Thursday, March 22, 2007

Getting the FUBAR life guide; I go Betty Paige until I find a plan

In the non-existent guide book they give you called: “FUBAR: your life has hit the fan” while there may be a 200 page section on “Why...why me!?” which doesn’t hold a single answer, I haven’t yet found the section for “falling apart.” Something bad has/is happening to you and/or someone you love. You put on a brave face, they put on a brave face, things still continue to get fucked up and people find different ways to “hang on.” As for me, I make plans, I try in my circumstances to find some idea, some objective or dream so unbelievable that no one in their right mind would think of it. And sometimes, life, society or other factors can come in and smash that beautiful little dream right in front of you. Monday night, that happened to me and I cried and I curled up in a ball and I said things that made Linda mad at me and then made her hug me: falling apart.

But then, cause I am Elizabeth (effing) McClung, I get UP Tuesday Morn, and I get my little backpack and my oxygen on my wheelchair and I catch the bus into town. Because I am in search of a new dream, a new plan and maybe, maybe some clothes and fashion accessories to go with it. So I stop off at the big book store to buy this month’s issue of Gothic Beauty. Sold out, they tell me, they have more people who want it than copies. But as I am wheeling away the saleswoman runs after me, turns out it has been repositioned in the “Women’s Section” right next to the mag Firm Gluts and hair styling mags. I try not to think too much about how, according to the local bookstore, a magazine with red buckled vinyl bra & corsets on tattooed girls along with articles on adding a hearse sidecar to your motorcycle (or taking a goth bellydancing class) is now just one step away from Cosmo. I frown and wheel on, in search of new alternative t-shirts to wear because as I tell several of the shops, “I now have limited advertising space” (going from 6’3” to 4’10” does that).

I am getting rejection right, left and centre but actually having a fairly good time because these are bored, educated, “alternative” people and we talk about Edward Gorey and how The Darkness is going to Eurovision for the UK, and I stop by a tattoo place who has the typical REALLY big burly guy and ask him about this “three year” tattoo I was told about by another woman at Nationals. “That same old bullshit sweetheart, it is the three year AND the lifelong tattoo.” I thanked him for the info and his time. “Get the fucking door for her!” he yelled at this guy coming in a sort of sweet, biker style way. I stop by a comic/manga shop to look at t-shirts and find a guy VERY depressed aboiut Yaoi (boy love) manga working there. To him, things have just gone downhill since Akira and Trigun and Cowboy Bebop (basically when MEN did things like kill men and blow up stuff instead of, you know, talking about their feelings and kissing each other).

Finally back at the Downtown Mall I met paydirt with this tiny story selling Tim Burton shirts, temp tattoos, body piercing art, and all sorts of interesting stuff. It was run by this amusing and humorously bitter butch who talked with me about growing up in rural BC (her friend killed himself in high school because people at school “thought” he might be gay, so they hit him in the head with a steel pipe). And about a girl friend she had with cerebral palsy who used her voice computer at 15 with all sorts of swear words (hey, you have CP, you are 15, you live in hicksville, and people talk to whoever is with you as if you are a pet, why not have a “screw you” come out of your voicebox?). I picked up some temporary tattoos there (still not into the whole commitment thing with the tattoo, I love em, but then I love changing them too!).

They were selling alternative hairbands, headbands and hairclips there, with skulls and stuff. I don’t like only having a ponytail but have found when wheeling with the wind at my back, I am soon sucking my own hair. So I tried on this skull and stars head/hairband and asked the butch, “Do I look evil in this?”

"Uhhh...cute and evil, you know, in a sort of Betty Paige way." she replied. I tried not to let it show but I was totally buying that hairband, I mean, that was the first time anyone had EVER compared me to Betty Paige; and if she thought I looked “cute” and “evil” and “like Betty Paige” then that was definitely the impression I wanted to give people around town as I wheeled around. Yes, this is a look I can live with: I am a sex goddess, and I have this cuteness but I may run over your foot “accidentally” because of my exploited innocence.

"Oh good, people used to think Betty Paige was evil." I tell her trying to cover how pleased I am.

"But they don't now," the butch interjected, "Now everyone loves Betty Paige."

Damn, I don’t care how much that costs, now I have to have it. She starts ringing it up. Of course this is the time I have a heart “problem” and whip out the oxygen. She’s cool and when I can see again, and am hooked up she tells me to “take my time” so I give her the thumbs up and when I can talk again tell her nothing clears 10 feet like on oxygen. We look around: people are walking away and looking back. After I have recovered, the store is invaded by a group of visiting Japanese tourists attracted by anything Gothish in this little town. (I bag it and roll – and immediately take a pic of it once I get home, so you can decide for yourself – I like the hairband but not quite seeing the Betty Paige thing yet; maybe I’ll grow into it?)

I went further into the mall to a store call Garage looking, again, for v-neck print t-shirt. I couldn’t find or reach everything so I rolled up to the counter where two female workers were talking. I had eye contact with the one on the left, about 19-20, who looked at me, looked at the wheelchair and then simply turned away without a word and walked to the back of the store. O…..kay! Luckily the second 20 year old female was willing to talk to me, but we didn’t find anything right then and I asked if they knew another store. There was one called Stitches by the escalators. I thought I knew the store and asked, “fake fur jackets?” By this time another woman working there had joined us and I was trying really hard to figure out another way of saying what I thought of that store. I gave in and said, “I used to know a store by the escalators but the clothes style was....uh.....trailer trash?”

They both burst out laughing, “That’s it, that’s the place!” One of those moments where you finally say what everyone is thinking. They did, however sometimes have cute print shirts it seems (Hmmm, since I had the “cute” on the headband I was hoping more for “evil” on the shirt).

Down at Stitches I was looking at low end product nightmare. The rows were so packed it would have been difficult for two people standing to pass or walk down them, and except for the giant centre aisle there was no where I could actually GET to the women’s clothing side of the store. At the back of the store the manager walked toward me, her manager’s key around her suited arm. She looked at me, her eyes flicked to her (very illegal and non-wheelchair compliant) aisles and sections of women’s clothing and then stared straight ahead and I leaned forward to ask her to help me. Eyes ahead she passed me and continued on to the front of the store. After some difficulty I turned around (so I didn’t have to wheel out backwards), and simply left, she was at the front folding t-shirts in a display. I knew the type, employees always have to be busy, always have to be meeting head office display standards. She muttered a “good day” as I passed, which sounded a lot like “Good bye!”

Of course, once I had decided to go home, it wasn’t actually that easy. I had to catch a bus and I had to sit outside in the cold wind a long while to do so. Best I thought, to go to the bathroom first. I follow the wheelchair bathroom signs and find myself atop the steepest ramp in the building (so far). How I am going to get back up this I do not know. Down at the bathroom, I have to buzz for someone to come and let me in. It seems wheelchair peeing is a lot like being in prison; you have to ask permission. There were of course, no towels so by the time I grunted back UP the ramp, I was in a mood. Of course, I still had to use the elevators to get up a level. A guy in a motorized wheelchair and headrest was already waiting and while I watched, people got on the elevator in front of him, blocking him and closed the door. We both lamented how lame this building was and when the elevators came together decided to race each other up to the next floor. I beat him and as I wheeled past him coming out of the elevator, I said, “see you at the buses!”

I eventually caught a bus but found when you are downtown, female and stuck in a wheelchair, that you are literally sitting prey for every male wack job, weirdo, half boozed and annoying guy around. One guy eyeballed me, saying, “You seem in fine condition” (was I beef?), continued, “Having a good day?” before stepping in the middle of the street directly into traffic WITHOUT looking; that was my second hint he was a bit “off”.

On the bus back I was on one side of the wheelchair section and on the other in one of the seats was a mentally challenged woman who was in assisted living and going to her workplace. She talked about what cookies she liked and her boyfriend who only sleeps except when he is cranky but mostly about work. However, some well meaning couple tried to have a conversation with “the disabled” and talked to both of us using the exact same placating tone and banal questions. I could tell the woman going to the Red Cross was getting pissed because they kept avoiding giving her direct responses (on they assumption she wouldn’t understand.. “poor thing”). We got on fine, since she worked at the Red Cross and I had some medical equipment from the Red Cross (“See,” she said to them pointing to me, “She knows what I mean working at the Red Cross”). I am trying to remain amused and calm at this couple and not pissed because they can’t seem, in their style and tone of speech, to tell us apart; that I can understand what you mean by, “Do you hope it is a nice day…..tomorrow?” (with the “does she understand time” hesitation) because we are both in the “disabled” section. They seem to have missed that I have a mobility issue, you know, as some might from seeing me in a WHEELCHAIR: a device which negates neither my doctorate nor my understanding of the word, “tomorrow.”

A mixed and rather unsatisfactory bag; no new plan, a bit of accessorizing but no new fashion reinvention and a mix of people I want to meet again, and those I don’t. I determined to go to the mall near Linda’s work on the morrow (today). That turned out to be a whole different experience, a very different experience which included some blood and taking off my clothes in public. But I’ll blog all about that tomorrow.


kathz said...

I thought you might enjoy this website - there's a store in town and it used to be my daughter's favourite shop (!!!) so I've been in several times - stunningly picturesque with quite a lot of Goth stuff.

GayProf said...

I like the headband.

When you use oxygen, do you at least get to make cool Darth-Vadar type sound effects?

Elizabeth McClung said...

Kathz: thanks, I will take a look -
Gayprof: Thanks! One vote for yes! Sadly, all I get is the nosepiece and hook over the ear thing to cut down on weight (you want the full mouthpiece you need a little trailer to haul that assemblage behind you). I do however make the Darth Vadar sounds - it is generally what my breathing sounds like BEFORE I get the oxygen.

Sober @ Sundown said...

Ha! I had no idea what FUBAR was. Thanks for the education.

Kate J said...

Elizabeth, thanks for your comment on my Queen of the North item... you're absolutely right, I didn't get the full benefit of the trip, as we just went non-stop from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. I was travelling with my partner and son, neither of whom was keen to do the longer trip... I'm hoping some time to do it again, or on my own or with like-minded friend, and see the coast in more detail, especially the First Nation communities.
High point of our trip to PR was in fact a day on a boat with a Tsimsian guide up to to the grizzly bear reserve, where we saw a mother bear and two young, actually catching salmon. The whole trip was a real "trip of a lifetime" thing, involving 4 weeks in BC, visiting my cousin on Salt Spring Island, and uncle (aged 90 this year) in Victoria. I saved for the trip for a long time, and need to start saving again if I'm ever going to repeat it. Haida Gwaii for my 60th? Maybe!
I love your blog, having been put in touch by my very good (oldest in fact) friend known to you as KathZ.
Love & peace, Kate

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

Headband is good. It's a whole different city when I'm on foot, and I imagine it's even crazier when you're on a chair. Some of the encounters are funny, especially the disabled woman who was ctually smarter than the patronizing couple.