Thursday, January 16, 2020

Val: On Trial

A little after it came out that I was back to seeing Rafe casually, I was called into the common area for a serious talk.

My roommates - Maddie, Charli, and Ariel, were putting me "on trial." It's a thing we do when one of us does something the others don't like. Sometimes it's for stupid things like getting a bad haircut, and sometimes it's... a little more dramatic than that.

I wasn't surprised, but I was a little irritated. Yes, we all know that Rafe is not the best possible person for me to be with. He's crass and annoying, immature and directionless. Sometimes that irritates me, and sometimes I'm sympathetic because I kind of see some of myself in him.

The charge: That I'm selling myself short by dating someone there's no future with. That I'm hurting myself and others by letting him have me whenever he wants without expecting much in return.

My defense: I'm a grown woman and I went into this with open eyes, and it's honestly prudish to say a woman can't enjoy casual sex without feeling like she's being taken advantage of.

Plus, he's not a bad guy. He's smart, he makes me laugh, and, let's not be modest here, he's a great lay.

Do I see myself settling down with him? No, of course not. But fate put me back into my mid-20's, biologically speaking - do I need to be with my soulmate right now? If so, where is he?

He and I know the deal. No commitment, no strings attached. We're honest about what we're doing. Last time, I got antsy because I was craving an emotional relationship he couldn't offer, plus I thought I was going back to the Inn. I had a year of solitude to see if I could make that emotional relationship, and... nothing.

Well, not nothing.

See, that was a big part of Maddie's case against, as she led the prosecution. She felt like I was short-changing Kevin, and that I had cut off any progress we were making toward true coupledom by dividing my attention between him and Rafe. Maddie "ships" me with Kevin.

I told her it wasn't going to happen - Kevin was a rock I couldn't budge. I put all my best moves on him and he never seemed to see me as more than a companion. Nothing I was doing with Rafe violated that arrangement or gave me any reason to feel bad.

"Okay then," she said. "Then why don't you talk to  Kevin about it?"

That made me nervous.

Kevin knows that sometimes I'm not available, or that sometimes I have to hurry home for something, but I have never specified that it's so that I can sleep with another guy. I don't really think it's any of his business and he's never indicated to me that it would bother him. And yet, the idea of bringing it up to him did seem very... heavy.

I told him the next time I was over there. I was making risotto and he was watching, giving me those gooey eyes that, in another person would normally mean "I want to jump your bones right now." The guilt was gnawing at me.

"So..." I said as I stirred, "I think you should know I'm kind of seeing someone."

His gaze didn't break. A long pregnant pause held in the air.

"Go on..." he said, his voice hard to read the way men sometimes are.

"Well, it's not serious," I stammered nervously, "But, it's been a while. And I just didn't think to tell you because, well.. it's kind of private and I... wasn't sure what to say."

"Well," he twisted his lips, "You could say, 'So I'm kind of seeing someone.'"

"I mean, you and I are just... friends, right? You don't see me that way, do you?"

The answer took longer to give than I was comfortable with.

I started to say, "I man, you told me--"

"Yeah, yeah," he interrupted, "No, I know. It's fine," he said, in a tone that suggested maybe it's not fine.

"You and I have a really special friendship," I said, cringing inside at what I was babbling, "It was just obvious it wasn't anything... more than that."

"Yeah," he said, and got real quiet, and for a while I wondered if he was mad at me. I wanted to keep talking but I couldn't think of anything to say that didn't sound stupid.

Eventually, the food was done cooking. "Um hey," I said awkwardly, "Can you get some plates down for us?"

He snapped out of his trance. "Oh, yeah, of course. Sorry, I know my kitchen is built for people over 5 feet tall."

"Yeah, I'm used to it," I shrugged.

He set our places, and before the silence crept back in, he said, "I'm happy for you."

"Huh?"

"That's what friends say, isn't it?"

"Only if they mean it."

He smiled, "I'm happy for you. I'm mad for myself, because you deserve... well, anything you want. Things haven't changed for me, Val. I mean,in some ways they have, because I could picture... you know. Maybe. Someday. I didn't want you to wait for me, though. I wish it could be me, but... it's not."

I didn't know how to respond to that.

Another long silence was brewing, when he asked, "So when you say it's not serious..."

"You really want to know?"

"I'm your friend, aren't I?"

"Well," I said, "It's really just sex. Sometimes breakfast. One or two dinners. I don't do this sort of thing with him."

"That's good to hear. You ever go ice skating with him?"

"I told you, I can't skate. I'll fall over," I laughed, referring to a previous conversation we had about going to Rockefeller Center together.

"I'll believe it when I see it," he snickered. "So, this guy..."

"We have a good vibe, but he's not boyfriend material. Plus, we work together, so I don't really feel the need to see that much more of him."

"You should quit," he said, apropos nothing.

"And do what?"

"Whatever you're going to do," he said. "You're gonna pour coffee the rest of your life?"

"Well, I was planning on marrying a rich single dad but that didn't work out," I snorted.

Unamused, he pressed on. "I'm serious. Quit your job. Take a business course. Open your own shop. Do more catering. Whatever you want. Please, you'll feel so much more rewarded."

"I... don't think I can," I sighed. "I have no money."

"And you never will at this rate," he scolded. "Weren't you saying you're about to spend thousands of dollars on plastic surgery?"

"Breast reduction surgery. I need it."

"Why not put that off and put that money towards some college courses?"

"Because I'd rather be physically comfortable and broke," I scoffed.

"I'll pay," he said. "Let me help you."

"The last thing I need is a white knight," I said. "Just let me live my life, okay?"

"Fine, no problem," he said.

I grew frustrated inside. He wasn't saying anything I didn't already think, but only I get to think those things. Ill quit the coffee shop when I'm good and ready. When I know what I want. It used to be, I would go from place to place and never think about the future. It was freeing, but I don't want to be that way anymore, so I don't want to quit on a whim only to decide I don't want to run my own business or go to school. And I definitely don't want to be told what to do by a guy I'm not even dating.

Part of me thinks I was just being sensitive - which bugs me because that makes me think this is a product of my gender and not how I am really supposed to be feeling. But God knows there was plenty of folks who thought they knew what was best for me when I was a man, and I didn't listen then either, it just bugged me less. So if my feelings about it have changed, well, that's all part of how I've changed overall. And I've accepted that, so watch out world.

That was back before Christmas. A lot has happened so I'm just getting around to describing it now. But it really affected our relationship. We don't see each other as much, barely text. Oir friendsgip really took a hit and I don't know if we can come back from it. I miss him, but it seems like things just ran their course. That makes me sad, but like he said, I shouldn't have been waiting for him.

-Val

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Steven as Shona: Okay, perhaps I'm a little cursed

The trick with this "curse" is that you can't just sit around and do nothing, even under the guise that you are "making observations" about your "new life." It doesn't do much good to try that if you're not actually living any kind of life. A person still has to eat.

Shone is a wonderful person but she wanted different things out of life from me. I was career focused, getting my Masters and working in a lab. She wanted other things, leaving her not really qualified for anything I wanted to do with myself.

Being female, I can handle. Weighing over 300 Lbs is only a marginal drawback. Having to work in Global-Mart Superstore? That's where I truly feel cursed.

Okay, I don't have to work at Global-Mart, I'm not an indentured slave, but I was running out of options. I have a friend, Kenny, who manages one. I e-mailed him to let him know that my "friend" was looking for work, and he agreed to interview me.

I made sure to pay special attention to my appearance that day. I know it's only a low-paying retail job, but I needed it, and honestly, going into an interview looking the way I normally do, might put me at a disadvantage. I hadn't had much reason, opportunity or desire to learn how to be "feminine" these past few months. My hair was a little stringy and greasy, my skin pale. These are things that I'm okay with, but I know that success is largely image based, especially for women. I went to the hair dresser  got my make-up done at the cosmetics counter, which was an excruciating experience. I also wore a very supportive bra and a top that highlighted my cleavage, because I felt it couldn't hurt.

Before I knew it, Kenny and I were chatting like we were just old friends - because, I suppose, that was what we are, even if he didn't know it. I told him that "Steven" had really talked him up as a good friend, relating some of our old stories (in a way that flattered him.) We were so busy laughing it barely felt like an interview. I got the job.

The job itself is menial and far below me, but such is my "curse." It's not glamorous and sometimes I worry that there is far too much pressure for such a go-nowhere position but it pays the bills, as they say, and gets me out of the house.

The women are the store have been good. I'll admit, I've never been very good with women so it was hard to bring myself to talk to them at first, but when they all started flocking toward me like they already knew me I felt very welcome. It dawned on me later that I didn't have to worry about impressing them, since sex and romance were out of the question, I could just be myself and they would accept it. Even if I don't seem like a "normal" woman, there's no reason "a" woman couldn't say or do the things that I do, like express a preference for Deep Space Nine over The Next Generation, or try to explain the nuances in recent academic studies of generational biological mutation as they relate to allergies.

The guys don't seem to have much interest in me. Every time I try to talk to them they brush me off. Even Kenny seems to keep his distance, although he's the manager, so it's not like we run into each other a lot, which sucks because I thought he and "Shona" had something of a bond based on our interview.

So that's my curse, and I'm sorry it's not as dramatic as some others. Yes, I menstruate, and yet I have broken one or two chairs, but not being able to use my mind to work has been the worst part.

Well, that any not knowing where the real Shona is. I lie up at night worrying.Having to see her face every day as a reminder... well, it's enough to make one stop using mirrors.

Except, haha, I can't, because I started wearing lipstick and now I feel like I will be shunned if I stop.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Jonah/Krystle: I Didn't Even Do Anything!

I was so excited about Thanksgiving.  It had been a long time, I think, but I was finally going to meet Calvin's parents.  I'm not sure how long that usually takes - my only real previous experience dating was in high school and everyone kind of knows everyone in that town - but given that he met Momma Kamen and Karla pretty quickly, it sure seemed like we were lagging behind on that count.  I know we're more local, and I never had the feeling that he had to tiptoe around me being black or having a kid, so maybe it wasn't anything important.

I did make sure I packed the sort of dress I could wear to church, though, and spent more time on what shoes to bring than I ever thought I would as a kid.  Even shoes with just a couple inches of heel take up space in a suitcase!  I almost considered a perm or pulling out the wig I inherited, but, nah.  They're going to have to get to know the real me soon enough.  I get Moira bundled up and we head to Calvin's apartment.

He doesn't say anything when we ring the bell, just buzzes us up, which isn't the usual but not weird enough to notice.  I do notice that the TV's on and he's not already in his coat, and ask if we're early.

"No, Kiki, you're right on time."

I do that thing where you pull your head back in confusion.  "What's with the new nickname?  Is that how you've been referring to me when talking to your folks or something?"

"You know what it is."  I must still look confused, because he hits a button on his remote, and then a video starts playing.  I recognize his friend Big Stu and a couple of other folks from that guy's Halloween party, but I can't really see where they are until someone says to put your hands together for Kinky Kiki, the phone swims around to capture a stage with a pole, and just as I realize what's about to happen, the original Krystle struts out in a sexy schoolgirl outfit while that old "Hot For Teacher" song plays.

I quickly move my attention to my daughter.  "Moira, go in the kitchen and play!"

Her eyes are glued to the screen.  "Mommy..."

"That's right, Moira, that's your Mommy."

I've barely got time to shoot Calvin a dirty look before squatting down and turning my daughter away from the TV, then unlocking my phone and giving it to her with one of her favorite games opened.  "Moira, go play.  This is grown-up stuff."  She looks upset, but does it, dragging her feet.

I'm furious as I turn to Calvin, nothing on my mind but why he would want to embarrass me like that in front of my daughter.  I'm about to ask that very question when he says that this is his favorite part.

Apparently this was Stu's friend Ned's bachelor party, and Krystle is leaning over, pushing her breasts right into the groom-to-be's face, her blouse already on the floor.  Someone is sticking a five-dollar bill into her bra, and she's licking her lips.

In that moment, I can't imagine how Calvin thinks that's me.  I don't think I've ever had that expression on my face, her arms are skinny, she's got no abs, her breasts haven't been through nursing, her hair is straight and she's wearing a ton of makeup, and even when I've got heels on, my butt doesn't do what hers is doing as she walks.  I actually say "that's not me", not loud, but to myself, the way I used to when looking in the mirror.

Calvin doesn't get that, of course.  "Of course it's you!  Stu thought he recognized you right away but wasn't sure until he remembered the video, which he sent to me with a giant thumbs-up."  He crosses his arms and glares at me, although his eyes are also dating to the screen where Krystle is twerking in her pleated skirt.

I take a deep breath and try to center myself.  It's been a while since I really had to worry about Krystle's history, but I used to, and I'm not a scared kid anymore.  "Okay," I say, "I used to do that.  It's not like I wasn't ever going to tell you, it's just, you know, not the sort of thing that comes up in everyday conversation.  It's not me, you know, any more."  I smile nervously, hoping this is where he sees how embarrassed I am and forgives me this little white lie.

It is not.  If anything, he looks angrier.

"I think it is.  I think you've just been leading me on because you accidentally wound up with a kid and you think I'm stepdad material."

"What?  No!  I mean, you are stepdad material, and we probably wouldn't still be going out if you weren't, but that's just something you think about when you've got a daughter, you know?"

"Drop the act!"

"What act?  This is me!  That on the video is the act!"  Well, maybe it wasn't at the time, but it sure would be now.

"Riiiiiiight.  You just somehow got bad at walking in heels and doing your makeup and everything by the time you met me.  And suddenly your father was part of your life until recently, and you'd always gone to church, and only had sex that one time you got knocked up!"

"I--"  All of that was true, which was why it was how I always talked about my life with him, but it was not true for the original Krystle.  "I wasn't pretending.  I can't explain it to you, but I wasn't pretending.  I woke up different one day, and I literally couldn't live like I had been.  You won't believe me, but I didn't know how to be that kind of girl."

"Just stop lying!  I wouldn't have cared that you used to strip, but this whole alternate reality you made to seduce me is sick!"

"I didn't try to seduce you!  We just met and liked each other!  Are you going to say I picked your pocket so that I could look all innocent returning your book to you?"

"That would explain a lot!"

"Are you kidding me with this?  Do you really think I saw you at the RMV and made an immediate plan to land the intern by pretending that I'm no good in bed?"  Sure, this made a lot more sense than what really happened, but it sounded stupid too!

And I was just angry, too angry to be smart.  Everyone else I know who has been someone else for over four years seems like they've figured out how to make some explanation up for this on the fly, but I haven't.  Plus, I was being called some sort of scheming, deceptive woman for actually being as honest as I could with him, and it just made me angry.

Plus, the whole thing got kind of, I don't know, gross at one point, like now that the idea of slutty Krystle was in his head, he kind of wanted that, asking why I've been holding out on him.

Suffice it to say, we didn't wind up going to his folks for Thanksgiving, and it felt really lonely - Momma Kamen had decided to pick up some overtime since Karla and I would both be with our guys, and of course everybody else had plans.  I was halfway through dialing my father's number, but then I found myself debating what would be worse - nobody else being there, so I could be lectured about how they had told me that staying Krystle would end in tears, or friends who wouldn't believe I was Jonah even if we told them, meaning I have to pretend to be some black-sheep cousin, and agent I trying to avoid lying?

Fortunately, it's not a big deal to Little Moira, especially since we could watch the dog show and the rerun of the parade.  I even talked myself into it actually being pretty cool to have pizza delivered for Thanksgiving dinner, especially since, as a woman, I was probably going to get put to work in the kitchen otherwise.

That lasted right up until Moira asked how the trip went.  I tried to play it cool, like some minor incident had kept it from happening, since I was hoping that maybe Calvin would call and say he'd overreacted, but then more came out.  I honestly couldn't remember whether I'd ever told Moira about the stripper stuff, but she was awesome about not acting like it was a big deal either way.  Thankfully, she knows better than to try and cheer me up with spa days or the like, but she is great about asking how I doing when she sees me, and getting me out of the house to do stuff with her namesake.

And then, last night, I finished up work, sat down at the bar for a second, and just started crying like I haven't since realizing I was pregnant.

Fortunately, Ashlyn was working the bar, so I could tell her absolutely everything.  She patted my back a few times, and finally said she sometimes forgets I'm so young and skipped a bunch of steps.  "This is your first hard breakup, isn't it?"

"I... I guess?"

"Well, I'm not going to say it necessarily gets easier with practice, but look at it this way. You're getting a lot of your learning done at once.  First breakup period, first as a woman, first because you're not quite the woman you appear to be..."

"There will be more?"

She choked back a laugh.  "Oh, honey, you didn't think you were going to marry the first guy who was nice to you, did you?"

"Kind of!"

"Oh, no, trust me, just having been men doesn't mean we're going to be good at this - God, look at me!  I should be where Penny is by now, but...  It's hard, kid.

"But I didn't--"

"Yeah, I know. I hate to say better luck next time, because it sounds flip, but I'm guessing you're not going to quit."

She's right, of course, although I don't know that I need to get back out there right this minute.  Let me get through the holidays and then worry about being back on track by Valentine's Day.

-Jonah/Krystle

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Valerie: The Changes Never Stop

I found out recently that I'm lactose intolerant.

I had been feeling very gross off and on recently and I couldn't put my finger on why. Well, I guess I had some kind of an inkling but I probably dismissed it because I knew I never had a problem with it before. But the other week we were decorating out Apartment Christmas Tree and that meant lots of boozy Egg Nog, and that ended with me in the bathroom until 3 AM and turning down Rafe for the night (he was disappointed, and very immature about it when I told him why.)

I know this barely sounds like news, but it is to me. I had really hoped I was done being surprised by my body. We've reached a good place, me and it. I know when I'm about to start my period, I found a good sleeping position, and I think I've figured out where all my erogenous zones are (some would surprise you.) Then it goes and throws me a curveball - it's changed.

Changed. Huh. Funny that. It was like I took for granted that the body I inherited from the original Val would always be what it was. But the truth is, we are all changing all the time, in ways we barely notice. Sometimes it's health, sometimes it's taste. And it don't take a magical Inn to spark these changes sometimes. Things are going to change and keep changing.

So on that note...

I made a consultation for next week to get my breasts reduced. It's crazy that it has taken me this long to woman up and do it... it's been a year now since Cynthia gifted me with the money to do so if I so desired, because that was a goal of hers, but she was living hand-to-mouth (and dared not ask her high-earning-but-indebted fiance for the cash.)

It wasn't a goal of mine. Sure, my boobs and I haven't always gotten along. I know what it's like to be a woman with much smaller breasts, as Lauren and Judith. But both of those lives seem just as alien to me as Tyler's. I identify myself as Valerie, and Valerie's body is this. Short and busty.

Well, there's no making me taller.

In a way I had made my peace with them. I always have complaints - they're damned inconvenient, it's hard to find nice clothes that fit, they make me sore, they draw a ton of attention and the minute I forget I have them, I knock something over on the counter with them or dip them in ketchup.

But they're mine. I'm attached to them because I woke up with them as part of me when I began being Valerie, and I identify them as a defining characteristic of myself-as-her. Not to mention sometimes the attention they attract is not unwanted, and deep down there's still a kernel of a man inside of me who thinks it's stupendous to wake up every morning and scrub up the hugest pair of breasts I've ever seen.

But they're biologically wrong. They are literally too big for my body and I'm pretty sure a lot of damage has already been done. In my head, my reluctance comes from the idea of getting rid of my breasts entirely and suddenly becoming flat. It would change my life but also I worry it would leave me feeling less like a woman (Meg has reminded me over and over that this is the wrong way to think.) They're roughly an H cup (once you get this big, sizes are really just approximate) and I could probably go down to a full C and still feel sexy and busty and proportionate and healthy all at once, but it's scary because that is like making this body into something other than the one I woke up in and after all this time I value that stability. Even if it leaves me unable to sleep on my stomach.

Truth is, it's stupid not to do. I guess I just wanted more time to be sure. Knowing my body is changing on me in strange ways kind of spurred me to think about this again.

(Feels self up)

Get them while you can...

-Val

Friday, November 15, 2019

Simon/Joy: That Thing Is Heavier Than It Looks!

My man has good timing.  Or maybe just phenomenal retention of details over time.  It will have to remain a mystery, because I'm not going to dredge up the thing that would answer the question one way or another with him.

It's been roughly a year since one of his visits to California lined up with me being at a low point, as the man living my life dropped a "Save The Date" on me to say he was going to stay as Simon for, presumably, life.  That date was last weekend, but instead of moping around some dismal wedding venue in Cleveland, feeling conflicted about what message bringing my rich boyfriend sends to the man who stole my life, I was lying on the beach in Jamaica, letting a charming Scottish man fetch me vodka martinis, pondering getting a Honey Ryder bikini for selfie purposes, even if I don't quite have the same sort of curves Ursula Andress did.

Indeed, by Sunday night I was relaxed and content by the campfire, showing Iain how to make s'mores, which are apparently not a big thing in Scotland.  I was thinking of it as just a vacation, not connected with that other thing, so I was genuinely surprised when, as we were about to dose the fire, he got down on one knee, pulled a jewelry box from somewhere, and asked me to marry him.

I stopped beating for a moment.  I don't know what goes through a real girl's mind then but I had so many thoughts all at once.  I had never imagined seeing this scene from this perspective, looking down at at a man on one knee with the ring extended toward me like the really cheesy bit in a 3D movie, and there's an amazing feeling when it hits you that someone likes you enough to make this offer.

And also, I did itI've played the part of a woman so successfully that there was nothing in the back of his mind that made proposing feel wrong.  I'd made him like the parts of me that were different from the original Joy, maybe even more, because he hadn't asked her.  And, yes, I'd landed myself a rich husband, one who would give me peace and security no matter what else being Joy threw at me.  It was the biggest sales job I've ever done, with the biggest commission.

You may say that sounds mercenary and awful, but I didn't feel any guilt as I said "yes" with genuine delighted surprise and let him slide the ring onto my finger.  I'm not the first pretty girl to use my good looks to lock in a comfortable life, and I won't be the last - and most of the others grew up learning how to navigate the world as a woman.

And I do love him.  It's probably not the same way a regular woman lives a man, but I feel good when I'm around him and warmer as he held me and kissed me.  I feel a bit of envy where most girls probably just feel desire, and I probably measure him against what I'd do in a similar situation more than his other girlfriends have, but he scores well, so what of it?

All of that did make it feel different when we had sex as soon as getting back to the hotel room.  We'd liked each other before; now we belonged to each other, and we were both a bit more aggressive and careful with what we were holding.  I think I may have enjoyed it bit more, too - it was almost like back when I first discovered my clit and was learning new ways to stimulate it with each new guy.  No pressure, just fun.

Still, when I got into the shower afterward, taking off my earrings and necklace and other jewelry, I looked at the ring and had a brief moment where I didn't know whether to take it off or not, thinking that girls who had planned to get married since they were kids knew but I didn't because I'm a fake.  I decided not to take it off, but it took a second, and Iain noticed the hesitation.  He thought it was funny when I said that I'd just realized I'd never be totally naked again.

I had a quick moment of panic when we got to the airport because of it.  I think that most of us guys the Inn turned into girls tend to go light on jewelry, and I always take it off before going through airport security, but obviously this wasn't coming off.  It was a silly thing to worry about - did I think every engaged woman or married couple took these things off and risked losing them in the x-ray machine? - but I didn't think about it until that moment.

Then we got home and it was time to show off the ring, and that was kind of weird.  Not at first - Sir Robert was the first person we told and showed, and he was just as sweet as can be.  Weathers and some of the other help may not have been completely pleased - I get the feeling some of them see Iain marrying an American who isn't rich as beneath him and somehow them by extension - but to hell with them.  I may be able to fire them if they give me crap by this time next year.

I haven't made a while lot of female friends of my own here yet - we travel, split time between the manor and London, and lots of Iain's friends are couples anyway - so that's kind of weird.  I see them with him, and my first instinct is to kind of be causal, but he wants to tell them, and I get it.  It's a big deal, and a really nice ring, after all, and I've certainly liked it when a girl showed off a gift I gave her in my old life, but it kind of starts to feel one-sided at a certain point.  He's not wearing a ring showing that he's claimed and off the market, and I've got to relate the whole story of him getting down on one knee like I was surprised and flattered and not like this is something I've been working toward, even though I'm pretty sure some of these women were just as mercenary as me.

Joy's parents are thrilled, but I'm already wondering what the next year's going to be like.  The bride's family isn't people who can be minimized when wedding planning, but I've been living my own life.  They probably know a lot more about Joy's dream wedding than I do, and I'm guessing it might be useful.  I don't have a dream wedding, after all, and living her dream is probably better than just going through the motions.

After which I'll be Joy McKinnon.  I suppose I should be a little sad about that, but it's not like "Kershaw" means that much to me.

Still, there's a lot coming up, because I've got this ring on my finger, even if most of my life is staying the same.

-Simon/Joy

Monday, November 11, 2019

Valerie: Two and a Half Men

I don't really count myself as half a man anymore, but the reference is too apt not to use. For my purposes it's better if I think of myself as all-woman, and yet maybe that's not true either.

One night after Rafe and I had sex, we got to talking - it's rare, but it happens and honestly when he feels chatty we do have a good chemistry. I was talking about some of my negative experiences in dating, and he said it wasn't surprising that I couldn't find a match.

Slightly offended, I asked why.

"Well, don't take this the wrong way, but... you're kind of like, basically a dude."

I stared a hole right through him. Of course I knew what he was talking about, but I didn't want to.

"Is that so," I asked.

"Yeah, I don't know what it is about you, but you're the opposite of every girl."

"Why, because I like sports and don't love shopping?"

"No - you actually do like shopping. And you cook and clean."

"And these things are usually considered girly..." I said.

"It's your attitude. I've been taking sociology classes. Gender studies. It's like you weren't socialized like a normal chick. You seem like you could hardly give a fuck about relationships and intimacy and communicating, you're more about straight-up facts and details. You're a little more masculine, a little colder and harder than other chicks."

"First of all," I said with annoyance, "It can't be right to stereotype a whole gender like that." I was trying desperately - maybe ironically but here's where we're at - to downplay the idea that I am a guy inside.

"Maybe," Rafe admitted, "But there's something unusual about you, and I bet after one date most guys can sense it, and they decide you're too much trouble. Or like, dating you would be too much like dating a guy."

"Isn't that what most guys want?"

"They think they do," he said, "but then they have it and it's like... oh, shit, this is weird."

"And it's not weird for you?"

"I'm not dating you," he noted pointedly. "Or maybe I'm a little gay, I don't know."

"Me neither," I said, and quickly got us off the topic.

It was a few weeks into my new casual non-relationship with Rafe. Things were going about as well as could be expected. I was still hanging out with Kevin, although there was a definite change in our relationship. I didn't feel the need to tell him I was sleeping with somebody else - being that he had passed up every opportunity he had, I figured I didn't owe him an explanation, and at the time I still wasn't sure if Rafe and I were a thing worth mentioning.

I've been doing my best to keep things separate. On Halloween, for example, I let it slip to Rafe that I didn't have any other plans that night. I haven't met Kevin's kids yet because, well, I'm not "that person" and it doesn't seem fair, to any of us, for the kids to get to know me if this isn't really a relationship. It's something we've spoken about over coffee, during our many soul-searching chats.

Rafe seemed a little "off" when I proposed we do something for the night. It struck me that he may have thought I was trying to back him into a, god forbid, boyfriend-girlfriend type situation. So I scrambled to explain, which I probably shouldn't have had to do, that I really just mean I would be up for doing anything and it would be best (ie, I would feel more comfortable, as a single woman) if there was someone there I knew.

He stifled his irritation and we made some plans, but I was regretting it. I was flashing back to the previous year when I was starting to pin some boyfriend-type expectations on him and he made it clear he wasn't interested in the role. I wondered if I was putting myself through too much of a wringer again.

The night was fixing to be a shitshow of epic proportions. He insisted we arrive separately. He didn't wear a costume, which made me feel silly for wearing a cowgirl getup, with Daisy Dukes and my boobs basically all the way out under a gingham shirt, in my one industrial-strength pushup bra. But whatever - I looked cute and hot at the same time, and he looked like a dope because everyone else was in costume.

He made it clear he wasn't there to keep me company, chatting up every girl he could meet - and striking out with pretty much all of them. I'll admit I felt a twinge of jealousy. It's hard to say why. We're not exclusive. I give lots of my time and attention to a whole other guy. It's unfair to expect Rafe to only be with me. And yet the idea of him going home with anyone but me really bugged me.

I hated feeling that way. So I downed some tequila and hit the dance floor.

I can't stress this enough - I cannot dance. Whatever rhythm women naturally possess was not handed down to me when I became one. But I have hips and other parts that are fun to shake awkwardly, and men are usually just impressed enough by the sight of a woman in motion that talent doesn't really play into it.

Men started to chat me up. Because of the walls I keep around myself, I guess, it doesn't happen often - it's not like I hit the clubs in my spare time, it's not like I seek attention usually, but when I want it, I get it.

Only problem is, when I got it, I found I really didn't want it. Men can be such a nuisance. Few of them have anything interesting to say, mostly they're just looking for ways to compliment your body and impress you with their job or their money. Then it's so hard to get away it feels like you're stuck. I like them better when they're shutting up and getting physical. So I danced with a few guys, which made me feel less claustrophobic. With enough liquor and the right atmosphere you kinda don't notice they're starting to get bolder, take liberties, put their hands in places where they wouldn't with the lights on. You don't mind, it's all in fun... but your mind starts to wander.

One guy was dressed as Dustin from Stranger Things - no, not interested in making out with someone dressed as a child. Another guy was he grim reaper, but the face paint was off-putting. Every guy, there was some reason not to cut loose.

I checked on Rafe. He was having fun but it was clear he was giving up on the game. So when I came back to him, he was more open to it. I asked him if he wanted to get out of there, and he said of course, and that was how we ended up back at my place for the night.

That was when we had that conversation. It's been ringing in my ears ever since. It bugged me enough to be told I seemed like a guy - I know I'll never be someone who was born to be a woman, but I like to think I've grown into it and pass nicely as one. It actually hurt to hear that wasn't necessarily the case.

I definitely thought things didn't work out with any of my dates because I had rejected them - because I'm at a point in my life where the directionless boys I was attracting didn't meet the standards of what I wanted to be with. But none of them seemed too driven to be with me either.

I think that's why I like being with Kevin. He's the only guy I've met in this life who is older and more experienced than me, and I guess feeling young brings out the girlish youthfulness that makes me feel feminine. I feel like I'm the person I really want to  e when I'm around him. I feel like I'm taking care of his emotional needs in a way I never thought I could, and he does the same for me, in away - but at a distance. It hurts and yet it makes me feel good.

This shit is complicated. No wonder why I need sweaty, unemotional sex with Rafe to ease my mind.

Between the two it really feels like I have it all, and yet... it never seems to come together.

-Val

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Jonah/Krystle: Costume Season

I don't really think my childhood was weird, or even different in a way that's out of line with being Krystle, but every once in a while, I get reminded that I might be the weird guy in some situations even if I'd never heard of the Trading Post Inn. 

Like, Sunday afternoon, Calvin's friend Annalise had a six-hour layover in Boston on the way from Bangor to Atlanta, so we decided to meet for an early dinner.  She asks what Little Moira is up to, and I say mostly blocks, although she can't decide if she wants to be an architect or Godzilla.  She says that at least that's Halloween sorted, and I chuckle, saying that she add the second person today to talk about getting a Halloween costume for a girl who isn't even three yet, and the first time, can you believe it, was right outside church!

Annalise gives me the "I don't expect people under fifty to mention church" look (something,  thankfully, Calvin doesn't do anymore) before glancing at Calvin, who shrugs and then looking back at me.  "Is..... that weird?"

I shrug.  "Only if you think suddenly talking up a pagan celebration of witchcraft outside the Lord's house is weird."

Annalise half-chuckles and nods, saying that's fair, but Calvin looks like I've just said something ridiculous. 

"If that's how you feel, why'd you say you were up for Big Stu's party on Saturday?"

Because I honestly hadn't given the date much thought when I answered Calvin's text, I thought.

"Because I am!  I'm looking forward to it, I just think Halloween stuff a at church is kind of out of place, is all!" I said.

Don't get the wrong idea, it's not like I don't like Halloween; even though my parents would make annual noises about how it was a gateway to satanism and paganism, they handed candy out and bought me a costume while I was in elementary school so I wouldn't be given a hard time, and what kid doesn't like candy?  It just sort of fell away as I got older, and my friends and I were just getting old enough to, you know, appreciate the particular sort of effort girls were staying to put into their costumes, which got the talk about this being a different sort of temptation started.

Anyway, we weren't building Hell Houses or anything, but Halloween was always kind of four other people, and I was never really in a place to even think of dressing up before now, even though Jordan would always talk about how much fun it was and I should give it a try.

Big Stu's Halloween party, I soon gathered, was not one where folks generally did the minimum, and part of the days activities would be going out and finding a fun, sexy couple's costume.  Which, naturally, somehow manages to be sexier for the girl than the guy, although Calvin was actually pretty cool about that - if I was going to be a French maid, he was going to be the pool boy rather than the butler.  Maybe he wouldn't have before, but all our gym dates have given him some pretty good abs, so he could rock the crop-top without it being a total joke.

I was a bit alarmed when I saw what the pair cost - that is not a lot of fabric per dollar - but Calvin paid, although I was on my own when we stopped to the discount shoe store on account of me not having a pair of black four-inch heels to complete the costume.  Apparently it's something a girl really shouldn't be without, but I never replaced the pair I inherited from Krystle after I dripped something heavy on the box they were in.  Maybe they were expensive, maybe not, but I hadn't paid for them and they looked scary, so I had no trouble throwing them away.

I didn't freak out about all the skin it showed as much as I expected I would over the next week - the bottom is long enough to cover my butt and a pair of pantyhose can make you feel much less naked.  I got good feedback when I sent a picture to Jordan, too - she said I should show my shoulders off a little more next summer, and though I initially groaned when she asked if I had an underwire bra that pushed my breasts up more, I had to admit it seemed to be what the costume was made for.

I got a bit of a self-confidence boost when I changed on Saturday night and made my way into the living room; Moira pronounced "Mommy pretty", followed by Momma Kamen saying "Mommy's something", then saying that if she didn't know better, she'd think I was back at "my" old job.  I stick out my tongue and said it wasn't like Calvin was the only one showing off, because he looked pretty hot in his own costume.

Since we live at opposite ends of the T, we decided to meet in the middle, but I started feeling like an idiot about halfway through the walk to my station.  It's only couple blocks, but it's uphill, and even though I've seen women carrying shoes by their heels while eating flats that don't match the rest of their outfits all the time while living in the city, I never picked it up as something I should do.  I wasn't going to be that kind of girl, after all, not really thinking that she might be on her way to or from a date with one guy she really likes.  Our even a job interview.

We met at Park Street, trying to figure out the right route because the Orange Line was shut down.  I smirked a bit at his bare legs and flip-flops sticking out from under his coat.  "Looking sexy."

"So are you, for real.  I didn't expect you to get your hair done."

"I apparently own a wig."  I pulled it back to show him the natural do scrunched up underneath the straight hair.  "Nothing else I did worked with the costume, and I ain't getting no perm for no party."

"Fair enough!"

Anyway, it's a party.  Calvin's game night friends are there, as well as a bunch of friends-of-friends.  I've probably met most of them over the course of the past year, although they seem to remember me better than I remember them individually, but to be fair, I kind of stick out in a crowd of white guys who went to college to study how to make money as a subject all on its own. Calvin knows how I look in the middle of this, keeping guys from slapping my butt when we bobbed for apples despite the fact that the whole point was probably scoping out our butts and boobs as we leaned over, although I didn't really think of that until I felt my breasts feeling like they'd slide out of my bra if it given just a little encouragement.  A couple of times I went from feeling kind of glad to have a hand at my back as I tried to chat while standing in four-inch heels after a few drinks only to not entirely be sure what to do as it started moving lower.

Anyway, as much as I don't think I'll ever love Halloween as much as Jordan, I kind of get why she likes it so much.  You spend so much time trying to be just the right amount of whatever - sexy, nerdy, a fan of something, professional - that it's really fun to dress up and say this is part of who you are.  I didn't exactly come by this sort of sexiness honestly, but it's part of me now, and I think Calvin liked playing at being super laid-back as the pool boy.  I mentioned it to him as we got on the train, and he said he knew that the pool boy always stopped by the servants' quarters after his work was done, to which I replied that it was awful close to the nursery, but maybe there was a boathouse where he hung out...

Obviously we got each other out of our costumes at his place with all the role-playing.  That thought vanished from my head the next morning, though, as I woke up and started calculating time to get back to Momma Kamen's, shower, deal with the hair that had become a real mess under the wig, get Moira ready, and head to church.  I'm guessing there aren't a lot of churchgoers at Big Stu's parties, because my schedule would be really tight.

I kissed him as I ran out the door, texting a picture of myself on the subway with my hair a mess and my heels in my hand, saying there ain't no walk of shame like a Halloween walk of shame, smiling a bit when he said I had nothing to be ashamed of.  Not sure Momma Kamen thought the same thing, or anybody in the church where we usually arrive a bit earlier.

Suffice it to say, I did not go with the push-up bra and heels when I took my daughter trick-or-treating last night (a day early, but I both had to work tonight and a lot of people were putting to beat the rain); I wouldn't have gone with the costume at all but Moira's Godzilla costume is now her favorite pajamas, and she said "Mommy too!" a lot.  I will wear them at work tonight to win a bet with Moira's namesake, although it better not give her or Ashlyn any long-term ideas.

And then it goes into the closet for who knows how long, because when else am I going to use it?  Halloween may not entirely be the work of Satan, but I'm not sure it's appropriate to donate something like that to Goodwill or another charity collecting clothes for the needy.

-Jonah/Krystle