Manly Boots But Failed the Man Test

Early this morning, I went to a plumbing supplies store. This store caters to contractors who do plumbing for a living. I needed to buy a particular type and brand of toilet. Since I do a lot of home renovations, I have an account at this store and am considered eligible for contractor pricing, which allows me to buy plumbing fixtures and supplies at about 30% less than the big box orange or blue retailers charge for the same items.

There I am, in worn denim jeans, Chippewa logger boots, and a dull green parka. Topped off with a ballcap with “Wesco” printed on the front.

When I arrived, there were five other contractors at the parts counter, jocularly speaking with one another and the counter staff. Apparently they all know each other, which doesn’t surprise me.

A couple of the guys listened to me place my order, which was stated manly enough, and in the proper “contractor-speak.” That is, it was clear when I said, “one G-V toilet, complete, ADA compliant, enhanced enlongated rim, 12″ rough opening, a wax ring, and a 1/2-inch nominal compression valve” that I knew what I was talking about.

But I must have tripped the gaydar of these guys. While the counter clerk went to the back to get my order, they asked me,

…”did you see Oklahoma and Alabama last night?” … then looked right at me for an answer.

I said, “no, who won?”

That was the first mistake. Apparently these teams played night before last. I was caught. If I were a guy in their club, I would have known. Ooops.

The other guy smiled and said, “no, he was probably watching the Florida State and Ohio State game.”

Honestly, I don’t care about college football and didn’t have a clue who was playing whom, but by the look on these guys’ faces, it became obvious to me that they were playing me for a fool. (I later learned that these two teams played different teams on different nights.)

Instead of saying something stupid, I just reached over and rubbed my wedding ring, turning it gently around my finger, and said, “look, my spouse has been very sick. I’ve been really busy outside of my work day providing care. I don’t have time to watch TV.”

I thought that would change their tune and they would lay off. And what I said was true, but a bit too carefully worded. (My “spouse” — not my “wife.” “Providing care” period — not “caring for her.”)

Unfortunately, my careful but truthful dodge didn’t work. These two guys turned to each other and the big one said, “oh, he’s one of those fags that married another one.”

I felt myself get hot and turn red. Both of these guys turned toward me, the rest of the people in the room fell silent and watched us closely. These guys were probably expecting me to do one of two things — charge them to try to punch them out, or burst into tears.

I did neither. I took a deep breath, and turned to them and said, “yep, you figured it out. And this married gay man is buying a toilet and installing it for an 80-year-old man who told me, ‘my son is a plumber, but he won’t install a toilet for me’.”

These guys just stood there. Another guy in the back of the room giggled. They were probably pondering a come-back, but fortunately, the salesman rolled out a cart with my order loaded on it, offered to put the items on my account, and said, “can I help you load your truck?”

I said, “thanks. Yep, let’s load it up.”

We loaded my truck, I thanked him, and then I drove off.

I have no words. I remained honest, and held my tongue. I didn’t attack, as I am not a fighter. But I don’t lie, either. Okay, so I was called a “fag.” Big deal. I’ve been called worse by lowlier low-life than these fools. But I stood my ground and publicly acknowledged in one of the most hyper-macho places that indeed, I am a married GAY man. So what?

Life is short: fools suffer well in their own right. Stand firm and hold your head high.

6 thoughts on “Manly Boots But Failed the Man Test

  1. Not Failure but Honor. To the truth of what it means to be a natural man and a decent human being. They will think about it longer than you will. Well done. B

  2. Reading your post reminds me of why I don’t attend high school reunions. The behavior of these adolescents would be the envy of any teenage jerk. Thank you for showing them how an adult interacts with children. Don’t by any stretch of the imagination maintain that you’re not a fighter. By choosing to respond honestly and openly to these kids you clearly showed that you fight for what you believe in.

    –Kevin

  3. I’m very sorry for your encounter with these mindless idiots. I have been in situations such as this myself and I’m sure I’ll encounter them again.

    Like yourself, I have no interest or knowledge of the sports world. When I find myself in these situations and am asked about whatever sporting event may be happening at the moment my standard answer is, “I don’t follow sports. I have way more important things that require my attention. Sitting in front of the tube watching a game doesn’t make me money”.

    Larry

  4. You handled that encounter perfectly. I wish I had the quick wit to come up with that last response, I always think of the best comebacks 15 minutes after I need it. I just answer “I don’t follow (which ever sport is asked about)”.
    Besides whoever said all men have to care about sports? I know plenty of straight guys who could’t care less about sports.
    Ed

  5. No, you passed the test, BHD. They’re the ones who will continue to fail it. That anyone would believe knowing the score of a game to be at all important in the grand scheme of things in the world shows the kind of immaturity and lack of judgment that most men (and women) outgrew in junior or senior high school. Yes, it’s fun to know it and discuss it amongst those who care, but to try to make something of it with someone or about someone who doesn’t know (or care) is juvenile and asinine in the extreme. I too, am sorry to learn you had this problem but if it’s any consolation, there are too many folks who take sports waaaaay too seriously that may reflect how poor their lives are. From what you’ve written on these pages, you will never be poor in that regard. Your husband/spouse, your twin brother and his family, your other relatives, friends and colleagues will see to that!

    BTW: in that OU v. Bama game, there is video of an overgrown ‘Bama toddler’ (who appears to be between 25 to 45 years old) attacking a fan of the other team because her team was losing and being upset on the field. OU went on to win even though they were the underdogs. For those who may be curious, the video is now on YouTube. It’s head-shakingly amazing and a good reason so many are turned off by sports. Suffice to say, that while I cheer on my own alma mater both in person and from my couch potato perch, I do not denigrate anyone who does not care about sports of any kind. Why? “Life is short.” There are bigger more important matters to be concerned with. (Can’t remember where I first heard that or where I heard it last, but it does seem to ring true for so many things.) Agreed?

    Of course, those jerks in the store might have had ‘logger envy’, particularly if they couldn’t rock their boots the way you rocked yours. After all, what other reason could there be to start that mess with you unless they were. I’m really sorry they didn’t get to see you roll in on your Harley. They’d probably pissed themselves Niagaras of envy on top of it all.

  6. Just read this “Manly Boots” post. I don’t watch TV so if someone mentions sports or any other program I say “I don’t know what was on. I don’t watch TV”.

    I don’t engage in the prattle with the cattle. Avoids discussion of idle and
    unimportant topics, and puts the nosy persons out of their frame of reference. YMMV.

    What the contractors did was not what a gentleman or a real man does. A man minds his own darn business, esp. meaning not engaging in mockery or starting something.

    It’s beneath one’s dignity to do that. Sorry for the rant but the lack of
    politeness is weird to me. Where I live, most people are polite enough to mind their own business. In the past, people were brought up with better manners.

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