Sadly, the last day on this trip!
The night before, having checked into the same motel as the past visits (with a different clerk this time) I found I had been involuntarily "upgraded." A larger room, which was nice, but now I had to shuffle everything upstairs - using an elevator - my previous rooms had both been on the ground floor. And this time the clerk didn't use any feminine forms of address...completely neutral. Oh, well...she must have seen the "M" on my ID... But at this point, who cares?
The next morning, I wore the following outfit:
It was chosen because the blouse was part of my everyday wardrobe (not requiring a change to go home in), and the elastic waist on the skirt meant it was easy to remove when I change into shorts out in someone's cornfield! (Yes, the corn is high enough for that now!) After shuffling all my stuff back down the elevator and into my car, I checked out. The day clerk was much more friendly, and didn't hesitate to address me as a woman.
With that fresh in my memory, it was time to shed the one female cue I wore the entire trip, the one which needed professional help to remove...pretty red paint (and flowers) on my nails. (Good thing I'd planned to get professional help...the little jewels she put in the flowers didn't come off with regular polish remover!) I'd become so used to red nails, that the color seemed to be a part of me. And even now, much later, I look longingly for the red every time I see my hands...or feet.
Some things I learned (or had reinforced) on this trip...
1. Generally, the public takes you at face value...give them enough cues, and they accept you as a woman.
2. If you have met some folks and are sitting around talking with them, once they accept you as a woman, they typically don't change their mind.
3. Voice can be a big problem, however in my experience this trip, it wasn't a major factor. I can maintain a less-masculine voice for a few exchanges of words, but after that, it cracks and anything goes. I did have that issue several times, but a cough and apology about my voice due to a cold, took care of it... And the women promptly overlooked it.
4. Nail polish (most particularly with nail art) helps a lot...both as a supremely feminine cue, and a conversation piece, particularly with women wearing naked nails.
5. I have two pairs of dangly clip-on earrings, and I alternated wearing them all day, every day. Though the first couple days they made my ear lobes sore, by the end of my vacation I could wear them all day, every day, without even thinking about them. Now that I'm not wearing them any more, there are red spots on my ear lobes. My long hair covers them while they're clearing up, so nobody is any the wiser. Mom has reached 93 without pierced ears...so I guess I'm destined for the same thing. (Now I just hope I can wear them often enough so that the pain stays away).
6. If there were any men around, I frequently didn't have to open doors for myself. They typically held them for me. I was almost always given the "Ladies First" privilege. And if there were no seats on a commuter/coach train, with a few notable exceptions it was nice when one of the men gave their seat to me.
7. I generally didn't have to hoist my bags on to, or off of, the train where there were only low platforms. If conductors didn't help, many times civilian men rushed in to do it for me. Yay!!!! Chivalry is not quite dead yet... And I'm no longer the one who has to be chivalrous!
8. On the commuter train home, at rush hour, a young (twentysomething) girl noticed me as I walked aboard, towing my two suitcases. She moved her smaller bags to the luggage rack so I had a place for mine. And another girl actually "beat men to the punch" and gave up her seat for me...I guess doing an old woman a favor? Being an "elderly" woman has at least one advantage!
9. The nail salon I used did a fine job, and at some point I'll use them again!
10. Now I'm looking for a new dress...to give me a choice between denim and (?) when I want to wear a dress.
Yes, I'm truly loving traveling "pretty." (Kim, if you somehow, someday read this, realize that your "flying pretty" has been one of my big inspirations!)
Till next time...