Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Turn

(Random links appear and disappear in this blog, none are placed by me, please don't link on them. I am investigating what's happening.)

It was MY turn!!

I answered the phone. Joe was driving and we were heading up to the hotel in Gravenhurst where we stay when I'm teaching summer school in Barrie. We are fastidious about the rule of no talking while driving, a more appropriate law I cannot imagine, so though it was Joe's phone, I answered. A fellow, with a deep, deep voice asked for Joe. I told the voice that Joe was driving and asked if I could take a message. He said he was from a medical firm, he was being very cautious and very anonymous - a good thing, medical information is privileged. I asked if it was for the 'thing' that Joe uses (medical information is privileged remember) and he said, "Are you his care provider?"

Now, that's the first time THAT has happened to me. Usually people think Joe is a very kindly care provider hired, at great cost no doubt, to support me. This was a real reversal. I had only a second to respond and I said, in my deepest, most masculine voice, "No, I'm his wife."

There was a ................. pause ................ at the other end of the phone and when the fellow started back up again, I realized that a voice can blush, a deep blush too. We continued on chatting for a moment or two and then he fumbled a goodbye and we rang off.

It has always irritated me that people still jump to the assumption of heterosexuality - I'm guessing if I'd been a woman the voice would have considered, maybe even flat out assumed, that the relationship was one of love and choice. Joe is almost always, I'm modifying always with almost but believe I shouldn't, assumed to be my care provider, care assistant, personal assistant. It was fun, for a moment, to make a bit of a statement.

I wonder, though, after the phone was hung up, what the voice said next.


Anonymous said...


the answer to your question can be either very simple or very complex.

Sometimes signs just scream out at people (me) because they do not fit into the learned drawer.

For instance last weekend when at a public fair a saw a man in a skirt.

Otherwise every sign of masculinity shown on him but wearing a skirt.

I instantly put him into the place were I saw to man (extremly obviously gay) working together in one of the selling places. I have no idea whether the man was one of these twor or not. I just assumed and put things together.

The idea of you being Joes wife is very difficult as I stated before. Husband and wife yes. Man and man well that is a combination I still have to get used to...

But the world is changing and one day it will be absolutly not worth questioning with whom one lives together.

For me it is the question: "you are still single?"

People are different. We just have to get certain concepts out of our heads and start to get used to new ones.

And as long as you do not feel like a woman, maybe you should not refer to yourself as his wife?

But that is just something a very confused me woudl have said.


Anonymous said...

You would think that anyone working in a medical firm would not be embarrassed by the conversation. He certainly shouldn't be surprised. I'm not sure what his next words would be - but I hope in his head and heart that the lesson was learned.

I'm not sure what assumption would be made - if a female voice, one could be a sister, friend, mother, etc.

Number 1 - don't discuss medical info with anyone except the person it is regarding to, directly.
(I learned that the hard way leaving information on an answering machine of a woman who lived alone - but her boyfriend had listened to her messages. I was served up a lesson indeed.)

Glee said...

Ah love it Dave and sooo get it :)

And to anonymous 1 and Dave I guess you either just agree who is the husband and who the wife (if you have to follow the heterosexual way????) or both be husbands or both wives. I couldn't say as I have lived my life so far as a heterosexual.

But then there is the other term, spouse but then the assumption could be that of course it is a hetero relationship and still be wrong.

I would vote for (husband wife) and (husband husband) and (wife wife). Very clear.

Great post - I did laugh a lot when you gave your answer "No, I'm his wife." lmao

Mewsli said...

Love it. I wish people didnt pigeonhole folk. Ive been tempted in a former life to answer when questioned " Who are you , are you Mrs xxx? ". " No. Im xxxx " whatever my brain could come up with. Its got sod all to do with anyone who why what where and when I or anyone else is.

Wish Id been on the other end of the line :-)

GirlWithTheCane said...

Assumptions annoy me.

The "I'm his wife" line was awesome. :)

Defying Gravity said...

That's a great line, wish I could come up with something that quickly.

To Julia and Glee, I might be wrong but I didn't read it as Dave saying he usually describes himeself as Joe's wife. Just that he used the term to make a point about the assumption that had been made.

Of course that doesn't answer the question of what those of us in long-term same sex relationships should call each other - I usually go either for 'partner' or for whichever word I think will communicate best in that particular situation. If I said 'I'm her husband' over the phone, I suspect the person would respond with 'Oh I'm sorry, sir", I have a deep voice for a woman!

Mom2haley said...

There was a time I answered the phone @ work and the person had the wrong #, I responded not a problem sir, well it wasn't a sir. In my mind, the voice was no question, from a male. We chatted, she said I was not the first one to think she was a man on the tele, ect... Anyway for your situation, I really think it was what you called yourself - his wife, with clearly a gentleman's voice (I assume you have a masculine voice - admitedly I have never heard you speak) that threw them off. In other words I don't think you would have gotten the same "blush over the phone" if you had said I am his partner or life partner.

Moose said...


Ages and ages ago, before voice mail was popular, I was getting yelled at for not "being in my office" at the same time as my job required me to be in 1001 other places. My boss agreed to get me an answering machine.

So I had a male friend of mine do the recording. In his deepest voice, he said, "Hi, this is $my-clearly-female-given-name", etc. etc. usual stuff.

REALLY freaked people out. It was AWESOME.

Ettina said...

With my best friend using a wheelchair and me being invisibly disabled, I often get mistaken for a care provider when I'm with her. Ironically, she 'provides care' for me about as much as I do for her, because she has no trouble with executive functions. Also, I get tired walking long distances, and a wheelchair can make a good support to help me walk. Often it almost looks like I'm pushing her, when in fact she's driving with her joystick and I'm just hanging on.

Andrea S. said...

Not exactly the same thing, but some years ago I had a friend (with whom I've lost contact) who is speech impaired but can hear, whereas I can speak fairly well but can't hear. Waiters would get thoroughly confused because I would give an order for both her and me (voice interpreting her signs), but if they had a question for us I would immediately look at my friend so she could listen and translate their question to sign for me! They kept assuming I could hear because I was the one talking and couldn't grasp that my friend, who could not speak, was the one who heard for both of us!

It irks me too when people still, even today, just assume that a man and a man can't possibly be a couple. Reminds me of when I first came out nearly 20 years ago: my partner at the time (not the same as who I have now) and I hyphenated our last names together. So we were not exactly subtle about it. And instead of reaching what you would think would be the logical conclusion even then (when the idea of GLBT people living out of the closet was still relatively new even compared to today, but absolutely NOT unheard of), we actually had one person ask if we were long-lost sisters! We should introduce that fellow and the person Dave spoke to on the phone!

Cynthia F. said...

Damn you are good with the snappy comebacks, Dave!

Cynthia F. said...

And Andrea S., how times change! My five-year-old son has been around so much normalizing of gay relationships that he assumes any two women standing next to each other are two mommies...

Anonymous said...

I love your story Dave. But also want to say, I'm feeling uncomfortable with several of the comments. I feel weird and dismissed. I guess that comes with being queer.

Rachel in Idaho said...

I've gotten a few calls at work from people I couldn't figure out were male or female, but fortunately part of my job involves getting names. Phew.

Excellent comeback, Dave, that made me all giggly.

BTW, the video from your award presentation the other day is up. Well done

Anonymous said...

It seems clear that he simply should have ASKED you what your relationship was to Joe, instead of assuming or trying to puzzle it out while you listened.

However, I don't think automatically assuming you were Joe's wife would be any better than assuming that you were Joe's caregiver. It's still an assumption, made in a context where it's safest when no assumptions are made. Which would be most of life's situations, when you think about it...