Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"It" happened. And, "I'd rather be wearing a skirt!"

Recently, we received a letter from one of our "hotel card" accounts that our points (enough for one free room night) would expire during November.  So we took a mid-week jaunt to Delaware to use the room, before we lose it.  Why give them back a "free night?"

First stop was Lewes.  There is so much history we didn't know about this area.

In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed into the Delaware Bay in search for a Northwest Passage to China. His voyages contributed to the establishment of European colonies in North America. One of these, called New Netherland, was established by the Dutch. New Netherland included present day New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. The Delaware River, known as the South River in the seventeenth century, formed the southern boundary of New Netherland.

The area was permanently settled by the Dutch in 1658 when they set up a new trading post called Sekonnessinck. Another colony was established by a group of Mennonites under Peter Cornelis Plockhoy in 1663. The Plockhoy Colony was destroyed by the English a year later.  The Dutch reclaimed the area in 1673, but just six months later surrendered it back to the English for good. The territory which is now Delaware was conveyed to William Penn in 1682. including the town named Zwaanendael or Swaanendael. It was built in 1631. The name is archaic Dutch for "swan valley." The site of the settlement later became the town of Lewes, Delaware, named such by William Penn, in honor of a town by that name in Sussex County, England.

Zwaanendael History Museum, in Lewes, built in 1931 in a style reminiscent of Dutch architecture.

Second stop was at Fenwick Island, Delaware, the barrier island on which Rehoboth and Bethany Beach are located.  The island protects the mainland coast from storms, and contains the Fenwick Island light with its two "keepers' houses," one for the keeper and one for the assistant.  (Both are now private residences.)   The light is 87 feet tall, brick, with a central cast iron spiral staircase, equipped with a third-order Fresnel lens, and was built on what was then a field, the highest point on the island.  It was automated in 1940, decommissioned in 1978 after much area growth (putting it in a residential area), and dark for several years.

A public movement to save the lighthouse resulted in ownership of the lighthouse being transferred to the State of Delaware, and the lighthouse was relit in 1982. In 1997,  the rapidly aging lighthouse underwent a full restoration and was rededicated in July 1998.

Fenwick Island Light

From there, we went to our hotel, checked in, and started our shopping expedition at some of the outlet stores within walking distance.  While we were shopping, the better half knew I was searching for a new pair of ballerina flats, since our vacation chewed up one pair pretty badly.  She handled it well, at least initially.

Our delicious dinner was at an Outback steak house, where the staff addressed us as "ladies" throughout our meal.  This netted the female server a nice tip.  When we finished up, we returned to the shopping routine.  Every place we shopped, including women's shoe stores, I was addressed as a female.

The better half commented to me that she wished her husband wasn't buying womens' shoes.  This backpedaling began right after she came into the Naturalizer store looking for me, and I was walking around in a pair of really cute Mary Jane flats.   The sales woman was treating me just like "one of the girls," bringing me other shoes to try on.  The better half stayed there with me, like a girlfriend would, but I suspect it was to try to hurry me up, not out of encouragement for her "girlfriend."  At least she didn't play the "husband" card.  She probably figured doing that would have embarrassed herself - and the clerk - much more than me!  (And if she was having trouble with my wearing Mary Janes,  it certainly doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling about her eventually seeing me fully dressed, say in a skirt, top, and heels.  But that's a concern for another day...the present was too much fun!)

I really, REALLY wanted to buy some shoes from that sales woman, because she worked hard on my behalf, but I can't justify paying big dollars for something that's not right...none fit well enough to take home.  That size 12 curse was with me - again.  And as it turned out, the better half ended up being the successful shopper that day.

Next day's trip home was quite uneventful, after being addressed as "ladies" by the hotel staff at breakfast and check out...but no comment from the better half.

Just a few days later, Mandy was out and about again, alone for a couple days "across the bridge" in Baltimore, running errands en-femme the first day, with a rail yard tour the second.  I applied my makeup at home (minus blusher and eye shadow...) as I now do with some regularity.  Once I drove away through the cornfields, I slipped into a skirt and out of my stirrup pants right there in the car, and put on Mary Jane heels, earrings, engagement ring and lipstick.  I recall thinking to myself, "Wow, that feels more natural!"

My first two stops were a couple of stores.   At the membership-only big box place, I was to be added to the better half's membership, so in the future, I can shop there alone - I end up soloing across the bridge several times a year.  It took me a while to convince the store to actually do it (not sure what their problem was), but since I had an invitation form from the chain, and had brought the better half's card along, finally they signed me up, and addressed me as female. The pic they put on my card appropriately appears to be that of a female.

Second store visit was a normal store visit for a lady...the pharmacy.  No issues whatsoever.   I followed that up with lunch at Subway, where I felt confident enough to use the ladies' room.  It would have looked and felt funny to use the men's room while wearing a skirt.  And it didn't stir up any reaction from the kids eating nearby, which was a pleasant surprise.

Then it was off to the Baltimore Museum of Industry, a wonderful representation of industry in Baltimore, from just before the industrial revolution to the present.  Because it's located on the waterfront, skyline views from their docks are commanding - as you can see from my pic below.

As I was preparing to leave the museum, I decided I'd better use the restroom.  Judging from the number of men making that same decision (a private party was gathering at the venue, and guys were all "going" before it started), I felt it would be less disruptive for everyone, if I simply used the women's room.  No need to risk arguments with guys about using the "wrong restroom."

Good choice...the women's room was empty when I went in.  Right after I locked my stall door, two women came in, and occupied stalls further down the row.  As I sat there, I thought to myself "Welcome to the ways of a woman!"  Taking my time, I progressed slowly (there were several layers of clothes over and under my skirt). The girls finished up, washed their hands and left, while I was still adjusting my layers in the stall.  It was my first day ever, to use only women's rooms, hopefully the first of many such days!  But I cheerfully admit to breathing a silent sigh of relief when I exited without issues - alarm bells didn't ring, security didn't haul me away, the police didn't chase me, nor did the world stop turning.

Mandy on the waterfront at Baltimore's Museum of Industry

The soda fountain display at BMI.

From the front yard of the museum...

After finishing up, I drove around the corner and down the street a mile or so, to Fort McHenry.  The winter sun angle (quite low in the sky), cast a very photogenic light on the Fort.  Unfortunately the wind was so strong that it made my little tripod unstable, precluding selfies, and it pushed my skirt between my legs, so my skirt looked like rather "strange-looking shorts."  I took a couple pix just to make sure, but none were usable...darn.

The girl in the walkway is not me.  But she was attractive - I can only hope that someday, I'll look that nice!

Hand-held Fort pics were all well and good, but shadows were getting long, and the temperature was now falling as sunset approached.  My legs were fine because of my tights, but my jacket was too thin, and I was getting chilly.  So I hiked back to the car and set off for the motel...where I freshened up my makeup, and headed for dinner. 

With a bunch of events in the Baltimore and Annapolis areas at that time, there were lines at just about every decent restaurant (and I was not in the mood for belly-blaster-burgers.)  The recession is definitely over - people are out spending money!  So I headed for a little place I knew about from the good old days, a hole-in-the-wall in a shopping mall.

And this is when "It" occurred.  I knew "It" was bound to happen some day, but truly never dreamed "some day" would be "today!"   The hostess seated me quickly, and I was busy concentrating on my dinner choices from the menu.  And, guess who walked by my booth?  That's right, none other than our current next-door neighbor!  He (or maybe it was his wife, who was still back at their table) recognized me, and he spoke my name as he passed.  What a total surprise (maybe shock is a more appropriate word - remember, this was some 60+ miles from our current home!)  Not exactly where you would expect to run into a neighbor, who just 3 weeks before, had been laid up in the hospital for surgery. And by now it was well after dark, meaning they still had a long drive home...

Fortunately, the restaurant was dimly lit,  and as he paused to talk, neither my skirt nor earrings were plainly visible - particularly to an unobservant male.  My head was turned, so the nearest earring was hidden under my hair.  He couldn't see the other side of my face since I was seated in a booth, rather than at a table and my bracelet was hidden under the sleeve of my sweater.  My nails and necklace were visible, of course, but that's nothing new.  My black-tights-clad legs and heels were safely tucked under the dim light. 

As we finished talking and he continued toward the men's room, I looked in the direction from which he came.  His wife and I exchanged smiles and waves - all in a very normal manner.  Turns out that from where they were seated, he and/or his wife "could" have seen my top half as I walked in (if they were looking),  and if she was looking as the hostess seated me, his wife "could" have seen my skirt, tights and Mary Jane heels.  But once I was in the booth, my back was toward them. 

OK, now for the question.  Was "It" an unmitigated disaster?

While certainly not a desirable event, only time will tell if it becomes a major issue.  At this point, more than three days out, I think "not so much."  If those same neighbors are near their windows, they can see into our house.  We sit in front of a large window for our meals, and frequently the blinds are open.  I'm almost always wearing a comfortable house dress or jumper - the American version, not the English.)  The better half has been tolerant of those for many years, and remains so.
Several times, that neighbor and I have chatted in the back yard,  he on his deck in a "preppy" men's outfit and boat shoes,  and me in the grass below, barefooted (with silver toe nails if he noticed),  in a short pink sun dress over white capris.  Certainly not "preppy," but very cool, comfortable and feminine.  I've been wearing that outfit a few times, over the better half's objection, on hot afternoons when I either ended up on our own deck, or outside watering the lawn and adjusting the lawn sprinkler.

In contrast, the neighbors have never seen me in anything more masculine than capri or stirrup pants and ballerina flats, including to community social events.  Today's skirt outfit is/was only a small step beyond what they've already seen.  So, there's no real surprise factor.

Caller ID has proved that so far, my better half has received no phone calls from inquisitive neighbors...and weather is no longer conducive to outdoor sidewalk gabfests.   Since the Medevac helicopter hauled someone from a few doors down the street to the hospital yesterday morning, there's obviously something much more vital to discuss, beyond "me in a skirt and heels!"  As I see it, my outfit might stir a short burst of gossip, but that should be the worst of it.

Of course, my amateur analysis is not guaranteed...I could always be wrong. 

Bright side is: things could have been even worse.  No, I mean LOTS worse.  The hostess "could" have seated me at a table right next to my neighbors, who were in what was the evening's open section.  But fortunately, I asked for a booth, and they honored that request, in spite of the booth section being closed.  I think you'll agree, putting me at a table WOULD have been an unmitigated disaster!  Can you imagine the three of us having to carry on generic, non-descript conversation, without questions being asked?  My complete feminine outfit and appearance would have been plainly visible to them, thus "the elephant in the room."  If such an issue was destined to occur that day, I was certainly blessed that it happened exactly the way it did.

Though I don't plan to curtail my dressing on the "other side of the bridge," you can be sure there's one mall, and one restaurant, that I won't return to en-femme in the future! (They shared that both are their favorites and they come often.)   Never fear...there are lots of other places to shop - Baltimore is a big city!

The following day dawned sunny, a beautiful day for a railroad shop and yard tour.  I went back into androgynous mode, since I was around people from the sponsoring group, whom I know.  And had a wonderful time!  See picture below, in hard hat, work boots and safety glasses - ugh.  Though I'm not sure what my old motto is, perhaps my new one should be:   "I'd rather be wearing a skirt!"

Mandy dressed for a rail yard tour...

On the way home, I stopped at another mall, to look for some ballerina flats at nearby stores.  But the mall was so incredibly crowded that I couldn't get face-time with sales associates...too many women were ahead of me!   The girls were fine with me standing there elbow-to-elbow with them, looking at shoes...they all just wanted to be the one who got that cute pair first!  Little did they realize, that I was not their competition...size 12's which actually fit well,  are hard to come by.)

One thing I noticed as I walked the length of the mall, with mostly female shoppers out that day:  every peddler (predominantly male) in every kiosk was out there "in our faces."  "Ma'am, here is a free sample..." or "Ma'am, let me show you this..." directed at every woman who walked by.  Including yours truly.  But this lassie has learned to say "No thank you" and keep going.  Little did they realize that when they said "Have a nice day" to me after my "No thank you," that I truly WAS having a nice day!

These trips served as my "grand fully-femme-finale" for's unlikely that I'll be dressing completely for several months.  So Mandy retreats into her suitcase...and will be out only in androgynous mode, perhaps with makeup, earrings, engagement ring and lipstick.

But I'm sure I'll find something to blog about...

PS: yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, the neighborhood gossip walked by when I was outside, and we talked briefly.  There was no hint of anything about the restaurant incident. That's a really good sign!


  1. This was a monumentally good post. It should have been 3-4 separate posts. Ilike your out and about adventures as you teeter between femme mode and andro mode.

    I can enjoy and appreciate the ongoing interplay between you and your wife. At this point in my life I think that my wife is becoming imune to my wearing pantyhose at all times and sleeping in a nightgown and the fact that if we are home alone I may opt to go the full nine yards with wig, dress, makeup and heels. She also knows that I would want to get out but does not know that I have been out many times while dressed that she is not aware of. Like your better half her tolerance level tends to ebb and flow.

    That was more than an interesting meeting you had with your neighbors. Odd that you would think that being over an hour away you would not run into people you know. My sense of things is that they see you often enough with your hair and nails, stirrups, pantyhose and purse to have simply come to expect that you are somewhat gender fluid. As such it is not a big deal for them if they did notice the makeup, , jewelry, hose, skirt and heels. They know you as you...a good neighbor. You are friendly and they have come to simply accept you regardless of the extent of your femme expression.

    I think that at the end of the day the "it" event will be more of a positive than a negative.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

    I never really thought about splitting the long post up...but youj’re right, it could have been done that way. I split the vacation post because each section was a natural break, unto itself. But in the future, I'll try splitting!

    I did more shoe shopping today - in the town where Mom's nursing home is located. One of the stores was a strike-out. The other store produced a pair that may work - a name brand at a good price! I'll be ordering a couple other pairs on their website, and keep the one pair out of three that works best. BTW, the better half thought they look very nice. Another interplay, another mood swing.... This experiment sounds like it might be fodder for an upcoming post...

    Yes, the "it' meeting was good, in a way. As I mentioned, I really knew it was bound to happen, and in reality, it's likely to happen again someday. Odds are - later rather than sooner, but one never knows. And if they noticed my femme attire, it may well be a positive for the future, making it less of a neighbor issue. Gossip-mongering may be on hold here for a while, though...a Medevac flight hauled another nearby resident out today. Having a cross-dresser for a neighbor will most likely be fairly low on the gossip agenda!

    Sounds like your wife is reacting OK with your private dressing. That's encouraging. I've made it this far, by "pushing the envelope" and letting her toleration expand as needed. Hopefully it will work for you as well!

    But in the meanwhile, till things open up a bit more on this end, "Mandy has suitcase, and will travel!)


  3. I often think that the slowness of my coming out is a record in CD history. I am 61 and have been slowing emerging for 50 years. I see pressing the envelope with my wife as the natural progression of things. She has accepted that my dressing is part of who I am...perhaps the better part of who I am.
    Good luck with the shoes and it surely seems that your wife has learned that tolerance is the best approach.

    1. I've been at this for a while, too, just not as long as you. That's a "whole 'nother story" though!

      Without "pushing the envelope" a bit over the past 20-plus years, I know I wouldn't be this far along. Thankfully the better half has generally been somewhat adaptable, though her recent medical issues have seriously slowed that progress.

      The fact that I wear women's clothes from head to toe every day (except not dresses or skirts in public), and that she now tolerates us being mistaken for two women when we are out and about, is wonderful, and a major accomplishment.

      At some point, I hope that the "final frontier" can be crossed. However, I'm not willing to "risk it all" in order to bet on gaining that acceptance. And even if it doesn't happen, Mandy will still find time to be herself on occasion.

      Thanks, I need all the luck I can get with the size 12 issue! But it eventually will work out. I'll post what happens once the shoes arrive, and maybe a picture or two.

      Good luck to you - with the wife's continuing to accept that dressing is a part of your very "being." Hopefully, she will become more and more tolerant of you being "the whole you," as time goes on.

      If I can find a rail event in Philly that can be reached by Amtrak next year, maybe we can finally meet!




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