Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pete/April: My New Role

I have to admit, it was strange changing from being Brigette to April. From being a tall, lean, beauteous African-American goddess to being a petite, even mousy-looking office girl was very trippy. But I've come to like it. As much as I happen to think April is a pretty girl, she doesn't turn heads the way that Brigette did. I foudn her wardrobe is distinctly not geared toward dropping jaws or showing anything off - more for comfort and cuteness. She does have an LBD or two in the wardrobe but her body isn't exactly glamorous.

It's been an adjustment. I feel like I can't just walk into a place with the same attention-grabbing energy that I had as Brigette. In fact, on my first day at Homeward, I tried using the same attitude toward people that I had as Brigette - which some would call overbearing but I call confident - and by noon people were asking what had gotten into me, and I got the sense that I needed to tone it down, that they were used to a very subdued, quietly intelligent April. No big deal, I can do that.

I mean, I could have said "This is the new me, deal with it" but truth be told, I don't feel it in myself anymore. I look in the mirror and I see this person and I feel compelled to act how I think she would - which is the approach that I think annoyed Daryl when we went out together as Elaine and Brig, but now it's totally different too.

Now I'm Asian instead of Black... I did feel like I was losing something I had become very fond of, although some of my Inn friends have pointed out that it's kind of icky that I relished being non-white the way I did/do. And I'm sorry but I feel like you're either going to mope about it or you're going to embrace it and I chose the latter, and I still do. Two days after I got back to the City, a guy on the street asked me for directions, then when I hesitated, he snapped angrily, "Do you even speak English?" I responded by muttering some Asian-sounding gibberish and walking away. I get the sense that this is something that might happen a few more times before my time as April is over.

So. I'm April, personal assistant to Homeward CEO and Founder Lena Howard, a (small-scale, relatively speaking) would-be lifestyle maven. I let David know right off the bat just how lucky he was to have me, because no matter what you think of how I choose to live my life I have always conducted myself with the utmost competence and dignity in the workplace. I all but secured Brigette a promotion following her return.. I've worked in a lot of different fields. I've seen things, I know things. Yes, I'm capable of arranging someone's calendar.

So we've become sort of a two-headed boss. It's funny to read about Jenn wishing she had become Lena because I was thinking the same thing; it would make things so much easier for me, and would probably take less of a toll on those kids and their relationship. But we have to play the hand we're dealt. So I watch David grope around trying to get the hang of managing a company (I told you it's small time, only about 100 people) and deal with people beneath him and leave the decisions to the department heads. He just has to show up, nod and smile, dress as Jenn directs him to, and follow my lead, and maybe by the end of the year people won't think poor Lena's totally lost touch.

The sad thing about all this is where it leaves my personal life. As I watched Tyler's datebook fill up - even as dramatic as she can be some times (highly entertaining don't you think?) I wished I could join in on the scene, but I had promised Brigette I wouldn't entangle her with any relationships. It seems only fair that I offer April the same courtesy since the whole world thinks she's still with Zack, Whatever happens between Jenn and David, they're pretty well in it together, so that leaves me as the third wheel - as usual - left at home with myself.

(Looks down)

Well, it could be worse ;)


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Friday, September 14, 2018

Jenn/Zack: Penthouse

It has been a difficult few weeks, to put it mildly. This situation has put thrown already-somewhat-struggling relationship with David for a loop. I have to get used to moving around the world looking like an entirely different person - a male at that. I have to learn a new job and move to a big, intimidating city where I never expected to find myself.

Frankly, peeing in a standing position is not worth this at all. I'll continue to sit out of protest.

For our last few days at the Inn, things were what they were, and I let him process it. I tried to be there for him but he still wouldn't really let me in. To his credit he tamped down the verbal complaints, but that didn't make him any more fun. Luckily we had Pete to cut the tension by by taking us through the steps. She's been extremely valuable, even fun to talk to. Getting her reflections on her time as Brigette and some of the other things she's been and done really heartened me. I hope she starts to post again.

When we arrived in New York, the first thing we did was visit Lena's penthouse condo. I was in awe. I mean, obviously she's got fantastic home decor taste - beautiful furniture, amazing accents and throws, an incredible kitchen. I went to her bathroom and was totally gobsmacked at her selection of skin creams and home spa materials. Then there's the clothes, the cosmetics, the jewelry! I spent hours and hours just ogling it all. It was so exciting I think I got my first erection. (OMG kidding.)

So while I'm going nuts over all this treasure, David is just nodding along, "Uh huh, that's nice, whatever." And I know it's not his thing, but I wish he understood. Maybe a time will come when he's interested in learning more about it and we can bond over that. I mean, maybe I'm just selfish or I'm looking for a project to keep me busy, or I think it's just such a shame if all this stuff goes unused, but I'd love to walk him through it and see if he develops a taste for it. Maybe it's just for me... maybe it's like having a real life doll to play with.

Gah. So not fair.

So we got to the bedroom and there's this beautiful king-sized bed. And we share this look like, "Oooh boy, this is gonna be a talk."

He sits down on the bed and lays his hand on his breast - a weird little motion he keeps doing to remind himself this is all real. I sit beside him, sure to keep my distance. He goes, "Sooo..."

I cut him off, because it hurts less if I say it: "I think there's a guest room down the hall. If you want, I can..."

"That what you want?"

I take a moment, "Not really," I say.

A long pause.

"I'm tryin' here," he says.

"I know," I say. I want to lean in and kiss him or touch him in some way but I know that will scare him.

"I look at you and... well, you're a guy now."

"I'm still me inside," I'm quick to say. "I'm not just a guy, I'm your girlfriend, and I happen to be going through the same thing you are, more or less. I don't want you to be afraid to get close to me. I know the body thing is a barrier, that you would never feel a certain way about a person who looks like this, but... I'm asking. I'm begging you, to make some kind of exception and try to see me for who I am. Don't push me away... the only way we're going to survive this year is if we do it together."

He took a long pause and looked away, but I found his eyes - the eyes of Lena Howard - and tried to see my David in there. I know he's in there, and if I can see it, I hoped, so could he.

He rested his hand on mine - his aged, slender fingers on my big mitt.

We looked at each other.

Almost as a reflex, I tilted my head forward for a kiss, but stopped myself. I was embarrassed because I thought that would be the last thing he would want, even if I'm starved for love after a week.

But he caught on and leaned forward and kissed me. On the cheek, but it was still a big gesture.

He scooted a little closer to me on the bed.

"This is so weird," he says with a little smile, one that makes me think he's defrosting.

"You're telling me," I smile back. I go to wrap my arm around his shoulders - "Can I...?"

"Um, sure..." he says,  but he's clearly not comfortable.

And we had to have a pretty uncomfortable talk about it.

"No sex though," he says firmly, and I agree... and it's not like I'm overly keen on the idea either, but we're still us and we're still in love and I think physicality is a part of it. I'm not in a rush but I do think, with a year ahead of us, the idea could be revisited (isn't he curious??)

Eventually, it was time to send him to work. The luxury of running your own company is that if you haul off for an extra few weeks of vacation people tend not to second-guess it (the real April has been doing work from their new home in Springfield.) The bad news is you do have to go back eventually... which was a whole ordeal because of course I had to get David up and ready and styled for his first day as Lena Howard, CEO. I picked out a week's worth of outfits that I thought were somewhat gender-neutral (to my surprise he rejected some pantsuits as "too Hillary." Oh, dresses then? Lena has a ton of beautiful skirts and blouses...) I also did her makeup and accessories of course.

It was tough, though, because David is going from being unemployed for months to running his own company. He says it's not too stressful, but I suspect that's mostly because Pete is there covering.

And me... I was asked to take on some of Zack's work as a photographer. As a freelancer he is worried about losing clients if he takes himself off the market for a year, so I had him give me a crash-course in what he does and how he does it, and all the software and equipment he uses. Of course he agreed to collaborate as best he could, time permitting. I don't mind it so far, it's been fun.

Besides, if all I had to do was be a houseboy for "Lena Howard" I think I would be bored out of my skull!


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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Jenn (is still getting used to looking like a Zack): An unfair trade

I would never take away David's right to complain about what's happened to him/us, but I'm already finding myself getting a little tired of the relentless negativity. Every sentence out of his mouth the past few days has been how awful this is, and how gross it feels to be in Lena's body and how badly he doesn't want to go along with it... I'm trying to be understanding. I'm trying to be comforting. I know it's no picnic. But he doesn't want to hear it. Even when he's not being explicitly negative, there's an undertone of annoyance at the situation that really cuts.

He unfolds a rather lacey - honestly, very expensive - pair of underwear that Lena had in her bag, and grimaces, "Yuck, why do women wear these?" As if two weeks ago he wasn't complaining that I never seem to be wearing lingerie under my everyday clothes.

"My boobs won't stop jiggling," he pouts. "Every little movement, there they go."

"So wear a bra, hon," I say. He rolls his eyes and goes "Pfft," like he's above it. So far he's just hanging out in his own dirty clothes.

For the record, David has also stated he doesn't get the point of this blog, and said he has no intention of ever reading it (He never got on Insta or Snap either, and he only follows like five accounts on Twitter.) Which is probably for the best, because if I showed him what this Daryl person was writing about recently, his brain would explode. Anyway, whatever you hear about him, you'll probably hear from me or maybe Pete. And I intend on being as candid as anyone else who writes here...

Pete highlighted a few key posts for us me to read, laying out some best and worst case scenarios. It's been... interesting reading, to be sure.

I can't blame David for any of this but it doesn't make him pleasant to deal with, because it makes it feel like we're not in this together. Like my life hasn't been turned inside-out as well. He has this perception that being male is so great that everyone must prefer it, like I should be happier about it. And I can acknowledge that it comes with certain advantages and privileges, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't prefer my outside to match my inside. I'm a total girly-girl - I crave new purses and shoes, I fantasize about what I can do with my hair, I never leave the house without makeup. Of course that also means that if I ever do, I'm going to face a lot of remarks like "You look tired/sick today."

My point is, It's not fair to either of us that I'm Zack and he's Lena. Being a man doesn't seem like fun to me, it seems very banal. It's a real loss. Maybe it's ironic that Pete gets where I'm coming from, but maybe not... he's been to the other side, he "gets" the appeal, even if it comes with a sacrifice thanks to society (and, well, biology.) But you don't need me to extol the virtues of femininity here, I'm sure.

I just... look down at the borrowed crew-neck shirt I'm wearing and sigh. Then I re-apply deodorant because Zack is sweaty AF.

I can at least look on the bright side. If you have to be a guy, it pays to be a fit, young, pretty guy with high cheekbones and a trim waist. And beautiful eyelashes. Not a fan of the stubble, though. And if David has to be a woman, he's a financially well-off, older single (i.e. isn't going to get a nasty surprise when we get home) woman who runs her own company. God, what I'd give to be HBIC! I love David, but I'm not sure he's fit to run a snackbar. And Lena looks amazing for her age, I'd love to steal her skincare secrets - not that David appreciates any of that.

I don't know. I'm scared of the pendulum swinging too far the other way - as it seems to do for many, like Pete - and finding out that David, or I, prefer our new configurations. But like, we've got to find ways not to think it's just all miserable all the time.

At the very least we've got... eight months? A year? That's a long time to just sit and be huffy about something you can't change.

Jenn "Zack" Ryland

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Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Daryl/Magda: Clean Breaks, Maybe Not Clean Starts

I didn't exactly have a farewell with Harmon, and I'm sure that surprised the neighbors who had lived near Magda and Alicia for years, but what can you expect?  We just met a few weeks ago and he's still angry that my deciding to do what I want with this life has thrown a monkey wrench into his.  But how long did someone his age think he was going to live rent-free with mommy, anyway?

I can't say I exactly traveled light moving to New York, but I did purge a fair amount by sending them to the original Magda in Austin.  We're still kind of feeling each other out via Facebook Messenger right now, kind of unevenly, with her giving me pointers on how the various bits of her work go, although that's going to become a bit less relevant now that I'm at a different airport.  I think we both kind of want to find some common ground in how we both wound up where we are because of a relationship, but we're also both looking at the others situation as being kind of weird.

Still, we're doing it, and I couldn't help but feel extremely excited when I got off the plane in New York.  This want the life I'd originally planned, but even though I was going by Magda's name, I was starting to make her life my own.  As I walked past the crowds and chaos of the airport, I started arriving the pros and cons of keeping this job in my head.  As what is basically a retail job goes, it's not bad; there's a union and benefits and Magda has earned herself some seniority.  But it's neither the specific job or the kind of job I spent for years in college for, and it's not one that has a lot of potential for advancement.  But what else am I going to do?  My Microsoft certifications are in someone else's hands, and I don't necessarily have a lot of my own skills with which to start over at this point in my new life.

But J.T. was home when I rang the bell, and he smiled when he got a look at me.  The months as a woman and one as this one hasn't really given me the chance to figure out "subtle" yet, at least in terms of dressing, so I showed up at his apartments in jean shorts that, while tight, still go almost reach the knee, and an orange tank top that shows my boobs off with a pretty tight bra.  And sandals, because I have been spending a lot of time in airports and know not to go in for a lot of strappy or knotty bullshit when flying by now. 

"Hey," I say, "we're doing this."

"We are," he says, and pulls me into his apartment.  It's been a few weeks, and our clothes are on the floor fast.

We spoon for a while, and then I get up, slipping on my panties and his t-shirt.  I start walking around the place opening closet doors.

He looks up.  "What're you doing?"

"Looking for a spot to put my clothes.  Even if I were inclined to live out of a suitcase, this stuff wrinkles."

He got up and pulled some things out of the closet I was looking in.  "I guess that'll do for now."

"Oh, that should be plenty. I don't have a whole lot more on the way."

"Yeah, but that'll go to your place, right?"

I stopped putting dresses on hangers.  "What do you mean, 'my place'?"

"Just that, you know, I figured... at first...  I mean, we've only been together a few months."

"Dude, it may only have been a few months, but in case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty damn committed here!  You can't tell me you haven't noticed the big white tits."  I smiled while I said it, but I have to admit, I felt a tiny bit of panic.  Were we coming into this with such different ideas?  I know neither of us had really talked about forever or even really specifics, but, still...

"I know you are, I just...  Look, I know we've got something really special here, but sometimes it's good to have your own space, you know?  And if it doesn't work out, I mean, it's not like you haven't told new-Daryl that he can be you for good...  Have you?"

"No, but the way I see it is, the very fact that he's planning to go back to the Inn next year means we can't afford to screw around... metaphorically."  I smiled, hopefully wickedly.  "We've got to be all-in.  I didn't become Magda because I wanted to be a middle-aged white woman, or because I wanted to play the field.  I did it so we can make sure that this, you and me, is gonna work.  Should I bail now?"

"Oh, no.  I just didn't really realize how, uh, intense this was gonna be."

"That's okay.  And remember, intense isn't a bad thing--"

I grabbed his unit (confession: I bought something in a San Francisco sex shop so I could get used to the feeling of it in both my hands and pussy, though I haven't had the guts to put it in my mouth yet), which responded quickly, and we made it back to bed.  He fell asleep after, and I went back to unpacking.

Still, I hope Pete texts me soon, given that it looks like he's coming back to New York.  We might have stuff to talk about.


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Sunday, September 02, 2018

Jenn: Not the getaway I wanted

It's been a few days and I still can't believe it. I wake up in the morning and I'm different. I keep expecting to find myself in my comfy cozy bed with my boyfriend next to me in the body I'm supposed to have but it only takes a second to remember that's not the case. Then depending on the day, it makes me either excited, or sad.

I'll start from the beginning. My name's Jenn Ryland, I'm 26 years old, from Denver, CO. My BF David and I wanted a getaway and I'd never seen the ocean so I thought Maine would be nice. You, reader of this blog, know what happens next.

There were signs that maybe we should have turned around as soon as we got there. The rustic little Inn was a little more run-down than I was hoping for. And from the moment we got there we were bickering like usual, especially because I caught him giving the look to a beautiful black girl we saw coming the opposite way. He tried to deny it, and say that she had nodded at him first, but I know a wandering eye when I see one.

Whatever. We were both on edge because he's been unemployed all year and it has put a strain on our relationship. Maybe we've gotten stale. That's what this vacay was supposed to fix. Either that or break us up. But I wasn't going down without a fight, so I made it my mission to make him forget about everyone else: get done up, dress sexy, take him out, cheer him up, and of course ply him with liquor. And so far it had been working.

Maybe too well - the night "it happened" we were so trashed we passed out and didn't even notice. I vaguely recall being awakened by someone (David) thrashing around beside me in bed, but other than that...

Well, it was a shock when I woke up. Because I could immediately tell I was not me anymore. No, those hairy forearms and big feet with the unkempt toenails were a surprise, as was the male equipment and flat chest.

So was the presence of the woman next to me: older, probably in her mid-40;s, although with good skin and probably some work done (including in the chest) and short blonde hair cropped to her shoulders. But I'm not a total dumdum, I could see she was wearing David's college tee, and I could see what had happened to me. The "stranger" in my bed was my man.

I got up and found that I had been transformed into a skinny, Adam Levine-looking guy. I breathlessly tried to explain to David what I had figured out - as he regarded his new figure with shock and disgust ("Boobs?!" he cried out in horror, whipping his top off to examine the goods and inadvertently giving me a "show.") But just as we were determining our next move, there came a knock at the door.

I opened it a crack and saw a pretty Asian woman standing there. She flashed a Driver's License that had my new face on it. "Hi, you must be... this person."

"I guess so?" I winced.

"Don't be alarmed," she said authoritatively, "It happened to everyone here... you've become the previous visitors to this room. Only your luggage was in my room, because we --" she gestured to herself and me, "Were a couple. Well, Zack Collins and April Hashimoto."

She extended her hand. "My name's Pete, but you may have seen me walking around as a black woman named Brigette."

I glanced back to David, who was otherwise occupied.

We talked a little longer, as she explained that she was a return visitor who was unable to get her original male body back, but that wasn't the case for everybody, and this could be temporary for us, if we are able to arrange it as such.

As if anticipating my next question, she explained that nobody not affected by the curse could believe it, although there was a blog where we could pour our hearts out if we so desired.

Circling back, I asked how she knew "Zack and April" were a couple, and she produced the letters left behind. They also explained who David had become... Lena Howard.

Maybe you've heard of her. She's the founder and CEO of a Homeward, a "popular lifestyle brand." I'm not familiar with it, although browsing their website I see tons of candles and decor ideas that I love. Only now, she's in the body of a 3-year-old kid, in the custody of the real April and Zack - not really in any condition to be running a business.

I could argue that she's still more qualified than David, but I mean that affectionately.

April is her personal assistant, which is handy... if the boss disappears for a few extra weeks, nobody's going to tell her not to, and if she's not around, her PA doesn't exactly have any work to do. And me, er, Zack, he's a professional photographer. I've taken a few pics in my life, so while I don't know if I can slip effortlessly into that role, it's... well, doable. Plus, all being based out of NYC doesn't sound so bad.

I mean, what choice have we got, right?

Well, that's me, and my experience so far...


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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Jordan/Yuan-wei: Taking the Long Way from Boston to L.A.

I bitch enough about no longer being officially American any more that you guys are probably stick of hearing about it, but the last few months have been kind of crazy, trying to figure out how to transition from a student visa to a foreign worker one, while at the same time trying to make it to India for Benny and Kareena getting married.  It doesn't sound like so much, but back in my old life, I had a coworker from India who had a hell of a time getting back into the country after visiting family back home, and that was before Trump was elected and ICE officially adopted "fuck you, foreigner!" as its guiding principle.

Fortunately, I've been able to work it out with my new job so that I can go "home" to Hong Kong when my student visa expires, travel from there to India for a couple of weeks, and then return to California on my new work visa.  It is not necessarily the most possible travel over the next month - I'm not being routed through Cape Town or anything - but even flying first class, I'm kind of dreading it.  It's a lot of being in the air for a move that seems like it should be less trouble and to watch Benny get married.

That's, like, really weird.  Part of it is that after nearly two years of Benny doing his own thing, he's suddenly asking for my opinion on a while bunch of shit, and I don't want to look at someone with a thinner version of my original face and think he looks kind of sexy in that tux.  It's fucking disturbing.  But I've kind of got to fill him in on some stuff, because a few second and third cousins from Hong Kong that I meet as a kid have RSVPed, and Max can't really fill him in on what he might be expected to remember.  I'm also the only person he feels he can practice his Cantonese with aside from Max and "Bingbing", and I guess I should help there.  He's not very good, having started learning with good intentions but let other things take priority, and now he's trying to cram what I learned since I was a kid into one summer.

Oh, shit - I just realized that practically Chinese person at this wedding will be some sort of relative, and they'll have no idea that's the case, but because I'm single, hot, and rich, practically every auntie there is going to be encouraging them to get close to me.  That's...  Ugh.  I mean, okay, we're taking about distant cousins that I'm not biologically related to anymore, but still, I'll know, and who knows how avoiding them might look.

It's weird enough to want me too just give the whole thing a pass, but Annette says she'll never forgive me if I do, because "Indian wedding" is some sort of bucket list thing, and, besides, when will Benny and I ever get a better chance to tell my parents who we really are?  Would we have to wait for someone to die?  And is their son getting married even a big enough event in their lives for this to work?

No time to back out, though - lots of flights and hotels booked, and it might be my last time to hang with Annette for a while (and she's also reminded me that if I'm not there to help her not be overwhelmed among a bunch of people speaking Cantonese, the whole basis of me becoming Yuan-wei falls apart).  She's already in New York, trying to find something in the publishing industry, which she says is some weird déjà vu considering that she's already moved there once and watched Marybeth look for this sort of job.

She's cleaned my apartment here in Boston out, too, taking everything she could fit in a U-Haul that I wasn't going to cart to California, much less Hong Kong.  It's not everything, though, so take this as a heads-up:  There's going to be some good Allston Christmas stuff outside my place this weekend.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Jonah/Krystle: New Do

Parenting tip:  At eighteen months, babies don't really care that mommy is also doing the thing that makes them cry.  They just cry.

Today it was a trip to the hairdresser.  I've been really casual about what I do with my hair ever since I first became Krystle - the original got it straightened every few weeks, but I really only did that once, when Joseph was released from serving out the end of Lamont's jail term, and you can't really say that went well.  I'd been shaving my head for a couple years before going to the Inn, and then mostly just got a trim every couple weeks to keep myself from looking like I've decided to be someone from a 1970s movie for Halloween.  It's comfortable and easier than a lot of options, but it's not exciting.  And, for the most part, I'm cool with that, but...

Well, I am trying to date right now, uncomfortable as that is, so I should probably at least try to look attractive.  But there's more; if I'm going to be Little Moira's mother, then there's a bunch of lady-stuff I should be good at before I've got to pass it down, and if I'm just going to be Krystle, I should know what to do with my appearance.  I guess I spent a long time treating my appearance like something I didn't need to worry about, because I didn't want to be noticed and I figured I'd be giving this life back and Krystle could worry about how people had been looking at her.  But now it's in my lap for good.

Anyway, that's why I went to the hair salon to get Moira's hair braided, which would get her baby afro under control and would be relatively easy on me - she can go swimming, we don't have to brush it after her bath, and she'll be ready to go first thing in the morning.  But, oh, did she not like it.  She didn't like having to sit still, she didn't like a stranger's hands pulling at her hair, she didn't like the smells and noise around her, and she let everyone know.  My daughter is cute and funny most of the time, but she can cry when she doesn't like something, and every time she does, I feel like I am not cut out for any of this.

That I was also getting my hair braided at the same time, so it wasn't just something I was doing to her?  She did not care.  At all.  Probably made no connection in her little baby brain whatsoever that Mommy was doing the same thing and not crying.  Nope, she just saw that now I had little beads in my hair that she wanted to grab, which now has me worried how the ones in her hair will go over the next time she's playing with other babies.

And not that she's got a point, but...  I kind of don't know if this is the hairstyle for me.  I look okay, I guess, but I kind of freak out about looking too girly even if I do kind of want to look feminine enough to be attractive.  I'm a mom, and I guess I should look a little more serious than I feel like I do with these.

It's dumb.  I'm worrying about my hair.  But I've got to make the right impression on people, and for all that I thought girls were silly for spending so much time and energy on it in high school, I guess it was good practice for them, getting it all down before landing a guy was really important.


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