Yesterday was another rough day at the office, so at lunch time I quickly ate the lunch my wife had packed for me and took my knitting and iPod down to the food court in the lower level of my building, where I bought a Cherry Pepsi and chose a table, fully intending to zone out, work on my sock and watch an episode of Desperate Housewives on the pod. Knitting, sugar, caffeine, and smutty television -- what more could I ask for?
But, to paraphrase Burns, the best laid plans of knitting men often go awry. Five times in 30 minutes I was interrupted...meaning I had to put down my knitting, pause the iPod, and remove my ear buds...just so I could face yet another in a long line of insulting or patronizing comments.
I would really like to know what it is about a man sitting alone, wearing headphones, watching a video screen, and knitting that screams "I WANT TO INTERACT WITH YOU! PLEASE! I WILL DIE IF YOU DON’T TALK TO ME!"
A woman yesterday interrupted my sock knitting to tell me that she teaches beginning knitting and asked if I would be interested in taking her class. Even though I've been knitting for 35 years, I managed to brush off the question without being rude, but when she said she had never knitted a sock before, her train of thought was obvious: “He’s doing something I’ve never tried, but he must be a novice because he has a penis.” What -- is the X chromosome the crafty one? So women must be twice as skilled at things with yarn, right?
Then there is the woman who interrupted my knitting (and a scene from Desperate Housewives where a lingerie-clad Eva Longoria was climbing on top of her sweaty gardener) to tell me “How great it is to see a man knitting.” OK, only a slightly annoying interruption. But then she proceeded to tell me how, in her day, “All the hunters and fishermen knit their own wool socks off-season.” To translate for the uninitiated, she really was saying “Not all men who knit are queer. Once upon a time manly men knit.”
Apparently there is an insuppressible fascination with the sexual activities of men who knit. There are, I am quite convinced, women who can’t sleep at night because they were unable to determine if that man on the bus likes boys.
Since wedding rings are no longer a decisive indicator, these women have had to develop new ways of bringing the conversation around to the “boys or girls” topic. My favorite of these is the leading question. “OH, what a lovely [sock, scarf, sweater, etc.]! Is that for your wife?”
I know what they really want me to say is either “Yes, it is.” Or “No, it’s for my oldest daughter.” Or “Oh, no. I’m not married. This is for my boyfriend’s drag ensemble. He does a wicked Judy Garland!” And while I am irresistibly in love with my wife and quite proud of having done my part towards the continuation of the species, I don’t think my private life is a topic to be discussed with total strangers. I usually just say “No, it’s for me.” Even if the knitted item in question is a shocking pink mohair twin set with crystal beading.
The interruptions were so numerous that I packed up my shit and went back to my floor where I finished up my lunch hour knitting in a chair in our storage area -- the only place I could think of where I wouldn't be interrupted.
Please don’t get me wrong. I like women. My best friends are women. I know it isn’t ALL women who behave this way, and that those who do behave this way are a small minority. But, while small, they are an assertive group. This doesn’t only happen to me. I’ve talked to other guys – they all know what I’m talking about. And, gay or straight, their reaction is the same as mine.
Why does a it matter so much to these people? I don’t know them, I don’t really ever see any reason I should ever come to know them, and yet they want to know intimate details of my life.
How would they like it if I asked if they’d ever faked an orgasm or used a vibrator? Or maybe they like girls?
Maybe next time I'll ask.