Nov 24, 2009

Cross Dressing SNAFU. (Situation Normal: All Femmed Up)

On the too infrequent occasions that I am out, en femme, in the big wide world with my somewhat big wide hips on, it is my primary aim to blend in, to disappear, to not attract undue attention. To, as much as possible, just be one of the girls.

I have advantages. I am not a terribly bulky person. I have a terrific walk, and can comfortably stride about in 3” pumps for hours at a time without knocking my wig off on door jambs. I have a friend who is a superb make-up artist. I have a good deal of experience in theatre and vivid memories of high school: as such, the prospects of public performance and public embarrassment do not represent a real handicap to me.

There are disadvantages of course, and I am ok with them. I can “pass” at a quick glance or from a distance, but any sort of up close encounter is sure to set senses tingly that something is just a little off. I am a guy in a dress. No worries. Witch burning more or less seems to be a thing of the past. Yes, I want to be pretty, but I am not out to pass. I am out to experience.

So here is a quick note of thanks to a few people who had close encounters with me last week who just went about their business without any kind of fuss. They each effortlessly added to my experiences.

Matronly Lady who forgot where she had parked. A little up-fouled by the odd floor naming conventions at Phipps Plaza, she accepted my offer to hunt down her car. We took a short elevator trip together, and she got her bearings back. Hooray! Crisis averted.

Nordstrom’s Sales Assistant with the cute furry boots. I had to tell her that I was covetous. She said thank you, regarded my feet, returned the compliment, smiled, and returned to work.

Handsome Waiter at The Tavern at Phipps. The lunch special recital was first rate. Sorry to be a boring client and for ordering the Grilled Chicken Salad with the cheap glass of white. Bonus points next time if I get offered a black table napkin though. My dark tights were a little linty after a well served meal.

Expert Tailor at nameless alteration shop. This was so charming. I had a couple of skirts that needed a bit of a slimming. I walked into the very busy little shop, said hello, held my skirts aloft and asked if they were up to the job.

I should here tell you that I do not make an effort to cloak my voice. I turn down the volume a bit, but do not attempt to effect a higher register feminine voice. Its partly a matter of competence, and somewhat a matter of vanity. With work, I could become more competent, but out of vanity, I continue to use my everyday voice. I like my voice. It is the instrument I use most often to project myself into the world. That voice is an integral part of me, in the same way that my feminine aspects are. I am happy that my one voice represents my whole self. For now. But back to the tailoring episode.

Into the fitting room I go, down with a zip, off with the dress, up with a hotsy-totsy little party bargain from J.C. Penney (yes friends, JCP, over on the right. Link here, with my online review at the base of the page) and out onto the platform with the panoramic mirrors. The gentleman with the pins and the chalk with accurate and slightly accented English started pinching here and marking there, and said:

O, so nice a skirt sir. A new style…”

... and continued at his craft. The whole “sir” bit was just completely cute. And not meant in any other way than to respect the customer. The International Brotherhood of Tailors and Garment Workers does not have a uniform code of language and does not provide sensitivity training in the use of pronouns, or at least not as standard curriculum for dues paying English as a Second Language members.

I slithered into skirt number 2, repeated the process, re-robed and returned to the counter where a line of clients piled up behind me, and took their proper turn while my tailor efficiently did the paper-work.

Small triumphs, all of them. I felt quite pleased with things. Pleased enough to pop out for a little drink, and so here I finish with:

Brian, Bart and the nice Yahtzee playing lesbian couple at The Stage Door. Yes, it is a gay bar and entirely welcome of all sorts of paying clients, but still, it is nice to chat about the everyday things without commentary about how one or the other looks. We determined over a short while together that Comcast is minutely less evil than Bell South, that Pabst Blue Ribbon has an undeservedly poor reputation, that Atlanta drivers are impossibly self-absorbed, and that we would endure bankruptcy to care for our dogs.

And we then said so long, see you next time. As I say here.

Thanks all, and a very happy Thanksgiving from one who has much to be thankful for.


Melissa C said...

"Yes, I want to be pretty, but I am not out to pass. I am out to experience."


That's a fantastic statement. So insightful. You've succinctly and eloquently stated something that I've been unable to thus far. Thanks for that and for the great writing you do :)

Petra Bellejambes said...

Dear Melissa - thanks for the nice, nice words. Delighted to have your company here.

Very best to you ... Petra

Tights Lover said...

Great post. Enjoyed reading all of your encounters!

Staci Lana said...

Hi Petra... I don't do anything with my voice either except speak a little softer and not mention sports teams.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Good news Staci Lana. There are enough New Englanders ready to crow about sox, celts and pats without your pretty voice in the chorus.

Cheers - P

Couture Carrie said...

Lovely post and anecdotes, darling Petra! So interesting what you write about your voice...

Happy Thanksgiving, love!


KD said...

Petra, This is the first post of yours that I read and I enjoyed it so much I became a follower of your blog. Sometimes I forget the importance of all the little interactions we have with other people throughout our day. Thanks for reminding me.

Petra Bellejambes said...

CC - toujours Thanksgiving and toujour Couture.

KD - Most welcomed. Must sign off and find new ducks now.

(God I love it when the genetic girls drop in to say hello...)


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