When I Was A Boy

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'll be seeing Dar this weekend, so this seems appropriate. It's a beautiful song, and one of my favorite Dar tunes (I'm sure folks might be able to suss out the reason...). :c)

And just because, my absolute favorite Dar song. I'm still not totally sure I've figured it out, but it's amazing nonetheless. (How could it not be with John Prine joining her?)

Have a great weekend, all!

The Famous Final Scene

Friday, July 22, 2011

Seventeen years old.

I adjusted the pale violet cummerbund on my rented tux for the third time in less than a minute and gazed out at the dance floor. The couples slowly swayed as Styx's "The Best of Times" came to an end.

The strains of "We've Got Tonite" (the Kenny Rogers/Sheena Easton desecration, alas, not Bob Seger's untouchable original) began to echo across the hall. Our prom theme. Everyone in my class was on the dance floor for the culmination of the biggest event of our young lives.

Everyone except me.



This time was going to be different, I thought to myself.

It was just before Christmas break. Tickets to the senior prom had literally just gone on sale this frosty morning. Mr. F., manning the counter at the student dry goods store, smiled as he sorted out the bills I'd handed him.

"Always good to take care of these things early, isn't it?"

"Sure is, Mr. F."

"So who's the lucky girl?"

"Uh, I guess I'm weighing my options."

"Too many choices, eh? Must be tough."

"I hope so."

He looked at me for a moment.

"She'll be a very fortunate young lady, you know."

"Thanks, Mr. F. See you fourth period."

"See you. Good luck."

Mr. F. had no way to know this, of course, but if my romantic life were a country song, it would've been titled "Bellyflopping in the Pool of Love."

I had no trouble making friends with girls. They seemed to instinctively... trust me, in ways they didn't with other boys. I worked at a hospital kitchen for my first job and was one of only four boys in the department, including my friend TF. During my very first day, the dispatcher, an older lady of 18 :c), approached me at break time.

"Ready to kick back for a bit?"

"Sure, I guess. Thanks."

She grabbed my hand. "Then let's go! Time's a-wasting!"

I followed along dutifully as we snaked through the ancient hospital's back corridors. We approached a dingy door. She looked around, knocked once, and quickly opened the door. "Here we are - quick!"

I stepped through the door - and into the women's locker room. Several of the diet aides looked up, startled, then laughed.

"Is it OK for me to be here?"

"Sure! I invited you, after all."

"Is this... normal? I mean, does TF ever come back here?"

They all laughed.

"God, no! We'd kill him."

"Then how come it's OK for me to be here?"

She considered this for a moment.

"I don't know. It's different. You're... just not like that."

I was confused.

"Like what?"

She smiled.

"Oh, never mind. Just sit down and relax, OK?"


I shook my head. Why did they trust me, confide in me, tell me they wished their boyfriends (or ex-boyfriends) were like me... but then look surprised - and puzzled - when I asked them out?

"You're really sweet, L... but I just want us to be friends. Dating would just be... weird."

No one would tell me *why* it would be weird. If they even knew.

But this time would be different. I had my tickets months ahead of time. Plenty of time to work through my list of potential candidates. Yes, I had a list. And a script I'd worked out in my head. No sense leaving anything to chance, after all.

Maybe that was my problem, I thought. I would get distracted when I'd ask someone out. I'd approach them as per my routine, on the designated day - always need to pick a day when you won't see them the next day, so it's less awkward after they turn you down. I would be looking at them as I approached... then I'd be thinking about how they looked... and wondering what it felt like to... be like that... And before I knew it, as soon as I'd stammered out my request - another rejection. Almost always with a look of pity... but a rejection.

Well, even with my less-than-stellar track record, even I could find someone this far ahead of time. I mean, they can't *all* say no. Right?


Actually, they could. :c)

It was less than two months to the prom, and I'd been turned down by every single girl I'd asked. I was now ruing my earlier, ill-advised bravado. Not only had I paid for the tickets, I'd gone ahead and rented a tux, ordered flowers, and made arrangements to take time off from work. I was in deep.

And as the big day rapidly approached, and my friends at the all-boy high school I attended revealed, one by one, who they'd asked, I felt that familiar ache growing stronger and stronger. Even worse, I knew they were all aware I was the only one without a date. The only thing worse than your friends kidding you about something is your friends *not* kidding you about something.

One night, less than a month before the prom, my younger sister, who was attending with one of my friends, asked in passing who I was going with. When I told her I didn't have a date yet, she was shocked.

"You're kidding! Don't you think you should start asking?"

I allowed as how I had, hoping to avoid revealing the magnitude of my social ineptness.

"It's getting awfully late. Almost everyone at (the all-girl high school she attended) has already been asked."

She thought for a moment.

"The only person I know who isn't going is A."

I knew A slightly. We had worked together for a few months at the hospital.

"Why isn't she going? I don't really know her, but she's pretty cute, and she seems nice."

"Beats me. You two would be quite the couple."

"Oh, absolutely."

Unfortunately, my 17-year-old ear for irony wasn't fully developed yet, a fact I would soon learn the hard way.

The next day, though, I approached A as we were leaving the hospital for the night.

After I choked out my question, she too looked shocked. But... then she smiled.

"Seriously? Sure! I'd love to go!"

I had instinctively begun to apologize for bothering her before her words sank in.

"Wait... really?"

"Yes, really. I can't believe you asked me! I really wanted to go to it!"

A few years later, with a bit more hard-earned wisdom under my belt, I would've been a bit more attuned to the nuances of this conversation. But the sheer relief at not facing the prospect of watching my sister leave for my prom while I stayed home overrode such instincts.

"Great! Great! That's... great!" L, you silver-tongued devil you.

"Well, this is my ride." She smiled again, shook her head, and said "Wow. I can't believe I'll be going to your prom!"

I floated the entire way home.


That night, my sister blanched when I told her the news.

"You asked *who*?!?"

"A. You said we'd be quite the couple!"

"God, I didn't think you'd take me seriously, L! I was being sarcastic! She's not a bad person, but... she's out of your league."

My heart started to sink.

"Out of my league? How?"

"She runs with a different crowd than you. You're really nice, and... well, not that she isn't nice, but... you're not really her type."

"Well, she seemed really happy to be going."

"I'll bet she is. Party of the year."

Her expression softened.

"I'm sure it'll be fine. And I mean, it's just one night, right? How bad could it be?"


As I sat alone at the prom, I thought to myself: "Pretty bad, actually."

The evening had started off promisingly.

A looked lovely when I picked her up at her house. I managed not to impale her while pinning on her corsage, nor did I blather on too much while we drove to the prom. Fortunately, my friend B & his girlfriend T were catching a ride. (B had failed his driver's test - again - when he cursed out the state trooper administering the test - again.) In between make-out sessions in the back seat, they did their best to compensate for my usual terror-induced incoherence and managed to keep the conversation flowing fairly smoothly.

Several minutes after posing for our portrait and mingling a bit, A. came over as we headed to our table to sit down for dinner.

"I'm going to look for the ladies room. I'll be back in a sec."


The appetizers were served and cleared. No A.

The meal was served and cleared. No A.

Coffee and dessert were served and cleared. No A.

The DJ announced the dance floor was open. No A.

My sister C had set off after her a half hour ago, her teeth gritted. "I'm gonna go look for her. And when I find her, I'm gonna rip her f***ing head off."

I shrugged. The night was already a shambles. And I still had to face A at work every day. It was time to switch to damage control mode.


I looked up. It was Mrs. S., who had been my homeroom teacher as a sophomore.

I would imagine every school has a Mrs. S. She'd started my freshman year, just out of college herself. She was one of those dazzlingly beautiful women who seemed blissfully unaware of that fact. Recently married, she was attending the prom with her husband.

"L? You've been sitting here by yourself for a long time. Why aren't you out there dancing?"

I told her the story.

She winced.

"I'm so sorry. That's just awful. You deserve better."

I was beginning to have my doubts about that. The evidence was piling up to the contrary. I wasn't sure why, though, or what I could do to change it. Or if it could be changed. But I kept those thoughts to myself.

"Thank you, Mrs. S."

"Would you like me to go look for her?"

I shook my head.

"That's OK. My sister is already doing that. If you have bail money, though, that might come in handy if she does finds her."

She laughed and patted my shoulder.

"I'll keep that in mind. Let me know if you need anything."

"I will. Thanks, Mrs. S."


My sister had finally returned, apologizing that her search had ended in futility.

I'd worn out a path to the punch bowl. I'd counted the number of ceiling tiles in the ballroom. I'd then confirmed my arithmetic, just to be sure. I'd wandered out to the lobby to verify the parking lot was still there.

I checked my watch. 20 minutes to go. Just get through the last dance, collect B & T, and the night would blessedly be over.

Kenny and Sheena's warbling filled the hall.

I looked down. The rug had an interesting diamond pattern. If I took it slow, that could kill four minutes.


I looked up. It was Mrs. S. again.

"Oh, hi Mrs. S."

"I want to ask… may I have this dance?"

I blinked.

"With me? Thank you, but this is the last dance. Don't you want to dance with your husband?"

She smiled.

"We had our big dance a few months ago, actually. And I would be honored if you would dance with me right now."

She held out her hand.


Wordlessly, I stood up. She took my hand and led me out to the dance floor.

After a bit of fumbling, Mrs. S helped me locate the proper form for a slow dance. I began to shuffle my feet uncertainly.

A few moments passed.



She chuckled.

"I think it's OK to use my first name just this once, L."

"Oh. Okay,…. J."

"That's better. Umm… you do know that the boy is supposed to lead, right?"

"Oh. Okay..."

I paused.

"I'm not sure what that means, exactly."

She laughed softly.

"Well, I suppose we'll just have to muddle through as best we can, then."

And so we did.

And another from the same album, just because it's a great song. (And a great album, for that matter.)

I'm So Tired...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Not TG-related, and not about being down/depressed;  I'm just, well... tired. :c) It's also an excuse to post some Neil Young and some Beatles, which is always a good thing.

I'm definitely looking forward to some down time soon. It's been a busy few months, it's really hot and humid, and I haven't taken any time off since March 2010. Oh, and I also decided to transition. Other than that, your standard summer. :c)

Luckily I have a month of vacation time to use, so I have options. I just have to figure out when to take it & where (if anywhere) to go. I'm taking a few days off the week after next, as some friends are in town for a big music weekend. Then I can figure out when/where I want to go. It's a nice problem, in other words.

Happy Monday, and stay cool!

The Awakening #2

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Twelve years old. I sat at the kitchen table working on my comic strip.

The phone rings. My mother answers it in the living room, then calls out to me in the dining room, where I sat engrossed in work on my comic strip.

"L, it's T."

T was a friend from my old grammar school. We hadn't spoken since I'd transferred from our grammar school during the summer. While I told friends that I'd left because my parents felt the other school was better, that wasn't the real reason. The truth was that I'd spent the previous year being picked on relentlessly by B.

B was a transfer student from the city. We'd been friendly, if not quite friends, the first year he spent in our class. But something changed the following year. Like all bullies, who at heart are cowards, B chose to torment the smallest, quietest, most vulnerable person he could find. In this case, unfortunately, that was me.

Just after the school year started, he came up to me on the playground and asked if I was gay. As this was the late 70s, and as I was only twelve, I didn't know what he meant. But I knew from the smirk on his face that it was something bad. When I replied that I wasn't, he replied that's what gay people always say. (A deep thinker was ol' B.)

That set the tone for the rest of the year. B made it a point to make my life miserable. I wound up missing nearly 40 days that year, and my grades suffered accordingly. While a few sycophants joined B in the ridicule, most of the other students simply drifted away, lest they be tarred with same brush. T was one of the few who didn't avoid me.

I picked up the phone.


"Hey L! Long time no see! Wanna come over? I joined our soccer team, and I could really use a goalie to practice against."

This was curious, as I was quite possibly the world's least coordinated 13-year-old. I'd just come off a stint on the disabled list, courtesy of my discovery that I needed to wear glasses. Unfortunately, acquiring said knowledge was the result of doing battle with a wayward pop fly during an intramural game. The ball, alas, was the victor in this particular skirmish, as it proceeded to bounce off, in order: a) my left cheek, just below my eye, b) my knee, and c) my right foot, which, with admirable if misplaced enthusiasm, kicked it over the fence for one of the more unlikely home runs baseball is likely to see. I was left with two black eyes, a limp, and bruised pride.

But hope springs eternal, so off I went to meet T at the reservoir near his house. We caught up on the goings-on of my old classmates in between my frequent trips to retrieve the ball from its latest trip to the drink after I muffed yet another shot between the wickets.

As T tracked down my latest errant toss back to him, his real agenda came into focus.

"Hey, do you remember B?"

"Uh, yeah."

"I was wondering... you know what he said about being gay?"


He nudged the ball in my direction.

"Well... you know that's OK, right?"

Hmm. Is T trying to tell me something? Maybe he needs someone to confide in?

I tapped the ball back to T.

"I guess."

The ball came back my way.

"Good. Good. 'Cause, you know... well, I was talking with B and Th... and we wanted you to know that we don't care if you are."

This again. I picked up the ball and sighed.

"But I'm not, T."

"Okay... but it's okay if you are."

At this point I was more puzzled than angry.

"Why does everyone think that about me? How come they don't say it about anyone else?"

"I don't know, L. I mean... like with girls."

"Yeah? I like girls."

"Well, yeah, but you don't really talk to them the same way."

Now I was baffled.

"The same way as who? You? You guys would say all kinds of crap about them behind their backs, then be all nice when you see them. I don't do that, so I'm gay?"

"No, no. I mean...you talk to them like -


He laughed.

"No, it's like... it's not like you're afraid of them...

It's like... you idolize them, L."


My heart started to pound. I could feel my face turning red, and rage boiling inside me. And fear. Why?

"Yeah. Whatever you say, man. See ya."

I turned and tried to kick the ball as far as I could into the reservoir. I couldn't even manage that, which only enraged me further. In a fury, I stormed off.

T ran after me.

"L! Wait! I'm sorry!"

I whirled.

"Get the f*** away from me! Asshole!"

"C'mon! What did I say? Come back! I'm sorry!"

My chest felt tight, and my eyes burned. I walked for hours, trying to forget what he said.

Even if I didn't know why.


Speaking Confidentially (Pt. 2)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

If Kelly's Big Reveal Weekend had a theme, it was learning to improvise. After a great day at the festival, we decamped for the restaurant where T & J had made reservations the previous evening. 

Or so they thought. We arrive to find that not only is the joint a-jumpin', but our reservation was actually for the previous evening, the day on which the embarrassed hostess admits she'd inadvertently entered it.

Oh well. At least the waitress was a hoot. She was so flustered by the crazy-for-Sunday-night crowd that she declared she was about to hang herself from the center rafter using her bra. (We left a big tip after she promised to resist that particular urge.) :c)

So, as it turned out, the Big Reveal Pt. II took place in a parking garage at 10:00 PM (insert your own Deep Throat joke here), as semi-drunken revelers screeched by in their SUVs and one oblivious tie-dyed gentleman decided to unburden himself, in extreme, heavily-footnoted detail, of his entire checkered history with the festival promoter. (Note to festival producer: well-meaning tie-dyed guy was correct that it would be great if performers can can sell their merchandise all the time, even when the festival isn't officially taking place...)

In spite of the er, unique circumstances, T & J took in the news in their typically kind, big-hearted way. T said he was honored that I trusted them enough to tell them and asked what they could do to help. J gave me one of her patented soul-warming hugs, promising that they would be there for me no matter what and saying they just want me to be happy.

Have I mentioned what extraordinary friends I have? :c) 

Along with F, they offered to go out with me when I feel comfortable enough to venture out in public as Kelly for the first time. (And J immediately said yes when I asked for help with clothes shopping, advising me that "you don't ask a girl if she can shop; you ask her when she can shop." Duly noted.) So Kelly's first road trip is shaping for sometime this fall, I'm guessing. Hilarity will no doubt ensue.

I had my "yes, you really did it" moment about an hour after I got home (followed by "well, you're not unringing that bell, Miss Kelly…" :c)). And it felt good. I wasn't all that nervous, which is pretty much how I felt all week. In fact, I plan to tell several more friends at the end of the month when they visit for yet another festival weekend. And I have a hunch those will go well… er, as well. :c) 

All jocularity aside, things couldn't have gone any better. It's a well-spent weekend when you're reminded yet again of your good fortune to have such amazing friends in your life. I can only hope they feel 1/1000th as lucky as I do. And may everyone on this journey be similarly blessed.

Speaking Confidentially (Pt. 1)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So, in addition to celebrating the Mariners landing not one, but two All-Stars on Sunday, I also managed to squeeze in the small matter of, you know, coming out to F, T, & J, three of my dearest friends.
The original plan was to tell F on Saturday night after he arrived from the music festival he, T, & J were attending. They wound up grabbing a beer or three before he headed my way, though:c), and by the time he arrived, it felt too late to drop this particular bombshell. ("Let's see... towels are in the linen closet, help yourself to anything in the fridge, and oh, by the way…")
However, I am nothing if not flexible. To head off any last-minute jitters (which, as it turns out, never materialized), I mentioned to F that I wanted to talk about something in the morning before we headed off for the festival. He asked if I could give him a hint, but I said it was nothing that couldn't keep 'til morning. I felt a tad guilty about that, but I had a hunch F would understand once I told him.
The next morning, while preparing breakfast at my apartment, he smiled and said, "So, you want to tell me something."
And I did.
As Dr. S predicted, he reacted exactly as you would hope. He was silent for a moment, then said, "It goes without saying, but you know that you have my total support, and I'm here for you no matter what. What can I do to help right now?"
As I said before, I'm a lucky girl. :c)
Again, as Dr. S predicted, he wasn't totally surprised once the initial shock wore off. He remarked that he couldn't imagine what it was like to live with a secret like that for my entire life, and how lonely it must've been. He also said it was obvious to both him and others that I was struggling with something my entire life. But he also knew how private I was, so he (and they) wanted to respect that. I have a hunch that's going to be a recurring theme as I tell more and more people.
We talked for several hours, mostly about about how I came to realize I was transgendered (which I've started to write about here). I filled him in on a number of incidents over the years when I was picked on for being different. In once case, the bullying was so bad that I wound up transferring to a different school to complete junior high.
Before I could even suggest it, F asked if I wanted to visit him once I'm more comfortable presenting as Kelly and go out in public with him. His community is a great deal more open than I suspect mine is (although we both agreed that it's still a good place to live overall). So that's something I'm already looking forward to, scary as it is.
And last but not least, and again before I could bring it up, he strongly recommended that I tell T & J that day. predicting that they a) they would be totally accepting, and b) they would feel honored that I trusted them enough to tell them (as he was).
And with that, we were off to the festival to meet up with T & J. :c)

(Love this band *and* this album...)

Every Day Is Like Sunday

Monday, July 4, 2011

How I spent my Sunday:

  • Went to a terrific music festival & saw lots of great acts, both familar (Mark Erelli, John Gorka, Eliza Gilkyson) and new (Liz Longley). Good food, good music, no rain.
  • Found out that six players from my two favorite teams (four Red Sox and two Mariners) were named to the American League All-Star team. Even better, both ended the first half of the season on a winning note. Very cool!
  • Also, I came out to three of my closest friends today. 
Other than that, though, a pretty uneventful day.


May need to think about revising that list's order of importance...


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