Saturday, August 7, 2010

Until We Get There

There are two kinds of people in the world — punctual ones who respect others' time, on the one hand, and, on the other, inconsiderate dickheads who should have been drowned in infancy. I believe that, as one of the more obnoxious forms of passive aggression, chronic lateness betrays a pathological need for attention.

I am myself from punctual stock. If my parents needed to be somewhere at 2 o’clock, you could count on their being parked outside at 1:45. I never liked Creedence Clearwater very much until I read that John Fogerty turned up for an interview with Rolling Stone three minutes late and apologized for it.

I owe one of my best ad-libs ever to the habitual tardiness of my girlfriend Nancy. Living together way out on the dreary, foggy western edge of San Francisco, we decided one afternoon in 1990 to go see Dances With Wolves at the glorious Alhambra Theater on Polk Street, at the base of Nob Hill. I, of course, was ready to roll with time to spare. She, of course, found 500 little things she had to do before we actually got going, by which time we had about 12 minutes to make what in the lightest traffic would have been a 20-minute drive, which wasn’t even to factor in that in San Francisco, there’s no such thing as a parking place. I hate missing the beginnings of movies, and my blood pressure and annoyance levels were surely well off the charts as we sped east along Golden Gate Park’s southern edge. “What did you think it was getting,” I finally screamed at her when we just missed an amber light in the Panhandle, “earlier?”

Around that same time, I was supposed to meet Wife the First in front of a particular medical building at 3:30 on Sutter Street, where she would be handing our daughter off to me for the weekend. At five minutes before 4, there went my blood pressure again, as my choices had become to dash several blocks to where I was parked to prevent my car’s being towed at 4, or staying put and getting my daughter. I stayed, and by some miracle wasn’t towed, but I probably worried the last couple of months off the end of my life. Imagine the warm feeling I had when my daughter related that, in the car on the way down, my ex-wife had predicted that I was going to be angry, and the friends with whom she was coming to the City asked how she ever could have tolerated life with someone so…controlling.

Wife the First may have been even less punctual than Nancy. In the classic passive-aggressive way, she would always bat her eyelashes and muse, “I just don’t know why I always seemed to get delayed.” This would have been a lot more credible if I’d known her even once to miss a flight. My impression was that she did just fine with time when it was important to her, and took a they-can-wait stance at all other times.

On many occasions, Nancy urged, “Chill out! We won’t actually be late until we get there” which made me want to strangle her more, rather than less. The time I was most furious at her for delaying me was in the autumn of 1998, when my daughter Brigitte was her high school’s mascot. She would put on what in hot weather was a suffocating puma outfit, and cavort on the sidelines with the cheerleaders. She prepared a dance routine to perform at one home game, but because of Nancy’s dawdling, we arrived three minutes after its conclusion. Or maybe the real culprit was my not having the sense or backbone to leave San Francisco without Nancy. I was heartbroken to realize I’d missed my daughter’s performance, and swore to myself that I’d be early for the next one. Naturally, there wasn’t a next one. Maybe there never is.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Life in Pink - The End

By the time I enrolled in the Academy, I think I’d probably made love to 200 women, and there always seemed to be more right around the corner. If Joe Sixpack knew how irresistible effeminacy makes a straight man to women, he’d be parked as we speak outside the electrologist’s, impatient for her to open. As I began my studies in earnest, though, I found myself wanting to be solely around one particular woman, one with whom I hadn’t even become intimate. Ellen. from a wealthy family in Cranston, Rhode Island, was a fellow student at the Academy, studying marketing in hopes of becoming a buyer for a big retail chain. We hit it off from the first moment she sat down opposite me in the student commissary and said, “You know, I think pink really is your color.”

She wasn’t thrilled about my Sunday mornings with my best clients. It came out that she wished, at least when we were out in the world, that I were more traditionally masculine. She said she was tired of being the less pretty one, and of feeling always that we might be in danger at any moment; I’d long since learned to tune out the outraged looks I inspired among strangers, but she seemed to miss none of them. It wasn’t as though she was asking me to be Bruce Willis; she was asking only that I stop being prettier when we went out than Cameron Diaz.

I tried it. I went to the Gap and Uniqlo and bought myself some seriously boring men’s attire. I stopped shaping my eyebrows. I didn’t need to stop shaving my legs, as they’d always been hairless, except for some downy blond hairs too fine to see unless you were looking hard for them. The hardest thing to give up was makeup; I thought at first that I looked terribly washed-out without it. There was very little I could do about having a gamin’s body, except maybe spend every spare minute at the gym, but I couldn’t bear the way gyms smelled, the unpleasant mix of sweat, testosterone, and steroids. I slipped into my pretty things when Ellen wasn’t around.

A couple of weeks of being as butch as I’m capable of being, I asked when I would get to meet her family. She seemed surprised by the question, and then oppressed by it. Intent on changing the subject, she picked a fight about something so trivial I can’t even remember what it was. But I returned to it. She didn’t expect ever to feel confident to introduce me to her very conservative family, which had regarded George Bush’s vacating the presidency as one of the saddest days in American history. “I honestly can’t imagine your ever being someone I could introduce to them,” she said.

She told me through tears that she was grateful for all the ways in which I’d tried to accommodate her, but that it seemed futile. “Once a sissy,” she said, “always a sissy.” She moved into her own studio apartment. I got my makeup and pretty things back out, wore them with panache, and could have gotten laid five nights a week if I’d wanted. I longed for a stable monogamous relationship with just one woman, but not at the price of my identity.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Life in Pink - Part 10

The woman, whom I was to address as Madame, greeted me in an incongruous combination of meticulous makeup and a silk dressing gown of the sort women who enjoy sleeping naked commonly have hanging on the backs of their bedroom doors. I curtsied for her, and she laughed delightedly. “Aren’t you the pretty little doll!” She invited me inside and showed me into the room where I was to put on my serving outfit — which included a pair of black platform mules with marabou on top. I put everything on and stepped in front of the mirror and laughed in delight at my own reflection. I was hot stuff!

I heard a bell ringing. It rang again. The woman was calling someone named Babette. It dawned on me that I was Babette. I headed toward the sound of her voice, went back for my serving tray, and then hurried to her.

She was in her boudoir, reclining on the bed in her dressing gown, smoking a cigarette through a long, lavishly rhinestoned cigarette holder. She looked straight out of a 40s movie about a femme fatale, except in full color. She’d put on shiny black stockings and chandelier earrings. She looked sensational, and sensationally sexy. She seemed equally delighted with the way I looked. She winked at me and said, “It may join us,” whereupon a closet door opened and a naked guy with close-cropped gray hair and a pot belly stepped timidly into view, eyes on the floor. “This is Babette,” the woman announced, not taking her eyes off me, not ceasing to beam delightedly.

“Of course, Madame,” the guy said after clearing his throat nervously.

“Is she not gorgeous?” the woman asked. “Have you ever seen anything more delicious?”

“Never, Madame,” the guy said, reddening, stiffening.

She beckoned to me, and I went to her, curtsying again when I reached her. She handed me her cigarette to put out. I normally find cigarette smoke sickening, but the sexiness of the whole scenario had me wholly distracted. As I removed the cigarette, with its lipstick-red tip, from its holder and began to extinguish it, she put her hand on my leg just above the stocking. Now the closet-dweller wasn’t the only one in the room stiffening. She reached under my dress and felt my erection with delight. “Oh, Babette!” she marveled. “Who’d have guessed?” I hadn’t been warned that sexual services would be involved, but do you suppose I was arguing? She pulled herself to her feet with my erection. We were eye to eye — mine, of course, averted. Her lips touched mine. Our tongues got acquainted. As we kissed, she removed one of my wrist-length lace gloves. She guided my hand to her wet spot; wet was an understatement. She pulled my panties down and lay back on the bed. “Come, Babette,” she said. “Don’t keep Madame waiting.”

I didn’t need another invitation. As we fucked, I could hear Him From the Closet working himself into a frenzy. I guessed he was her husband, and that this was the closest they came to actually making love. But if it worked for them — and from the sounds they were both making, it certainly seemed to be working — who was I to judge, especially when I wound up getting my full $1000 for only 40 minutes’ work.

While saving to attend the Fashion Academy, I continued to work at the restaurant and, occasionally, as a male maid. Given how much I was earning, I figured I’d be able to concentrate solely on school when I finally started, rather than having to work too — though I promised Dressing Gown Lady and Him From the Closet to keep myself available on Sunday mornings. They’d turned out to be very nice, and devoted to each other in their way. There was no cruelty in DGL’s cavorting with me in front of HFC; he’d actually had to beg her to start doing it. Real-time cuckolding was as thrilling for him as a fivesome with Hugh Hefner’s four indistinguishable blonde girlfriends would have been for Joe Sixpack.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Life in Pink - Part 9

In the cab, I asked what I had no choice but to ask — if she ever consorted with customers on her own time. She said she did, and my heart sank, but not for long, as she explained that her interactions with them involved no sexual contact. Playing a dominatrix — in an outfit she would show me later — she simply insulted them or bossed them around or whatever else of that sort they wanted — and got them to jerk themselves off at the end. It was her understanding that she made at least half again for these sessions what the other girls earned for allowing their clients to penetrate them. But when she suggested I consider it for myself, I had to laugh. I couldn’t imagine another person in the City having less aptitude for dominance than I.

The only one, in fact, who came to mind was another of my fellow servers, who called herself Khanh, and with whom I’d gone out shopping and for coffee a couple of times. She was the gentlest, most demure, creature I’d ever encountered, the living embodiment of the stereotype of the submissive Asian girl. She’d had brief dalliances with a couple of customers, but it had hurt terribly; she was a crossdresser, rather than a full-fledged transsexual. She’d found another way to supplement her income that she found very much more agreeable. There was an agency in the City that specialized in supplying TV or transsexual domestics to wealthy persons who thought it quite chic to have pretty boys impersonating French maids in their employ. Most prospective employers, Khanh had discovered, were lecherous men, but the agency also had among its clients a few women who were much amused by their ladies’ teas being served by dolled-up bois.

What Khanh had neglected to mention was that the agency’s proprietor was himself an avid lech. Before he would invite me in for a face-to-face interview, I had to email him photos of myself. I sent the same ones I’d sent Bangcock, and he was on the phone to me almost before I’d clicked SEND, telling me how rigid the photos had made him, and asking, rather breathlessly, if I liked cock. “Just my own, to be honest,” I said. When I explained that I’m straight, he sounded crestfallen. “Well, ain’t that a swift kick in the crotch! But a hand job wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it? I mean, you could do that much for me, couldn’t you, if it meant my representing you or not?” I sighed and thanked him for his time and hung up.

He called back instantly. “Jesus,” he marveled disgustedly, “so touchy!” He told me his rates, and asked if they were acceptable. They were actually more than Khanh had told me, and far beyond just acceptable — $1000 for four hours, with no sexual services expected. He told me to expect to hear from him soon, and was as good as his word, phoning two mornings later to ask if I were interested in serving a couple brunch on the Upper East Side on Sunday. They would provide my costume (he’d taken all my sizes in our earlier conversation), and it would probably take no more than a couple of hours, though I would be paid for the full four. The only downside I could see was that I’d have to get up very much earlier on Sunday than was my custom.

What a tiny downside!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Life in Pink - Part 8

I moved down to the City, staying at first with Karen and her latest girlfriend. But they were both smokers, and Robin lived in dread of any of their staunchly butch friends finding out that they were harboring one such as I, so I found a place of my own. It had slightly more square footage than a large postage stamp, and cost more per month than I’d have earned in a summer and a half at the salon. I needed to get something going quickly. I called about several receptionist jobs, and was invited in to interview for none of them because I’d never been a receptionist. I guess answering a phone or asking someone to have a seat while you let whomever he came to see know he’s arrived must be a lot more demanding than they sound. Then I saw a craigslist posting for servers at Bangcock, the restaurant I mentioned earlier. They wanted “very convincing ladyboys who can serve and singe, or at least mime.” I emailed them some photos of me that Zhaneen had taken, and an MP3 of me singing Celine Dion’s “Miracle,” and within 40 minutes had been invited in for an interview.

I felt, once in the place, as I imagine a star high school athlete does when he first finds himself one of a great many equally talented, equally hungry teammates on his college team. If I were to be noticed among the servers the place already employed — each prettier, more petite, and more feminine than the one before — I was definitely going to have to bring my A-game. At 5-5-1/2, I felt like an Amazon among them. And I wasn’t going to have lots of time to prepare my A-game either, as they wanted me to work the following night.

For the first hour, it was mostly harrowing. I’d never actually worked in a restaurant, let alone in four-inch stiletto heels and a very short skirt. But then, when I began understanding the rhythms involved, it got a lot less harrowing, and then exhilarating as the…gurls started taking turns jumping up on the bar and miming disco classics. It was hilarious seeing how turned on most of our male patrons were getting — and how very uncomfortable or even livid their excitement made their dates.

By the end of that first night, I’d had four cell phone numbers pressed on me. Two of the four had promised to make it well worth my while. A third had promised nothing less than well worth my while. I could see how the job could have been very lucrative if I’d been gay. It was pretty lucrative anyway; my tips were rarely less than 50 percent.

I became friends with one of the other servers, CruElle, whose unique selling point was that she wore gleaming black latex opera gloves and was as haughty with her customers as you might expect one in such gloves to be. The more horrid she was to most of them, the more delightedly they howled. She told me the whole shtick had been a natural outgrowth of becoming unashamedly annoyed with an overly demanding diner one night, and berating him quite heatedly. Far from demanding that she be fired, he’d loved it, and in fact had been dining in her section three times a month for the past six. Over the course of her employment, she’d developed a following that wouldn’t allow themselves to be seated in any section other than hers. They loved her naked contempt for them.

My interest in her increased geometrically when, the fourth time we met up outside work, she swore me to secrecy and revealed that she was no gurl, but a genuine girl. I got a huge kick out of the idea of her making twice as much money pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl than she would have from an ordinary serving job. But I got a much bigger kick from her being excited to learn that I was in fact avidly heterosexual, and then insisting that I come home with her that minute.