The other day I bought a pair of exercise pants. They were tight pants, tights, technically, and were a bright blue color, in a stripey pattern.

I almost bought a pair in black and white instead. Most of my exercise bottoms tend to the darker end of the spectrum, blacks and grays. Designed to blend into the background of any gym environment. But I like blue, and the each pair of pants fit equally well.

The thing about the blue pants was that they were not designed to blend in, except maybe in an anime. I didn’t think much of that at first. They were blue. I like blue.

But when I wore them for the first time, I walked up to my running partner to find him swallowing hysterical laughter. His whole body moved as he exclaimed, “Girl, those pants are loud!”

I didn’t take the words personally. I bantered about how they would make me more visible to cars, since we were running outside. I still like the pants, and the way that they look on me.

But, perhaps influenced by the Women Writers class that I’m taking, or even specifically by Nancy Mairs, whose essay I am preparing to lead the discussion on, the choice of wording stuck with me.


And, by his behavior, inappropriately so. It seemed as if my pants caused him discomfort, or, at the least, surprise. Was that because the color was out of character for me? I’ve worn bright pink tops to our runs, and bright purple. How were the tops beneath his notice while the pants drew such a strong reaction?

Loud. The way that women are not “supposed” to be, the way that I have rarely, while sober, been. In my class, I speak rather more than most of the students. Conscious of having been a silently fuming student while another dominates the discussion, I try not to talk too much. But this class does not seem, as a group, compelled to speak much. I speak because I have taught myself, trained myself to do so, in this kind of setting, at least, where class participation is a part of the grade.

I keep waiting for the instructor to pull me aside and ask me not to talk so much, not to be so loud. I expect it, though that’s never happened, because I put so much effort into the act of speaking aloud. Breathing my thoughts into the air, for all to hear, misunderstand or reinterpret does seem an act of transgression to me, one for which I’m still waiting to be punished.

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