Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: I had to get around to it eventually.

Yes, Hal and I did it on Saturday night.

In a way, it's a load off my mind, because now I know what it's like, but I've spent a lot of the time since in a daze trying to sort out my opinions on the matter, as well as some very strange news that has overshadowed it (yes I know, shocking though it is, there's something more pressing than sex.)

But sex is what you've come for so I might as well clear that topic up.

The kids were at their Aunt & Uncle's place (The McClay's, Ellie's house,) so Hal and I could have a romantic evening that was more awkward for me than anything and made me want to go through with it less than ever. But after the main course, (a veal dish I whipped up - I'm getting half-decent at this cooking thing) we sat drinking wine for a little while. I was aiming to get drunk past the point of consolation, so that I'd be more amiable to the situation, but it was to Hal's credit that he didn't immediately whip it out and take me by force. He was willing to wait, and that was something I really... appreciated. Lord knows I kept him on the line long enough, finding some reason to put it off longer and longer.

Over drinks, we got to talking, Hal and I. He's a decent guy, sorta complicated and sorta not. If I were really his wife, I'd probably see him as closed off, but I know where that type of behaviour comes from and I don't begrudge him it. So I coaxed him into letting his guard down and before long we were more straightforward with each other than we had been ever before - as much as we could be with me completely lying about my identity - and I voiced some of the feelings Anne-Marie had expressed to me about her husband, saying I know it's been a tough time and thank you for being such a strong provider and all that stuff. It was a good performance. And then eventually, three and a half glasses of wine deep apiece, he stood up, and took me by the hand, and... well, no more words.

God, this is embarrassing. I'm at a loss for words (a rare condition for me.) As a guy, I bragged about sex all the time, but now I just feel really... I don't know, vulnerable? Exposed? Is that too girly to admit to? Changing your role in sex, I just realized, consists of more than a sensory experience, it's a whole new goddamn discourse. I should've read Foucault when I had the chance.

For a grown man becoming a woman in this scenario, there comes a time... however many weeks or months it might take... when you just can't deny yourself anymore. Especially when your back's against the wall like mine's been. I think Art and Ashlyn might back me up on that (but to each their own.) On the night before, I got to thinking about my life as Anne-Marie, and everything I've been through. Beyond the initial fear and confusion and loss of self-identity. I've been through the cycles, the soreness of this body, the exhaustion at things I used to be able to do no problem, the different tastes, the family dinners, the laundry, the unusual desires, the body odours, retaining water, dressing myself in a woman's clothes, sleeping in bed with someone's husband, lying to everybody in the world (except two,) and all that other minute shit that has worn me down over the past six months... I thought about it all and just fucking broke down and thought, goddamnit, I need something I can enjoy. It's not so much about sexual pleasure, I'm saying, as much as it's about something safe. Something I can just enjoy.

So with all that in mind, I felt I owed it to myself more than anything else to at least try to enjoy this part of it. Because for the next six months, it's about all I've got.

So we went up to the bedroom, and got warmed up pretty fast. I guess the thing about marital sex that's different from premarital sex (of which I know a great deal more) is that it's all fairly routine. He didn't feel the need to try anything that I would've deemed unusual. In fact, there was a great deal more he could've done that I always tired to do, but again, that's from the perspective of a 24-year-old unmarried guy. So basically after some light fondling and such to get him primed, we just... got to it.

I'll note, as a matter of record, that I was considering dolling up a bit more for the occasion. I would've known where to begin, but Anne-Marie has a small collection of sexy lingerie. I used to date a girl who was really into corsets and leggings and all that stuff, but she was kinda chubby and it hurt the effect a little bit, to see her all jammed into it. Anne-Marie is no spring chicken, this body has given birth to two kids and seen better days. I looked at that stuff, and it brought back those memories, and I thought better of it. I was just wearing a black bra and panties, and not for long: I stripped them off and slipped into bed next to him.

The whole affair lasted maybe 10 minutes, and at the end, he held me a while before falling asleep. The whole time I was just... outside my own body. I felt this thing slipping into me, and it was like "Woah, not ready for this, but here we go!" It's also very strange to find you don't mind a hefty-ish, hairy-ish man grunting and gyrating on top of your body in certain situations. Since I wasn't really "warmed up," there was a very unpleasant friction at first, but as we got into the groove, his member started finding the right spots and I was starting to enjoy the rhythm before... whoop. Thanks for playing.

I know this is gonna sound weird, but it's the holding that made me more uncomfortable than anything else we did. I would rather have kept it less intimate than that. I could feel his heart beat and suddenly I was aware that this man thought he as in love with me. Oh, shit.

I'm at a loss for words to describe the actual feeling. It was... nice, and I get the sense it could've been a lot better. I'm disappointed it didn't turn out better, but I'm not alarmed I liked it as much as I did. I don't know what I was expecting. But when I finally did get to sleep, I slept like a log, and felt better the next morning than I have since transforming, or in fact a while before.

But if it's not one thing it's another...

I was called over the next morning to help Donna, Anne-Marie's oddly irksome friend, with her new HDTV. Having seen my prowess at the cocktail party, she enlisted my help fixing some wiring.

Donna, I'd decided over the last few months, is an odd bird. She's in her 40's, has a son in University and a daughter in the last year of high school. She's fairly well-preserved, and has a good deal of exercise equipment around her house, as well as beauty supplies. Her husband is some communications bigwig and works 4 days a week in the city, and often goes on business trips, so she's along in the house a fair bit. I got the feeling this was why she was so cloying for Anne-Marie's friendship.

"I'll put a cup of tea on," she insisted when I arrived. She'd asked me to come over around 11 on Sunday, and when she answered the door, she was wearing a lace nightie under a robe very loosely cinched so that when she opened the door and a gust of winter wind blew, her cleavage stared me right in the eye. I averted my eyes awkwardly.

"That's okay," I said, stepping out of my boots, "I won't be long."

"Oh come on now," she teased, "There's nobody else here, I need someone to talk to. We go so long without seeing one another these days."

Nobody else here? Then what in God's name was the nightie for?

After putting on a kettle, she went upstairs and was caught in a lie when I heard her daughter yelp, "Ew, mom! How about putting on some clothes sometimes? God!" I laughed and got to work on the TV set. I made short work of it, since the only problem was a wrongly-inserted AV cable.

"Oh, I'm so glad," Donna said when she came downstairs, more reasonable dressed in a sweater and khakis, "My husband is just as bad at this stuff as I am and he's too proud to ask for help. You know men."

"That I do," I huffed. Let me go, lady, I thought as I stepped toward the door.

"Oh by the way, I borrowed something from you," she rifled around the kitchen as I stood in the doorway. "Hal lent them to me when we were at your place last month, and I haven't had a chance to give them back. I was just so interested in looking at them."

Anne-Marie's photos from the Maine trip. They'd been on the digital camera when I was transformed. I gave her a very suspicious look and said thanks for returning them.

"She's growing up so fast, your niece," Donna smiled politely, "She looks so petite there, but I saw her at the party too, and she's becoming quite a young lady." Well, that was the truth - Bryan's transformation has really been ongoing.

"And the inn where you stayed, well, it looks so cozy," she noted. Now I was started to get seriously weirded out.

"It wasn't as good as it looks," I sneered. Hand on the doorknob.

Her glance turned away momentarily. "Well, in any case, they've hardly re-decorated at all since the last time I was there."

I froze, barely able to breathlessly form the words "Excuse me?"

She looked me dead in the eye, her lips cracking into an evil grin, "Oh you know. It's just been so long since I was there I can hardly remember it, but it does bring back memories."

The teakettle whistled.

"Are you sure you wouldn't like to stay a while?"

Like I said, stuff just keeps coming up. I'll have to get back to this later.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: To quote a fellow Canuck...

Man, I feel like a woman.

Hal had his procedure last Monday. He spent most of the next week hobbling around with an icepack on his groin, and then things got busy, so we haven't, erm... gone ahead with the, uh, project. So basically, I spent all week living in prolonged anxiety, and being worked like a slave girl. I'd grown really accustomed to having my space during the day that it became kind of a neat situation where I could just wander around and forget what I look like, even when I can't forget what I look like. But with Hal calling for Anne-Marie to get lunch and run errands, I feel more like a wife than I have since I first came to this place. And just think... this dude expects me to do stuff with him.

It was kinda pathetic, and personally, I think he's milking it. I mean, yeah, I remember what it was like to have balls, and if some dude had been up in there with a scalpel, then maybe it would lay you up for a little while, but... well, the distance he took it was a bit much, is all. I sympathize and all, but no need to overdo it.

So this week, he's back at work, and he's gonna do a second test to determine the absence of sperm, and then, if all goes as "planned" (note sarcastic finger-quotes) Saturday night is the night. The kids will be at Aunt Trudy's place, and we'll have a... nice evening.... together.

I can't turn off the part of me that thinks this is wrong. That if I don't want to do this, I shouldn't feel obligated to. It's Anne-Marie he loves, he wants, and I'm not her. But am I gonna look him in the eye and say "Go mess around with your secretary, she wants it more"? This is the most altruistic thing I've ever done. What's worse is... I can't turn off the part of me that does want it, either.

I know, I know, it's not that I'm interested in getting it on with Hal, or any guy, but... has anyone ever read Greek mythology? Or T.S. Eliot's the Wasteland? (I'm a dropout but a well-read one.) I feel like Tiresias, and if what he had to say has any bearing, well... I've gotta know.

I'm just terrified of how good it might actually be. (This blog itself is loaded with mixed reviews.) Bry's no help either. I was having lunch with her on one of our "girls' days out" last weekend, where we get hot chocolate and pretend to shop (which I'm sorry to say actually results in a good deal of real shopping.) She kept chirping me about it. "Dude, you've gotta try it!" she said with this little-girl verve she's inherited from Ellie. I guess she realizes since she's gonna be a guy again soon (fingers crossed!) and she's so young she's not going to be the one to experience this for herself, so why not me? Yeah, easy for her to say.

I have to admit, I could do worse. He's got kind of a chubby George Clooney thing going on, if you squint. And he's kinda funny? Man, I am really stretching to justify this to myself.

I mentioned the trip. Yes, it's all booked, at least for four of the six of us. Amanda and Deb got their slot in late Early June, which hopefully puts me and Bry there after he gets done school. "Julia" and "Kalli" have yet to confirm. I'm worried that it's about money for them... I wish I could just dig into Anne's purse and give it to them, but Hal was already reluctant to let me go for what promised to be yet another month-long sojourn in Maine, part of which would be incommunicado. Erm... yeah.

Look, I just want to get out of this skin. I want to go home and I don't want to look at much less feel another man's junk any more than I had to.

Tired of playing housewife, and six months to go.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Arthury/Penny: New Year, New...

I didn't know Lyn very well back in her former life - we were internet buddies, and our conversation didn't stray very far from the topics of the fora where we met - but I suspect that Jake wasn't very much of a party person. Now, Lyn's a total party girl, but give her credit - as much as she likes going out, flirting, and getting wasted, she still has enough of Jake's interest in how things work and maybe a little ambition left, so she has also figured out how to throw a good party.

This is a skill. I know, because I've tried to do it in the past, and no matter what body I was wearing, it was a disaster. I was stressed, the room frequently went dead silent, and it took me days to clean up. Lyn, on the other hand, knows where to find absolutely everything she needs, can set up a five-hour-long playlist ahead of time, knows just when to disappear into the kitchen to bring out some more snacks, and balances the invitation list so that everybody has someone to talk to all night, even if people decline. I strongly suspect she had the apartment cleaned up within an hour of people heading home.

Me, I'm not much of a party girl. Even if I'm a bit more comfortable in my skin now, "party" meant "networking" meant "work" while I was with Rick, and who wants that? Plus, as much as I enjoy being tall and fit and all, it means decent party wear is expensive, and if the party with just the right sort of girl I despise, I get ragged on for basically cycling through the same few outfits. Or they'll find some way to rip into me no matter what I do for footwear - I'll be too tall, or déclassé, or something. Besides, parties happen at the time sports is going on, and I'm busy writing and revising game stories.

I got New Year's Eve off, at least, so I headed to Lyn's. She met me at the door, took my coat, and had just enough time to make sure I had a beer and chat with me for a few minutes before slipping away to handle something, but when she did she made sure I was deposited among some pleasant company.

The big surprise of the night was when Liz and Ray showed up. I'd only seen them once since getting to town as Penny, and they don't know who I am. Lyn tells me that even though Liz had said she'd wanted to talk, she hadn't made a regular thing of it, just dropping back into her old life like nothing had happened, although she did more or less cut off contact with Lyn. Curious, I eventually made my way to that sector of the party, drifting into a conversation about something or other. I was a bit disappointed but not surprised when they didn't remember me from September. Someone else decided I looked familiar, and I mentioned that sometimes Boston Today let me do an opinion column and ran a picture with it - I think the last one had been about the Yankees signing Teixeira - and that was when Ray remembered that we'd met.

I asked how they knew the hosts and got the response about Liz and Ashlyn having been roommates, although they hadn't talked much lately, and Lyn and Ray had just run into each other Christmas shopping a week or so earlier. Of course, having a couple of drinks in me, I didn't immediately recognize that this meant they would toss the question back at me. Fortunately, Lyn is a party savant and appeared beside me out of thin air, telling an embellished version of the time I came to cover the lacrosse all-star game, where I was uncomfortable in Headlights and she helped keep me loose and we met at the bar later, exchanged cards, and I found hers when I wound back up in Boston.

Liz and Ray may not have recognized me, but someone else did. Just walked up and told me he liked my dress, and the paper should let me use a picture that shows off my legs. I blushed a bit, and came back with the very real problem that if they did, then they'd have to do it with everyone else to show there wasn't a double standard, and brother, you do not want to see more than a headshot of some of these guys. He laughed and said that was fair, and we talked sports for a while.

His name was Chance Owsley, he's the right height to be eye-level, and not unpleasant to look at. He seemed funny and smart and not inappropriately touchy at all, which isn't always a given. I wasn't displeased when he called me a couple days later so much as surprise, since I hadn't given him my number.

I dragged Lyn out for coffee on Saturday to get to the bottom of it, and she shrugged it off. "He asked, I supplied. You looked cute together."

"What makes you think I wanted his number? Don't you think I'd have asked for it?"

"You? Ha! Art would never let Penny have a guy's number."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Art-slash-Penny, you know I love you, right? I've been where you are, working for someone and then doing something ambitious on the side, filling up your time too much to have a personal life. The Inn yanked me out of it, and even if the way it happened was shocking, I'm grateful that it did. It just looked to me like you could use a yank, and no-one else was going to do it. Relax, he's an awesome guy - I wouldn't let him near you if he wasn't."

"Maybe I don't want a guy!"

"Why? Have you decided to explore other options without telling me?"

"Maybe I have!"

"Yeah, right. You were with Rick way too long for me to think you don't like guys."

"And that's worked out so well."

"Hey... This is different. It's not someone you're inheriting, or someone who is just convenient. It's someone who is interested in you. Not the person who used to look like you, you. That's wonderful, Art. Even if you've had that as a guy, it's different as a girl. You deserve it."

I don't know that I came away completely convinced, but while trying to find another message on my phone today, I came across his.

What the hell, I don't have any plans for Saturday night.


Todd/Anne-Marie: It's a new year...

...guess what my resolution is?

In only a few days, I'll have to make some reservations for the Trading Post. If every who stays there is as desperate to get their body back as I am, there might be a rush. I dread to think what could happen with imperfect planning. And me, I never been very organized. I'd hate to find myself in some other body halfway across the country powerless to get back. Given the choice between being Anne-Marie and rolling the dice... I'd have to play it safe. Your physical identity is nothing to play Russian Roulette with.

Fortunately, I've got an ally, and I don't mean Bryan. I never really talked about it I guess, because it's not really my business (even if it is my life) but the person who wound up in my and Bry's lives aren't exactly... the type of people who would want to be there. And I can't blame them, because as accustomed to our meager lives as we were, and as eager as we are to get back, they're not going to be someone's first choice. So when you consider who's been walking around in my shoes all winter, you'll understand why they'll be as glad to go back as me.

Given the appearance of the Inn, I would expect that most of the visitors are female. Sure, a whole bunch of us guys end up there and that's how you end up with all of us here on the blog staring down their own cleavage all of a sudden and thinking "I've gotta tell people about this!" But the room where Bry and I stayed was booked, along with a couple others, as part of a Bachelorette weekend. The Bride-to-Be was named Deb, she was a 40-something real estate agent from Jacksonville, Florida. She and her maid of honour Amanda (the 27-year-old receptionist at her work) wound up as me and Bryan respectively.

From my talks with Deb, she's a fussy kind of lady, very much a neatness/control freak type, with all due respect (I think she's reading this.) She'd been married once before and was really excited about starting over. Talk about a fresh start. Imagine her horror at being told she was now going to live in a cramped, crappy apartment where the furniture was covered in XBox controllers, clothes and porn. My life was a mess, and she had to clean it up.

She started by getting em a new job, since my income was hardly steady. She got one I wouldn't have been able to do if my life depended on it, baking bread at a bakery in Yorkville. I think Amanda kept doing Bryan's supermarket job. None of this is all that important, but we e-mail on a fairly regular basis. They lead an isolated, insecure life, trying to avoid my numerous sketchy acquaintences. Deb really wants to get back to the man she was supposed to marry (from what I hear, the wedding went on as planned although the new bride is probably none too keen.) And Amanda, I guess, is along for the ride... maybe she really is the female version of Bryan. Anyway, Deb's been really great about making plans, roping the new-her into going back and keeping me posted on things.

My main concern is for how s/he interacts with Alia. I had really hoped to rekindle things, and I think she did too, but... with a grown woman in my body, they're more like, you know... gal pals, which is frankly embarrassing, and probably slightly irksome to Alia given the apparent sexual disinterest there. Deb's reluctance to "dive in" is not all that much like my own.

Anne-Marie begged me to let Hal get the vasectomy. It'll put him out of commission for a few weeks, maybe a month or more, while he recuperates and gets tested to make sure it's taken effect, but... he's going to have some serious goddamn expectations when he gets off the injured list.

It's kind of a catch-22. Anne-Marie had been trying to convince him to go along with it for a year or so, confident she didn't want any more kids. Like many men, he saw it as a threat to his manhood: nobody is keen to get a knife down there. He wasn't deadset against it, but had a lengthy period of hesitation. If I, as Anne-Marie, suddenly tell him not to do it, it's like saying "I want another kid," so there's sex involved. Of course I by no means want that so if I say "Yes, get the vasectomy," it's like saying "Let's just have sex," so again, sex. I used to have to work to get sex as a man, and now I can't escape it. I thought married people just let their private parts go to waste after the kids were born.

Add to that the fact that Anne-Marie's body has been sending me some strong signals, and now that I know what they are, I can't bring myself to ignore them.

So what's a guy to do? He's scheduled the surgery for Monday. I don't know how wild Anne-Marie is about the idea that I might actually have to bang her husband, but I am starting to think she's more enthusiastic than I am. I guess I'll find some way to talk my way out of it. That could work, right?

I feel a bit like I'm on the uphill part of a roller coaster. Full of dread, but worried I might even like finding out what it's like on the way down.

This is... kind of a mess. I can't wait to get back to having regular people problems. This has kinda been a thick entry and I feel like I've just rambled a lot... I've been meaning to write in here more often, but I get distracted, and then things kinda pile up like this.

Oh well...