Yesterday: A child with projectile bowel disorders that made me fear she would shoot off the toilet into the troposphere; today, all is well, but we had the unholy combination of school / errands / vet visit plus the misery of a three column day. One of those days where you feel as if you have three cheese graters in your pants, one fore and two aft. I’ll have much to say tomorrow. For now, this will have to do. But I hope by now you expect NOTHING on Wednesdays, eh? Hah! Here’s Something! So there.

The other day I took Gnat to the Medium Mall to get some crafts material, and as we passed the J. Jill store I remembered that my wife had liked the aqua-hued jeans on page 4 of the latest catalog. Hey, maybe they had them in stock. Her birthday was coming up. Almost three years as a sort-of stay-at-home dad has made me feel completely at ease in the Afternoon World of Women, the culture of browsing and shopping. I don’t have that nervous behind-enemy-lines look guys get in Victoria’s Secret. I will forever be a foreigner, of course, gaijin, a dog who walks on hind legs, and that’s fine by me – it’s not my culture. But it’s where I spend much of my time, and while I don’t know the language I know the culture. (This might be why I always end a trip to the Mall with a visit to the Apple store; it’s like an embassy where I’m a citizen again.)

So I ask if they have these jeans in 3p; the clerk goes off to check. Gnat walks up to a mirror, hitches her shirt up, sticks out her tongue. Oh great. My Little Britney. They don’t have the jeans, so she calls up the item on the computer. Backordered for months, except for a few colors which are not high on my wife’s list of favorites. So that’s that.

And I leave, thinking:

This really is an odd thing for a man to do, according to all the norms and traditions. Not until the last few years – a decade, maybe two – was the sight of a guy in the mall with a tot something normal, and even now half the women think: visitation. Or: lost his job. But it’s ridiculous to think that standard patterns of male behavior, i.e. HULK SMASH, have to be played out in offices. I am the cutting edge!

And then I think, well, I’m fooling myself. That’s nothing special, but I really have done a great job here. Oh, my career is doing fine, better than ever, but it’s not like I’m out there throwing elbows, stepping on the faces of my foes, clawing my way to the top. I’m standing outside Williams-Sonoma wondering if I Gnat would like those Easter-themed pancake molds. And I call myself a MAN?

Then there appears Mr. Brute Force, Mr. Sloshing Load of Testosterone. Head like the Rock, torso like Vin Diesel, tight tanktop that looks sprayed on. Heads swivel. Jaws drop. Because below the tanktop is a simple black skirt, black hose, and some sensible but not entirely practical pumps.

Gnat stares. Does not compute. Just does not process. Two women who were chatting have stopped talking. And he gives everyone a hard glare: what are you looking at?

A hypermasculine man in a dress, for heaven’s sake! What did you think we’re looking at? Look, I don’t care if a guy wants to wear a dress. To be truthful, I’d rather he didn’t. I’m old fashioned that way. At home? Have fun. At a club? Party on, dude. I won’t picket Borders if they decide to carry Trans, the Magazine of Becoming. But don’t expect you can look like a pro wrestler who shops at Ann Taylor without getting some reaction. No one was laughing, no one was pointing, no one was looking around for stones to throw – people just had that OhMyGOD face ordinary people get when presented with something that comes from nine miles outside of the cultural boundaries of a suburban mall.

I doubt the fellow is reading this, but if he is, a suggestion: buddy, if you want to win over the crowd, stop glowering. Guys in dresses is one thing. Angry guys in dresses is a different matter.

Today is a three column day; back to work. We have this small but potent update to amuse you.

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