Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Work in Progress, Part III

This is part three of a short story I've been writing. The second segment is here. The first is here. The work does not yet have a title.

Boys in makeup
, she had loudly proclaimed. I suppose that meant me. She took out eyeliner and eyeshadow, and a few other things along the way. This effort was for her gratification, not mine. Her reasons were never expressed, though she might have been in pursuit of something titillating, or merely fun.  

This is really complicated, I thought to myself. Each product had to be applied with practiced hand in a particular way. I'm afraid of irritating my eyes, so I fought to keep my eyelashes separated enough to apply a coat to the top half, then the bottom half. I was grateful when the process was over. Many women kept this routine every day, amazingly enough, believing that repairing their faces on a consistent basis was essential. 

As I began to comprehend the complexities, I recognized that not every woman spent an hour or more on her physical appearance. Not everyone aspired to be a beauty queen, a debutante, or a cheerleader. I'd known my share of tomboys and conscientious objectors growing up, but their decision to keep it simple was never talked about much. This gave me some comfort, because in my case, tomboy was about the best I could expect. I was never going to be dainty, even though I might be in my fantasies. 

Regardless of whatever very feminine woman I might admire, I was going to look like a female weightlifter. The surgery I couldn't afford and insurance didn't cover might soften a few things out here and there, but my muscular lower body would always give me away. I might choose a different haircut, but I'd look like a stage performer in a wig. In that context, I would be a man playing a woman for laughs, not to be taken seriously.  

I was mortified enough in my own current form, afraid of imaginary judgments. Why invite more upon myself? My size and stature kept away most of the creeps and I never was the kind to pick fights. I wondered if I would be able to block out the hurtful remarks of the small-minded. My family would never understand. It had taken them ten years to accept queer and I saw several very uncomfortable gatherings to follow. I viewed myself in a dress, my legs crossed like a proper lady, observing the extreme discomfort in the faces of my parents.

Thanks for the boy. Shortly after I was born my father sent flowers to my mother in the hospital. She was recovering from having me. The card that was tucked into the flowers summarized my father's feelings in a few short words. I regret that I could not make them come true.  

I'd tried to be a good son, but I could never understand how to parallel park, change a tire, or perform routine household maintenance. These were minimum requirements for him. Once, in frustration, he'd said, Are you some feminine man? I didn't answer him, but the answer was probably yes. 

My brain and my body always seemed to be at war with each other. I sought compromise first, trying to stay honest to my whole self. Easy answers were never especially forthcoming. Transition, I learned, is for those who cannot be happy in the bodies into which they were born. I could usually live with myself as male, though there were many instances where I was conscious that my sex was never a good fit and never would be. I inhabited some nebulous grey area more akin to hermaphrodite than to transgender. 

As much as I demanded individual expression, I recognized that I wanted easy acceptance just as badly, and sometimes even more. That's the quandary every person who demands both freedom of choice and freedom of expression falls into eventually. It is good to be unique and authentic, but it is also good to belong and be part of something larger than oneself. That's where I am now, and the passage of time has shown me that my understanding of self will evolve considerably.

No comments: