I wouldn't say Jake is totally okay with being a girl, or anything close to it, but he's a whole lot better at the outward activities than I am. I really should learn, but ever since finding out some of what was going with the inn, I've been spending every moment I can trying to find out more. Knowledge is like an addiction; you get a small taste and you have to have more.
"More" hasn't been forthcoming, but it takes just as much time to find nothing as it does to find something - more, actually, because you know when you've found something, but when you find nothing, you've got a lot more nothing to find. I let myself get obsessed, and come Friday morning I knew a whole lot about things that had gone on in Old Orchard Beach between five and ten years ago that could be found on the internet. What I did not know was any of the things that would help me not look like a fool or an embarassment at Ray's company party.
I suppose I could have just blown it off - blow Liz's whole life off, maybe find some little one-bedroom apartment to hunker down in for six months, and let her explain after we switch back. But Ray's a nice guy, and I figure that if I want Jeremy to leave my life something like I found it, I should do the same.
So, I called Jake to come over and help me out. It's probably not nearly as good as having a real girl do my make-up, but who else would do it? I listen as he describes what he's doing, maybe a little more attentively than I would have a week earlier. It's a bit paradoxical that I'm more open to learning this girl stuff now that I know there's a way out of it; I guess it just doesn't feel like giving up. It's merely temporary camouflage.
The doesn't make it comfortable. I can get away with relatively casual/androgynous clothing most days, so I was pretty well unprepared for the stuff Jake pulled out of Liz's closet after giving it a good looking over: A little black dress! Thong panties! An underwire bra! Pantyhose! Shoes with a two-inch heel about as thick as my little finger! I kind of spazzed a little at seeing the small but comprehensive pile, but managed to get it all on with some help. Nothing I couldn't reach, but it's good to have someone in the room maknig you do the thing that you don't want to do. Otherwise, I might have put it off and then decided that whatever I was wearing was good enough.
It was still a shock to see myself in the mirror. I'm long past averting my eyes in the bathroom in the morning, and I know I look good, but, still, this was going from girl-next-door cute to something else again. My skin caught the light a certain way, the strapless dress showed off the great shoulders I'd inherited (and somehow seemed to make it look like I had an actual rack and butt), the shoes (and short dress!) showed off my legs, and the necklace Jake found in the jewelry box looked pretty nice, too. I fumbled with the earrings, but I was impressed with what he'd made of me.
So, evidently, was he. "I knew you had it in you. Now don't you wish you'd gone for something sexy for Halloween?"
"Maybe. No, not really. I mean, this isn't serving me up like a piece of meat."
"True, but being a piece of meat's not always so bad. Folks buy you drinks."
I grunted disagreement while getting the tiny watch onto my wrist and loading a purse with the stuff I'd normally keep in pockets.
Eventually, he figured out that I wasn't totally thrilled with the subject and left for his own job before Ray was scheduled to be home. As it turns out, he was late, and slowed down a little more when he got into the apartment and saw me waiting. "Wow, it's been too long since we dressed up." I gave him a little smile that I think Liz might have given him in the same circumstances. He, of course, was already wearing a suit and just had to collect the retirement gift and break out the electric razor before we headed down to the garage.
Once we were in the car, he gave me a peck on the cheek and thanked me for coming. "I know it's kind of a rough night, being there just to make it look like I've got a life outside the office, listening to boring conversation from people you don't know. If it's any consolation, I think everybody's clear on us being Korean-America rather than Japanese or Chinese."
I imagine that could be annoying.
It was, in fact, pretty dire. Most of the partners and associates seemed to be at least ten years older than Ray & Liz, and they'd tell stories full of legal jargon. I wound up spending a bit of time with a couple of the other new associates' girlfriends, including one who was all squealy showing us her engagement ring. I gather Liz has met them before, at other office functions, but I didn't know them. I don't think Liz really fits into that crowd - most of them are either in some extremely busy occupation - other lawyers, doctors, the like - or are at least professional types. Working at a movie theater seems kind of low-rent in comparison. Of course, then there are the ones like ring-girl, who had rich parents and said getting a ring on her finger had been her job. I gave silent thanks that I hadn't landed in that sort of life.
I got a little uncomfortable when the boyfriend of one of the female junior associates mad ethe sort of joking comment about how much time we have without our significant others around and how our attention can wander that is just crying to be taken seriously. It had me kind of wondering if he'd heard something about Liz. Maybe Stewart wasn't the only thing she'd had on the side, but just the one where I'd found out. I put it out of my mind - that way lies madness.
Still, I did recognize that I looked good tonight and Ray might be feeling a little romantic later on. I did what I remembered girls doing to me in that situation - I nursed my drinks but quietly made sure he was well ahead of me. This could have backfired big time if Ray were less of a gentleman, but he didn't get all hands-y, just sort of sluggish.
After the party, I suggested we should go to a movie while we were out and picked the one that ran the longest (The Prestige, two hours and fifteen minutes) and started latest (ten-thirty p.m. on Friday night). My plan worked; he fell asleep in the theater, and I had to have Zoe help me get him to the car.
Kind of cold-blooded of me, I guess, but it worked. He woke up hung over Saturday morning, we had a good time hanging out and playing some pool during the afternoon before I had to go to work, and watched TV after I got back from work Sunday afternoon.
Liz might have been dissatisfied that their relationship had sort of devolved to being roommates who share a bed, but aside from that, he's one of the best roommates I've ever had.