Being a groomsman won’t be the first time in my history where I unintentionally skate the gender lines. Here are a couple of quick stories from my childhood:
Mr. F and the Floppy Feet (1980)
When I was in kindergarten, we had a fun way to learn the alphabet. Throughout the year the teachers introduced us to 26 cartoon characters that each represented a letter of the alphabet. Each character had their own backstory, their own song and a catchy alliteration to help demonstrate the kinds of sounds made with that letter. Mr. M, for example, had a Munchy Mouth. Mr. H had a Hairy Head. In a sex ratio that wasn’t quite as skewed but still reminiscent of the Smurfs, all the consonants were male while the five vowels were female.
At the end of the year, each child was asked to select a letter and to perform that letter’s song in a pageant for the parents. I chose Mr. F. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I purposely chose to make a statement or to spite the world’s perception of gender and which letters little girls should dance to. I chose Mr. F because in his story, some people made fun of him and he cried. In short, I chose Mr. F because I felt sorry for him.
When it came to performance time, the stage was chock full of little girls for the vowels. BUT– between Miss E and Mr. G, one lone pupil performed. Me! I got to dance to the “I’ve got Floppy Feet, Floppy Feet, Floppy Feet, Floppy Feet” song all by myself.
Francis with an I (1988)
In 8th grade, I got confirmed in the Catholic Church. As part of that process you have to pick a confirmation name– a name of one of the Saints. My first choice was Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. This ignited a tiny hoopla. As my cousin, Frank, can attest to, Francis with an ‘i’ is a boy’s name. I remember one of my teachers tried to get me to change to Frances with an ‘e’. That was less than appealing to me. Patron Saint of Immigrants vs the Patron Saint of Animals. Who sounds infinitely more cool to a kid? Even the depictions of the two Saints demonstrate there are much better PR people in the Assisi camp:
In the end I stuck firm. I was confirmed Victoria Marie Francis. Like Mr. F, I didn’t select Francis because he was male. I chose him because he got to fraternize with cute, cuddly animals. If Snow White were an option, I very well may have picked her. 🙂