One of the things I’ve noticed in all my books is that they treat men like some precious mythical figure, a perfect being of grace and glory who exists only to compliment you, hold doors, pull out chairs and buy presents (if only we would let them, seems to be Arlene and. HGB’s battle sigh) Nowhere do they mention, for whatever reason, how to handle a guy who is an absolute pinhead.
Ian and I took our internet-winning Barbara and Adam Maitland costumes to the Albany Comic Con on Sunday to meet my best friend Heather and her boyfriend Alex. We went last year in our Alien costumes and won the contest, so we thought we’d try our luck again this year. It’s a fun convention, full of vendors and cool toys and piles of stuff I used to buy on pilgrimages to Anime Crash and Tower Records (RIP) and it’s always awesome to see Heather, who’s been my best friend for over a decade.
People mobbed us for pictures and we happily obliged. “Awesome costume!” rang through the halls. We actually saw a Beetlejuice, who was as happy to see us as we were to see her (she was with an Edward Scissorhands.) But right as we were leaving, some guy in a pretty weak Captain Hammer costume looked at me and said, with a reed-thin smirk, “Your costume would be perfect if you were a foot taller.”
If I had been wittier, perhaps I might have said, “Your costume would be perfect if you weren’t so damn ugly.” If this project hadn’t been so ingrained, I might have spit out some combination of vulgarity and violence. But HGB and Arlene never tell us what to do in these situations, when the guy is being less than gentlemanly. I was on my own to sort this situation out.
So instead, I looked him in the eye and said, “Actually, my costume is perfect” and kept on walking. Behind me, he stammered something akin to, “Uhh, I just thought…the actress…duh….”
Con guys are notoriously creepy. I’ve never had that happen in Albany, but the internet is full of horror stories of girls being forcefully touched, photographed and, if they say no or ask someone to stop, they’re harassed and cursed. There’s a sense among many of these men than your body belongs to them just by being there, like you are nothing more than an action figure brought to life by a magical fairy. Captain Neckbeard didn’t make body comments to Ian, who is a few inches shorter and a thicker than 1980’s Alec Baldwin, and I’m sure he didn’t say “Batgirl doesn’t wear glasses” to the adorable towheaded tike who asked us for a picture. But because I’m an attractive woman and therefor can’t be a “true” geek, it seems like he felt it was okay to shout comments about my physical form as I was walking past, minding my own business, off to get pizza with Heather and Alex.
I’m sure Captain Neckbeard didn’t intend for it to be an insult. I’m sure in his head, he was saying, “Wow, that costume is flawless” and it just came out wrong because he’s a dope. But here’s a hint, gentlemen. If your “compliment” has any variation of “if” “except” or “but” in it, it’s no longer a compliment.
And for all the con-men out there–when you see someone in a costume, no matter how good or bad it is, you say, “Hey, nice costume,” because it takes guts to wear a costume in public on any given Sunday. They didn’t wear it for your entertainment. They wore it because it makes them feel awesome and helps them have a good time. So if you can’t say anything nice about anyone, how about you keep your trap shut?