Flight Papers

feminism and creativity, art, madness, and play

Archive for October, 2010

Clothing is evidently too complicated for me.

Friday, October 15th, 2010

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Recently, I’ve taken to checking the weather before getting dressed in the morning. It’s a pilot program motivated by my tendency to wear a cute mini-skirt and some kind of tank top, only to go outside and find out, hey, surprise! It’s snowing. And then, having found myself in this predicament, I won’t decide to go back and change into something, for example, warmer. No, you see, going back to change at that point feels like an enormous chore. It feels like the sort of task Zeus would have set before Sysiphus if he hadn’t thought of that awesome rock thing. It feels like defeat. Which is how I end up at the bus stop, covered in two linear inches of snow and four square inches of fabric, praying for death.

It’s instructive that I never have the opposite problem. I think this has to do with the ways men react to me based on what I’m wearing. I have discovered a formula:

P(catcall | wolf whistle) = k Set

where Se is the percent of skin exposed, t is the outfit’s tightness (the percent of covered skin in contact with the outermost layer of fabric), and k is the coefficient of douchebag.

I haven’t walked down the street naked or in a cat suit, so the equation may be more complex at its limits, but I think it’s accurate to the first order. In any case, you’ll notice that the less clothing I wear, the more I get harassed by random men on the street. Since I don’t actually want this, you might expect that I would wear only parkas with culturally-problematic yet extremely effective veils. But I don’t do this, because it turns out that as much as don’t really want strange men harassing me on the street, I really really want strange women to harass me on the street. To date, this has happened exactly once (July 20th, 2009 around 8:57pm in Portland, OR), but hope springs eternal.

You guys, as I’m writing this, there is a guy sitting on the other side of the room. Whenever I look up, he’s watching me. It’s not a staring-at-my-tits kind of watching, either. It’s a more… nuanced sort of thing. Like he’s taking in the detailing on my purple combat boots, or trying to figure out if my liver would be flavorful enough to make a delicate pâté. WTF?

So, to stop myself from freezing… myself… to death, I have started checking the weather before getting dressed. This actually worked pretty well for a couple of days, but like all plans to improve my life, it was ultimately doomed to failure.

This morning, I asked the Internet to tell me what the weather would be like. “Seventy-five degrees,” said the Internet, “Also, sunny.”

“Thank you, Internet,” I replied.

“It’s no problem! Would you like some porn? Or maybe some LOW COST PENIS ENLARGEMENT?”

“Er… No, thank you. I don’t think I’m really in the target market, anyway.”

“Are you sure about the porn? Here, take a look at Autostraddle.”


An hour later, as I was getting dressed, I noticed that the air blowing in my for-some-reason open window was… not warm. It wasn’t seventy-five degrees. It was something more along the lines of minus one million degrees. Shit, I thought, I can’t go out in this small skirt. I will fucking freeze my cunt off. I must put on leggings, I decided.

Besides, I continued, What do weather forecasters know, anyway?

You guys, I looked this up, and it turns out that weather forecasters know a fuckton. In addition to knowing the types of clouds and the water cycle and all that weathery stuff you “learned” in the first grade and “forgot” in the second grade, they also know all about fluid dynamics, which is one of those fields that looks really complex but is actually so incredibly fucking complex that the massive supercomputers that figure this shit out basically have to resort to guess and check. The weather, it turns out, runs on the Navier-Stokes equations. I can’t pronounce that either, but here’s what they look like:

Holy fucking shit, that is some fucking math, that is.

The only parts of that I understand are the “=” and the “∂.” “∂”s are partial derivatives, which sound like they should be easier than regular derivatives, but if my grade in Calc 3 is any indication, totally aren’t. If you don’t know what “=” means, this post must be very confusing to you.

The moral of this story is that if you’re picking a team for the Math Olympiad and you’re trying to decide between the nerdy guy who is always trying to talk to you after physics class but can’t seem to construct a sentence that doesn’t involve the word “tits,” and the nerdy guy who can’t stop staring at yours long enough to make eye contact and even initiate audible contact, you should totally fucking pick Kathy Sabine, y’all. She will pwn that math shit, and then she will feel your tits, which sounds pretty much magical.

That guy is still watching at me. But he just saw me looking at him looking at me, so now he’s doing the thing where he pretends to be reading a book.

The other moral of this story is that when the Internet tells you it will be seventy-five degrees, you should probably believe it.

I didn’t. So I put on leggings. Not the light kind of leggings, either. No, these were my heavy-duty leggings. My look-like-really-tight-jeans leggings. You could wear these in Antarctica, though as I understand it, you can wear naught but Jell-O in Antarctica, so maybe that’s not saying a lot. Satisfied that I wouldn’t die of chill, I went outside.

It was at least seventy-five degrees outside. I’d venture a guess that it may have been seventy-six or seventy-seven degrees, so maybe these weather people don’t have that Navier-Stokes thing totally figured out, but the point is, it was hot. Eighty degrees is widely agreed to be hot, and it was, at best, a mere five degrees under that, and there I was, wearing my fucking woolly mammoth hunting leggings.

“How silly of me,” a sensible person might expect me to say, “I should go back up to my apartment (which is very nearby, indeed, just up these stairs), and I should remove my boots, remove my increasingly-claustrophobia-inducing leggings, replace my boots, and then resume my day.” Though, honestly, if you think that’s where this is going, you haven’t been paying much attention.

Dude comes up to me.

“You have very nice legs,” he says.

“Thank you?”

“Are you writing a book?”

“No, I’m writing a blo—, uh… I’m working on homework.”

“Oh! Very nice.”

There is a pause at this point, during which he looks at me. I would call it an “awkward” pause, but it isn’t really any more awkward than the conversation surrounding it. It’s almost a relief.

“Very pretty,” he says, finally, eliding any mention of a direct object.

“Thank you?” I start to smile. I’ve been told I’m prettier when I smile, though I’m not really sure why I want to be pretty at this moment. That thought interrupts the movement of my muscles, and threatens to halt my face in some kind of half-smile, half-writing-face liminal state, as if the smile was lost in a transporter accident but some pieces tragically made it through to my face. I manage to regain control and land somewhere between “pleased” and “happy,” thankfully avoiding “flirtatious.”

He smiles, says “very pretty” again (and, again, doesn’t say what is “very pretty,” leaving me hope that maybe he’s talking about my handwriting or my government-standard notebook). Then he walks off.

Mystery solved?

Instead, I decided to take off my leggings in the car. Though you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise based on evry single previous sentence in this post, I did not decide to do it while driving. I did, however, decide that taking off my boots was just too much work, and I can just slip my leggings over them, and there’s nobody around anyway, so it didn’t even matter. I started pulling my leggings down. I had gotten them as far as my ankles before I realized two things:

  1. There was absolutely no way I was getting my leggings off without taking off my boots. Which, of course, I couldn’t do, since my leggings were bunched up over the laces.
  2. The owners of the car parked next to mine were coming to retrieve their vehicle.

I think they saw me first, because by the time I looked up, one of them was smiling a broad smile, and pointing out my predicament to his friend. They came up to me, both of them smiling the smiles of men who might be about to get flashed panties, and I realized, perhaps a little late, that my plan had two substantial flaws: I was essentially incapacitated. Also, I was essentially incapacitated. I know that technically, that’s only one flaw, but it’s such a large one that I thought I’d mention it twice.

“Hey,” one of them said. It wasn’t a neutral, friendly sort of hey. It was the other kind.

I smiled vaguely, and kept working my leggings over my boots, trying to act as though it was a perfectly normal thing to do. I do this all the time, I tried to say, wordlessly, It is a perfectly normal thing to do. And then I realized that while I couldn’t run with my feet tied together, I could drive. I gave them a little salute as I slammed the door and peeled out of the parking space.

Which is how I ended up stripping in the parking garage, trying to avoid having a breakdown while contemplating my failure to complete this, the most basic of adult tasks.