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  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS Inside Out:
by Yvonne Zipter
2003-01-22

This article shared 1981 times since Wed Jan 22, 2003
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My partner Kathy and I recently confirmed one of our worst suspicions: our mail carrier was no longer delivering our route. She had been delivering our mail for almost as many years as we've lived in our house, and we'd come to believe she would be with us for a long time to come. I would venture to guess that many of you reading this now don't even know who your mail carrier is and so think this attachment to a postal worker a bit odd.

But our mail carrier—that is, our former mail carrier (ironically also named Kathy)—is no ordinary postal worker. I have, in fact, written of her at length here. Both a handsome woman and an exceptionally good mail carrier, who always kept treats for our and the other dogs on her route, she has caused me to utter, 'I love a woman in uniform.' At first, when we no longer saw her, we harbored the hope that she was just on vacation. But when we saw her delivering mail in a nearby neighborhood, we knew she wasn't coming back. Though she'd probably been reassigned we couldn't help feeling she was being unfaithful to us. 'Which would be worse,' my gal Kathy wondered aloud, 'if she had retired? Or knowing that she's delivering someone else's mail?' I didn't have an answer; all that mattered was that Kathy the mail carrier would no longer be bringing our bills and greeting cards and my rejection letters from publishers. The man who's taken her place may be a nice man, but he's no Kathy.

And that, I thought, was the end of my love for a woman in uniform. But amazingly enough, someone's taken her place—and it's my girlfriend Kathy. No, she has neither joined the military (no need to ask: she'll tell!) nor the illustrious ranks of postal carriers: she is, after years of prodding from a friend, taking hockey lessons. True, the hockey uniform per se is not exactly sexy. For one thing, the gender of the uniform wearer is not easily discerned. In fact, with her helmet and face mask and myriad types of padding, she looks rather like a rabid Pillsbury doughboy. And at this point in her hockey 'career,' there isn't even the vicarious thrill, for me, of her simmering aggression on the ice. A novice skater and brand-spanking new to hockey, Kathy is no Cammi Granato.

At the second meeting of Kathy's beginning hockey class, I sat and watched with a pit in my stomach as she slowly made her way across the ice for each drill and, during the scrimmage at the end, as she gingerly picked her way among the eight hulking men there with her. I imagined myself in skates, with everyone waiting for me to finish my part of the drill, and I thought, 'I'd be crying by now.' Kathy, however, when it was over, was triumphant. 'I was so much better this time than last!' she told me, then hollered out cheerfully to the crew-cut Marine-type instructor, who was passing by, 'Hey, Jim! My goal is to suck less each week!' 'You're doing great,' he assured her. Sweaty and tired, Kathy was happy as a clam. And that is why I find myself once more loving a woman in uniform: Kathy may not be Olympic material yet, but she is amazingly brave, the only woman in a sea of men, tackling a wholly alien sport.

Not only that, if gerontologists are correct, by learning something completely new she is opening up new pathways in her brain that will help her better cope with Alzheimers should she get it later in life. Me? The only new things I might be found tackling right now are tying my shoes in a different way, sampling a new flavor of ice cream, or wearing a lacy bra for the first time. It behooves me, therefore, to stay on her good side so that I have someone to remind me where I live and that I like mashed potatoes if I should someday forget. And Kathy—already possessing a better memory than my own unreliable one—has told me, like something out of a Tammy Wynette song, 'I'll be your gingko-biloba.'

E-mail at yz@press.uchicago.edu .


This article shared 1981 times since Wed Jan 22, 2003
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