I'm not sure what switch flipped in Bingbing III at Jordo's Halloween party, aside from her having a few drinks, but I like it even if it is kind of weird, even by Trading Post Inn standards.
I mean, I should be feeling some sort of horror right now or something - like, even if the Bingbing I knew want who I thought, should I really be cool with her doppelganger being around? The further I get away from spending those weeks as Elaine, the more they seem kind of unreal, but if I get into that mindset, then it's like somebody scooped my girlfriend's brain out of her head and replaced itwith someone else's, and I'm okay with that because she's still cute. I don't actually have need to have spent time as a woman to know that's kind of messed up. Sure, Carlotta Wong was a monster who was just using me and doesn't deserve any sort of loyalty, but what does liking this new Bingbing day about me?
Maybe nothing. She is, after all, very different. She doesn't wear make-up, favors t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, likes video games, and trends to be a lot more in sync with me when we're scrolling through Netflix or Amazon looking for movies to watch. A lot of times during the first month or so, I kind of wonder why I didn't see a lot of the same things looking at "Deirdre" when that was Jordan's identity. Bingbing was maybe not quite so angry and defiant as Jordan was, but there's still a lot of "I'm just not going to do this", right down to not putting a bra on until the day she got caught in a thunderstorm and wound up calling me from a stall in a ladies' room so I could bring her some dry clothes. Her first period was a pretty big freak-out, too.
Still, it built some trust. One thing I forgot to mention in some of the other times I wrote here is that while Jordan and I tend to think she's someone Chen-ai is using to keep an eye on us, she seems to think it's the other way around - that Yang Chen-ai turned her into a girl, and we're supposed to report back on her. There's a weird sort of logic to that, I suppose, if it's not something she's saying to throw us off the path.
That could also be what suddenly dragging me into Jordan's spare room and kissing me was about, but it's a pretty crazy play for a former guy. She kind of avoided me for about a week afterward, as much as she could when we're sharing a bed, but then the weekend came, some friends had Knocks tickets, and we kind of got invited as a couple. Bingbing thought it would be fun, so I said yes. We're riding the escalator up to out seats in the garden when she makes a little motion to switch places because she's a foot shorter than I am. I say sure, but she's the one who has to kind of squeeze past my buddy and his girlfriend, who are using the opportunity to lock lips.
"New couple?" Bingbing asks in Cantonese.
"Yep. Still really into that." I try and smile in a way that says "not really mocking", and then she smiles back before leaving forward and kissing me on the lips. "What's that for?"
"Well, aren't we a new couple too?"
"Are we? I thought you were just kind of drink at Yuan-wei's party and regretting it." I tend to use Jordan's new Chinese name with Bingbing; it flows better in Cantonese and is what she uses.
"I was, kind of, a little, but... I know it's not fair to tell you so little about the real me, but I'm kind of unexpectedly single right now, and you're kind of the only person I can be not-lonely with, and might understand why I'm not really looking for something long-term."
"So you'll settle for me?"
"No! Or yes? I'm not settling, really, since you're a really good guy; you're good to me we even though it might be a lot easier to just put up with me, or even not do that. I appreciate that."
"And this?" I leaned in and kissed her.
We were at the top of the escalator a couple seconds later, so she puked back, but picked the conversation back up in the seats. "I won't lie, kissing you is kind of weird, and you touching my, uh, chest even weirder, and I'm not ready for more yet, but I guess maybe two months or so is when it starts to kick in that your body responds to different things and since you've gotten used to, like, peeing differently and putting different underwear on, maybe doing other things in a new way might not be so bad, at least once. That's how it was for you, right?"
I turned kind of red - if there's anyone I should be able to tall to about that night with Annette, it's Bingbing, but I kind of can't.
"Well, I've also got used to a bunch of girls at school saying hello by kissing cheeks, so there's that."
Right around then, the others want to know if we're talking about them in Chinese so they can't understand, so we switch to English. The game's about to start anyway.
That's kind of what is been like the last month - we're mostly just friends, maybe feeling less weird about holding hands to keep attached while walking around the city, but when we're with other couples we'll kind of join in the public displays of affection so it's not uncomfortable for anyone. There was a brief moment of cuddling while watching a movie a couple weeks ago, but she suddenly say up straight when she realized, which cooled off any forward motion on that.
Or did it? Bingbing's always very careful to change clothes in the bathroom, bringing a random pairing off t-shirt and jeans in there every morning and pajamas every night, but this morning she does it in the bedroom, walking out to where I'm eating breakfast. "You know more about how girls dress here than I do - is this all right for class?"
I look up, and for a second it's like seeing the old Bingbing ready for a night out, and it throws me. "I,uh, only did it for a couple months, and Jordan was pretty good about leaving me be most of the time--" She gave me a look that combined annoyance and playing to remind me that she wasn't really asking about me, so I tried to shake it off. "Okay, uh, the skirt's all right, but unless you can button the top up a little more--"
She took it off right there, walking back to the bedroom in her bra. "I thought so, but I figured maybe in New York." She opened a drawer and pulled a turtleneck out, holding it up to her chest. "Think this works?"
"Uh, sure, but if you don't mind me asking, what's with suddenly going for that stuff?"
"I've got a group presentation in class today, and Marilyn was all 'and wear a skirt and heels!' when reminding me too be on time." From the way she imitated her classmate in English, Marilyn sounded kind of like a bitch.
Bingbing noticed that my gaze had drifted down to her chest and made a little "ah!" nose before quickly pulling the shirt over her head. She quickly ram to the closet and grabbed a pair of shoes. "Give it to me straight - what am I in for with these?"
"Uh, that seems kind of... advanced." I pulled another pair out that wasn't quite so high and was a lot more solid. "This should be good for just speaking in class."
"Thank God." She threw the other pair back in the cost, not looking where landed. "Of course, I'm going to freeze my ass off between now and then. It's negative five, or, um..." She tried to do a Celsius-to-Fahrenheit conversion for me, but went with "it's really cold."
"I haven't tried them myself, but Yuan-wei says pantyhose keeps your legs surprisingly warm."
She looked skeptical, but pulled a pair from the dresser. She stuck a foot in and only for it halfway to a knee, and I could see her searching her memory for how a girlfriend or sister put them on. She finally managed it, slipped on the shoes and stood without wobbling much, and looked in the mirror. "Well, she's going to give me shit about my hair, but oh well." She looked around for her coat, found it, threw it on, and then stood on tiptoe to give me a kiss. "Thank you so much for helping me not get murdered by my classmate. You're the best."
She left, and I started getting ready for my day (still looking for work). She just called an hour ago to ask if I wanted to see Star Wars or the new Yuen Woo-ping movie tonight, her treat, and to meet her at the theater, so I guess the presentation went well.
I called Jordan, but it went right to voice mail, so I guess I should throw it open to everyone - am I nuts, or did some kind of line get crossed today?