Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-wei: Halloween #HotGirlProblems

I mentioned how much more social going to school as Yuan-wei in this major than my first go-around in college, but what I kind of held back on is just how many people she knows. Even if I ignore Weibo and other Chinese social networks, it seems like the Facebook page I inherited is always updating, I'm getting calls all the time, and folks just walk up to me after class or in Starbucks or wherever, because they know " me" from somewhere despite Yuan-Wei only arriving here around 14 months or so ago.

It could be more extreme; there's this tall blonde in my play who always seems to be swarmed, but there's a fair supply of white guys that just wouldn't consider Asian girls, and a weird group of nerds that lose interest when they realize I'm not fucking Japanese. Still, the upshot is that I am expected to know a lot of people, there's a fair amount more that want to know me, and it can be overwhelming for the fat kid who spent her first year as a girl hiding out.

On the other hand, it means that I am never wanting for a distraction when something is bugging me, with Halloween being a perfect case in point. As I think I mentioned last year, Halloween was always a big deal in my family - as my dad would put it, the guys who called him "Chinky" all year would let up because on that day, he could be Bruce Lee - and even when they didn't, he still felt awesome.  That's why our family always gave out the biggest candy bars on the block, why we had a big party, why we made elaborate costumes that at least tried to celebrate our Chinese heritage a little. We fucking love Halloween, and now I was missing out for the second year in a row, and chances of having another one like that are slim, since Benny seems to be doing better each time I check in.

So it's kind of a relief when my "Missy"/"Yuan-wei" email and Facebook accounts started getting chock-full of invitations to Halloween parties. No, they wouldn't be my family's, but they would be parties, I'd get to have some fun being in costume, and it would be really time-consuming in a fun way. It would actually be the first time I could show my handiwork off to folks aside from my family and friends in a few years, too!

It was crazy at first - I think I had invitations to a dozen different parties, but a lot of them had conflicting dates. In a lot of cases, I felt like I was choosing among them almost randomly - while other Inn people might contact their predecessors to figure out which ones were more important to them, I'm trying to make this life mine, and figure out which group would be throwing the best parties versus people who would really hold a grudge if I said no. I'd like a bit more info before making those decisions.

Still, I think I did okay choosing five, and when I heard Blondie talking about how she was going to need so many costumes this year, I was kind of excited. As much as that was multiple times as much work as I'd been anticipating, it was also making up for last year and keeping that energy redirected. I figured I could get away with three, and had fun sketching ideas, only to be confronted right away with how becoming a girl doesn't mean you can do everything you need to.

For instance, although my drawings didn't outright suck, it quickly hit me that I didn't know how to sew at all. That's not entirely a not-prepared-to-be-a-girl thing, because I kind of doubt that Yuan-wei knew how to sew any better than I did - I've got the money to just replace things in her life and haven't found a sewing kit in her apartment - but it's something I always relied on my mom or other women to do, and everybody treated that as natural. Doing it as Yuan-wei, on the other hand, is privilege.

My first instinct was to ask Benjamin, even if I do sometimes feel weird about asking for his help with the life that should have been his.  Fortunately,  while I was worrying about this, one of the folks doing tech stuff on the play asked me about my Halloween plans while we were painting scenery (when you've got four lines, you're expected to pitch in other ways) and she mentioned she had a sewing machine and would show me some of the ropes. I wound up picking up the tab for parts of her costume at The Garment District, but I can afford it and one of the costumes was trickier than I originally thought. Of the others, one was just putting pieces together and the other I could do myself, with her looking over my shoulder.

So, with three costumes prepared, I was ready for the gauntlet!

October 23rd -Superheroes at the old roommate's

So, uh, I guess Cissy was just being polite and didn't really expect me to RSVP, and having RSVPed, didn't expect me to come. She didn't say that, but when her boyfriend opened the door with "Oh... Missy", I kind of got the idea that Yuan-wei would probably have never had much more contact with them even if she hadn't magically been replaced by someone else. Freshman roommates, after all - you're matched up pretty randomly, you don't have much in common in the way of interests, you drift apart.

Especially if you're a nice Southern girl like Cissy and your roommate is not just Chinese-American, but Chinese, which means you can't understand her music, her calls home are at annoying hours, and she just doesn't care about stuff that's a big deal to you. I also got the impression that her boyfriend was maybe a little prejudiced or something. It's something I didn't necessarily stop worrying about looking like Deirdre - I kind of swapped racism for sexism there - but which manifests itself in even more ways now that I've got a Hong Kong passport. Now I'm an "other" who isn't even sort of like them since I grew up here.

Which, apparently, even made my costume worse. I made a pretty damn good Jubilee (from the X-Men) out of stuff I found at Garment District. Maybe not win a prize at a comic convention good, but not bad at all. The guys who liked comics all seemed pretty impressed even if it was the least sexy of the three, but, man, did Cissy's boyfriend take it as a personal affront when I said that Marvel and DC weren't exactly supplying me with a bunch of options.  I guess original Yuan-wei wasn't into comics and this was me and by extension China trying to try steal America's place at the top of something.

So, I left that one early, and probably won't have a lot of contact with Cissy again. Maybe that's for the best.

October 24th - Chinese Students' Association

If wasn't quite whiplash going to the next evening's party, but it was certainly different.
This one was thrown by an organization of Chinese people at various Boston-area colleges, and served as a decent way to see how much my Mandarin had improved from Saturday morning classes and watching a bunch of movies - that a new Mandarin-language movie opens in regular American theaters every week, at least in New York and Boston, is some sort of indicator of how the 21st will likely be the Chinese Century by the time it's all said and done - although the inspiration for my costume was pretty thoroughly Hong Kong.

This was the trickiest costume in some ways - I had a pretty specific idea, and while it looked simple enough, there were several pieces that had to be altered and sewn together.  This is shit I've got to learn to do myself, but I was so glad Amelia was willing to help me with it this time.  I looked so cool and cute in the mirror, and it was kind of exciting to put a long coat on over the costume and take the T into Cambridge with just the headdress and shoes peeking out, like the rest of the world had no idea how awesome I was right at that moment.

That made it pretty gratifying when I checked my coat outside the hotel function room that the Association had booked and got some appreciative looks from both guys and girls.  One of the former, dressed as a pirate, walked up and asked me who I was.

I smiled.  "You like it?  It's from The Cave of the Silken Web, a Shaw Brothers movie my grandmother was in.  She wasn't the main spider-woman trying to seduce Tripitaki, but I think she was the sexiest.  Do I measure up?"

I did a little turn.  The basis of the costume was a bodysuit with fringes covering my panties and butt, straps a lot closer to my neck than the usual, and some decoration on the chest which I had briefly considered replacing with a scoop to show some cleavage, and Amelia did an amazing job of adding shoulders and sleeves made from sheer material with a spiderweb design, attached to a slightly more opaque cape.  The rest of the costume from the movie was a headdress that put a bunch of my hair up and dangled a jewel on my forehead, some earrings, and a pair of sandals with one-inch heels.  Here's a still from the movie to give you an idea:

I added some spider-web pantyhose because Boston in late October is somewhat chillier than a Shaw Brothers soundstage in Hong Kong.  It maybe looked a little less authentic, either in terms of ancient China or late-1960s Hong Kong movies, but I dug it, and so did my new friend.

His name was David Chang, he goes to Harvard Medical School and maybe wasn't a big Shaw Brothers fan beforehand but was at least curious about the Hong Kong film industry and "my" grandmother after that.  It's a weird subject, because I only met Yuan-wei's grandmother for a few hours during my trip to Hong Kong, but I liked her; she had nifty stories about her few years in the movie business but didn't sound particularly wistful about it; I could sort of see why Yuan-wei v1.0 might have had doubts about film as a career versus family with that as an example, even as I could also see her being inspired to become an actress.  But her movie career was at least something I could research; she only did a few movies and only one lead role before marrying and retiring.  She's probably the part of this life that I can feel I can talk about easiest.

Which was good, because I got to repeat that story a lot over the course of the evening, to the point where I memorized bits of it in Mandarin.  This is, apparently, a big difference between me and Original Yuan-wei; while she may mostly have been comfortable with Cantonese speakers, her ambitions had her hanging out with people from the Mainland a lot, so these were a lot of people at the party who greeted me in Mandarin and wanted to catch up.

And of that group, I get the distinct impression that at least Tsang Chan-Sam knows what I look like naked.

I guess that's kind of to be expected. His young. good-looking, and the son of one of the tap dogs at a Beijing film studio. He is probably a damn good fuck-buddy for me to have.  Still, while I don't think I'm particularly hypocritical about guys looking me over - I've done enough time looking at girls like me wishing they were wearing less that I have a hard time objecting to others doing so - it's kind of gross to do it with another girl, wearing less and probably starting the evening with actual thoughts of staking some claim to fuerdai dick, hanging off one's arm.

("Fuerdai" was my new Mandarin word for the night; it translates roughly to "asshole with rich parents". Well, "second-generation entrepreneur", but the first is what people who aren't fuerdai mean when they say it.)

Truth be told, "Sam" didn't really come off that badly to me at first; I wasn't necessarily looking to get picked up but I was wearing a "look-at-me" outfit and not feeling picky about whether the compliments were for the clothes or the bod underneath.  Guy rubbed David the wrong way, and by the end of the evening the type was certainly starting to get to me.

Got a bunch of numbers, though.

October 29th - "Dress sexy"

The next Thursday night, though, was number-collecting craziness. You know that scene in The Social Network where a van drives into Harvard Square and basically drops off a cargo of townies looking to score themselves a Harvard man and dressed to sell them on the idea? That's a real thing. I wasn't quite part of the bulk delivery, but once inside the party, it was tough to tell, especially since my English doesn't have the sort of accent you might expect a foreign student - I don't have much of one anyway, although at parties a little more Queens comes out because I'm yelling or drinking, and that sort of sounds like I'm a local to people who are also drinking and trying to be heard above the din.

It was fun, though.  Back when I first got turned into a woman, there was no way I would have accepted an invitation that had some variant of the work "sexy" in it a dozen times, but I was eager this year.  As much fun as it is going out in the nice clothes I inherited, that wasn't what really got to me as a man - it was the stuff that said I have something you want and I'm going to put it right where you can almost touch it, daring you to take it.  The chance to feel that power in an outfit that makes the inner Jordan crazy was one of the things I most wanted to get out of Halloween.

So, for this one, I did the "sexy schoolgirl" thing - skirt that barely covers my ass, half-shirt and cardigan that shows off a lot of midriff and cleavage (which, yeah, I pushed up and enhanced), white stockings, and four-inch heels.  I took a selfie before heading out because if for some reason I ever wind up changing again, this was something I wanted to remember.

The party itself was almost exactly what I'd imagined the cool college parties were like when I was a freshman - they'd hired a DJ, there were tons of girls in sexy costumes, guys who were trying to be just as sexy but were still kind of dorky but charming for it, and an almost never-ending supply of beer.  I haven't had much to drink since changing the second time - not only does my ID say I'm below the legal drinking age, but Massachusetts can make it damn difficult to buy beer without anything but their license.  Not necessarily a big deal, but I have no idea how easy it would be to be sent away based upon my student visa - I've heard people say you have to really watch out, but there are also tons of stories of students with wealthy parents skating because people will wind up looking the other way.  I don't want to test it most nights, but at a party where I'm sure a lot of other folks drinking more than I am are under 21?  Sure, why the fuck not?

I did kind of find myself wondering what it would have been like to do this last year while I was white, though.  I got plenty of attention, including some that was way more touchy than I was used to, but there are some folks out there that don't even seem to see you if you're not the same race.  There was this one guy, talking to some other girls about movies and being pretty funny, and not being the sort of jackass that just wants to hold forth and not actually let the girls show they know their Star Wars trivia as well,  But, man, it was like he couldn't even register that I was there.  His loss, but in some ways it was worse than the guy who squeezed my tit and then fell over, drunk, almost taking my top with him.

Maybe not the greatest idea for Thursday night, though - I was there until 2am, had to take an Uber home, and then go to class hungover.  Maybe not the best Yuan-wei I can be Friday morning.

October 30th - Cast Party

I almost bailed on that night's party, but it was being thrown by the cast of the play and I kind of get the impression that even if you've only got a few lines, you don't want to be seen as letting the team down.  I was never really a group person - I was pretty damn comfortable working independently enough that nobody knew I had turned into a white girl after my trip trip to the Inn - but this me trying to absorb what's good about Yuan-wei's life, and that's part of it.

In a lot of ways, it worked as a nice contrast to the night before and the rest of them.  There was beer, and music, and hanging-out, but this one was with people I already knew - maybe not as well they think I do, but I have been spending time with them for a few weeks, so seeing Rachelle dressed like a Ghostbuster or Ernesto like Batman actually sort of says something to me, another part of them rather than the first clue that I'm trying to figure out.

It was kind of nice to deflect compliments about my costume back to Amelia - I wore the spider-woman outfit again - and talking about her decision to walk away from acting to be a wife and mother.  There was a kind of funny irony to it, in that they couldn't imagine "Missy" doing the same, whether based upon knowing her from last year or just this play.  The original Yuan-wei did, after all, while I walked into it and don't know how super-attached I am to acting yet.

There are some pretty dedicated matchmakers in the group, raising eyebrows every time I danced with somebody, saying it was time for me to get back on the horse after breaking up with "Benny".  And when they heard that Ernesto and I were both going to the same party the next night...

Well, they're good people, but I think I'll enjoy a little less time with them once the play's over.  Everything just gets so drawn together.

October 31st - Zombies!

That last party was zombie-themed, which meant I spent a fair chunk of time Saturday afternoon working on make-up.

I don't know how much my family really loving Halloween, and thus me learning about how to do special-effects makeup, helped me as a girl.  If anything, it's been the other way around; actually having to spend time learning how to make what I put on my face inconspicuous probably helped me with the costume stuff - instead of just a pus-filled blob on my face, I had a pus-filed blob that blended in with the skin around it.  I layered a little foundation over the veins I drew on my arms, legs, and boobs, so they looked like they were under my skin rather than on top of it.  That sort of thing.

It took a while, though, because I had decided to pair it with the schoolgirl costume, which meant that, despite not having as much skin as I did before, I had way more exposed.  I was never going to create a gash across my gut with intestines hanging out before, but it seemed like a great idea this time around.

And, don't get me wrong, it was kind of a hit.  Looking back through "my" Facebook account, Yuan-wei didn't really do much like this last year, and I don't think anybody at the party expected it, especially considering how much help I needed with the cloth part of the costumes.  I wasn't the girl with the sluttiest costume, but I was right up there with the best at both sex appeal and gore.

I get the impression that the folks at this party were the closest to Yuan-wei's real friends from last year; there was a lot more talk about not seeing me around and questions about "Benny" than at the other parties, and one time I was dragged out from the kitchen when some Taylor Swift song popped up, it apparently being a thing for Yuan-wei and the girl who grabbed me.

About two beers into the night, Ernesto found me between conversations and said he really liked my costume.  I smiled, and said I bet he said that to all the half-naked girls.

He laughed.  "Oh, I like that part, but I didn't really see you as a blood and guts sort of gal.  You're such the fashion plate--"

"Not everyone is always like they seem."  It is fun to say things that imply the Inn, folks.

"Oh, I know.  Anyway, I was wondering if you might like to do a little more."

Maybe it was the booze, but I felt just a little bit more in my spine than when a guy typically hits on me.  "A little bit of what?"

"Acting, and make-up - some friends and I are going to be shooting a short horror film I wrote in about a month, but the director broke up with our lead actress and half the make-up guys got hired by a Hollywood production, and even though I didn't conceive the character as Asian--"

"Oh."  Not what I was expecting, but on the other hand.  "That sounds... interesting."

"I know it's kind of short notice, and you'll probably be cramming for finals and stuff, but you'd be saving our lives.  Although--" he pulled out his phone. "--I should probably send some pictures to the director and other producers."  He got a shot of me and then hit send before stumbling a bit back into the party.  "We'll be in touch!"

It was a weird little come-down to hear that.  As much as I think I'd kind of be ready for a real first date, I haven't made it happen yet, and having it held out and then taken away, and then realizing that the short-film thing would probably disappear after he got sober, made me feel a little dejected.  I grabbed another beer and kind of made sure I circulated away from him.

People were going in and out all night, some going to and from other parties, and I was close to being ready to tap out myself when I heard a song I liked, so I came out to the living room/dance floor, shaking it for all of ten seconds before a zombie nurse yelled "you bitch!" and punched me in the face.

Between the alcohol, the three-inch heels, and weighing about half of what I did the last time I figured I might get punched for something, I went down quick.  I put my hand on my nose to check that, yeah, it was bleeding.  I looked up so that I could actually see the face of this girl, and even though her make-up wasn't nearly as elaborate as mine, it took a second because...  Well, at first I wasn't terribly interested in who Benjamin used to be, and lately he hasn't been much into looking at old pictures of himself.  Seeing that face in the flesh was new, and I'd sort of expected it to be his problem.

"What the fuck, Sandra?"

That didn't go over well, as the friends she brought with her started asking if I was such a fucking slut that I couldn't remember the names of all the girls whose boyfriends I stole.  One of them actually tried to stomp me, but I rolled out of the way before the heel of her shoe did some damage.  Ruined my intestines, though.  Still, I was clear-headed enough to scrape my shoes off, stand, and get in a stance I remembered from my wushu classes as a kid, hoping like hell that these girls would assume that any Chinese person holding her hands out like that was a kung fu expert who could fuck them up, because otherwise I was going to get my ass kicked.

Or not; as much as there was probably a good crowd that would have liked to see a couple of chicks in skimpy costumes fight, a lot of people got in between us and suggested it was time to leave.  I said something about not doing anything wrong, but fuck it, and grabbed my coat and shoes and walked to the T.  Of course, it was late enough that the Orange Line was only coming every fifteen minutes or so, which meant I had time to sit, stew, and peel off my makeup while sobering up a little with some coffee.  When it finally did come, I grabbed a seat and closed my eyes for a second, tilting my head back so that the washcloth I had on my nose could hopefully do its job a bit better, thus missing an arm being jammed into the doorway and then the person attached stumbling in and crashing down onto the seat next to me.

Sandra, of course.

She had been well ahead of me in terms of drinking, thus thinking all of the previous half hour was a good idea, so her voice was kind of strange.  "I'm so sorry...  Jordan, right?  I was just looking at pictures of a Halloween party in our house and I got so sad seeing them so that when I saw you I was pissed, even though it makes no sense because it was seeing her as me that set me off and that means I've got no argument with you..."

Okay, so I had been doing this party gauntlet in part as a way to keep busy enough that I wasn't tempted to see what my family was doing on social media, but...  "Fine, whatever, just leave me the fuck alone."

"But why?  She made a mess of both our lives, and ever since Ronan left, there's nobody who understands what it's like.  Folks like us should stick together!"

"Are you serious?"  I was starting to raise my voice, gaining some notice from the folks around us, but I don't know as I was that much louder than the guy on his cell phone on the other side of the car.  "What, you think we're going to come together as some sort of Boston-based cursed-inn support group?  Why don't you ask Benjamin - you know, the real Annette Grayson - how she feels about that idea?  You know, the great person whose life you made a conscious decision to fuck up?  So that while you're suffering by being, what, fifteen years younger and at the country's top university on scholarship, I'm still dealing with periods and language classes and now crazy bitches who think I stole their husband when they're drunk and he's trying to figure out what he can do with his life!  So, no, I don't think I'm going to start hanging around with the person who fucked up my best friend's life!"

With that, I stood up and moved to the other end of the car with as much dignity as is possible while holding a cloth to your nose.  I kept an eye out to see if she was going to try and make a second attempt, but I think she was passed out when I got off at Downtown Crossing to transfer to the Green Line at Park Street.

Kind of a shame that the whole Halloween thing ended like that, because it was, for the most part, fun; if nothing else, it was a concentrated look at the life I have been living for the past few months, or at least the American side of it.  And while I don't want to give Sandra too much credit, I do have to admit that I'd much rather be annoyed by guys grabbing my ass than the way I felt a week later, when Benny finally got around to putting pictures of himself, Kareena, and everyone at the family party on Facebook.

-Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-wei

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