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July 2004

Call Me Madame

I head out next week, as you know if you've clicked on the "Tour" button toBy a Spider's Thread tour the right of this. Unlike the touring performers at The Smoking Gun, I have no special requests. I don't need white candles in my dressing room, or Pilates equipment, or a Cadillac convertible. I like the brown M&M;'s. A bottle of water is nice, but not essential. I'm also happy to answer the question: "Where do you get your ideas?"

I have only one small request: Please don't call me sir.

No, seriously, it happens all the time. I used to blamed it on my short hair. But my hair is longer now, my voice relatively high, and my shape is more or less along the lines that guys used to trace in the air while whistling, in those old Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon films. I'm not saying it's as petite as those watusi-ing girls, just the same shape.

Still, I get called sir. A lot. "Is that all, sir?" "Here's your change, sir." It happens so often that I was gratified when someone finally witnessed it earlier this year.

Sometimes, I call people on it. "Actually, I'm a woman." No one ever apologizes, or explains how the mistake was made. They seem to find me rude for asserting my gender. My theory is that we have lost our ability to make eye contact and all I am is a five-foot-nine shadow --- which is, after all, the height of the average man in this country. "Will there be anything else, sir?"

I didn't think it could get worse -- until I made a scheduled stop at a local bookstore to sign stock. The books were piled in a special display, almost 100 in all. The helpful young man behind the counter paged the manager. "Tell him Larry Lippman is here!"
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