Survival Skills

I was walking my Shih Tzu Macy the other day through my neighborhood in Jersey City when we came across a stranger. He was another little white Shih Tzu, with no collar or leash. Macy, ever our ambassador to all friendly furry creatures, asked him what he was up to. She was unable to communicate with me what his exact business was in the street on a dark snowy NYC night, but I was able to pick him up, determine he was warm and smelled entirely too good to be a stray. There’s no way I could just leave him on the street, in case he got hit by a car or fell prey to any other Shih Tzu dangers lurking about.

We took him home, where I made a little sign advertising that I’d found a white dog with my phone number. I figured if it was me, as soon as I realized Macy was gone I would flip out and scour the neighborhood–a few signs near where he was found would probably bring them out.

It took about an hour, my plan worked and little Gizmo was reunited with his family. Macy was a little annoyed that he spent the whole time at my apartment hanging out with me on the sofa and not playing with her, but we felt good about having done a good deed.

I told my gay boy BFF Brian about this, saying It’s not like he’s going to be able to fend for himself on the streets. What survival skills does a Shih Tzu have?

“Well, I think looking cute and being able to convince strangers to take you home and feed you until your people come get you is a survival skill.”

And he is absolutely right. Being able to recognize when you need help and being open and available to receiving help is absolutely a survival skill.

This was brought into stark Femme relief for me during part 2 of my 3 part 30th birthday party celebrations, right after the Shih Tzu incident. I threw a party called “Ascots and Bouffants” at my friend Muse’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Muse was kind enough to host the party and was stressed about learning how to bouffant her hair. I offered to do her hair for her, having learned from my hair dresser in November (much to my intense joy).

This was the result after I did my own bouffant process using the technique from my stylist.

However, I have thick, long hair and Muse has fine, shoulder-length hair. It never occurred to me that my technique wouldn’t work on Muse. I started working the backcomb action on her hair and this is what she looked part way through the process.

The results were less than ideal and disappointing for both of us, as we both wanted her to have fabulous high hair for my party.

Just as we made the revelation, my fabulous and gorgeous friend Bryn showed up (who Muse doesn’t know very well). She’s a hair dresser by trade and I instantly knew what we needed to do. Bryn!! I hollered. Can you fix this?

It took about 20 minutes, during which time I began to circulate and welcome guests. And the end result was a fabulous looking and very relieved Muse. By thinking fast and on my feet, I was able to make big hair happen for her, even though I wasn’t able to do it myself.

Asking for help is a crucial skill for Femmes. There are so many things we can learn from each other. Almost everything I know about fatshion, beauty, make-up, self-esteem, and all the things in life I enjoy I’ve learned from my Femme sisters.

It is important to remember that vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. Being open to showing people who you really are and articulating your needs is a great way to interact with people and make real, genuine connections. Had I been too proud to admit defeat when I realized 10 minutes into Muse’s bouffant that I was not going to achieve the result we were after, she would have been stuck with hair she hated and I would have been stuck with a nagging feeling of letting her down that would have dampened the spirit of my party. Being at a point in my life and my confidence where I can ask my friends for help when I need it without being stuck in a feedback loop of shame or worrying about not seeming self-assured actually makes me more confident.

Even if I don’t have a skill, I can get access to it pretty easily through my networks. And just like that Shih Tzu we found, I know I’ll never really be out on the street long enough for my fur to get cold.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Look at that! I’m on your blog! How exciting.

    This is a heart-warming post. I am always happy to be of assistance in any way I can. I think that I, too, have trouble asking for help and admitting when I’m in over my head, and it feels good to be part of a community where I know that’s okay. Here’s to being there for each other in 2009! xo

  2. Queer Oprah, you are so right – it takes a femme village, and you’ve built a pretty awesome one. it’s such a great lesson that you don’t always have to do everything yourself. showing vulnerability and asking for help is almost a gift, because it lets people share their talents with each other and breaks down the facade of perfection, which no one can live up to.

    and this is all rather amusingly illustrated by my bouffant ordeal. Bryn was my angel that night, and I’m sure I’ll get to return a favor one of these days.

    and I’m so glad the Shi Tzu found his way home, courtesy of his survival skills and your big heart. xo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *