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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Heart of the Wolf

posted by on December 5 at 13:19 PM

He walked onto the bus (number 4, heading up to the CD from Downtown), sat on the seats across from mine, and began knitting. He was about 25, white, tall, dressed in black, with short black hair, and boots on his feet. His knitting needles were long, fat, and slowly materializing a thick something that shall (or shall fail to—more likely the latter) keep some member of the body warm. Because he recently learned how to knit, every part of his being—his mind, his eyes, his hands, his fingers—was lost in the process itself. He was nowhere else but in the knitting.

Now, what is the meaning of this? Why is the young man engaged in a painfully boring practice that is distinctly coded as a practice for painfully bored housewives and old women? What is he really after? Surely, he is not enjoying the knitting itself; the pleasure or the satisfaction must be derived from other areas in the realm of our culture.

I have two conjectures: One, this is a form of cultural colonialism. The young man, who is in a specific position in this society, is appropriating a practice or custom that is naturally a part of a lower position in the social order. We can all agree that no poor man (or woman, for that matter) would ever take knitting up as a hobby; he/she would only do it for money, for survival, for clothes they actually need. For the poor, knitting has a use value; for a man in his position, it has a value that is even more rarefied than that of a collector. The collector, in the primary sense, collects objects, whereas the man who knits for the sake of knitting is collecting work—the labor that makes objects. But even more than class appropriation, there is a gender one as well. As if all the things men can do in this society were not enough, there is now the domain of women to conquer and absorb.

The other conjecture: This is a clever bird trap. The bird the young man has in mind would, upon seeing him knitting (the trap), think that he is already domesticated, nothing left of him to tame, to break, to beat, to nag into submission. He is a young man I can bring home and bake cakes with, grow flowers with, make the bed with, wash dishes with, shop with, cry with, and watch my pregnancy with. But this man is not your future man; he is a man with a needling trap for catching what Lauren Hill calls “that thing.” His heart is my heart—and my heart is the heart of the other knowing men on that bus. We know what he is up to. The young man is nothing more than a wolf dressed up in granny practices.

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Or, maybe he's trying to save money and/or be creative with his Christmas presents.

I think sometimes you read too much into these sorts of things Charles.

Posted by Colin | December 5, 2006 1:37 PM

Knitting used to be a cross-gender hobby, go back to first half of the 20th century, before the polariztion of the sexes and gender-branding and marketing.

You're revealing your programming, Charles.

Posted by Soupytwist | December 5, 2006 1:41 PM

He's knitting because knitting is trendy.

Posted by Fnarf | December 5, 2006 1:44 PM

He's definitely trying to get laid.

Posted by Redshirt | December 5, 2006 1:44 PM

Nope, definitely trying to get laid or else (inadvertently or otherwise) mock those unfortunate members of the lower class who are still forced to knit their own crude clothing with red and blistered fingers; there's no other possible explanation. Why can't you people see through the veil (lace-weight, of course) that this devious mastermind has cast over your eyes?

Posted by Ursula | December 5, 2006 1:47 PM

Thats just let the dudes that pretend to be feminists.

Posted by SeMe | December 5, 2006 1:51 PM

Ooops. That should read, That is just like the dudes that pretend to be feminists.

Posted by SeMe | December 5, 2006 1:53 PM

I have an alternate theory!

I believe the young man is a Situationist. His aim with the knitting is to create conditions that bait expatriate African intellectuals into regurgitating offensive sexist tropes!

And our young Situationist has netted a fine stereotype indeed; he now has, in print, a rewarmed vision of entirely sexless female desire, of womanly wants that are wholly negative in their impact on the masculine!

Behold this creature, dragged still and fetid from the ancient sexist mire, reanimated with crude intent, sent out to do the bidding of the great philosopher! Thrill as she attempts "to tame, to break, to beat, to nag into submission" all that is Male and Free! Behold the stifling scope of her zombie desire, to sink her decayed talons into one to "bake cakes with, grow flowers with, make the bed with, wash dishes with, shop with, cry with, and watch my pregnancy with"!

Bravo, knitting man! Well played! Well played indeed!

Posted by robotslave | December 5, 2006 2:04 PM

Mastering new skills makes you a better person, Charles. It builds character. Sitting around commenting on the gender rolls of complete strangers... not so much.

Posted by gfish | December 5, 2006 2:13 PM

Maybe it was his form of meditation. Concentrating the front of the mind with a mundane task so the rest of the mind can find peace.

Posted by monkey | December 5, 2006 2:18 PM

Third conjecture: He's a flaming homo. Knitting is the new drag.

Posted by SDA in SEA | December 5, 2006 2:19 PM

The litmus test to prove Charles' 'bird trap' theory would be to discover if this chap had spent his early 20's lingering for hours on end at his favorite cafe, writing endlessly in his notebook and eventually bringing in his favorite mix CD's for the erstwhile cute-as-christ barista to play in-store.

Those were the days.

If this were indeed the case, there's yet a more ominous factor here. There's no bird, no bullseye, in sight. This would, disturbingly, make him *more* dangerous to us other guys now. His skills have evolved beyond ours and we suspect him for his unexplainable advantage.


Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | December 5, 2006 2:52 PM

Good one, Charles. Not quite as inflamatory as some of your baited traps, but pretty good. You almost got me for a second, since I've knittied for years, but you blew it in the last paragraph when it became so obviously more about you than anything else. As always, my best wishes, and a hope that you'll eventually feel a bit less hungover.

Posted by Mark Mitchell | December 5, 2006 2:54 PM

Definitely an overt act of gayness. Nothing straight about these actions. The 'granny glasses' metaphor stays, however for a different target.

Posted by Takes One to See One | December 5, 2006 2:59 PM

Assuming you use quality materials, knitting your own clothes is much more expensive than buying cheap crap at WalMart. Hand-made, quality products are the new status symbols.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 5, 2006 3:15 PM

The 4 bus is the new Joanne Fabrics.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | December 5, 2006 3:27 PM

Can knitting not be knitting for knitting's sake? Some people meditate - perhaps this young man knits. Knitting is a mind-clearing exercise in repetitive motion that, unlike meditation, actually has a useful physical end-product.

Or perhaps Sir Editor Mr. Savage needs to find something for Charles to do to occupy his clearly wandering mind.

Posted by switzerblog | December 5, 2006 3:28 PM

Your ignorance is showing. As a male knitter, I can tell you that our numbers are growing. Again. (Before World War II, knitting was almost exclusively a male hobby. During medieval times, women were prohibited from practicing the hobby and were permitted only to spin the yarn used by the men.)

Posted by GrammarCop | December 5, 2006 4:14 PM

Your ignorance is showing. As a male knitter, I can tell you that our numbers are growing. Again. (Before World War II, knitting was almost exclusively a male hobby. During medieval times, women were prohibited from practicing the hobby and were permitted only to spin the yarn used by the men.)

Posted by GrammarCop | December 5, 2006 4:14 PM

I guess my wife is painfully bored. But knitting isn't as painfully boring as sitting there on a bus, like a dupe, staring at somebody knitting and wondering why they are knitting instead of staring.

As a side note, when, if ever, will I stop getting this message every other time I try to open the comments section?
Got an error: Bad ObjectDriver config: Connection error: Too many connections

Posted by him | December 5, 2006 4:20 PM

I have a friend around the same age who started knitting about a year ago. He's also fidgets a lot with his hands. When we're at a restaurant, he's always moving the silverware or salt and pepper shakers. I think knitting calms him down and satisfies his urge to fidget so much.

Knitting is also the new yoga.

Posted by Beamer | December 5, 2006 4:24 PM

Charles, have you learned about girls yet? They're not drawn to safe and housebroken.

Your literature groupies from SCCC aren't the norm.

What happens is you look kinda cute, you make them pay for everything all the time, you never call them back and occassionally fix their car. They hate that shit but few can resist.

That dude knitting on the bus is just making the mistake of letting Vice Magazine and The Stranger be his cultural road map and listeng to KEXP podcasts way too zealously. He's a try hard who's fooled himself into thinking he's happy so long as he's occassionally "The first kid on the block to ______". That dude isn't even sure if he wants to get laid.

He definitely wants youi to write about him on The Slog though.

Posted by He Aspires To Make It Into The Dos Column. | December 5, 2006 8:17 PM

Like a young Jedi creating his own light saber, this young man is merely creating his own vagina. A crafter's fleshlight if you will. But it is NOT a metaphysical penis pump.

Posted by Glenn | December 5, 2006 9:02 PM

Knitting is hot. My wife, who is 7 months pregnant, loves to knit in the nude. Every time she misses a stitch, we fuck. I can't watch people knit without getting a boner.

Posted by Ebenezer | December 5, 2006 10:19 PM

It's getting hot in here.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | December 5, 2006 10:41 PM

I hear it´s really soothing.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | December 6, 2006 10:41 AM

Anyone who thinks people knit because they can't afford to buy their own garments has never paid for their own ball of wool, clearly. That shit is expensive.

Posted by Geni | December 6, 2006 1:56 PM

Charles, as someone who's from a place where colonialism and its repercussions have destroyed millions of lives, don't you think equating that with some white kid on the bus appropriating knitting is sort of, umm, offensive to people who might starve to death because of colonialism? Like when people yell "Nazi" when they see anything remotely totalitarian? I think you might be crying wolf.

Posted by blahblahblah | December 7, 2006 10:28 AM

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