Don’t Bother. I’ll Write Myself Up.

[Carlisle often keeps me company when I work on Sundays. We were complaining to each other last night about how boring of an evening it had been and how something entertaining needed to happen, when two customers entered the store. Turns out, we are prophets.]

Customer 1: [slithering up to me] “Hello. My friend here is interested in leather but won’t admit it. Please help him.”

Customer 2: “Um… I’m really not.”

Me: “Is there anything you’d like to try on?”

Friend: “Nah. [patting his paunch] I’m not built for it.”

Customer 1: “Yes you are. See? She looks like you. [reaches out to touch Carlisle’s chest]

Carlisle: “Whoa, careful.”

Customer 1: “What?”

Carlisle: “I don’t know you.”

Customer 1: [with much smarm] “Well, I don’t know you either.” [tries to touch him again]

Carlisle: [firmly] “Please don’t.”

Customer 1: “Ooh, she doesn’t want strangers touching her? Listen, in this environment, you have to expect it.”

Me: “No. In this environment, people get to set their own boundaries.”

Customer 1: [righteously indignant, yet patronizing] “Um, this is the leather world. Have you ever even been to IML?”

Customer 2: “Oh, Jesus…”

Carlisle: “Yes. I’m a titleholder.”

Customer 1: “Oh, she’s a titleholder. Did you hear that? She’s a titleholder and doesn’t want anyone touching her.”

Customer 2: “Hey, seriously, knock it off. The owners of the Forge wouldn’t appreciate you treating their customers this way.”

Customer 1: “Oh, you know the owners, do you? We’ll just see what the owners think.” [flounces out of the store]

Customer 2: “I am so sorry.”

Me: “No worries, dude. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Customer 2: “Well… thank you.”

And then he ran after his albatross friend, who was already holding court at the main bar, literally screaming about how I had maligned him — like, he was going to speak with the owners himself and have me taken care of for being so disrespectful. I don’t know if the bartenders finally had enough or what, but a few minutes later he stormed out of the Ripcord, at which point Carlisle and I were crippled with laughter.

Granted, at its core, this incident is decidedly not funny — in fact, it’s just another reminder that we’re trapped in a society of victim blaming/shaming. In this case, a customer is threatening to have me fired, because I wouldn’t let him harass someone else on my watch; similar to how a Disney executive got fired for filing a sexual harassment suit against a supervisor, or how a black woman got arrested after calling the cops on the white neighbor who physically assaulted her son. This shit happens all the fucking time, and as such it’s no surprise that some douchebag’s immediate reaction to, “your behavior is unacceptable” is “and that is all your fault.”

From this perspective, the circumstances in which Carlisle and I found ourselves were demoralizing AF, but at the same time, the mansplained absurdity of the situation tickled the hell out of us. Maybe we would’ve been more unmoved if we’d been decked out in, say, casual sportswear, but to be dressed in leather while working in a leather store and have someone try to school me on leather culture was just the hilarity I needed to make it through the rest of my shift fancy-free.

PS: I’m also a titleholder and will be competing at IML this year, but, y’know, dude didn’t ask. I feel like that’s probably for the best.

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