I used to be a make-up fiend. In college I was Gen X Goth, all black kohl eyes, blood red lips, and hair dyed every color of the rainbow. When I entered the work force as a preschool teacher, I toned it down until it was foundation, brown liner, and a funky lip color. Then I met my future husband, and I stopped trying. Not in that way where guys believe once we hook The One, women feel the need to take a permanent vacation from presentation. I was out-matched, out-gunned, and out-kohled, and I knew it. I threw in the towel, and went along for the ride of my life.
Just the other night, he asked me if I’d seen his tights.
Let’s back up nine or so years ago. I met my Tenor, Mike, at a mutual friend’s party. He walked in late, shaking rainwater off his pleather trench coat, and my inner Goth girl heart went pitter-pat. He was bald, well dressed, and I planted my wall-flower self in range of watching him hold court in a circle of his friends as he regaled them with tales of…. Oh, damn. Musical theater. He had a role as one of the Harlem Gang in a production of Ragtime the Musical, and was waxing poetic about the set pieces, the costuming, the choreography, and dammit, just my luck, he’s gay.
Stop, right there. Don’t even say it; they call it a stereotype for a reason.
As I have a background in theater and singing solo and in a chorus, our mutual friends tossed us at each other and I thought, what the hell, it’s safe enough considering he’s so obviously—
Alright, not so much. He’s straight, very straight, and we’ll leave that night at that, shall we? Even his cast mates joked that he was probably the only straight man in Harlem. Now fast forward five years.
The big, dramatic, blowout wedding my Tenor and I had? His idea. His first marriage was in front of a Justice of the Peace, and he wanted big and flashy. I was ready to book a flight to Vegas, but gave in. He got his big wedding; I chose A Nightmare Before Christmas theme. I had the DJ play,“A Little Priest” from Sweeney Todd, during the dinner presentation. Really, it was a win-win.
Three days later, we moved my life out to San Francisco to chase his dream of being an opera singer. And he nailed it. From local productions of musicals to tenured tenor in the Men’s Chorus of the San Francisco Opera in just nine years? That’s “discovered by a talent agent at the mall and having a public breakdown on TMZ after fighting with Kimye” fast.
As I got used to being a New England transplant in the Bay Area (still not very successful, and oh my god, is my Boston accent so glaringly obvious out here), I went back to school to earn class units to qualify as a teacher in Cali, and am now celebrating my 14th year being a preschool teacher. I also get to be a part of my husband’s world. It’s living in that world which makes it crystal clear that our daughter, a 19month old toddler, is going to grow up in a fairly flipped gender role household.
She will get to know the theater, the world of opera, and while it’s true that there are tights, and codpieces, and horns, and “Kill the Wabbit”, she will get to meet people from all walks of the theater life: singers and dancers, writers and directors, conductors and instrumentalists, men and women reflecting our lives back at us through an unparalleled art form. Plus, how cool will it be for her on “Bring your daughter to work day”? Or when she gets to bring to school a picture of Dad at his job, in which he’s wearing blue eyeshadow, kohled eyes, and gold lame MC Hammer pants (seriously, check out the SFO picture archives, under Aida)?
What a wonderful, wacky, completely non-normalized, non-judgemental upbringing my daughter will have, due in part to the fact that my husband wears more makeup than I do.