When you saw me walk into your restaurant
I doubt that th first thing you thought about
was asking me what my preferred pronuns might be
Instead, what I'm sure came to mind was:
"Shaved underarms bu hairy legs
in a tight tank top and ripped skinny jeans?
But they're wearing an earring -
don't only girls wear earrings?
Is an earring in one ear
some new style I missed out on?
Their jaw is really square
but there are incredibly long eyelashes covering
those unforgiving eyes
And I swear that thee isn't one speck of makeup
anywhere near them but explain then
why theirhips are so out of proportion?"
The default is always "sir."
I see the flash of horror on your face
wonderin how you'll mkeit through
a dinner in gender-bent hell
and I only wish
that I could reach you before
you opened your mouth to speak to me -
I want to tell youthat that cliched metaphor
of never judging worn outand drawn out books
by their covers is realty
and I would give anyhing to take the ten-thousand page,
seventeen-year-old and still-in-the-making
paperback of my reality
and bring it down over your head
until you came to understand that
there isn't anything wrong with being confused
but there is something wrong in making assumptions.
Making assumptions about a person
is like making assumptions abbout pickled eggs
and anyone who has eaten them knows
that there is nothing too repulsive about them
and that if you can't understand that sometimes
you need a little pink to brigten up a plate
then you will never understand why there are so many people
that really do enjoy them
and something you will never grasp is that
an assumption towards anyone is like
ripping out the preface of their own ten-thousand page biography
and rewriting the ending
and changing their words
so that you might understand them better
and if you think that that's fair to them,
then I think you need to reevaluate yourself
before you ever make any new friends
who might have to deal with your unethical editing -
and quite frankly, I think you need to reevaluate your career choice
because assumptions can hurt people
and assumptions are how tragedies occur
and assumptions are how trauma can return
and assumptions are the reason you'vejust now managed to humiliate me
in front of my entire family
and now my cousins are laughing
under their breath next to me
and my mother is sighing because she knows
she's told me only a thousand times to just
let my hair grow out and shave my legs already
and stop making myself look
like I'm trying to cause trouble
because no one could ever love me that way
and certainly not my parents.
So the next time you serve me at a restaurant
don't give me that, "Yes, sir...?" crap.
I heard the shaky break in your voice
before you finished the phrase
and I saw the uneasy look and the double take
and I know that you're going to find a way
to pass it off as good humor and somehow
elicit from me the twenty percent that you needed
because when I raised my eyebrows at you,
you couldn't help but wonder,
"Did I get it wrong?"
Do me a favor next time, and just ask me.
Did you ever even consider
how rude it might be to assume from my
flat chest and my short hair and my v-neck
what I might be?
Don't you think that maybe
if I happen to look like this
right now in front of you
that I don't probably already deal with this every day anyway?
I'm used to this -
this is living for me -
using a male name as an alternative
doesn't even begin to faze me anymore
and I can promise you that
if you happen to be absolutely unsure,
it is not that difficult to ask,
"I'm sorry, but do you prefer ma'am, or sir?"