THE SCARF THAT STARTED IT ALL
The first scarf I ever really cared about was red and blue plaid and had fringe on each end; I found it on the ground during a walk home one night. Shortly after I tightened the scarf around its new home, a stranger came running from a alley, stopped in front of me and said “I know what you are.” Finally, someone does, I thought. “Sorry?” I replied. “I know you’re a male prostitute.” “I’m, ah, I’m just going home.” We both stood there for a second after the exchange until the man suddenly sprinted away down the street.
I’m still not sure whether it was an accusation or a proposition or which I would rather but I did find it strange that, whatever the motive, he confronted me after I had put on the scarf. To me, nothing says ‘I am most definitely not a male prostitute’ like fringed plaid. It was the first time I’ve been simultaneously flattered and terrified, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it had something to do with the scarf I had acquired moments earlier. Perhaps it was his? And just when I became overwhelmed with flattery, or terror, he would snatch it back and run to where ever it was he came from. That didn’t happen, and I’m glad.
Believe it or not, it was the first time I had ever been accused of being a prostitute, and, surprisingly, I wasn’t at all offended; instead, for a brief moment, I basked in the ease of being someone other than myself. There was something both empowering and freeing about a stranger accusing me of being someone so far outside my sense of identity.
Innately, we work tirelessly to find a niche we can please, a role we can slip into unnoticed. But during that 25 second conversation between myself and a man with whom I had no connection, I wasn’t; his accusation shocked me from some level of role confusion into pseudo-self-actualization. I stopped trying to react to what was happening around me, I was just existing as this man’s allegation. An allegation with enough shock value, while remaining realistic, that for some amount of time, I was able to live wholly as it.
Over the years, I would go on to collect more of the cold essential. Striped ones, brown ones, circle ones, but none would ever go on to arouse an encounter like the first. After a friend gave me a similar scarf, only differing slightly by its color of plaid, I wore it hoping it might conjure up an event to rival its predecessor. Alas, nothing. Nevertheless, for a split second when I put on that red and blue plaid scarf with fringe on each end, I can be whoever I want to be.