Thursday, April 10, 2014

"My Antique Road Show" Part 2 - Invitation to The Gathering

On to the next stop:  Deal Island.  After leaving Nanticoke, I navigated my way on back roads, to Whitehaven, where a ferry carries cars across the Wicomico River.

On the Whitehaven Ferry...almost to the other side of the river!

Maximum load: 3 cars and a total of 6 passengers.  A fun way to cross the river!  Not at all like the ferry I took to Martha's Vineyard last October!  And a much shorter ride, too - only about 7 minutes.  And then a bit of a drive on to Deal Island.

A while back, I blogged about my visit to Hooper Island.  In many ways, Deal Island looks very similar.  This seems to be the way-of-life around these old fishing towns.   Lots of folks in 4WD's (complete with rifles in gun racks), a few "regular" type cars, and a bunch of boats.  Some very well-kept houses and house trailers, some "not so much," standing water in low-lying areas, a bunch of abandoned homes, businesses, and a derelict church or two. Very friendly people, though.

I finally had to plot a potty happens to everyone eventually!  But remember, I'm in unfamiliar territory, wearing makeup, lipstick, a skirt, tights and flats, and driving a rather ostentatious 47-year-old car with plenty of V-8 rumble - the equal of some 4WD's I've heard.  There were eyes on the car as I passed the town dock heading east, en route to the end of Deal Island Road at Wenona (land's end), where I reversed course and headed back to the dock.  From past experiences, docks tend to have either restrooms or porta pots...and this one proved to be no exception.

However, there was some kind of event already in progress, as other vehicles (both cars and 4WD's)  were arriving, and people were getting out.  There was music playing on a PA system (sounded religious, but couldn't hear it well), and a bunch of tables were set up in the parking lot, as if ready for a feast.  Mother Nature dictated that I had no choice but to stop, regardless of the consequences, because the next nearest place is probably a half hour or more back up the road.

A couple of heavy-bearded, grizzled-looking guys in bib overalls (who appeared to be about 50 years old, but probably were only 35) were sitting at the store across the street, and wandered over as I pulled in.   Using female form of address, they asked the typical questions about the car, which I answered as I got out;  then I excused myself to the restroom.   I must have "passed muster" with them after they looked me over from "nose to toes": one of them said "the door on the right is the ladies' room."  I could almost "feel" their eyes watching my legs, butt and skirt movement as I walked away...have any of you ever gotten that feeling?

Turns out that both restrooms were handicap-accessible (translation: huge) one-holer porta pots, permanently enclosed in buildings, with real doors and real locks, to make them look like real restrooms.  Interesting - I've never seen that before, and today  that type of thing presented itself "twice."

When I came out of the ladies' room, (yes, I'm beginning to like the sound of that), I started back to my car, passing a woman headed to where I just came from. She smiled and said hi, and I reciprocated.  Then I realized that a couple of other men wanted to talk with me.  One, with papers in his hand, smiled and said "Ma'am, have you filled out your door prize form yet?"  I replied no, but thanked him and said I was just passing through, so I didn't need to.  Another man said "Ma'am, why don't you stay for the program, and then join us for dinner afterward?"  I thanked him profusely for his kind invitation, and actually began to regret my inability to stay.  THAT would have been a first, and an adventure in itself...

But, I held out my left hand (displaying my engagement ring) and said "I already have a dinner invitation, about 100 miles from here..." The guy seemed genuinely disappointed, and thanked me for stopping by.  It was wonderful to get such acceptance from so many folks.   Unfortunately, dummy here was too nervous to have the presence of mind to find out what the program actually was!  My guess is "church-related."

A segue for those unfamiliar with Maryland politics: sparsely-populated rural Maryland is well-known for being staunchly conservative, and much more inflexible than the bigger, more liberal political subdivisions like Baltimore City and four (or five) big surrounding counties. But despite that minor detail, my reception seemed very genuine and hospitable.  So if I'd been able to stay, I believe I'd have been accepted as a woman.  If not, I'd have gotten a chance to try chipping away at negative conservative stereotypes of TG folks, one person at a time.  

Back on topic: I'd have had trouble explaining "staying for the festivities" to my wife, who was expecting me for dinner.  I wouldn't even dream of driving the antique home at night, for fear of collisions with deer (we seem to have a bumper crop of them - a lot of road kill this spring). And lastly, there are no motels out there in the sticks.  Those were all compelling reasons why I was destined to leave. 

There was one more reason, which I certainly couldn't ignore any longer:  my makeup had probably just "timed out".  It was still several hours till sunset, and I was getting antsy about my beard re-appearing.  (Without a mirror in the pseudo-restroom, with no sink or running water, I couldn't tell - it may have already showed up - and since I hadn't brought my MAC makeup, I couldn't re-apply a heavier coat.)  It definitely was time to depart.

After saying good-bye to my new acquaintances, and, without wasting any time checking the status of my makeup in the car's mirror (since its condition no longer mattered),  I put my skirted butt in the driver's seat, twisted the key, and my trusty old V-8 sprang to life once again.  Off we went...rumbling back through the endless marshes and wetlands of a Deal Island springtime.

Endless marshes of Deal Island...from horizon to horizon, as far as the eye can see, with the only sign of civilization being the pole line alongside the highway..

On the way home, I had the challenge of finding a place with one-holer restrooms, so I could switch back to wasn't going to happen in the car.   An hour from home, a roadside restaurant appeared, and it had an outside-accessible restroom.  I was able to make the change there.   Bet the folks getting into the car next to me wondered about the girl going into the restroom carrying something denim...and they were gone when I returned to my car.

The day after my trip, I had to pay a "king's ransom" to fill the almost empty 20 gallon gas tank with premium.   I was wearing one of my usual androgynous stirrup pants outfits.  At the gas station, I encountered an elderly man in the car at the next pump, who asked several questions about the car,  ending each one with "dear."   I guess he was blind!  (Oh can that be - he was driving!)  Yes, I had shaved closely, though I certainly wasn't wearing any makeup! The only answers are:  1. He was being polite, or 2.  He wasn't particularly observant.  I'll never know which it was...but the smart money is on #2!

I've begun to appreciate this type of impromptu casual and pleasant male definitely spiced up my morning, as well as confirmed my feminine everyday appearance.  And it certainly beats hearing the dreaded "S" word!

And, yes, I'm already checking maps for more places to explore in a skirt...there are plenty. Just need a car show in the area to make it work next time.  Unfortunately, the rest of April doesn't look too promising....nor does May.  We'll see how soon Mandy can get out again...maybe the next time I can wear the new top with my skirt!

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