Last Friday was a gorgeous sunny late winter day here in Atlanta. Daffodils and other aggressive spring flowers have begun to sprout. A fine time for this aggressive flower to put my head above ground and bloom at least for a few moments. I had a late lunch planned with a friend of the full time female persuasion, and a little time to kill en femme. Phipps Plaza was near enough to the rendezvous point, and so I ventured in to test out the waters and break in a new pair of shoes.
I had been fearful that the new purple suede pumps might pinch, but they carried me nicely, and I think I returned the favor by putting them into a great outfit. They paired well with the purple suede jacket purloined from Mrs. B’s side of the hall closet, some choice accessories and a day-suitable Ann Taylor ensemble, all pictured at left. I have never made a bigger color statement before, and felt terrific. Purple is the color of royalty and perhaps some of it rubbed off on my carriage.
This story will sound a little vain. It can't be helped if it is to be told faithfully, so I will risk it. I want to share the story, not out of pride of passing or about pulling something off but out of a desire to tell you about a terrific conversation with a complete stranger.
Belk’s had a shoe clearance on, and had their heavily marked down merchandise corralled away in a quiet, off-the-beaten-track enclosure, a storage room really, with the layout and dimensions pictured below (click images to enlarge of course). Myself and another shopper brushed passed each other a couple of times, nodded and smiled in recognition, handled the merchandise and did all the private calculus one puts into shopping. She was having better luck than I, standing in front of the floor mirror and considering the strappy platform partly laced up on one foot.
I liked them. I did what etiquette called for, on my way stepping through the door to leave, saying:
“Cute. I like them. You should get them”.
She held up a hand, and worked for about 10 seconds or so attempting to form a sentence.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Of course … shoot” says I.
“No. Over, over here ... (still really not getting the words out easily, but pointing back into the tiny room).
I obliged, sensing that she wanted to converse out of view of the rest of the world, and so I sidled back into the shoe room. Here now, is my best effort to recreate the conversation. The words are off here and there, but the spirit is true, golden true.
“You are not a… , you were not always …., O, my, how do I say this, you were not born female were you?”
“No” (me smiling)
“ I just … I really, I just did not know until you were leaving, until just now … I … can I ask you something?”
“Yeah, of course, anything”
It was clear that she was really grappling with thoughts, and fearful of saying something that may offend. She looked about my age, smartly dressed, not overly so, but clearly an educated, responsible adult. She abandoned three of four sentences before she felt like she had something she could safely express.
“So, you are like … this … (head to toe hand gesture) … all the time”
“No my dear, this is just a now and then thing for me. Really not all that often”
“ Hmmm. Uhhh … do you make money doing this?”
“Make money? O good god no. I spend money doing this, just like you.”
I think I could have filled in some of her blanks, but her curiosity was so interesting, her line of questioning so unexpected, I just waited for her next thought.
“So … it’s just that … I am sorry, really, I just did not know. I mean I really just did not even think twice about you. You just seemed natural”.
“Bless your kind heart my dear, that means everything to me. Thank you so much, really. And I mean it about the shoes too, they look great”.
She was not going to be detoured by shoes.
“So what are you … like … the rest of the time” (top to toe hand gesture again)
“Pretty normal I suppose. I work, I have a home, a wife …”
“A wife?! You’re married??”
“Yup. 15 years now. She is the real beauty of the home”.
OK, this had her eyes popping, and it was time, past time I suppose, to help her out a bit. It was becoming clear to me that she had never considered that a man in a skirt could be anything other than a gay man living out some sort of confused fantasy. This was most certainly her first close encounter with a visitor from Planet Fabulous.
“Married? Wow. I mean uhhh. I don’t know what I mean… I mean …” (more jaw motion, no more words for the moment, Petra to the conversational rescue)
“Yeah, married. My wife knows about all of (now I am using the hand gesture) this. We are pretty “ normal” couple otherwise. Pretty typical. Most Cross Dressers are straight, or most that I know. We are not that scarce either. I am probably not the only one in the mall today, you know?”.
I extended a hand and said:
“Hey, I shouldn’t be so rude. My name is Petra. Nice to meet you. What’s your name?”
To be continued...