This morning at Dunkies, Farida once more shrieked out, "Yes, Sir, what can I get you?"
I smiled and said, "Well, I'm actually a Ma'am, not a Sir, and I'd like a number three, medium coffee."
In 1998 I was visiting a friend in San Francisco. SF is chilly in summer due to the fog, and I was wandering the Mission in a puffy jacket. An older gay man (This is SF, where people go to great lengths to be clear about this) approached me and asked whether I was busy. At first, I was confused: Busy? What does he mean? Then it hit me.
"I'm a girl." I told him.
He started, stammered an apology, and hurried off.
When I was 10, I had my hair cut short to better address a scalp problem I was having. I was outside playing one day when a car pulled up and a woman called out, "Little boy, can you tell me the name of this street?" I did, and then ran inside to tearfully tell my mother what had happened.
The lesbians at True Nature have suggested more than once that I try the Other Side; I explained that I just don't crush out on girls. I'm not sure, looking at my sturdy clothing, short hair, and makeup-less face, that they believe me.
M--, my recent dating dud, had long hair, which he claimed has been a deal breaker for women. I wonder if that's the flip side of the same coin; do men with long hair have as much trouble being seen as masculine as women like me do being seen as feminine? Do we have to hyper-sexualize ourselves to convince people that we're really what we say we are?
I was told by a nonprofessional counselor not too long ago that I needed to stop acting like "a married woman" and make more eye contact, be more overtly flirtatious, and that I should date more than one man at once. (This was also the woman who told me that by looking at my face she knew I was Fairy. Uh huh.) I didn't have the heart to tell her that the likelihood of me batting my eyes and licking my lips at every man in the bar, or screwing several men in the same week, was about as likely as me having veal scallopini at a Mink Farmers fundraiser.
Sometimes I feel as though I'm walking around in a Boy costume. I used to have a complex about this; sometimes I still do. But not much. I've never been, nor will I ever be, a high-heel-tottering, makeup-addicted, hair-obsessed dolly, and I'm fine with that. Still, it's interesting to be sitting in here, in a straight woman's body with a straight woman's mind, and have people often see me so differently from who I feel like I am. When I was younger and painfully socially awkward, I used to pretend that I was invisible. Now, I sometimes pretend that I'm hidden inside some person that other people see, like some living Matryushka doll.