Disclaimer: No Butch women were hurt during the writing of this work of fiction!
Wikipedia defines ‘endangered species’ as a ‘population of organisms which are at risk of becoming extinct because they are either few in numbers or threatened by changing environmental and predation parameters’. The Butch Woman has become an endangered species! She is slowly being made redundant in her natural environment by the newly emerged species popularly known as ‘No Labelitis’, the curious species identified as ‘Bi-sexualmorphs’, the colourful species acknowledged as ‘Femmeasaurus’, and the notoriously exotic species referred to as ‘Straightozoids’.
YOU can save the Butch woman from extinction by learning complicated handshakes, suffering through her horrific dancing, supporting her in environments that involve high alcohol intake and rescuing her from poachers commonly referred to as ‘MeN-in-tightis’.
The Butch woman was at her height of glory when I gayly ventured into the queer scene ten years back, but sadly a lot has changed since then.
“Are you zure that thiz iz the right place?” whispered Philomena rather doubtfully to me.
“Yes! This was the address on the website” I whispered back and then added, “And why the hell are we whispering?”
We reverted back to our normal tones sheepishly and asked the taxi to stop. We slithered out of the taxi and arranged ourselves in front of the gate.
“You know what we look like, right? All drezzed up…well…at leazt I am…and in a zeedy area in the middle of the night?” said Philomena repositioning her clothes in a vain attempt to cover a few parts of her body that stood out spectacularly against the bleak backdrop.
I looked around for the hip club that the website promised would be here and said, “Let’s go inside. We can ask the watchman about the club.”
“You’re prezuming that thiz place haz a watchman” Philomena retorted scornfully.
I ignored her, opened the gate and walked towards the row of buildings and stopped at a… car park? What? It was like one of those underground basement car parks where blonde starlets get murdered in B-grade horror movies, and I dragged a reluctant Philomena towards the entrance. We noticed two people walking ahead of us and followed them to the end of the tunnel. Around the bend there was a table and two chairs with three men manning the work station. We walked as confidently as we could towards the desk and stopped in front of the three men who smiled encouragingly at us. We smiled back uncertainly.
“Yes?” one of them enquired politely, still smiling at us.
We smiled again meaningfully and I even added a nod and a wink to get the message across. They looked right back at us and waited, still smiling. We continued with our meaningful smiles for a few seconds unblinkingly until Philomena broke the impasse and said, “Oh…what nonzenze iz thiz! Iz there a gay party happening here tonight or not?”
“Yes. On the top floor. 300 bucks each.” replied one of the men.
We handed over the money, got stamped for the night and were ushered into the decrepit building in front of us.
We walked inside and stepped into a sea of men. Men! Men! Men! Everywhere…as far as the eye could see.
Philomena turned towards me, “Let’z get a drink firzt and then brave the crowd.”
I agreed and we made our way past all the dancing men and reached the bar. I shouted out a request to the waiter for a pint of beer over the music, and Philomena shouted out a complicated “vodka, 1/4th cranberry juice, a twist of lime and 2 ice cubes”. The waiter handed over a vodka with orange juice and lots of ice and Philomena looked at me reproachfully.
“Just try it. Must be the house special.” I said encouragingly.
We took a few sips of our drinks and contemplated the crowd and our surroundings. The club was quite nice actually….big and dimly lit, with a seating area behind the huge dance floor and bollywood music belting out loudly from huge speakers.
“Okay. Let’s start our quest for anything resembling a female body.” I told Philomena.
“With thiz crowd? You will probably get more than you bargained for.” she retorted.
We pushed through the sea of men and walked towards the middle of the dance floor. No women there. We hiked towards the space closest to the door. No women there either. We staggered back to the middle and then veered to the left. No luck. We panted towards the right side of the dance floor…and eureka! Six women standing around in a huddle!
We made a beeline for them and I had a sudden attack of shyness and stopped mid-way.
“What’z wrong?” she asked, annoyed at my abrupt halt.
“What if they don’t like me? What if I have nothing to say to them?”
“Of course they will like you. What’z not to like? You look exactly like them.” she pointed out.
Sigh…straight women! They think that all butch women look alike and therefore must be alike. She could not have been more wrong. Have you ever noticed a butch woman meet and greet another butch woman? It’s a strangely fascinating sight. A butch woman who is sitting casually on a sofa and chatting normally with people around her will suddenly snap to attention when she sees another butch woman. Complicated handshakes and hi-fives that usually take a month to learn will ensue, accompanied by some shoulder to shoulder bumping (similar to a hug but not quite a hug), a few ‘dude!’s, and finally some enthusiastic mumbling about cricket scores and such like. The handshake may change on a weekly basis which may be why I look like a deranged gorilla when I try to go with the flow.
Getting back to the butch women on the dance floor. They definitely noticed Philomena who by now was doing her version of a Bollywood rain dance number. She heaved and thrusted her way across to them and introduced herself. She then dragged me into the fold….and yes…chest thumping and complicated handshakes did take place…but there was also a lot of camaraderie, bad dancing and excessive drinking which is basically the essence of all things butch. I miss those good old days when the most complicated thing I had to worry about was a handshake!