Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gender Confusion

I look like a boy. Or at least I once did. You could say that, up top, I still do. (Some of my brothers used to tease me by saying I had a hope chest because I was still hoping for one. Ha ha. So original, guys. I'm still not laughing. Wait a minute....um, no. Still not funny.)

I have been mistaken for a boy three times in my life. All three occasions happened during my 8th grade year. (Now you know why I hated that "Junior High phase.")

The summer after my 8th grade year, our Spanish teacher, Senor Urish, took our class to Mexico. For a shy, short-haired, backwards little girl from Happy Valley Utah, Mexico was a bit of a culture shock. (And we visited the touristy parts.) I was terrified that I would be kidnapped or at the very least fondled because of my blond hair. (We were told that the Mexican men were obsessed with light hair.) Of course, they were looking for blond girls.

While we were in Guadalajara, we went to the huge open market. I wanted to buy myself some huaraches, so we went to a leather shoe shop. I happened to be wearing a Venezuela T-shirt that my brother brought home for me from his mission. (Keep in mind, this shirt had a picture of a Toucan on it with the word "Venezuela" written on the top left part of the shirt.)

I was wandering the aisles, looking at sandals, when a man came up to me. I was immediately nervous. He didn't look Hispanic, but I didn't know for sure. Then, he spoke to me in English. He struck up a conversation and was very polite. All of a sudden, he takes a finger and jabs my then-budding chest just below the "Venezuela" printing. I was MORTIFIED! A stranger had just poked my breast! What should I do?

He was very nonchalant.

"Ah! Venezuela! Have you been there?" he asked.

"No, my brother went there on a mission for our church," I replied, blushing furiously.

"Oh. So how many brothers and sisters do you have?"

"I have five brothers. My sister and I are the only girls."

Dead silence.

"You're a girl?!?!? Oh! I am SO SORRY!"

He left rather quickly.

The second incident, also in Mexico, occurred at an airport. We had a layover of several hours. During that time, I had to visit the restroom. I had on a light blue sweater with a white, scalloped-edged, Peter Pan collar on it. I stepped into the inevitable line for the women’s toilet. I stood there quite a while before noticing the frequent looks I was receiving from one of the other women. Finally, she could take it no more. In heavily accented and halting English, she said, "Esscuse me. Thees is the ladies restroom. Not for boys."

"I’m a girl."

Again, dead silence followed by a profuse apology.

Later that summer, after Freshman Orientation at good old Provo High, my brother Nihao took me to Stevenette’s for a shake. I stood in front of the counter, waiting for someone to take my order. A middle-aged gentleman, who was doing repairs, noticed me and called out to the people in the back, "Hey! Could someone come out to the register? This nice young man here is waiting to order."

Unfortunately for me, I never got the chance to correct him. All I could do was mutter, bitterly,

"Young woman, mister, young woman!"

I don’t know what happened after that, but I was never mistaken for a boy again. And I even kept my short hair.

Sometimes I long for those days. I think it would be better to be mistaken for a male than have people ask me, "So….when are you due?"

I’m not. I’m just fat. Thanks for asking.


love.boxes said...

Hilarious! Love this post, thanks for sharing! :)

pflower10 said...


Angela said...

Oh man, this is a hilarious post. I got mistaken as a boy once when I was six. I thought it was rude, but I'M the one who got in trouble for kicking the man in the shin. Talk about injustice.

I was going to say, "It's not you, it's Mexico" but then you told the Stevenette's story.

I have to tell people, I'm not just fat, I'm also pregnant. It could be worse.

But you're funny.

becks said...

that is so funny!!! that would freak anyone out to have a stranger poke your chest! i don't think i would like it even if i was a guy...thats my personal space buddy!

Briahna said...

I'm totally going to use this post when I teach my psychology of gender class again. Excellent.

b. said...

oh for hell's sake.....people are retarded! But this post was dang funny!
I played softball and was the homerun queen....but my boobs were always huge, so.....
And you ain't phat.

Elizabeth-W said...

We wait and wait and wait for a post...... And then you do this...oh, buddy. It was SO worth the wait! :)
I've never been mistaken for a boy, but that 5 month preggo look---yep.

~cari~ said...

I feel your pain. In my 7th grade yearbook they printed my name wrong next to my picture. It should have read "Cari Peterson" but instead read "Carl Peterson". The sad thing was I had a short haircut and I happened to have worn a v-neck sweater with a buttoned-down collar on picture day. (why? I don't know.) I was so upset, I took every yearbook I could find and changed the "l" to an "i".

From our brief encounter at Macey's, you don't even look fat! But yeah, I HATE when that happens.

Lyle said...

Boy! you're just full of surprises aren't you?

Skewedview said...

Talk about gender complexes, as a young BOY, my older sisters accompanied me to the community center to participate in the "prettiest baby" contest. The ladies there signed me in and then promptly placed me in the little girls line. After protesting and straying over to the boys line, I was taken back and placed in the girls line time after time. Ultimately I won the contest. Yep, as a girl.
Ouch. I feel your pain.

Molly McGilicutty said...

That's funny! I am still mistaken for a boy and I don't look like one in any shape or form. But fun blog material, huh!

metamorphose said...

Haha! That's too funny. Painful, but funny!

Kengo Biddles said...

Oi vay.... it's almost as bad as me being constantly mistaken for my mom until my voice changed...and even then....

Queen Scarlett said...

You are hilarious... I'm so sorry... but stuff like this makes life more ... entertaining?! :-)

chronicler said...

It's the very reason I kept my hair long. BUt as you say, the long hair doesn't help now!

sue-donym said...

I want pictures, cuz I don't know how you could be mistaken for a boy.

sue-donym said...


sarah k. said...

I'm stalking everyone who might be at azucar's lunch tomorrow. This was too funny. Funny "ha ha" AND funny "where are the presents?"

I went to Mexico and got groped on the subway, hooted at every day for a month, whistled at, propositioned, kissed (!!!), and I've wished my chest would just go away every day since I was 13. I'd give ya some if I could. One time, even my brother grabbed some flesh. EWWW!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Okay, now that was funny to the infinite power!

I smiled. I chuckled. I even LOL'ed....twice!

I get mistaken for a Spanish speaker because of my surname and little swarm of caramel colored children that follow me everywhere I go. I can't count the number of times people start rattling away to me en espanol while I just look at them and smile. Although, they've never addressed me as Senor. No, that would be so much worse.