I was invited in to the last vestige of masculinity yesterday. The bait and ammunition shop in Broadalbin. We went in search of ammunition that Brian and Jerry needed, and because they were also swinging through Wal-Mart, I decided to take the trip with them. In October, Wal-Mart becomes a huge hunting supply store, with the entire sporting goods department taken over with camouflage, orangewear, and all kinds of hunter's paraphanalia. I was expecting to run into South Park Kenny at every turn. They didn't carry the right ammunition so we needed to go to a specialty store. Every package store and gas station in Johnstown and Gloversville was loaded with hunters, all gearing up for Saturday's opening day. Since September, it has been a slow trickle of bow and black powder hunters, but all of a sudden, we were overwhelmed with hunters, pickup trucks with dogs in the back. It was as if overnight we had been morphed into a picture in Field and Stream Magazine. The excitement was in the air everywhere we went. These men had single-mindedness of mission. It is an amazing transformation of men who generally have no opinion about much. These guys were participating! My mouth was just hanging open at the level of excitement and happiness I was observing. I'm talking about Glee! I walked in the door behind Brian and Jerry and immediately felt like the groom at a bridal shower - completely out of place and just as anxious to get the heck out of there. The testosterone was palpable, and I was clearly no Sarah Palin. I was hiding out in the fly fishing section, as I was looking for some sort of familiarity, but even that was too close to the boys in the gun section. I could tell that language had immediately cleaned up on my account, and I was being shot looks by the assorted attendees who clearly wanted to know why I was there, and if I would be staying long. God Bless Jerry. He is so secure in himself that it never enters his mind why I might be unnecessary or even unwelcome in that type of environment. We are each other's sounding board. This shop didn't look like a sounding board type of place. This was man-country. I had been wandering aimlessly for quite some time, as the guys were looking over the gun selection, and it suddenly dawned on me. They had not spoken to me at all since we walked in the door, and no one had offered any type of assistance or guidance. No "Can I help you?" Nothing. What if I was shopping on my own? What if I was in fact, a hunter? I was not even acknowledged. This of course made me crazy. I immediately walked over to the gun section, leaned myself over the counter and interjected myself into the proceedings. All of a sudden I was Alaska Barbie, interested in everything they had to say. It was pretty funny. For me anyway. I don't think the clerk batted an eye. I was still as invisible as I was when I walked in, but for me I had made my personal statement. I also now know where to go for some really good fly fishing equipment. And I realized that men are not necessarily uninterested in clothes. We girls have been very wrong about this assumption. If you want to see a man get excited about wardrobe, put out some camouflage or orange-wear and you will see him actually TRY ON the stuff. It's that important that it fit right, look right and be right. Unlike everyday wear (where truthfully, he doesn't much care) hunting gear gets 10 points (no pun intended) in the importance department. I was awed. I never knew this. Jerry's hunting equpment was around long before I was, so I just assumed it was a haphazard purchase sometime in the past. Not so. Each item is checked for quality and desired thermal protection, alot. I've picked wedding dresses faster than this hunting gear was purchased. It was quite an experience.
Today, I'm off to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival where we women (and an occasional man) will stand around baskets of yarn and oooh and aaaah, taking time to make decisions about our purchases, our colors, the feel of the yarn and the possibilities for successful fiber art projects. I will examine it from every angle, hold it against my skin and determine it's comfort level. Is it worthy of all the work that will go into a knitting project? Hunting for the perfect purchase, I will walk aisles and aisles of yarn, spinning wheels, carding machines and livestock, much like a hunter stalks out a Winchester 100 with good release action. We're not so different after all. Good Luck Jerry and Brian - may we all have a successful weekend.