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Gender, Sexuality, Subcultures, and Hiking.

December 9, 2013

Subtitle: TLTL triggers a memory.

TLTL coerced me into going out again tonight – only for a couple hours this time, fortunately, and in the company of a lot of jovial acquaintances. It was nice to walk into a bar and see many familiar faces. TLTL promised me french fries if I came out, and I do love a good deep fried potato. Funny, isn’t it, that I ended up paying for the promised french fries? I’m pretty sure that’s not how this was supposed to work.

Meh.

As I sat with my back to the bar, TLTL noticed my shoes. “Your shoes,” he said. “They’re cute.”
“My hiking boots?” I laughed a bit. These are kick ass boots, yeah, but I don’t know that I’d use the word cute to describe them.
He smiled at me, and said, “No, really. They’re cute. I know they’re hiking boots, but your feet are so goddamn tiny that it makes the boots cute.”
“I can see that, I guess,” I shrugged, poking at a rock stuck in the tread of my left boot.
“It’s like putting Timberlands on a baby,” he concluded, and I snorted a laugh into my beer.

He has a point. I once put my pair of boots next to an identical pair at the rock gym. It was the only time I had seen someone wearing the same pair, despite their having been Backpacker Magazine’s “Hiking Boot of the Year” or some such bullshit about eight or nine years ago. Mine were, very literally, half the size of the other pair. They have served me well for the past decade, and I wear them all winter long; they appear to be impervious to any damage. Seriously. They still look NEW. Asolo makes a bitchin’ boot. They got me through four miles on a sprained ankle. They have stuck by me through many a misadventure. And they’re perfect for wandering along frozen city sidewalks and through the city’s winter wonderland of slush. The boots are amazing. And yeah, I do make them look good, and to a large degree because of having ridiculously small feet.

A few years ago, I was at a party with my two best friends and one’s boyfriend who I was meeting for the first time. I ended up not caring for him much. Conversely, I ended up loving my (male) best friend all the more as a result of a conversation that began between the boyfriend, my male best friend, and I. My best friend/the girlfriend has wandered off to mingle. Boyfriend and best friend are talking about outdoor gear on a couch when I approach with a glass of wine. I join in the conversation, and quickly realize that despite my appropriate contributions to the discussion, the boyfriend disregards all of my opinions.

“Well, I’m looking to get a new winter coat. I also need to get a new backpack,” the boyfriend  tells us (or, rather, tells my best friend). Backpacks and coats were my area of expertise at the time, and my best friend damn well knew it. So when I piped in with a question regarding his preferences in outerwear, and then offered a suggestion for a brand and style, both my best friend and I were completely taken aback when the boyfriend turned back to my best friend and said, “For real, though, what would you recommend?”

My best friend looked appalled. “Uh… actually, I’d have to defer to Twig on this one. Twig knows gear like you wouldn’t believe. If Twig tells you to buy an Icebreaker sweater, coat, or jacket, you do it. Or Arc’teryx. Or Sherpa. Whatever. But you listen.” To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever heard my best friend come to my defense so strongly or so quickly.

But even then, the boyfriend refused to demonstrate basic civility. “No offense,” he began.

–Side bar: If you have to hedge a statement with “No offense,” then you’re about to say something shitty and offensive that is probably best kept to yourself.–

knew that whatever he was about to say was going to be the absolutely precious highlight of dinner parties to come over the next several months. “Are you kidding? He said that? Really?” Oh, yeah. Really.

“No offense,” he began, “but I hardly think you’re qualified to discuss outdoor gear.” He looked me up and down, and it was nothing short of Fucking Disturbing. I looked down at what I was wearing. So did my best friend. So I’m a goddamn faggot goth. If you have to stick a label on me, I guess that’s the one to choose. I put my hands on my hips indignantly, which I suspect made me look that much gayer.

“Um,” my best friend ended the visual standoff that was about to escalate into me clawing out the douchebag’s eyes for his insinuation about my sexuality, gender, or interest in a subculture, and how they may or may not be related in any way to my ability to survive in the wilderness. “Seriously. Twig is the expert here. We’ve been camping and hiking all over, and you wouldn’t believe the shit Twig knows.” I appreciated my best friend’s second attempt to diffuse the tension, but it wasn’t working.

I decided to add my own input and end the conversation. “I’ve gone cliff diving after a free climb to the top, you little shit. I’ve slid down a hillside trying to gather firewood and walked four miles back to my basecamp on a broken ankle [Yes, I exagerrated the sprained ankle into a broken one. I was making a point. So sue me.]. So whatever judgement you want to pass on me, you go right ahead, but if you want legit advice, you’ll get it from me when you stop being a douchebag who sees the surface and nothing else. You sit behind a desk all day as the paper-pushing de-facto CEO of some canned pear company. So fuck you, pear canner.”

I called him a pear canner. Seriously. Look, just because I can climb and pick out a damn good winter coat and hiking boots doesn’t make me the master of insult.

Lol. Pear canner.

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