But I do. What can I say? It’s my guilty pleasure and it tells me what I want to hear. Of course, it takes more than just birth dates to figure out whether two people really are compatible with one another, so why do I put so much stock into it?
My sisters used to do this extensively, I’m sure. I’ve never asked them about it though. Ever the late bloomer and the middle child to boot, that’s me in a nutshell, really. They’ve both already blossomed and been plucked, so to speak, and I’m just here, barely figuring out that, if I wanted to, I could probably blossom and be picked off as well, even be the one to do the picking, something that I can only hope to fathom. Do I want to? Not particularly. Besides, any possible candidates for gardeners (just to continue this slightly embarrassing metaphor) or flowers are either somewhat repulsive, impossibly beautiful, taken, taking, annuals, perennials, or something entirely different, and that’s before considering the range of experiences among them all. I don’t consider the question much during my waking hours, willing it far, far away from me; it really can be a bother when I have nothing else to occupy myself with though, far more than I’m willing to admit. So the solution is, as ever, to get busy. Just not like that.
But, yes, pseudoscience. Horoscopes. Celestial compatibility and the belief that stars can somehow dictate someone’s temperament. The things that say that, because I was born on a certain day and month and year, I should be this, that, and very, very this-other-thing. I, of all people, should know better than to evaluate my life choices just because I happen to be a Virgo or because I was born in the Year of the Sheep (or Ram; it depends on your font of so-called wisdom) if only because I have been drilled extensively in the scientific method of analysis. After all, with enough repetition, one can become the embodiment of their major of study, even me. I’ve managed to keep my rather sunny disposition, though I’ve gained a rather large dose of skepticism and the need to extensively label things in tiny, plastic tubes. So why does the need to check my horoscope for the day still persist?
Again, it’s generic enough that I can see what I want to see. My friend (who more than dabbles in psychology) explains this as some kind of well documented Effect, which makes sense. I’m not the only gullible sheep following their sun sign on Twitter, I’m sure. But why? When I look into what someone born under Virgo is supposed to be, I find that it fits me perfectly. And then, out of curiosity, I look up attributes for people born under completely different stars and think to myself “Just how sure am I that I’m a Virgo? This describes me too! How weird!” But it’s not weird at all; it shouldn’t come as a surprise, either. These are very blanket statements, after all, designed to attempt to contain all of the diversity of humanity into several key phrases.
What shouldn’t be weird too is the fact that some men don’t look like “conventional” men. It was a few weeks earlier, a Thursday, when I was in the middle of my shift. A friend of mine came in; I greeted them, they put up a flyer, hugged me, and then left, obviously in a rush to put up the rest of their flyers. One of my co-workers on her lunch break was sitting there, taking in the scene while munching on her salad, when she said, “Is she your friend? That’s so cute!” What made it even worse was the fact that she said it in Spanish, which is a heavily gendered language. I corrected her (in Spanish, because why the hell not?), but I stated that “she” was actually a “he”, as I don’t think that Spanish really has a gender-neutral anything. Maybe it does, but I wouldn’t know. I’m versed in Mexican colloquialisms, as I’ve never needed the finer points of Spanish grammar in order to get my point across growing up.
Of course, my friend balked at my statement. She shook her head slowly, unable to harmonize the fact with what she had seen unfold before her. Maybe it would’ve helped if my friend had bound their chest that day or if my fellow employee had never seen them before their transition began. Whatever the case, it took a few more resolute “Trust me, they are indeed male”s from me until my friend sighed, lamented a supposed “waste” of beauty, and then turned her attentions back to her salad. Is it really that difficult to reconcile that there can be males and females that are well outside convention? Was I not in front of her, evidence of one of the many permutations of something that exists outside the binary?
Even earlier than that, I had been chatting with another friend of mine. Somehow, we’d gone from exchanging greetings to considering dressing in drag; don’t ask me how we made that leap from “Good morning!” to “What would I wear if I had to go to a drag show?” because that’s not really important. What is important is that they said something that has continued to reverberate in my mind, something that kind of disappoints me as I figured that they would’ve been able to comprehend my slight plight, given their own knowledge of gender and society.
I had told them not two lines before that I considered myself to be genderfluid. It’s more of a practical and personal thing, really; I’ve observed that I don’t consider myself “male” or “female” but something in between, adjusting towards one extreme or another as the situation around me deems fit. Sure, my mode of dress is decidedly masculine and I wouldn’t touch a dress with a ten foot pole, but if I need to be girly, I’m girly and when I need to be manly, I’m manly. It’s just a slight change in degrees, almost infinitesimal, so “genderfluid” is more “on average, I’m somewhere in the middle” just like an electron’s “orbital” translates to “there is a 90% chance that the electron will be at this distance from the nucleus at any given time”.
So, on the heels of virtually announcing that I was fluid, I had asked them “What would I wear if I was going to dress in drag, then?” It was more for shits and giggles; I figured that I could resolve my issues by wearing things that I would not wear in any other situation, which means gussying up in a dress and some high-heeled pumps instead of sporting my usual polo shirt, jeans, and sneaker trifecta. But then they replied something to the tune of “You’re going to have to pick one or the other eventually, y’know.” Again, mildly hurt by their response, though I paid it little mind at the time, as I was just happy with the fact that we were talking, period.
But what gives? Was I not speaking to someone who would at least be familiar with this kind of thing, having questioned themselves and their own place in the world? In that instant, they had managed to channel the spirit of my mother to a substantial degree (made even more so by the fact that they’ve never even met my mom) and give off this closed and narrow perspective of the world. I’m surprised that they didn’t bust out something about Jesus or get out some sort of bible verse. I’m more surprised by the fact that they really weren’t my darling mother, but this was all online and Mom’s hardly acquainted with the internet. It was both surprising and terrifying, to say the least.
Perhaps I should be a bit more careful as to who I confide in or something because, really, they didn’t ask and I just told them out of virtually nowhere, gave them something to mull over in the span of a few minutes. Again, this was from someone that I would’ve been glad to get a response from at all, given that we hadn’t spoken much, if ever, all last year. I’m not too keen on the idea of scaring them off and closing down all ports of communication yet again just as they’re reestablishing themselves. So, less callously-confessing-and-expecting-people-to-automatically-empathize and more feel-them-out-first-you-basic-ninny; that’s the biggest lesson I can get from all of this mess. That, and horoscopes are to be pitched once you get some specifics on whoever you happen to be interested in, which means *gasp* actually getting to know them as a person! Surprise! But not really.