Is it just me, or do all butches, soft or otherwise, carry alotta stuff in their pockets? My sweetheart has chronically empty pockets. I don’t understand how anyone can live that way. I guess I’m one of many dykes who took our Girl Scout motto to heart: I’m always prepared.
Here’s today’s (and every day’s) inventory. In my right front pocket: a Sante Fe Stoneworks pen knife with a superb Camillus blade. My sweetheart gave it to me to replace a similar lost knife. Next: a Fisher Space pen that opens to full size. It’s my everyday pen. My sweetheart gave me the same pen, in rainbow colors, for book signings. Next: spare keys. When I was single, I always carried an extra car and house key in case the Handy Dyke or the Pianist weren’t nearby when I locked myself out. Now that I’m married, they come in handy to rescue the femme of the house. On the key ring: a Cruiser flash drive for my works-in-progress and an intense, teensy flashlight. But most important is the handful of treats to reward our pup and make friends with every other dog I’m introduced to.
In this butch’s left front pocket: a blue pillbox for headaches, allergy attacks, and the agita I get when I’m missing any piece of my pocket arsenal. Also: a melon-flavored organic, vegan, GMO-free, cruelty-free lip balm for braving the elements. And last: my pocket rock, a blue agate from a west coast beach. Carrying it is my guarantee I will always get back home, but it’s slow-acting—we’ve been stuck in Florida for four years now.
Back right pocket: a smart phone for e-mails at long traffic lights, finding the next iced tea stop, and texting with my cool young niece. Left back pocket: bandana; black paisley today. Color is of no significance whatsoever, so don’t try to make me out a hippie necrophiliac or something.
As a young dyke, I wouldn’t be caught without a cigarette lighter. Women, not all of them lesbians, tended to be completely wowed when that handy lighter proved I was at their service. If there were two or more of us little butches around, there would always be an unspoken contest to see who offered her lighter fastest. Now the penknife has replaced the lighter. If a woman needs a cutting edge, there’s a communal butch rush to provide one: penknife, jackknife, multi-tool. When I was in retail food, I went everywhere with a box cutter in my back pocket. Air travel prohibits this now, so I keep an inexpensive penknife in my checked luggage. Though the travel knife pales next to my prized Camillus, I’d feel sissified without something.
Aging is not kind to pocket-geeks. Middle-aged spread makes me bulky enough without bulging pockets. I used to carry my wallet where my thin phone is now, but that threw my back out. We had lunch with a friend last weekend and she took out her phone. It had an extended battery like a little hunch on its back. I was wild with envy, but how would I carry it? My suavely slim phone slides in and out of a back pocket easily, but a more powerful battery would make for unpleasant sitting. Our friend didn’t have that problem. Proudly femme, she carries a purse.
So for these kinds of conundrums I have a pocket annex. It’s an “Uncle Milty’s Travel Vest” and it came with 17 pockets. It’s kind of hot for wearing in Florida, but the pocket rock will get us home soon. Besides, nobody, except one British firm, The Butch Clothing Company, designs clothing or accessories for butches. Yes, rainbow t-shirts and key fobs are readily available, but they’re uni-gender and uni-style and, while I’m proud of their message, they don’t solve any problems exclusive to butches. We get hand-me-down styles from men. Or tailored looks rejected by high femmes.
It’s such a narrow line we butches walk. I do not in any way shape or form want to pass as a man. But if I want to wear a full tuxedo, I’ll be wearing one made for guys. When I wear Uncle Milty’s vest, passersby question my gender with their disapproving eyes. If I want to carry an adjunct pocket over my shoulder, I can choose between a ladies’ purse or one of those heavy, oversized carryalls with the unattractive name of man bags. As a matter of fact, I just looked for bandanas on Amazon because I want to get a few as a gift for a friend. What did I find? Bandanas modeled as hair scarves for women. And on Etsy, women, little girls and dogs are the models.
But my pockets? I claim pockets as butch territory.
Lee Lynch’s novel Rafferty Street concludes her epic Morton River Valley Trilogy (Dusty’s Queen of Hearts Diner and Morton River Valley). In this stand-alone novel Annie Heaphy, beloved hero of Lynch’s classic Toothpick House, reunites with her old crowd. She loves her job driving people with disabilities to and from work – until being gay becomes an issue. Valley gays unite to defend her as she revels in love with the right, and wrong, women. Lynch’s warm, engaging prose deeply affects her readers as she tells her story – even more powerful today when civil rights for gays are still denied. Now available in electronic format from Bold Strokes Books.