As a person who is 5,9,” broad-shouldered, with plenty of nose and eyebrow for several individuals, I feel as if I walk upon one of the many blurry lines between male and female gender. Once upon a time, before I cut my hair short, I would wear things such as ballet flats with bows, shimmering pink lip gloss, and cropped cardigans: but, even though my hair has long since grown back, I still feel like a football player drag queen the moment I dress in such a fashion. Relating to this, I recently realized I have unconsciously dressed as a man on Halloween the past five years: David Bowie, Lion Tamer, Zorro, and a semi ghoulish person with a hat, because that Halloween sucked and I didn’t really dress up for a number of lame reasons. This year I was Marilyn Manson. I originally longed to be the Dita to a Marilyn, but this was never given the breath of life last year. So when my friend Mor and I were trying to figure out a costume, I quickly jumped at the chance to make my past dreams come true.
As I excitedly arrive at Mor’s house, donned in my Marilyn Manson attire, I meet her friend who is joining us for the night. I am struck by how perfect this person looks. She is 18 and she wants to be a pop singer and she is dressed as a cat. And, by dressed as a cat, I mean she is wearing a black dress, leather jacket that appears to be Zara like, heeled boots, drawn on whiskers and nose, and these adorable cat ears. She is like a cat straight out my own personal hell. I try to suppress the jealousy, fear, confusion. I can’t stop it. My womanhood is threatened, not exactly to inferiority, but certainly confliction, by this very young cat lady.
Arriving for the event held in the top, outdoor area of a restaurant in Santa Monica, I become aware of the spectrum of looks I am getting from men, which at best are, “Wow she went all out that’s kinda cool,” and at worst are, “Ew scary let me bore my eyes through her to look at how hot that cat is.” I try to brush these gazes off and say, “Hell, I’m loving my giant jacket and top hat right now”…but when the bartender asks, “Are you waiting for something?” in an annoying voice while you’ve been politely at the front staring at him for ten minutes, because you just want some water, one kind of wants to rip their top hat off, and shove it down a pompous, steroid swollen throat. A little later I focus on a conversation with my friend Mor to ease my annoyance. I slightly gesture my hand back and soon hear a man behind me yell, “Jesus Christ” to which I turn and ask him, “Jesus Christ what?” He replies, “I’m walking and you do this hand thing (does hand motion while making an atrocious pinched face) so Jesus Christ” I say, “FUCK you” and he leaves, quickly. (Side-note, if I have learned anything as a dancer it is the tried and true rule that if you get hit while approaching someone from behind, that hit is on you).
My friend Mor mentions leaving for our friend’s DJ event and I mumble, “Yes, sweet baby Jesus. Let’s go,” drowned out by the desperate voice of a man asking Cat Lady if she is a real playboy bunny. I am not in the best of spirits as we are walking over to my car. Cat Lady mentions something about USC and I ask if she goes there (I know she does not). She says no, but she is thinking of going to either FIDM for fashion or SMC for communications. I let these images soak beneath my brain for a moment and I think, “That is so stereotypical it is not even real…I want to throw something.” (I remember the sea of sorority girls, walking in a pack, talking about their comm. majors at UCSB with hair blown dry in a slight twirl and matching shirts that read “Delta Fuck Me Gama” or some such thing…) We sit down in my car and as we begin driving forward I proceed with, “What even is a communications major, I hear it, and I don’t get it?” The Cat Lady begins to say such words as “broadcast” and I say, “I don’t get what it really is.” Mor attempts to intercede and says, “You know at UCSB they’d make fun of comm. majors but…” I interrupt to clarify, “No, they make fun of comm. majors everywhere.” But then, it hits me, I am being unnecessarily cruel to someone out my own silly insecurities. I attempt to back-peddle as I drive a tad too fast on the freeway. Mor decides it’s time for music and I pretend I have interest in this Jesse J person, I felt really bad. Then a Britney Spears song comes on and I start feeling a bit more comfortable. Mor asks Cat Lady sitting in the back seat, “Was Britney Spears even a thing for you growing up?” To which she replies, “Ya totally like “Hit Me Baby One More Time” was my jam.” I chose not pressing the issue that while she was not technically a baby at around three years old, when “Hit Me Baby…” came out, the fact that peanut butter and jelly would have still been a fresh notion makes it impossible for it ever to have been her jam. Because 1. I was trying to be nice. And 2. I also was amused because it made me flashback to driving in the back seat of an old, pale blue, car, after visiting a dock, where this guy Shane was living in a boat. He was dating my friend. She was at the time going out with two Shane’s. Boat Shane and Straight Edge Tat Shane. Both in their early twenties, and we were around sixteen. I was going out with no one named Shane, because I will never be that cool. While in his car I remember finding a CD of Moby’s Play in the seat pocket. I hadn’t said much that night, but I immediately proclaimed with great exuberance, “I LOVVVE Moby!” First, perhaps, no one else has ever uttered these words aloud, proudly, in public, and second, Play came out when I was 10. Of course, anyone can listen to older music and feel a connection, but, I now sympathize and think Boat Shane was not entirely at fault when he glanced into the rearview mirror and said, “What? You’re not even in college yet. You can’t love Moby.”
After our friend’s set downtown, held in one of the many outside, back areas of a warehouse that overlooks freeway and tips of skyline, we return to the previous party. I choose to release my insecure,rude demons. I realize Cat Lady is not evil, and, in fact, sweet. We are all dancing around and, after being knocked into many too many times, by several guys I take off my jacket. I recently realized a key facet of almost all my masculine costumes is the inclusion of skintight American Apparel pants or shorts except for the semi ghoulish night, but that whole situation was a wash. I walk from one side of the room and suddenly I see these smiles. One lad tells me my makeup is “really sick” and another grabs my hand and tells me I shouldn’t leave. I try not to say such things but that night I couldn’t help but mutter, loudly, “Men are dumb.” As I say this I catch sight of this mother fucking perfect looking blonde man at the bar. We make eye contact. I decide it is time for us to hang out at the bar. In pretty short order I am next to this Ryan Gosling like creation and attempt making a slight insult about how boring his costume his, a referee shirt, but the noise is too great. He immediately grabs my arm with his must be faux tanned bicep to pull me next to him and my lady loins begin screeching. I tell him it must have taken a long time getting ready, not original but I couldn’t breathe quite correctly, and he laughs and we chat about nothing. As the night progresses some of the party goers invite us to hang out at an office/apartment upstairs for the “after party.” Blonde Guy is going there so we are all down. He hits on every single one of us and every other woman in the room multiple times. I hear him call Cat Lady “cute” and “pretty.” I let go of any notion of actually being with this zealous, Gosling incarnate gentleman but certainly don’t avoid talking to him. I can no longer take my fake eyelashes stabbing my cornea so I head into the bathroom to peel them off and wipe away my dark lipstick as well. I want to look more like me. Several moments after coming back into the room I stand next to a small, murky fish tank and I notice Blonde Man is now wearing a tank top which is just really a stunning sight to see. He attempts pulling me closer but only grabs my jacket off my shoulder, so sexy anyway. I laugh, turn and look at him. He says, “The lines of your face are interesting.” I know what he means, but don’t know what to say, so I ask, “What my makeup?” and he says, “Noo” in an exasperated drawn out pitchy voice. “I mean. (makes sharps chopping motion with his hands along his jaw line, cheekbones, nose, and eyes).” Again, my originality really comes into play, and I say, “The lines of your face are interesting too.” And, then, I am lost, staring at his face and realize that was a total lie because he is so perfectly proportional and symmetrical he is almost boring. I look across the side of my shoulder and realize two people are listening with judgment in their eyes. I leave with my friends soon after.
My Dad always tells me, “There is always someone smarter, faster, more beautiful, stronger…” to which I reply, “You have to work with what you’ve got.” Looking back I remember as I was driving down the empty freeway, moving past the many, multicolored neon lights that float against inky mountains, that I was happy and content I received, “The lines of your face are interesting.” It may have come from a man who would have fucked a stale pie if it crossed by his path that night, but it reinforced my being okay with the truth that I am never ever going to be asked if I’m a real playboy bunny or feel comfortable in ballet flats. It’s not to say “interesting” is better than “pretty” they are all just different cards that we are dealt, whether it be with our looks, talents, interests, etc. and more and more, I realize it’s best to hold onto what you have while appreciating and respecting others…that being said, what the fuck is a Communications Major?