Joanne and I made a stop at My Wednesday Place en route to an epic Halloween Party several weekends ago. We wanted to share our transformation with our bartender friend. The mustache was the only sticking point. The damn thing just wouldn’t stay stuck. When Alan made us laugh, it popped out of place. That wouldn’t do, I planned to laugh all night.
“You two should paint mustaches on. Do you have the eyeliner?” This suggestion came after he made a valiant attempt to wrestle square patches of Scotch tape on the fake mustaches without success.
Eyeliner? Eureka! Joanne and I hastened to the bathroom and voila: Two Charlie Chaplin’s replete with bamboo canes, bowler hats and unfettered by ill-fitting mustaches.
Earlier that evening, in the privacy of my bedroom, I slipped on the impossibly comfortable trousers I had found at Good Will; men’s trousers, of course. What a revelation! The waist did not taper and the pants hung on my hips without a tug. The flaws of a middle-aged woman’s body disappear in trousers, no worry of middle section, or buttocks, or designers who try to convince you that you’re never too old for the skinny jean. Katherine Hepburn and Diane Keaton knew the secret of men-style trousers!
The white, cotton, men’s dress shirt felt clean and crisp on my skin, and the tweed vest, when buttoned, gave me a hint of waist and bound my ample chest. No concerns tonight that a breast might peak out of a cup just because I danced. The blazer topped it all and slid on, its’silken lining a feminine secret stashed in a man’s jacket. Who knew?
Next came the shoes. When you select a transgender costume, the shoes are tricky business. For $10, I found the perfect pair of barely worn size 8 ½ oxford tie black shoes. Here’s a secret – with the exception of flip-flops they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. No wonder Cinderella lost that glass slipper. You could dance all night in men’s oxfords.
The makeup was imprecise, white base and smokey grays to evoke silent films and black liner, smudged around the lids to accentuate Chaplin’s forlorn innocence. Rather than tweeze eyebrows into submission, Chaplin’s face called for us to add volume. What a concept, more hair, not less!
My night as Chaplin was pure delight. I danced often and my stride away from the band was downright jaunty! My feet never tired and the oxfords did not squeeze my toes. I gave no thought to my imperfect face or aging body. It occurred to me, as I said goodnight to a wonderful evening, that, well… It’s a man’s world, baby!
Tuesday, we elected a new President. Two elections ago, I supported Barack Obama. I was taken with his countenance, soaring rhetoric and, yes, his hopeful vision for this country. He has been imperfect, but I still believe he is a good man. History will ultimately weigh in on his tenure. I am old enough to know that snap judgments on a Presidency are pure folly. The dust needs to settle before the history books are written.
I did vote for Hillary Clinton last Tuesday.
The day after the Halloween party, I saw a bumper sticker on a car in my hometown.
It read: “Trump That Bitch.”
It stole my Chaplin afterglow
That following morning I was dismayed when a news commentator suggested this, “If Hillary could just find that person in her, who got teary in New Hampshire in 2008….”
He trailed off.
“Well,” he went on,”Her popularity soared after that.”
Suddenly, my Ralph Lauren boots felt tighter.
I happen to come from a curious background which foils the political divide in this country. I was adopted at 6-months-old, and my Irish Catholic father was a dyed-in-the-wool Eisenhower Republican. He loved Ronald Reagan and disdained anything Kennedy. He was a World War II veteran with racist tendencies, saved mostly for Asians. He was a product of his time, having served in China and never forgot Pearl Harbor. At his funeral, there were a surprising number of people of color. My father calibrated over his lifetime. He was not perfect, but he evolved.
Of this I am certain; he believed that I could accomplish anything. My father saw no glass ceiling for his daughter. He was a Republican and I loved him. He was a gentleman who respected women. At his funeral, I gave a eulogy. It ended thus; I will miss my greatest cheerleader.
Uncle Bobby, as well, eschewed liberalism and clung to Fox News. He knew I was a Democrat, but approached our differences with respect. He watched this presidential nomination cycle with great interest in the last year of his life. He didn’t much like Hillary Clinton, but never spoke of her with disdain. For a time, he liked Ben Carson, and then “That Kasich fella seems good.” He said this of Donald Trump, “Oh, him? He’s a clown.” Then, he leaned forward and whispered, “He’s a cuss.” Uncle Bobby found our President-elect distasteful.
In my fifties. I have come to know misogyny more intimately, though its forms are as amorphous to me as Chaplin’s makeup and as stealthy as his fluid movements.
Misogyny: Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
It can be hard to recognize. Sometimes it comes at you like a lamb, all soft and needy of nurturing, until you realize the giving is a one-way street. When the jig is up, it moves on without compunction, like a parasite that has depleted its host.
Sometimes it comes as a labrador; a pal, a punch in the arm which anoints you as “one of the guys”. Sometimes you get to hear the “locker room” talk, but be careful not to disapprove. With a wink and a smile, you might be reminded not to be too sensitive.
In this Presidential election, misogyny came out like a tiger. It was so obvious, it was nearly unbelievable.
It appears a lot of folks just don’t like Hillary Clinton or believe that she is a “crook.” How I wish I had not been so complacent before the elections. I would have helped some folks out with a simple google search, and they could have unearthed in print and on video the President-elect’s quotes about women. I would have told anyone who might listen to insert the name of their daughter, wife, mother, sister, or female friend.
If our African American President had said any of these things about women, I am sure he would never have been elected. If Hillary Clinton had uttered the same kind of pejoratives against men I am certain she would not have been the Democratic Nominee.
My friends who voted for Mr. Trump are quick to tell me to relax, that this not a big deal. They tell me that it’s politics, a political divide between us, or that this is about the economy or a need for change. They tell me that he won’t be like that as President? It’s just Donald, you know? As though he is some irascible character in a prime time sitcom who just doesn’t have a darn edit button.
In 2016, I guess we still believe that boys will be boys.
They go round and round and round about emails and home servers in basements, and when they can’t quite drum up a character issue there, they pull out the big guns: Bill Clinton. It appears the President-elect doesn’t have to take one iota of responsibility for his history of abhorrent behavior toward women. In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton has to be responsible, ad infinitum, for her husband’s egregious mistakes, for which he was impeached nearly 20 years ago. She must be exhausted.
President-elect Trump now gets his chance. I love Democracy and everyone’s right to support whomever they choose. I have not once protested the election of a Republican President, and I won’t protest this one.
In the meantime, won’t you help me explain to my very strong, independent, opinionated 17-year-old daughter, why misogyny just didn’t seem to matter in this Presidential election? Let her know that respect for her gender isn’t part of the litmus test in Presidential elections. Boys will be boys, you know. Just a fact of life here in the United States of America.
Life felt lighter to me just weeks ago, on a crisp, clear Halloween weekend. I’ll find it again I am sure. In the meantime, be patient with me while I try to wrap my head around a great disappointment.
A friend sent me this stunning Charlie Chaplin Clip which is pure irony. Enjoy.