Needless to say, my wife wouldn't allow me much sartorial freedom this trip, beyond my normal everyday androgynous outfits. And there were no "miss-identifications" while in the kids' presence.
Regardless, there was still plenty of femininity to be experienced,
wearing stirrup pants, pantyhose, a polo top, womens' sweater, and flats, with purse and my two suitcases... The assistant conductor (female) addressed me as "Ma'am." Twice, at different times.
When we arrived in DC, a gentleman held the door for both my wife and me, addressing us as "ladies." We both thanked him, as our hands were full. Likewise, the gate attendant "miss-identified" me. As we boarded the sleeping car on the southern train, the car attendant took over my luggage - "Let me help you, Ma'am." And he hoisted my heavy bags up on to the train. "Thank you, sir!" And then he helped my wife as well.
I casually commented to the wife that in a way, it's nice to be seen as two ladies. I don't have to horse our heavy bags around, and people hold the door for us all the time. And I actually wasn't rebuffed. She agreed that it's not a such a bad thing - someone else handles doors for us, and helps us with our luggage. And she knows how heavy it is, particularly on this trip, with the things we're taking to our son's.
One of the already-boarded passengers watched our sleeping car attendant pile the bags in our room (we booked the largest room this trip, knowing how much luggage we would have) and said to us afterward: "Ladies, I couldn't believe how much he put into your room - I didn't think it would all fit." But it did...my wife showed him the overhead storage, which held the pieces we didn't need. (But despite that, the room was still cramped.)
Then the attendant came by. "Ladies, let me show you the room features." We let him, since it was our first time in this style of accommodation. Then he asked what time we want to go for dinner. Since it was already past our mealtime, my wife asked, can we go now? "Sure, they have a seating right now. When do you ladies want the beds ready?" I said "how about making them up when we're at dinner?" "No problem, ma'am."
And he did...
When we got back from dinner (rough track didn't throw me out of my seat, and my drink to the floor, in the diner this trip), our beds were ready. But unfortunately that made the cramped room even more so. My wife mused that coming back, we will have one almost empty suitcase, and can eliminate one big shopping bag, so we can redistribute our things and better utilize the overhead, which will let the folding seat fold up when I don't need into my suitcase. Not sure about how that will work...
When the train arrived in Atlanta (our destination) I was dressed once again in yesterday's stirrup pants outfit. The attendant said "Ladies, let me help you with your bags." He took them all out to the vestibule and set them on the ground for us....
The rental car place was just a couple miles from the station, but if you've ever been to the Atlanta Amtrak station, you'll know how small and inconvenient the parking lot is. "Ma'am, do you need a taxi?" (A taxi driver cornered me...)
"Actually, yes sir, for two." After the driver loaded our luggage and we got in, he ended up having near-fisticuffs with the limo driver who pulled part way in and was honking his horn and swearing, but refused to move to let anyone drive out (which also prevented him from driving further in.) My wife wasn't as concerned about them beating each other up, as she was about revolvers being drawn, with gunfire ending up in multiple "lead poisoning" fatalities and the whole incident ending up as breaking news on CNN. Fortunately, the issue was de-fused by several bystanders and neither happened. We arrived at the rental car dealer reasonably quickly, given all the traffic and issues. And since our reservation was in my name, I went to the desk.
"How can I help you, Ma'am?" So we proceeded through the rental paperwork, with the lady clerk presuming I was female. License and credit card time came quickly, but despite having access to my license, the clerk continued to use female forms of address for me and us. While my wife was in the restroom, I asked the clerk if she could drive the car, and got an interesting answer. "As long as you're both legally married in some state, yes, she can, Ma'am." Hmmm....curious comment.
My response was easy: "OK thanks, we are, so that's good." I guess she didn't pay attention to the little M on my license or the "Jr." after my name. Or perhaps she was just trained to be very politically correct!
Before we left, I asked about the restroom, and she directed me to the ladies' room around the corner. When invited, I use it... Especially since my wife had finished up and was out by the car.
There's more to talk about, in part 2, to follow. Eventually. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with the following pictures from Tennessee:
One of the cute kitties at our son's house - catching a "catnap"
A quiet view to the west at sunset...from our son's front porch.