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It's a reason. Just not a very good one.

There are almost always multiple reasons for doing anything. The reasons for what anybody does may boil down to the root excuse that Harlan Ellison once came up with -- It seemed like a good idea at the time -- but more than one reason's usually there, if you're honest. It's good exercise to think I will do this for Reason A, Reason B, and, to an extent, Reason C, even if one reason's a bigger motivator than the others.

So. Except for one time in college when I went with several dorm mates to one, I have not been to a Baskin-Robbins since 1987 or 1988. The reason, the one big (if I'm to be honest) reason? Annoyance.

Junior-High Me went to one in a Reston, Virginia shopping center that's since been almost completely remodeled, where I was waiting after tae kwan do class for Mom to pick me up. It was winter, so I was probably in eighth grade, my hair short *, my voice still relatively high and definitely no facial hair to speak of -- and one of the people behind the counter called me "ma'am."

I wasn't androgynous; I was really just indeterminate, and at that moment buried in a shapeless gray coat. I realized later that it could've been hard to tell that I was a boy. But being mistaken to my face for another gender -- whoa, that threw me. And bothered me. And annoyed me. I didn't say anything, but got my cone and went.

Just that was enough for me, an even more serious version of myself than I am now **, not to want to go to Baskin-Robbins. And except for a circa 1993 trip where it would've been rude not to go with people, I haven't.

I got reminded of that yesterday when, in the mood for a milkshake, I asked a clerk at the Hollywood Things From Another World if anyplace close had milkshakes. The neighborhood has, it turns out, a Baskin-Robbins; the clerk suggested that (and, failing that, the nearby McDonald's). I thanked him, and didn't tell him my very personal (and definitely unfair) boycott that made me not want to go to one. Later I went to the Original Hotcake and Steak House on SE Powell near Milwaukie Ave. and the Aladdin Theater, because I knew I can get milkshakes there.

I said it was unfair of me. Here's more evidence of that: not long after that first time, I got called "ma'am" one more time, at an Erol's Video that I rarely went to in Herndon (I usually went to the Vienna Erol's). I didn't boycott Erol's (or Blockbuster once the bigger company bought the smaller). At some point, I kept up the boycott mainly because it amused me to do so, to have this weird reason that no longer applies. Yes, on some things, I can be stubborn. But nowadays, if I were somehow mistaken for being female, I'd mainly be amused. Because I have no reason or desire to try to pass for female.

So. Any of you have any feelings on Baskin-Robbins one way or another? Any reasons I should stop -- or keep up -- this weird little boycott? Is Baskin-Robbins the only ice cream chain that uses child labor or Soylent Green or something, right? Then I can feel my boycott's justified! Or if Baskin-Robbins uses ice cream made from renewable, free-range unicorn farts or something? Then I'd feel bad for dissing the company.

* As these pictures show, up to sixth grade my hair was straight. Then, one part of my hairdo started to curl, above my right eye and nowhere else. I was distracted enough by that to, once or twice, cut off the nub of curling hair, leaving my hairdo uneven until I next got to the Vienna Hair Cuttery on Maple Avenue. Then I dealt with the curling simply by getting even shorter haircuts than before, until college. When, suddenly without much money, I started going months without cutting my hair. WHICH CAME OUT IN WAVY GLORY.

** Back then I was slowly, concertedly, sometimes even painfully trying to build up more of a sense of humor. That was -- is! -- a work in progress, but thank everything I can more easily laugh now. My humor is hard-fought-for and hard-won.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)
If I boycotted every place that had ever misgendered me, I'd have one hell of a hard time getting services. I know that's obvious, but if you haven't already, please do consider the fact that your annoying experience a quarter-century ago is a trans person's everyday life.

I like Baskin Robbins, but I prefer The Creole Creamery.

That is all.
May. 20th, 2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
I'm understanding that better now. Thank you. And I figure this entry's extra message to myself is "Chris. Dude. Get over yourself." Because sometimes I have trouble doing that. (I know: that was a long time.) I also wish I'd been funny enough back then to make a joke about it and get me and the people in the shop laughing.
May. 20th, 2012 06:43 pm (UTC)
It's something to think about... how other people's assumptions of our gender make us feel...

A female friend of mine is ALWAYS called sir and though I think it bothers her on some level, she rarely seemed to show it. I suppose that when it happens a lot it's something you get used to.

In my late teens/early 20's I wore my hair short, with little/no make-up, and loved androgynous clothing. Most of the time I got a tiny thrill when I'd be called sir - but on occasion it would bug me.

At one of the libraries where I worked we'd get complaints on a regular basis about a boy using the women's rest room... it didn't take me long to stop investigating immediately and start by asking the complainer to describe the person and it was always a regular user, very much a happy girl (with super long hair) who projected masculine energy like mad.

I wish we had unisex rest rooms and a gender-neutral pronoun. There's really no reason to know someone's gender except for possible flirting/dating and that really shouldn't be happening when dealing with a customer/client.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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