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Interesting Comments

June 28, 2018


I have had some intriguing comments and some saddening ones in the last two months.  Normally, no one makes any comment about my clothing.  I am not sure if I am dressing differently, or if I am dressing more openly… I just do not know.

Cultural Lesson
Let me start with a cultural lesson.  I live in the south-eastern United States.  There is a black-white racial divide here.  It has continually been improving over the century (and I have been improving as well), but there is a cultural separation.  Different races tend to grow up in separate social circles.  There are language and behavioral differences.

A simple example: In the south, white people might say, “Hey, how are you doing?”  Response: “Hi, how are you doing?”  Then the first person continues without answering the question.  In the black community, I have observed that people greet one another with, “Hey, how you doing?”  Response, “Fine, fine.  How you doing?”  Response, “Fine.”  This does not work in other parts of the country.  I have tried it.

Another difference is how we handle awkward situations.  I have observed that white people will pretend not to see things, if they are embarrassing.  Black people will often address the awkward situation directly.  They do not share our awkwardness (I am white).  I think this is the key to some of my most interesting comments.  Often, white people tend to act like they did not notice my skirt.  (If you are new to my blog, I am a guy who wears a skirt on occasions.)  Often, white people expand the act of not noticing things by not acknowledging me at all.  Black people, however, occasionally mention my clothes, but they very often greet me when I am dressed pretty.

I have found that white people make silent assumptions about me.  Black people will often express a “you be you” attitude about me.

OK, that is the end of the cultural lesson.  Most of the comments I have received lately have been from black women.  However, I will distinguish the one that came from a white woman and one from a white man.

I was shopping in a clothing store.  A woman passed near me as she was exiting the store.  She looked over at me and started laughing.  She said, “Are you modeling the clothes?”  She and her companion stopped and looked at me.  I smiled and said, “No.”  It took a moment to clear the confusion, but then she said, “Oh, are those your clothes?”  I said “Yes, ma’am.”  She respectfully received my answer and the ladies left the store.  I, however, felt a little saddened.

On another outing, I had the three following comments:
One woman saw me in a clothing store.  She started laughing when I walked up to the same rack as her.  She must have seen my outfit previously.  She looked at my face and started laughing.  I was standing on the other side of the rack.  She said, “You are not going to make it today.”  I responded with, “I am just doing my thing.”  Later, when we crossed paths again, she told me good-bye.

In that same store, I was browsing the dresses near another woman.  She saw me, but kept on shopping.  Eventually, I was standing where she had been standing.  She came back to where I and commented to me on how beautiful one dress was.  I commented that it was beautiful, but that I felt the style did not look good on me.  We started talking about how things that we think would not look good on us surprise us when we try them on.  That experience meant a lot to me.

In a different store, a woman looked over at me while talking to a sales clerk.  She saw me and started exclaiming, “Look at you!  You look SO cute!  I saw you shopping earlier, but I did not see your cute outfit!  Where are your heels?”  She kind of embarrassed me.  She kept on complimenting me.  She did not wait for a response from me.  Later, I tried on a dress in that store.  Once again, she started complimenting me on it when I stepped out to get a smaller size.

While paying at a cafeteria style restaurant, after my meal, the cashier said to me in a hushed tone, “Will you please tell me… why the skirt?”  I told her that I just like to wear them occasionally.  Then she started a whole conversation.  She did not take my money.  A woman got in line behind me.  I wanted to talk to her, but I did not want to do it in front of the stranger.  I encouraged her to take my money.  She gave me my change and kept talking.  I stepped back and said, “Take care of her first.”  The woman in line was white.  She expressed that she did not mind letting us talk.  Then she asked me how old I was.  She expressed disappointment that I was too young for her.  Then the white woman said, “Do you have a brother?”  I do not know what THAT was all about!  The cashier continued to talk to me.  She was intrigued, and she was not ashamed to approach me about it.

I have grown to accept that, at least in my part of the country, black people say what they think without feeling like the truth should be ignored.  They accept people who are different.  They are rather loving and open-minded.  Perhaps these traits are more common among women.  I do not have these experiences with men, in general.  In any case, I think I would do well to become more like my black brothers and sisters in my community!




I went on an outing this week and had my haircut.  I went to a new barbershop.  I was the only customer when I walked in.  I was wearing a stretchy red skirt, an un-tucked white button up shirt, nude pantyhose, and white Keds.  The owner was the only barber.  She was Vietnamese and had a thick accent.  She was at least 60 years old.  She welcomed me and directed me to a chair.

She walked over to the chair and wrapped the smock around me.  She politely, but directly, asked me, “Why are you wearing a skirt?”  I was not prepared for this.  I said, “I just like it.”  She responded while getting her tools ready.  “Ah.  You just like it.”  I think she became aware that her question might have been blunt.  She admitted that she is straight forward and honest, and that people should do what they like.  And she appended, “I don’t care.”  Then, she proceeded to cut my hair and talk to me about many things other than clothes.  She shared her life story.  We had a GREAT conversation.

This might be my favorite haircut ever simply because of how fascinating her story was and how neat of a person she was.  The skirt had nothing to do with it being great.  I think I will go back.

From → Information

  1. Pat Scales permalink

    It is good that you are out and about and get to experience the reactions of others. I am not sure that any broad generalizations can be drawn from such a small sample but it does seem that on one level or another the good people of the south eastern US are accepting and accommodating of you and your presentation.

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