Target and John Irving’s novel about a bi-sexual man

This is an old draft post that was sitting in my delete bin. It has been patiently waiting to be deleted when I had an experience at Tar-jée and it was saved.

What prompted the saving of this post is a conversation between two older ladies policing the women and men’s change room at the local Target. I wasn’t sure which politically correct terms I should use in my post about their conversation but have decided that if John Irving can publish a book with a main character as a bi-sexual man along with references to Transgendered, Transsexual, Cross dressers and all sorts of taboo topics, surely he did his research and I could use the same terms he did to get the conversation across.

“How did your evening turn out, did you get everything sorted out?”

“Yes, I waited for at least 10 minutes and when they weren’t coming out I went in the back and kicked them out. I have no idea what they were doing in there.”

“Good for you.”

“They came back a day later and I pointed them to the men’s room that time. I don’t want any funny business going on back there. I don’t mind them trying on women’s clothes, I just prefer that they do it in the men’s change rooms.”

“Yes, there are a few cross dressers who’ve been coming in lately to try on swimwear and other intimate clothing.”

…Where am I and what am I doing while listening to this conversation you ask?

I am in the women’s change room trying to find a bikini bottom to wear to the kiddie pool. I notice that the front of the bottom I am trying on is slightly distended, like a potato could fit in quite nicely. I wonder to myself if I am trying on that bikini bottom?


Now for the John Irving part of the post that made it to the trash bin but didn’t make it to the dump:

I picked up John Irving’s latest book “In One Person” a few months back and found the novel to be sexually preoccupied, about self-identity, repetitive, politically motivated and disappointing.

I admire that Irving took on the topic of sexual identity however by chapter 7 I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish the book due to the lack of character development (haha, look at me, the big critic!!) and repetition. Also the potential of this book was crippled by the author’s attempt to force an opinion on the reader surrounding sexual orientation versus allowing the reader to make up their own mind.

The audience was steered away from feeling compassion for the main character’s circumstance and directed towards a more political and you must agree approach. It is as equally important to talk about divisive topics as it is to allow people to make up their own minds and I wish this book did both instead of just the former.

Underneath all the talk of sex and crushes on the wrong people there is something to be said about being labelled as any one thing at an early age and being surrounded by a limited tolerance for basic conversation and empathy that some of the minor, more interesting characters experienced. I decided that I’d like to believe as we mature we become a little braver to talk about difficult topics and that we find a way to make a difference.

There are two quotes I liked from the character Miss Frost:

“Trust me on this one, William”…”Once you start repeating what people say to you, it’s hard to break the habit.”

“My dear boy, please don’t put a label on me – don’t make me a category before you get to know me!”

5 thoughts on “Target and John Irving’s novel about a bi-sexual man

  1. Oi! The things that happen to you! What are the odds of you being present when these 2 “lovely” ladies where having that conversation 🙂
    I really like the quote about labels… I’m going ot memorize it!


  2. This is a great quote for any new encounter with other people! “My dear boy, please don’t put a label on me – don’t make me a category before you get to know me!”


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