May I Help You, Miss?I was about 12 in the early 70's and was greeted by a clerk in a drug store."May I help you, miss?" she asked. I said bluntly, 'I am not a 'miss' " feeling insulted. I never grew a heavy beard and it wasn't for another 20 years, until I grew my hair out that I was mistaken for a girl again. Like many men, I got my ears pierced and was with my girlfriend when we ran into a co worker of hers. He asked ' Is this your girlfriend?" Wow, I had had no idea how unmanly I could look. (I was used to looking younger than my years.) I felt awkward for my girlfriend. Within a year I would have several clerks ask "may I help you, Ma'am?" Once, in a department store I simply asked "where's your restroom please?" The clerk said "the ladies' room is right through there, Ma'am." As I walked through the door to a shoe store at the same time as two other ladies, the clerk offered, "welcome, ladies!" Another time, while I was shopping for jeans, a little girl, who was with her mom, came over to me, looked up and asked "are you a lady?" I was never, at any of these times, wearing makeup or distinctly women's clothes. I was not wearing a sport coat and necktie either. I guess I can be androgynous.
I was torn, because, a: I am heterosexual, b: I don't want to embarrass my wife, and c: I liked it!
I stopped wearing earrings and cut my hair. I am always clean shaven, but no one ever mistakes me for a female anymore. I miss it. What scared me as a youth, I long for now. I miss being called "Ma'am", and have wondered whether I could pass as a woman if I really tried. Maybe someday.