I didn’t say the right thing. I could see that. He had been watching me so intently, his mouth curved in a slight smile that I didn’t recognize. His head forward, face down a little, tilted, as if he was presenting his cheekbone to me. Looking, up, almost, at me from the corners of his eyes. His eyes.
It was a very generous gift, I said so. And added, with a smile of pride, enamored, that he had very good boyfriend skills. Imagine me, my smile said, with such a fine catch as you!
It wasn’t the right thing.
I made mental notes, and the next time I touched on how well his mother had reared him, to give such thoughtful and unique gifts. They were just perfect. Because, they were. And he knew it, his eyes glowed as he watched me unwrap.
But, it wasn’t his mother. That wasn’t the right thing. That, very much, was not the right thing, said the involuntary tightening at the corners of his lips. The deadening of his eyes.
On the next occasion, I could tell by the way his eyes roamed over the gifts, almost caressing them, that a great deal of thought had gone into his selections. That he had thought deeply of me, of what I wanted most, when he made his purchases. I complimented his memory and attention to detail. Both very compliment-worthy attributes, but no, not the right things. Not the right words.
As a class, the word is appropriation. Those males, tired of their self-compliance to gender socialization, who decide it must be easier to be a woman. Who decide they can be better women than they were men. They re-define and re-word and re-create and re-claim. They appropriate.
As an individual, the word is inhabitation. He doesn’t want to be like me. He wants to be me. He wants to occupy me, my life, who I am.
Those gifts, they were never for me. They were for him. For his inhabitation of me.