My Uncle is supposed to be coming by my mum’s tomorrow; as I’m staying out there until the holidays are over, I’ll have to see him. For the record, this is the uncle who tried to punch me in the face last Christmas ( I believe I referenced that in Post the Second, but I’m not certain). At any rate, he’s coming over to fix my mum’s under-sink-ka-jigger, which has been leaking for Providence only knows how long; she noticed it last spring, when the moisture caused part of her floor to collapse. She’s been putting off getting it fixed because she doesn’t allow anyone into her house, apart from myself. The only reason that I’m allowed is because I grew up here. I digress.
My Uncle will come, and see that I’m here, and inquire why I don’t fix the sink, simply because I happen to be a guy. Now, I’m not entirely useless with my hands, but plumbing has never been anything I’ve been any great hand at.
Also, I’ve tried, and I don’t know where the hell the leak is – I can’t find it. If I try to explain, he’ll wave his hand dismissively, mutter a comment about faggots, and dismiss any skill or ability I might have. I fall somewhere between these two stereotypes – that all men are born with immediate, accurate, knowledge of all tools and handiman-ery, except for those gay dudes, who… I guess belong in the kitchen, with the barefoot, pregnant, dames? I don’t know. The point is that stereotypes are harmful, and sure, they might accurately describe a person or two by coincidence, which is perfectly fine if it suits their identity, but they are never hard and fast rules.
I’m being vague, rambling, and I don’t feel I’m really making the point that I want to make. At any rate, I’m a gay cis man, generally but not strictly attracted to gay cis men, and while I do not exemplify the apex of traditional “masculinity”, neither do I come off as a screaming queen. I cannot stress enough that I find nothing wrong with either of those gender expressions, but those seem to be the binary upon which the straight, cis, world judges people who happen to have penises?
I digress again. I don’t want to rant about gender politics, I want to smack my Uncle. Instead, I will list the range of skills that I truly have, as a preemptive rebuttal to his complete dismissal of me, based on one characteristic of my being. Therefore:
* I can write a damned fine, rhyming, poem, and, with a little practice, utilise any of the ancient forms. I hate to brag, but that is the one talent I feel truly proud of.
* I can finish a concrete slab.
* I can make various historical costumes, sewn by hand; male garb from seeing a period portrait (although I’ll usually alter/modernize for my own tastes), female garb, likewise, if I have a dressform (the female form is hard for me to imagine in three dimensions)
* I can make most of my grandmother’s recipes, fairly closely, and no one else in the family can
* I can make snares and traps, and skin and preserve an animal’s hide. A bird’s, too, if it’s of decent size. If it’s too small, it’s really difficult, and beyond my skill.
* I can play piano, alto saxophone, and ukulele, sub-adequately
* I can shoot my Great-Uncle Jack’s longbow with a fair deal of accuracy. I am less accurate with a rifle, and even less with a pistol, except my father’s trusty .358 revolver, my personal sidearm, Sunset Gun.
* I can give a synopsis of most short stories by Dorothy Parker, and recite a fair number of her poems from memory
* That goes for a fair selection of poetry, actually, most notably including Shelley, Byron, Keats, and Coleridge.
* I can perform legally binding marriages, and with minimal staff, cater and plan a wedding for up to 100. Providing that it isn’t a wedding of someone I know, because then… things get peculiar.
* I can frame a building.
* I can build rough furniture – including, once, a portable bar, for my camping group. It was very pretty, but like most of my wood-working, a bit rough. I can make serviceable pieces, but they’re a little amateurish.
* Given the budget, I can throw a world-class cocktail party. It helps if I hand-select the guests, but it isn’t strictly necessary; I just need to know enough about each person to be able to help interesting conversation and introduce people to one another. The cocktails aren’t strictly necessary, either.
* I make very decent cocktails, speaking of, and am justifiably proud of my bloody maries.
* I can speak third-year French, without thinking about it. If I had a native speaker to practice with, I feel that it would improve immensely, with little effort.
* I used to be a half-way decent fencer, but it’s been years, and I’m out of practice, and much older than I was.
* I can drop a tree, cut it into rounds, and chop it into firewood. And then, as I did last week, move the rounds up an access road what would be a quarter-mile on flat ground, but is, in fact, up the side of a cliff. By hurling each round about fifteen feet at a go. An entire tree. Yeah.
* I can read a 500 page novel in a day, if I lose some sleep.
* I can understand it, what’s more.
* I can make some really charming jewellery, given the correct found materials.
* Oh lord, can I decorate, in period style.
* I could go on.
I won’t, though. I can’t imagine that this post has been very interesting, but it has been re-affirming for me, and I am wanting to punch my uncle much less, now. You’ll notice punching, and forming a proper fist, are not on my list.
Sometime I’ll write about the Genderfuck Pubcrawl I did a summer or two ago. Until that time, watch out for stereotypes; distrust them. If you run across someone who fulfills a stereotype of whatever kind, be kind to them; they’re likely getting crap from all comers. Be kind, kittens.