Although again, in his defence, I should note how wonderfully accepting his tone was when he THOUGHT we were a same sex couple. Little steps towards progress…little steps.
I keep saying I won’t purposely do it again, but just yesterday I posed as my 82 year old dad on a phone call to his cellphone provider. The necessity of the ruse was to protect both my dad from age-ism judgement, and to protect the service tech from having an 82 year old yelling at him for using words like sim card and tower. Dad would have torn that young whipper snapper a new one for using that kind of talk around him. The call went well, and I was addressed as Mister or Sir in a respectful, appropriate manner. My dad didn’t bat an eye through the whole thing, because I’m his little girl. Mostly.
*** these examples are 100% the truth. The 100% tragic truth.