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The Graduate Blog: Saved By a Silverback, And Ode to Butches

The Graduate Blog: Saved By a Silverback, And Ode to Butches

An Ode to Butches --This post is dedicated, with love in my heart for carpenter jeans and flat-tops, to all the butch ladies out there that actually get things done and moving. Because I can tell you that if things were completely my responsibility shit would just not happen. 

Well howdy folks!

So I’ve been a little negligent recently… not posting and all.  But guess what! It’s because I’ve been busy with my new “job”! 

The reason I’m putting job in quotation marks is because even though I work all the time they don’t pay me. And because I have to do things so ridiculous that the word “job” seems inappropriate. 

I work at a theater as a “stag: e manager.” Again, I use the term loosely because so far I have mostly been used as an assistant/gofer/rat-catcher extraordinaire. See, the show is not actually in rehearsals yet but in a “workshopping” period where people discover their inner characters through….. snooze. This part is not interesting. Okay basically it’s supposed to be my job to keep the rehearsals running on time. This is assuming that I work for someone not insane. Which is a big assumption. 

See, my boss (the director of the company) is a VERY IMPORTANT ACTOR. And like many VERY IMPORTANT ACTORS, he has little concept of reality and also expects everyone to be his bitch.

This isn’t all that surprising. In fact, I kind of figured that he would expect to use me as an assistant. What didn’t occur to me is that as his assistant/stage manager I would be forced to follow through on all his insane ideas. 

Insane idea #1) The theater has recently had a big problem with rats. Not surprising given that there is food everywhere, lots of nooks and crannies to hide in, and general filth. VERY IMPORTANT ACTOR realized this was a problem. 

What didn’t occur to me is that instead of calling an exterminator or setting traps, VERY IMPORTANT ACTOR decided to have us… scare the rats out of the building. 

See, VERY IMPORTANT ACTOR is 6’5 and is not used to not being able to terrify things to the point that they run away from him. His assumption was that since we are far bigger and superior to the rats, we could be really loud and bang things around and that they would just scamper right out. 

I showed up to rehearsal that night with no idea that anything was wrong except that there was a large pile of sticks on stage. VERY IMPORTANT ACTOR then told me to put on one of the jumpsuits from the costumes room, don one of those scary SARS-style masks, and begin organizing a clean-up crew.

The forty or so actors in the crew were, needless to say, not very happy about this. However, they maintained good spirits while we lugged 50 lb curtains to the back of the theater so that we could shake the rat poo out of them. Even with that many actors, this process took more than four hours. 

Finally, we were ready to go mano-a-mano with the rats. Starting at the back of the theater, we began banging the sticks loudly on the ground and yelling nonsense. For the next fifteen minutes, we yelled every profanity we could think of and banged the sticks against the walls, floor, and each other’s shins when we walked too close to each other. It would have been very cathartic if I hadn’t been the one responsible for getting the actors out of the building on time. 

Not surprisingly, no rats emerged. 


V.I.A. eventually let everyone go only half-an-hour late (which I considered a mini-victory). 

There was a time, around 10:30, right before the stick banging began, that I thought I was going to crack. 

I was convinced there was no way we were going to scare out any rats (well that part was true), that I was going to catch hantavirus, and that the actors were going to get fed up, mutiny, and kill me and V.I.A. with their sticks. 

Thankfully, a guardian angel arrived to help soothe my worries and move the process along more quickly. My guardian angel arrived in the form of an grizzled middle-aged butch with a tool belt and overalls. Older butch women, also known in some parts of the world as “silverbacks,” are the people that allow the world to continue to function.

There is nothing more helpful in a theater than an old butch. Nothing. They always know how everything works, where it goes, and how to keep you from getting your hand sawed off. When my butch guardian angel showed up, I knew everything was going to be okay.

And it was. She is the only person scary enough to dominate V.I.A., and she managed to get him to hurry up and get the actors out of the theater under threat of shutting off all the lights from the circuit board.

While they may burp loudly right by your ear and be more interested in drill bits than anyone has a right to be, they will honestly save your life. At least this one did. 

This post is dedicated to all the butch ladies out there that actually get things done and moving. Because I can tell you that if things were completely my responsibility shit would just not happen. 

So thank you, butch ladies one and all, because just like you thought things really would go to hell if you let anyone else be in charge. 

With love in my heart for carpenter jeans and flat-tops,


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Ariel Shepherd-Oppenheim