Book preview: Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender

Leaving Normal CoverEditor’s note: It gives me great pleasure to introduce our first book preview, and I hope we’ll be able to offer more like this, as well as reviews of books new and old. Because this entry is a preview, as opposed to a review, the words below are those of the book’s author, Rae Theodore, who I asked to give us a summary and bio, along with an excerpt from her new book. We will also be reviewing this book.

****

By Rae Theodore
Special to LGBT Perspectives

Summary:

Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender is creative nonfiction that takes an unflinching but humorous look at living as a butch in a pink/blue, boy-girl, M/F world. The book is for anyone who has ever felt different, especially those who have found themselves living in the gender margins without a rule book.  The book is available in both e-book and hard copy format through Amazon.

Bio:
Rae Theodore lives in Royersford, Pa., with her wife, children and, in stereotypical fashion, her cats. By day, she works as a staff writer for one of the world’s largest communications firms. By night, she writes about living in that middle place where boy and girl collide. You can read about her adventures in gender nonconformity at The Flannel Files at middleagebutch.wordpress.com

I’ve included an excerpt (as well as the full chapter that it comes from if you want to cut it in a different place).  In this chapter, I am using a public restroom when a little girl mistakes me for a man.

Excerpt from Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender

The Invisible Woman

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

The high-pitched voice pierces the metal door of the bathroom stall in the women’s restroom where I am holed up like Superman in his Fortress of Solitude.

If I turn my head just the right way, I can see through the long vertical slit in the door.  It is my own version of X-ray vision.

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

She is 3 years old, maybe 4, with a head of blonde curls and perfect enunciation.

Just my luck.  Eliza Fucking Doolittle.

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

Her voice is tiny as if it has been squashed by a stack of reference books, but it grows in size like a sponge in water as it echoes off the hard tiled walls and floor in the enclosed space.

I feel like a peeping Tom as I watch the other women washing their hands at the long shiny sink and staring at the mirror as they style their hair with their fingers and reapply their red lipstick.

It’s like I’m watching a movie.  A movie that I snuck in past the ticket taker to see.

In a way I belong here, but in a way not.

pah-pah.  pah-pah.

That’s the sound their freshly painted lips make when they blot them together.

pah-pah.  pah-pah.

It makes me think of muffled gunfire.

pah-pah.  pah-pah.

The women don’t seem to hear the little girl’s voice over the running water and the random blast from the electric hand dryer.

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

She is laying on a changing table that flips down from the wall of the women’s restroom.  She is wiggling around on the padded changing table and kicking like a cricket as her mother tries to change her diaper

****

The full chapter

The Invisible Woman

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

The high-pitched voice pierces the metal door of the bathroom stall in the women’s restroom where I am holed up like Superman in his Fortress of Solitude.

If I turn my head just the right way, I can see through the long vertical slit in the door.  It is my own version of X-ray vision.

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

She is 3 years old, maybe 4, with a head of blonde curls and perfect enunciation.

Just my luck.  Eliza Fucking Doolittle.

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

Her voice is tiny as if it has been squashed by a stack of reference books, but it grows in size like a sponge in water as it echoes off the hard tiled walls and floor in the enclosed space.

I feel like a peeping Tom as I watch the other women washing their hands at the long shiny sink and staring at the mirror as they style their hair with their fingers and reapply their red lipstick.

It’s like I’m watching a movie.  A movie that I snuck in past the ticket taker to see.

In a way I belong here, but in a way not.

pah-pah.  pah-pah.

That’s the sound their freshly painted lips make when they blot them together.

pah-pah.  pah-pah.

It makes me think of muffled gunfire.

pah-pah.  pah-pah.

The women don’t seem to hear the little girl’s voice over the running water and the random blast from the electric hand dryer.

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

She is laying on a changing table that flips down from the wall of the women’s restroom.  She is wiggling around on the padded changing table and kicking like a cricket as her mother tries to change her diaper.

I have declared her my arch enemy.

Of course, it was never a fair fight.

She had the advantage all along.

Dressed in pink from head to toe and fed on rhymes about snips and snails and puppy dog tails and Little Boy Blue who lost his shoe.

“Mama, there’s a man in here.”

“Of course there’s not,” the mother finally replies.

In a sing-song voice, she denies the little girl’s reports of a man sighting in the women’s room.

To pass the time, I sit in the stall and think of appropriate retorts.

Aren’t you too old for diapers?

   Shouldn’t you be wearing big girl underwear?

She must have telepathically intercepted my thoughts because she amps up her attack.

“Mama, Daddy’s in here.”

The mother seems to be as shocked as I am.

“No, he’s not.”

Really?

I am not your daddy, little girl.

    “Mama, Daddy’s in here.”

I sit in the stall waiting for the mother to finish diapering her daughter.  The angry comments that I had braced for as I entered the restroom and fast walked into the first available stall play in my head.

Hey!  This is the ladies room!

   Pervert!

   Can’t you read!

   You don’t belong here!

   Get out!

I use all of my superpowers to quiet the imaginary voices.  I use all of my superpowers to pretend I am invisible.

I wait until the little girl is diapered and leaves the ladies’ room with her mother.  I wait a little longer.  And then a little longer after that.

When I finally open the door to the stall, I try to act casual.  I walk to the sink and wash my hands.  I shake them off and then dry them under the electric hand dryer.

The noise from the machine is loud.  It sounds like a radio tuned between stations.  It sounds like a revved Ferrari engine.

I can’t hear anything over the noise.

I want to stay here in this quiet place, but it is too dangerous.

When the dryer stops, I walk to the door of the restroom and slip out into the lobby like the Invisible Woman.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s