When I was at Red Lobster Friday evening, in my skirt and heels, I noticed that a woman with two older kids, sitting in a booth across the aisle and two rows down from me, kept glancing my way. I kept checking to see if my napkin had slid off my lap, or my legs had automatically drifted apart at the knees. Both negative. She looked vaguely familiar.
Segue to Sunday afternoon (immediately after being addressed as "Ma'am" in the presence of my booth-partner by several of my customers). I made a run to my car with a couple of purchases. A few minutes later, I'm walking back to my booth, saying hi to some of the attendees and dealers in that row. As I smiled and said hi to the lady sitting in her booth, she smiled back, motioned me over, and asked me how I liked the shrimp at Red Lobster Friday night. Say what???? At that moment it struck me...this was the lady who kept "checking me out" in Red Lobster!
Before I had a chance to say anything, she said "You're like me, aren't you, dear? Remember, your secret is totally safe with us" (meaning her and her two kids - both were sitting there.) I went absolutely speechless as this unfolded - both her conversation and my speechlessness were something I've never experienced before. "OMG, OMG, OMG..." doesn't adequately cover the thoughts racing through my mind at "warp speed"...
"I've been observing you here at the show, for the last 3 years. But nothing helped me to feel comfortable talking with you - I didn't want to invade your private space. At least not until Red Lobster Friday night. I'm so happy that we both chose to eat there at the same time, Now we can finally meet and talk!"
My brain started processing data again. Slowly... I said "But I was dressed a bit differently than I am now." "You were dressed the way you really want to be. I noticed what you were wearing when you arrived here Friday - you walked past my table several times. And you looked very nice - you should dress that way more often."
"But I..." Before I finished my sentence, she started: "Sweetie, maybe you don't realize that you looked like a casual woman when you arrived Friday. You didn't have a stitch of men's clothing on - those stirrup leggings with pantyhose and your girly flats were cute, and perfectly feminine. (In retrospect, I was surprised she didn't mention my heavy makeup job,
with the faded remains of lipstick from visiting Mom that morning - it took 2 makeup remover sheets to remove it all, when I went
to bed!) Again today, you look like you aren't wearing anything from the men's department, except perhaps your coat. Remember, I notice these things." (She was precisely right...everything except my coat was womenswear.)
Wow...her trans-dar was functioning at 100%!
"You probably don't realize this, but I've transitioned. I've been through it all, many years ago. I used to be (insert her former male name here). And now and forevermore I'm (insert her female name here) and she pointed to her name tag. My gender markers have been changed to female. I'm on HRT and my breasts are real. And I'm happier than I've ever been. The way I see you, you've transitioned too. You're the perfect everyday lady here at the show."
Thankfully the selling day was just about over... I stood there, riveted to the floor, talking with her for about 15 minutes. It was like two old friends finally meeting in person, after not seeing each other in 30 years. She asked what my male name had been...my real name is now female, and she thought I'd transitioned. When I pointed to my name badge...she was the one surprised. I told her "I hated my name as a kid. But now...I love it. If I ever manage to transition, I'm hoping to keep my name and perhaps just legally eliminate the 'Junior' which you don't see. Since Dad (whom I'm named after) passed away 17 years ago, I don't go by the Jr. designation any more, except on legal documents. But it's there, and as a girl - I wish it weren't."
I told her that I'm married and not planning to alter that. However my wife is not accepting of my wearing dresses or skirts in public, which is not likely to change any time soon. So I wear them when I'm traveling alone. "What you see of me 'is what it is.'"
We talked some more. I learned that she and her wife stayed together through transition, and they are still together. That's rare and refreshing. Their kids (both male) are OK with having two moms...and are well-versed in things transgender. (They sure didn't look at me like I had eight eyes or something.)
Since it was near day's end, and time to start packing, we said our farewells and I returned to my table, still somewhat dazzled by the turn of events. Twice I wrote down my email address on a scrap of paper, and twice I threw it away. Finally I wrote it down again, walked back to her table and handed it to her. She beamed...and immediately sent me a test email from her smart phone. I said I'd reply when I got home.
Back at my table, I started packing...absent-mindedly as my mind was wandering. I went past her table on the next to last trip out, we hugged tightly...and both said "let's keep in touch." They live a distance from DC - takes them 5 or 6 hours to get home. So it's unlikely that we'll be able to meet up anywhere. But we now have a new common interest to talk about...and both have a new friendship to develop for next year!
When I got home...everything was fine, until I started to relate plans to my wife, for me to dress up with several others at the show. Guess what appeared? "NMH" syndrome. Yes, a serious case of "Not My Husband!" So, discretion being the better part of valor, and not being sure how much of it was a reflection of a bad toothache I found that she had, I dropped the topic for now, and will revisit it later. Tantalizingly near, yet so far away!
But, if I were a betting girl, I'd say that most likely, the witch idea is dead on arrival...there are too many folks at the show who know us both. Reports about proceeding with those plans in a venue that public would find their way back home at some point, in some unforeseen manner, if I proceed without her assistance. There are too many smart phones and vidcams around. Showing up on the telly, or as a cover photo in a news publication, in a witch's dress and hat is not something I'd want to risk.
Instead, I'll probably settle for Friday's outfit - stirrup pants, blouse and flats, but going out to dinner completely dressed with heels, afterward. They're both female outfits, and I'd be undeniably public. Just not spectacular enough to be newsworthy, thus relatively private. No 6PM news exposure!
No matter how I dress, it's such a joy to be a girl!