Nov 11, 2012


Last weekend, darlings, it was outdoorsy. I spent time astride the gables, peaks and shingled ridge lines of our sprawling bungalow, manfully, futilely blowing leaves, pine straw and cones out of eave troughs and downspouts. There was pruning out some excess tree limbs and the dismantling of a long since decommissioned satellite dish too.

This weekend it is indoorsy. The water closet in our en suite has become truculent. Handle jiggling no longer drives the desired silent outcome rapidly or reliably enough. The Throne has been in service at least 11 years, predating our purchase of Chateau Bellejambes and is therefore the only seating in our home that the prior residents ever sat on. Time for change.

And beneath the kitchen sink too, a little low grade Plumbing CSI is on tap for me. The In-Sink-Erato hit a couple of pitchy notes during the supper tidy up on Election Night, and then, poof, expired in a sad acrid puff of smoke which I will remember as only fractionally as offensive as the cloud of profanity that will doubtless hover over my prone and pinched body as I wrangle the new unit in later today.

There I will be, ratty jeans, scuffed steel shank boots, tools scattered here and there and the right one not ever easily in reach, grimed up with a couple of days of stubble on in a pretty compelling impression of a man who owns and cares about the half acre of heaven that Mrs. Bellejambes and myself call home.

This is not my natural setting. I am not a habitual do-it-yerselfer. But in point of fact, when I put my back into it, I am pretty handy.

I pass.

And then there is Petra.

Not much passing going on there of late.

Friends and people I admire are pressing boundaries here there and everywhere. Janie wrestles with nails and males here. Meg figures out how a girl furnishes her first apartment and splits the rent with a roomie there. Famous Stana continues to evangelize and bravely share her fuller self where her only her partial self was known and accepted before. Chrissie gets to put a few bob in the bank in support of her next threshold of change. Halle pokes, prods, and ponders causality and consequence in a way I have not had the energy for in eons. And Lynn, bless her stalwart generous heart, skis nimbly between the pylons of family and fabulous with a perfectly English pluck that I marvel at.

I salute you all. What excitement there is at the frontiers. I remember fondly so many of my own advances, the completely enlivening, crystalline and suddenly normal, perfect, special places one occupies when pressing ahead, having an appetite, and draining that loving cup of new dew.

I am, just now, in a nether world, a neutral place, not moving and shaking much in the way of anything up, sipping now and then but not gobbling big drafts of change with any regularity.

Petra has a very real presence in our home. A full bedroom is dedicated to me. Drawers of knickers, bras, slips and such. Racks of shoes and a tumble of bags. A largish armoire and full closet, neatly hung frocks and tops and coats. A Smithsonian-worthy archive of hosiery. Wigs, make-up, jewelry, the whole She-bang. Largely unused.

I do dress. I skip the commute and work from home a couple of days each week, and on those days when Mrs. Bellejambes is busy on the road with her case load and client visits, I take the time to dress. Not head-to-toe, most often toe-to-shoulder, minus the hair and maquillage. I take on my business activities with the same gusto and macho aplomb as any other day, conference calls, vendor wrangling and tweaking my ever evolving market maturity and penetration models.

I just do all of that with my knees pressed a little closer together by a fitted skirt. Sometimes the knees brush the underside of my desk as a result of a few extra inches of heel beneath sheer clad ankles. My shoulders are held back more, my elbows hew closer to my sides, the surface elements changing all motion, more sway, more grace, more attention to, well everything.

The work, for what it is worth, gets done with as much good, bad or indifferent effect as it does in any setting.

And then, mindful of Mrs. Bellejambes schedule, after a few hours I will change surfaces, hang and fold things away and get back to what … passes …. as …. well, normal.

It is all a little furtive, acknowledged but not spoken much of. Petra is not a confrontational or indeed a needy, greedy presence. Mrs. B has a whole and entirely creditable host of concerns, feelings of unease, and generalized agita around the whole Petra issue. I get it. I really do. I am, above all, a good and loving husband and partner in our shared enterprise. Petra pads about on tip toe, no lightning strikes of stiletto heard here.

Organizing a “hall pass” for Petra remains therefore a touchy thing. We discussed an outing in fact earlier this week. I had a Friday invite for cocktails and a dinner with a dear friend. Much to catch up on, the sort of easy chit-chat that a girl looks forward to. Mrs. B did not want to say, "...please no...", and she did not need to. She hesitated. Her eyes said everything perfectly, and beautifully even when sadness and worry dust her gorgeous, soft and warm face.

I did not get the pass. I took a pass. And I did not, therefore, get out and try to pass.

I stowed my hope much in the same way that I stow my wardrobe, after it flickers and dances for a while. All quiet orderly and free of fuss. No drama. No confrontation. A nice, adult accommodation, the imperfect balancing acts that we, all of us more or less grown-up types make a dozen times a day.

It is all a little unsettling. I would say that I am in a waiting room of sorts, except that I do not have a destination. I would enjoy more access to the rest of me, and more opportunities to dart across the lines of engagement in the gentle gender wars that we are all partisans in. Good things happen out there. When I return from those too infrequent Voyages en Rose, I have had my loving cup.

Honestly, I cannot see my appetites getting much more ravenous. Pierce the ears? Nah. Paint the nails? Maybe for a night. Change any element of my masculine inheritance in a permanent way? No such urges. What I shave or pluck grows back. I will groom with a blade, but nothing, and I mean nothing, is going under the knife.

Yeah, not a waiting room. A different place. Somewhere between the sovereign lands of contentment and contention, embraced and embargoed. No bucket list and nowhere near kicking the bucket. Don't quite know what to call it my dears. Must do a little something to moves things along though. Life is short and ought to be sweet, yes?


Update: Got all the handy stuff done, and more in fact, than initially planned. Pleasant as that outcome is, all the chores were done without a single outbreak of profanity. People who do not know me could be forgiven for believing that I have a persistent and ungovernable form of Tourette's. Seems to be better managed these days.

I am more likely, of late, to deploy profanity as a spice, a piquant grace note that complements the flavors of a story. In times gone by it fanned out indiscriminately behind me as though from a crop duster or, on a bad day, Agent Orange from a Fairchild C-123 leaving nothing but scorched earth and tears in my wake.

Certainly, the passing of years has a little something to do with the changes, the mellowing. Experience and all that good stuff, natch.

Chemistry too m'dears. T-levels drop for even the most chest-thumping primate with enough turns of the odometer.

But even without an ounce of empirical support, I have to give credit to the influence of Petra. Seems that my more masculine self smartens up and flies right in the presence of a lady.


Lynn Jones said...

Passing as normal, there's a thought for the day.

...bless her stalwart generous heart, skis nimbly between the pylons of family and fabulous...

There are times when I dare to open my eyes, normally only I've just heard the whistle of the wind as I zip by a large immoveable object.

But weak jokes aside, thanks. <<>>

Halle said...

Excitement at the frontiers indeed! Vive la différence!
Isn't it amazing how much calmer the presence of a lady makes those once manly projects? Whether as an external and positive influence as you say, or as it feels to me, just the way I am now.

I must object however to your implication that my poking and pondering is anything but effortless. :)

Thanks Petra. xx

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