This morning as I was minding my own business, changing my shirt in the women's locker room at the gym, I was approached by a woman I vaguely recognized as a gym regular. In a manner that I believe she felt would invite polite conversation, she asked me about said shirt. Here is pretty much word-for-word the discussion.
Inquiring Minds (IM): Hey there.
Me: Hi. How are ya?
IM: Great. I just got done with my workout. I see you here quite a bit. Are you doing the contest?
::Brief conversation about the contest ensues::
IM: I always see you wearing the most colorful, interesting shirts. Do you get them on the internet? My son really likes your black shirt with the skull on it.
Me: Oh, that is nice. I like wearing my Punisher shirt while I lift weights. Mostly I wear comic book shirts because I am such a huge comic book fan. I have been since I was eight.
IM: Oh. (Makes scrunchy face of disapproval) I just thought you found them on a website. I wanted to get my son a shirt like that.
Me: Well hey, that is easy. Just go down to Ron's Coin and Collectible's. They have said shirt on display.
IM: We don't go there. It is so dirty and the staff has bad hygeine. I was really hoping I could find it on a website.
Me: I am sure you could, but Ron's really is a pretty good place. It wouldn't take long.
IM: I don't think so. Nice talking to you.
::IM proceeds to basically run away. I think I am safe. New woman approaches.::
New Woman: Did I hear you say that you really read comics?
Me: Yes. I had been in the closet about it for a long time, but I finally just decided to be proud. I love comic books and have been reading them for a long time.
NW: Doesn't your husband find that odd?
Me: Nope. He reads them too.
NW: Oh. Well, my husband used to read them but he had to stop when we had kids. He and my son talk about Spider-Man quite a bit and they love the movies but that is it. I just really thought I had misheard you.
NW: Because I have just not heard of adult women reading comics unless.... (she trails off. This is not a good sign.)
Me: Unless why?
NW: Never mind. It isn't a big deal. I just thought I had heard you wrong.
::NW runs off leaving me stranded again.::
I leave the women's locker room and head upstairs. Husband of NW gives me a sympathetic look.
Husband: I miss my books. She (points to wife) made me sell them when we got pregnant with our first son.
Me: I understand. Sometimes we have to focus on the economics.
Husband: Nah, she was relieved. She just thought it took up space.
NW: (Squirming uncomfortably) It was just something I was never interested in. I always thought that comics were for boys and then when they grew up they sold them or traded them. I just have to live in reality, you know? Kids are expensive, you know?
Me: No. I don't have kids. To me it is a hobby just like buying DVD's, cook books, tools, or clothes. Everyone has something they enjoy. My husband and I don't travel or spend very much on other things. It is our hobby.
NW: Well, I just think it is wasteful. We really have to go.
Me: Have a good day. (Not meaning it.)
They walk off.
This is a good example of what I run into on a pretty regular basis. Most every woman I talk to wrinkles her nose at me or changes the subject. Most guys either think I am "weird special" or feel empathy because they can relate and have some hidden hostility about it. It really makes me buy into the survey results that Valerie at Occasional Superheroine posted, because I have to live this crap.
Am I going back into the comic book reading closet? Hell no. Does it make me mad that people are so bitchy about it? Yes. What can I do about it? I don't know. I keep defending myself and wearing my shirts. I keep spending money on the books I love. I don't know what else to do. Also, since I can't have kids, I find that some of the conversations are pretty offensive. I hate it when women pull the mom card without considering my biological issues.
What are your thoughts? Do you have this occur? I trynot to get too upset, but sometimes I just can't help it.