Getting in Touch with my Feminine Side

A little while ago, blogstress par excellence Bliss hit the publish button on her Colorblocking a Classic post. In case you missed it and are too lazy to click on the link I provided, it’s about a Couch purse.

I like Bliss’ posts, a lot of which are about girly stuff, like purses, earrings, new shoes, doilies, and avoiding colour clashes. Anyways, I liked this particular post in spite of the fact that it was about a purse and I’m a man with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality* and non-transvestism* (except for that one Hallowe’en over thirty years ago when I dressed as a woman because I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to get into the party without a costume — and I didn’t like wearing the panty hose one little bit!). I found that if I substituted references to the purses with thoughts of cars while reading her post, it turned into a great discussion! I even contributed to the whole thing by redesigning the bag with a “man’s touch”. It was a hit.

The original Willis edition Coach bag on the left and my masculinized Volks Willis edition on the right. I can imagine guys being totally comfortable carrying tire pressure gauges, wrenches, and owner’s manuals in a bag such as this, with some minor modifications, especially if the bag features his car’s badge and is the same colour as his own car. Even “Coach” is a manly vehicular word! I wonder if Bruce Willis would appear in a commercial where bad guys are trying to kill him and he has to reach into his Willis bag to get more ammo.

But a few days later Bliss’ post was still floating around inside my giant, bald, stubbly, fishbowl of a head. I had read the post, found out all I wanted to know about the purse in question, and made someone laugh as a result of my comments. Seems like “mission accomplished”, right?

As I thought about it, I came to a couple of realizations. The first was that the topic of a post doesn’t necessarily dictate the degree of enjoyment or satisfaction it will  bring me, it’s all about the writer’s enthusiasm for the topic and the skill in which he/she brings it all together. It comes down to what I call “The I-Could-Have-Done-That Factor” where the writer creates a piece that is so well crafted that the reader cannot help but be dazzled while being lulled into the illusion that the piece was so easy to write it basically wrote itself. Bliss really pulled it off.

The other thing I realized was that I like a lot of stuff made exclusively for women — I wholeheartedly agree with the comedian Gallagher in that I feel a lot safer on a girl’s bike, for example. I also like women’s perfume… not to wear myself but to get a whiff of it when my wife sprinkles some on. When my wife wears Joy, it means that we’re going out to dinner at a place where I’ll have to tip an amount greater than the cost of the ingredients had I made the very same dinner at home. Chanel No. 5 means that I’ll be spending the evening spiking whatever she’s drinking with headache medicine.

But a lot of the stuff made for women have analogues sold with men in mind, the main difference is that men’s stuff is marketed as utilitarian and women’s stuff is sold as fashion.

Let’s take bags, for example. Many women have extensive purse collections, the appeal of which often escapes their husbands. But looking at my wife-authored list of things for me to do, I see an entry mandating that I clean up my office. My office is the closest thing I have to a man cave in our tiny home where my computer, two printers, scanner, paper stock, and camera equipment live. My wife’s sewing machine is also in here just to keep me honest. But looking over my shoulder, I can see that I own no less than ten purpose-built bags! So in homage (or, in this case, “femmage”) to Bliss I present you with photos of some of my masculine girlie stuff.


Being a married man, I haven’t personally bought clothes for myself since I said “I do”. My wife keeps bringing home bags of shirts, pants, sweaters, and jackets, shows them to me, and then stores them in giant Tupperware boxes where I cannot find them. Since these new clothes were bought out-of-season (when all the best bargains are to be had), shown to me once fresh out of the shopping bag and then stored away, I soon forget about them so I never end up wearing them. Another problem is that I’m middle aged and I don’t wear out clothes nearly as fast as I used to so I end up wearing a very limited repertoire of “outfits” in a fairly short rotation for years at a stretch.

I find perplexing the fact that my clothes last forever because I’ve gained 40+ lbs. since the nuptials and that extra tonnage should be stretching and exerting more force on the fabric, right? I don’t get to go out and play with my friends nearly as often as when I was single but I figure that at the very least the seats of the pants should be wearing out pretty quick considering the amount of time I spend sitting around watching TV, eating sit-down dinners, driving to shopping centres, etc.

At any rate, I’ll not be including photos of my clothes in this post. Worry not, this will not be a “nudie post”… I will remain fully clothed. It’s just that female readers would probably be sickened by the clothes I would choose to present in this show-and-tell post and my guy readers probably couldn’t care less.


I apologize if putting hats in their own category was the wrong thing to do — I didn’t know what genus to put them under according to the Standard Girly Stuff Phylogeny. If they should have been put under either the Clothing or the Accessories category, please excuse me.

Hats serve one of two functions for me… either keeping my head warm or protecting my defoliated scalp from the searing rays of the sun (or clouds).

Warning! The following photos were taken while I was seriously sleep deprived and so I look like a partially deflated Uncle Fester (from the original Addams Family TV series). The fact that the only full-length mirror in the house is tinted and in a really dark tiny corner in between the stairs and the closet near the front door limited my ability to exercise any creativity in the production of these images. In real life I’m much more delectable. Things were not helped by the fact that, apparently, an electronic flash brings out the streaks left after a feeble attempt to clean the mirror, something I hadn’t realized before putting all my junk away and uploading the images to my computer. Kudos for your clean mirror, Bliss!

My trusty toque which keeps my brain from freezing on frosty days.

My summer hat. I don’t know what this type is called in English but I know it by its Vietnamese name, “nón tai bèo”. It protects my scalp from becoming as red as my Canadiens t-shirt on sunny days.


As I mentioned earlier, bags are chosen by men according to what they are meant to carry, as opposed to women who choose their bags in a chameleon-like way so the bag will visually match its surroundings.

My fashionable American bag, a Lowepro Stealth Reporter D550 AW. It’s large enough to carry my camera, five lenses, a teleconverter, extension tubes, filters, a flash unit, a GPS, and accessories. It’s basic black and goes with everything!

My Nikon camera bag. It used to be my standard carry-all but now I use for complicated shoots to transport extra stuff, like extra flash units and/or a focusing rail, that won’t fit into the Lowepro. You cannot tell from this picture but it is a forest green, chosen and gifted to me by my wife’s nieces who thought its colour would bring out the tarnish green hue of my eyes.

Italian fashion by Manfrotto… the bag I carry my usual tripod in. The tripod’s also a Manfrotto.

My umbrella bag by the Japanese fashion gurus at Nikon.

The umbrella itself. The “haute capture” snobs turn up their noses at this particular model but I set up controlled lighting very rarely and I got an incredible deal on this one.


Apart from my wedding band, which I lovingly refer to as “The Ring of Obedience”, I don’t have any jewelry per se. I don’t have any piercings (I generated quite enough bodily punctures and scar tissue in my youth as an indirect consequence of doing normal life-threatening guy things) so I don’t have a little box to store extra earrings or tongue bolts. The only things I have that even comes close to jewelry are my watches and one tie clip.

My tie clip doesn’t get out much but is an elegant addition to my triple-digit-dinner-bill clothing ensemble.

My reserved-for-fancy-occasions Bulova, which gets out about as often as my tie clip.

The rest of my watches. Starting in the upper-left corner and going left to right… #1: My workweek Casio Data Memory 350 (lots of cool functions like programmable favourite world time zones and gobs of memory for phone numbers and alarms). #2: Same watch as #1 but with the second display function displayed. #3: Casio Data Bank 150. #4: An under $20 chunky bracelet that doesn’t look like a watch until you press the button to display the time. #5: An under $10 watch that looks like a watch and has retro LED display. #6: My new weekend watch with no buttons! It has a touch screen that when touched causes the little LEDs to flash like crazy and finally settle on the current time. Shown in the photo is 9:35.

Except for my Bulova, which was a wedding gift from Mrs. HoaiPhai, all my watches were inexpensive. I once told my brother that I like my watches to be like the women I dated before I met my wife… cheap, flashy, and unreliable. This, of course, was just a joke. But I do like inexpensive and even cheap watches, as long as they are gimmicky and gadgety. They either have to have a lot of cool features or display the time in some unusual way. I’m not hard to please.

So ends the journey through my manly girly stuff. Do you have any favourite “fashion accessories”?

Any leads on cool but really cheap under-twenty-dollar watches would be greatly appreciated!

* Not that there’s anything wrong with homosexuality or transvestism.

About HoaiPhai

I'm up late digging up the dirt. View all posts by HoaiPhai

11 responses to “Getting in Touch with my Feminine Side

  • mtlawleyshire

    I’d have pressed like but a pop-up for sharing won’t go away. That was very funny, your post 🙂

    • HoaiPhai

      Glad it made you smile! Strange about the Like button… WP seems to be having a few problems with blogs’ interactivity.

      • mtlawleyshire

        yeah – like endless bloody emails on other people’s comments! GAH! I’m remembering to untick the apparently permantely ticked box under everyone’s comment boxes.

      • HoaiPhai

        I have an e-mail account dedicated solely to WordPress correspondence. every once in a while I wander in, sort everything by subject, and delete away!

      • mtlawleyshire

        I’m deleting the comments without reading – most don’t apply to me & the ones that do I expect turn up here. I hope (worried frown).

  • xeriouslywtf

    It’s cool that you’re keeping digital watches in vogue.. you underestimate your sense of style.

    • HoaiPhai

      Digital watches will never die, especially the cheap ones, as long as eBay and I are still eating up bandwidth. I’d love to get one of those original Pulsar digitals from the ’70s but the ones I’ve seen cost considerably more than the $20 cap I place on additions to “The Collection”.

  • Stepping My Way to Bliss

    Wow. “Blogstress par excellence?” and the “writer creates a piece that is so well crafted that the reader cannot help but be dazzled while being lulled into the illusion that the piece was so easy to write it basically wrote itself. Bliss really pulled it off” bit……GOODNESS. Praise indeed and I thank you. All because I wrote about a purse…which is surely up there with writing about world peace, the travesties happening in Syria/Sudan/Iran etc. or how to fix the USA’s debt crisis.

    I first read this yesterday, while lying in bed with a massive headache…laughing was really not the medicine I was needing but laugh I did…until tears were streaming. This was hilarious because it is so satirical. I think nothing of seeing a bunch of women posting pictures of themselves for Visible Monday but to see a man do the same thing…extremely funny (and almost disturbing 😉 ). I am pleased to see someone very comfortable with his feminine side but I do have a few tips:

    1. Successful “mirror image taking” is best without a flash…but if you are handicapped by dark spaces in your home, then maybe going to a local department store is the ticket. Just hole up in one of the dressing rooms and have the ultimate modeling session. Use one with a 3 way mirror for creativity and the “layering” of images.
    2. And yes, always check the mirror for cleanliness (I have been burned on that as well).
    3. You might want to consider future JCPenney Model Poses to really spice things up. Check for classes in your area.
    4. Your array of manly accessories is impressive…but I didn’t notice any scarves. Trop mauvais.

    Again, thank you for the shout out and kind mention/comments. ~~Bliss

    • HoaiPhai

      People put way too much importance on the reporting of the big issues like the ones you mentioned. While tragic and we all need to know about them so we can do whatever we can as individuals to pressure our elected officials to remedy the situation, it’s the small issues, like purses, break-up letters, recipes, family anecdotes, and the like that really touch individuals.

      My very first post following “Hello World” almost a year ago was about how regulating prostitution is a bad idea and something I feel strongly about. In that post I exploded several myths about the benefits of liberalized prostitution laws. (Prostitution is legal in Canada but almost every activity surrounding it is illegal, like quoting a price. A year ago a Toronto politician wanted to push for a municipal brothel but it went nowhere. This year the laws were challenged at the provincial level citing constitutional rights and the pro side won so soon we’ll see a liberalization of prostitution here.)

      Do you know how many comments and hits that “important” post got? 35 hits (and many of them me visiting just to see how my new blog looked to visitors) and 0 [zero] comments over the past year, total. My #1 and #2 posts in terms of hits are about lenses… one lens hasn’t been available for seven years, is immensely difficult to use, cannot be used for “everyday shots”, and a lot of people hate the kind of images it produces. The other lens is still being made and is basically the same design as the original version made in 1959. People don’t buy it because it’s completely manual, tricky to use for what it excels at, and is fairly expensive for a manual non-zoom lens with no bells nor whistles. Why are these posts popular? They touch peoples’ imaginations and are about specific models of common stuff people want to have (or appeals to people’s desire to read about fools who actually buy and use this kind of stuff). That’s why your posts are appealing — they talk about common articles in a way that sounds like a discussion over coffee.

      Visible Monday? I guess I have a lot to learn about getting in touch with my feminine side… I didn’t know about that. Maybe I should add that tag and see where it takes me! Thanks, also, for your four tips which I would like to respond to individually…

      1. I originally thought that setting the camera on a tripod would have been better… I was right! But I wanted to remain true to the self-modelled fashion post format. I’ve learned a lot, like “don’t use a thick-glass tinted mirror in a dark corner”, “no flash or lots of Windex and a couple of test shots” and “get more than four hours sleep out of the last forty or the camera will add twenty years to your looks”. It would be fun to try Mirror Fashion Photography in a store but I have a feeling that I’d be tossed out as soon as I set up the umbrella reflector. Maybe there’s a post in there somewhere but I think someone else’s pictures of me getting the old heave-ho would be the most interesting part!
      2. Lesson learned! But it might be fun to use dirty mirrors for a Hallowe’en post.
      3. I was ashamed at my lack of innate runway talent. We don’t have any major clothing catalogues around the house and we were at a low point in the K-mart sales flyer distribution cycle. At the very least I should have watched the movie “Brüno” or “Zoolander” again.
      4. I do own scarves but it’s been years since I’ve worn one. The cheaper ones are itchy and the ones made of finer materials stick to my stubble like Velcro. Also, I had one of my parotid glands removed a dozen years ago and have some nerve damage so if I touch certain areas of my neck it feels like I’m touching random areas on the side of my face. A scarf feels like a bunch of spiders playing rugby up near my ear and temple so all my scarves are in giant Tupperware boxes somewhere.

      I’m really glad you liked the post and recognized that there was no mockulatory intent, just some fun and credit where credit is due!

  • The Hook

    Very creative post, my friend!

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