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I Am a Diva and You Will Address Me with Respect

An elderly man walks toward me in the hall near my office. He points at the closed door across the hall from mine.

“Men’s?” he asks, then he points to the open door, which leads to my office? “Women’s?”

His voice is husky but pitched kind of high, the way Lucy Ricardo sounds when she pretends to be a toothless hag to disguise herself from Ricky. Given his appearance, he’s more like Red Buttons on a bender.

No one comes down here to my department’s part of the building unless they have a paper due in 20 minutes or they’ve got to pee. I know he’s looking for the bathroom. His abrupt, confused manner is a step away from rude. I am in no mood for this.

“Excuse me?” I say. I go full-tilt uppity, hoping my subtext doesn’t elude him: I am a diva and you will address me with respect. Or I will fuck you up.

“Bathroom?” he grunts. For a moment, now that I’m in diva mode, I wonder if he’s trolling. If so, he’s in the wrong place. Damn sure.

I nod, letting him know I understand he would apologize for his abrupt ways if he knew how. I lift my arm and turn to point as to the bathroom behind me.

“There,” I say.

My diva fit continues as I step though the door into my office, flipping my head as if I had long bangs in my eyes. Those were trimmed back at least 15 years ago, but the ‘tude remains.

Maybe diva fits are how I express masculinity. More likely, they are expressions of assertiveness that don’t need to be gendered to have meaning. I can use my powers for good and for evil, but in this case, I squander some energy near the end of a frustrating week. That’s about it. Almost.

What interests me about this moment is that I don’t filter myself. Reviewing the situation, I’m surprised I don’t tend to him, making sure he finds his way into and out of the bathroom then up the stairs. That’s how situations like this typically go for me, and I resent the distraction almost as much as I resent my sense of obligation. Which, of course, says a lot more about me than it does about the people I feel obligated to.

So all of this really is no big deal. I’m analyzing it to death, that’s all. Now it’s in shreds. I promise to recycle it.


4 Responses

  1. Interesting. When I want to express hostility, I get big. I fill my space, and some of yours, too. I see that as a stereotypically male thing to do. I just want to butch it up a little.

  2. brilliant, i could picture the whole thing

  3. I’m very glad you shared before shredding (:

  4. Do you think he felt your subtext? I hope so…

    Sometimes I have an attitude subtext — mine is usually, “I am stone. You cannot touch me.” — and yet I don’t know if it communicates.

    Today, at work, a colleague I was helping gave me some unsolicited “constructive criticism.” I turned my face into a fossil and dropped by body temperature down to freezing, but I don’t know if she noticed.

    I really wanted her to turn to ice and break into a thousand particles. But she just stood up and walked out.

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