Elaine Benes was right, in that episode of Seinfeld, when she said that a man's body is utilitarian - it's built for getting around. Even the skinny indie boys I like to date (HI TODD!) represent that to some degree. Heh, there's nothing elegant or traditionally beautiful about Todd's physique. He's thin, a little gangly. That's how I like my men. Imperfect in their perfect way.
A man's body is uncomplicated. You let the body hair grow, you get a little bit of a gut, your shoulders slump, it doesn't seriously affect the attractiveness, as long as the man has the right attitude. At least, that's my take on it. The sad thing about the way our culture has developed is that a woman's personality is often tied to her perceived beauty. If she knows she's hot from an early age, she'll act like it, and that'll make her a bitch. If she grows up not perceiving that she's attractive, she definitely won't act like she is (this is how I grew up, and I'm still not certain how I feel about my real body.) And then you get the worst ones, the girls who think they're hot, but aren't, and still act like they are. Aside from your boyband-type Jersey Shore-esque pretty boys, most guys don't think about that stuff a hundredth the amount of time a girl does in her lifetime.
That's not to say the male body doesn't have its problems. Oh sure, I don't mind being free of my monthly visitation; as proud as I was to bear that burden, it's a relief knowing that there's nothing going to be leaking out of my body each month, from a practical standpoint. I will add, however, that men who have never menstruated (which is most, but I suppose not all, in a world with the Inn Curse) don't know what they're missing, for better or worse.
But I have a really nasty habit of crossing my legs in the feminine manner. You'd think I should have adapted by now, but there are things you're just not conscious of until you realize you've held your legs in a clamplike position too long and bruised your balls. Yes, that happened. I limped around the school for days.
If you're wondering where I've been for the last month, well... I've been right here in Philadelphia, enjoying this decidedly un-Canadian winter (which isn't fair, since the report from Todd is that their winter has been mild due to El Nino. Sorry I've missed it.) I haven't been up to much. The Winter Break was uneventful, I sent small trinkets to Rob's family in the southwest, on his consultation, although he wasn't helpful (not much of a gift-giver, that one.) I stayed at home and wondered if maybe I should blog, but it occurred to me I was simply not doing anything worth blogging about. "Dear Internet, avoided catching penis in front of jeans, craving burrito." Okay, that's mildly racist, but in my defense, I love burritos as Alia too, so... there.
Oh, there was also Secret Santa. I did end up getting Don those Phillies tickets. He was very glad to get them, too. The theme of the event was partially "How 'bout them Phillies," since this was, like, right after they signed Halladay, making all the guys around the school very, very excited about their team's chances. The mood was, erm, somewhat bittersweet for me, as I am not much of a baseball fan, but I understand how devastated my hometown is by this little maneuver. But I have to play along with Phillie Fever.
I myself received a gift card and a pair of boxer shorts. Apparently the look on my face when I discovered the underpants was memorable. Cathy, my other work-friend, admitted she was the one who had picked them out for me. Without thinking how it might sound, I casually remarked, "Well, thanks for thinking about my crotch." and we laughed a little bit, but she seemed somewhat embarrassed.
Sigh. I don't know how it is with her. She jokes around a lot, but I think her unsuccessful personal life is starting to get to her, and more to the point, I'm worried she may have a bit of a thing for ole Roberto. I've been spending a lot of time with her, and I do like her company, but not... you know, that way. We carpool, because I got tired to driving Rob's car to the mechanic to get it serviced - it's pretty shot. I don't know what's wrong with it, I'm just a stupid girl who doesn't know about cars.
I theorized on these topics a few weekends ago when Cliff had come over. I don't see her as often as I feel I should, but that's partly the fault of circumstance. I work all the day and she works in the evening and she hangs out with people who are more in line with her social scene. I don't even have a social scene. Rob's social scene consists primarily of dodging drunk calls from Ingrid, Rob's ex-wife, on New Year's eve.
Though we've been in contact over MSN, I hadn't seen Cliff in months, but I called her over because one day, my computer just stopped working, and of course, in a past life, she was in computer tech.
It was a few days after I asked her that she came by, because she had to go buy a toolkit and other materials that were right at hand in her original life. I thought, if I could save a few bucks off Rob's bank account by getting his computer fixed for free, then great. I offered to contribute to the tools and such, but she said it was no bother.
She came over to the house and wet to work, perky as could be. When I had last seen her, she was morose and very uncertain in her mannerisms and her way of dressing. She was still a man trapped in a woman's body. And now? Now I guess she's a man playing a woman, not fighting it, just being. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's because she finally took to playing with herself. Maybe it's because we made reservations at the Inn this month. Maybe it's because she felt so at home working on the PC.
Like Rob's car and PC, Cliff's frustration at her predicament has broken. It's not a defeat -- being happy with who you are is never defeat (unless you're happy being a skinhead neo-Nazi or something.) Acceptance of one's situation, I think, is a victory, because until July there's nothing she can do about the contents of her panties. It was the first time I ever saw her smile.
She told me, after working on the computer for a couple of hours, that there was nothing she could do, not with the resources available, and definitely not on the cheap. So I had to get a new computer, which is what I'm using to type this to you.
"So I read about Crystal. That's messed up, someone doing that with your body?" We were drinking tea and eating cookies. "I can relate."
I shrugged, "As revolted as I am by the idea that Bryan now knows what I look like naked... it's got its benefits. Like he said, it's better him than some stranger, better someone who knows Crystal, who won't tempt her into staying. Todd's taking it a little harder than I am, because I'm down here and there's nothing I can do about it. I think Todd's disappointed that he wasn't nominated for the role of 'Guy who has sex with Crystal.' I think everyone just thinks about sex too much."
"Too much?" she scoffed, "Is that possible?"
"Alia, when I met you, I was a 29-year-old male virgin. I think I've earned the right to some frustration."
"Sure, and now you're a 22-year-old female virgin."
"Tori's not a virgin."
"No, but you are. And if I were you, I'd be tempted to stay that way. I don't think sexual exploration is a good idea for people like us. Todd was one thing, he had a relationship. But going out and finding someone to have sex with? Forming that kind of relationship, even when you intend to leave the body? Hell, especially when you intend to leave the body, is unfair." I was preaching maybe, but I was really just trying to make sense of my own thoughts. I was telling her about Cathy, and how certain I was that both she and Ingrid wanted Rob at least a little bit, and how I was attracted to them, but unwilling to pursue due to the complication.
"What, you've never heard of meaningless sex?" she asks.
"Of course I have. Didn't I tell you about Sean Flaherty? Oftentimes, so-called meaningless sex is more complicated than relationship sex."
"So if Cathy came to you and said, Rob, I don't want anything except meaningless sex, you wouldn't go for it?"
"No, because I know, or at least I think, I'm getting my life back, but that leaves Rob to deal with the open thread of Cathy."
"He might like Cathy."
"He might also hate Cathy. I already hate the fact that I've made as much of an impact on her as I have. He really hates his ex-wife, and she's kind of a bitch so I get it, but she's hot, so I get that, too."
She says, "That brings me to my next question." She looks straight at me and asks, "Would you... do... me?"
My eyes bulged out a little bit. I'm not going to lie, the possibility had occurred to me. Why should it be so strange? we're both in a weird situation, we both know each other, and Rob and Tori had had that association previously (and undoubtedly at some point in their current lives.)
I had already made up my mind on the subject, too, but before answering, I asked, "Is that something you'd want?"
She just said, "I don't know."
"Well, I definitely wouldn't want to be with someone who didn't know if she wanted it."
She starts to get really talkative. "Look, don't judge me, okay? I don't know what I want. I want to be back in my own body, but I'm not, and I want to be with someone. I don't think I'm a lesbian, or bi, or anything. Something is just keeping me from feeling the way about my female friends as I did about Willy when I went to Buffalo. I liked that feeling, it reminded me of the last time I was in love with a girl, which was too long ago, it reminded me of the feeling of meeting a girl and wanting to get to know her, except it was a guy, and the guy looked like me. I've never felt that comfortable with anyone, and I want to keep it, and part of that is, I want sex." She takes a breath, "And I'm embarrassed, so fucking embarrassed to try putting myself out there, because I'm scared of who or what I might wind up with, I thought I'd ask."
She continued, "And I thought, because we're in the same situation, kind of, because we're both not used to all this, maybe it would be worth a shot. Just to get it out of our systems, just to have someone to do it with, someone who understands what we really are. And then when it's all over, I go back to being Cliff and you go back to being Alia."
"I don't think you need the extra baggage."
She mutters, half-snorts, "You don't know what I need."
Things got real quiet.
"I just don't think it's healthy," I sighed, "I wouldn't feel right putting you through that."
"Even if I want it?"
"Even if you think you want it, you don't know until afterward, if anything's changed."
She looked sadly at me. She sighed, "We're having one of those blog post moments, aren't we?"
"Yeah," I said. When she never got around to posting about it, I asked if I could. So I did.
I like the way Cliff acts nowadays. She seems to be taking it in stride, and really getting into it. That said, there are doors that, once opened, can never be closed. Todd may say otherwise, but I think he agrees that sex is never just sex, especially for our kind. Todd was left with a lot of bitterness over the way Hal overdid their sexual relationship, but rarely mentions it because he thinks there's something feminine about complaining about sex -- totally not true, since the dirty little secret is that girls want sex too. We just often want it to mean something, because the feelings it leaves us with are often more... intense.
That said, I told her, it's more practical than letting her try to find her way out there. I didn't say I'd go through with it, but I did say that anytime she wanted to talk, I was here.