04 October 2009

Miss Manners I'm Not

Did some walking today and I'm tired now. But at least it stimulated my senses and my mind and gave me some badly-needed exercise.

Along the way, I had an interesting encounter in Bake Way on Broadway. Sometimes I stop there for a snack and/or to use the bathroom. I came in for the latter, but I knew I'd pick up one of their red velvet cupcakes on the way out.

Well, a very pregnant young woman entered immediately behind me. I really needed to go at that moment (I'm still getting used to my diminished bladder capacity!) but, because she got the attention of the young woman behind the counter, she got the key.

She extended her arm toward me. "Here." She tried to pass the key from her hand to mine.

"You go first," I commanded.

"Thank you, Miss."

Now, when I was living as male, the situation would have been more straightforward: She would've gone in ahead of me. And I don't think she would've offered to let me use the bathroom before her.

I found myself thinking about a situation I encountered a few months ago. I'd just gotten on the bus to go to work. I was carrying a tote bag with some books and papers in it: Nothing that would give my pre-op self a second thought, much less difficulty.

Yet an older (at least she seemed to be) black woman who looked rather tired offered me her seat. I was about to politely refuse when something in that woman's expression told me that she really, for whatever reason, wanted to give me her seat and I couldn't, or at least shouldn't, refuse.

Nonetheless, it felt odd, as you can imagine. I'm still getting used to men who open doors and offer you their seats and to use the bathroom ahead of them. But I'm not sure that I'll grow accustomed to other women doing those things for me.

And even if I were to live a few more lifetimes as a woman, I'll probably still stumble through any situation in which a pregnant woman offers to let me use a bathroom ahead of her.

Sometimes I wonder whether I'll ever master female etiquette. I didn't always do so well with male etiquette. But I've learned things that make less sense.