by vickie tern
I live alone. Oh, I’ve got a few girlfriends, and they fuss and worry over me sometimes, and sometimes they arrange dates for me and we go out together, and sometimes I arrange my own dates. But dates are always a problem. I don’t know which gender to ask out. I look like a girl and I dress like a girl, and I live like one, and I work like one, as a kind of secretary-typist-administrative-girl-Friday who doesn’t mind solving her boss’s computer programming problems for him when he’s stuck. And by now I even act like a girl, and swing my hips when I feel real good, and let my hands fly all over when I’m excited, and squeal with my girlfriends when we’re thrilled, and call things “just precious” and “darling” and all that. But I’m not a girl. I’m a man who’s been feminized, by his former wife, if you can believe it, because I wasn’t man enough for her. People call me Jane, but my name used to be Jack. And I still like girls, and inside my pantyhose I still have the basic equipment for coping with them, though it doesn’t work too well these days.
My problem is, how many girls want to date a man who has breasts and delicate manners and wears dresses and loves to talk about girl things? Even the lesbians are turned off when they find out I’m not a proper transexual woman, but a normal heterosexual male who has always loved crossdressing and who happens now to live in a mostly female body. And how many guys want to go out with a guy who may look like a girl, but hasn’t got a pussy and isn’t gay? Oh I’ll blow them, because what else can I do to please men if they’re not into buttfucking, but there’s not much in it for me sucking on other guys’ dicks or getting my ass plowed (well, there’s a little something, I do like it, my wife saw to that). But sooner or later guys catch on that I’m not hot for them, and sooner or later they don’t come back. So I’m sort of caught in the middle.
Probably I should go the rest of the way and have surgery and become a proper woman and live a normal life. Or maybe I should go back to being a man, if I can. A few more shots and cuts either way might send me either way, I suspect.
But the problem is, I like looking like a woman. No, that’s not true. I absolutely adore looking like a woman! I always have. The most wonderful thing I see when I wake up each morning is my mirror. I just love seeing a pretty face and a well-turned feminine figure looking back at me (see? — “I absolutely adore,” “I just love” — my femme talk turns on when I’m turned on, and just thinking about my mirror turns me on!). I love feeling pretty — there’s such a marvelous glow to it! On the other hand, I don’t want to BE a woman. I can pretend, and even fool myself sometimes. For some things, like feeling soft and warm and cuddly and loving with someone, being a woman is just lovely. But for most things I feel like a man, not a woman. Besides, if I actually were a woman and I felt like one and dressed like one routinely, where would be the thrill? Would I still feel deliciously excited each morning when I put on a dress and step out knowing I look pretty, my whole body feeling perky and blissful and privileged? Probably not. Probably, I’d just feel normal, like any woman wearing any dress anywhere.
I’m a transvestite. I love looking feminine, and I love the way it feels to look feminine. I guess I was born one, and I’ll certainly die one. And that’s where the problem started, how I got to be where I am right now. I love wearing women’s clothes, and I can’t help myself, and I don’t really want to help myself. And now I live in them. I’ve got what I wanted, or what my wife wanted for me. I’m permanently cross-dressed.
I crossdressed sometimes when I was a kid. I loved the feel of a bra tugging on my chest, or a slip or a dress swishing on my legs. My mother and sister never found out I was in and out of their clothes, but it wouldn’t have mattered to me if they had. I was hooked. I got a paper route to help support my habit, to buy my own girls’ clothes. Once I rode out at first light wearing a blouse and skirt, cycling furiously with my heart pounding and throwing papers at doorways at top speed, scurrying to get back before anyone woke up and saw me. I felt terrific about it at first, really high. But then I started to think about the chance I had just taken and I started shaking and couldn’t stop! What I had just done terrified me!
After that I went deep into the closet, ashamed that I wanted to look like a girl, and afraid to be found out when I did look like a girl. Like most cross-dressers I got disgusted with myself and quit, a few times, but then I’d start up again. When I finished college I wore skirts and dresses all the time when I got home from work, all around my apartment. I felt so right in them, so …together. But I never dared wear them outside. If someone were to look hard at me when I was outside trying to pass I knew I’d feel embarrassed, then humiliated, and then I’d panic and run, or come apart some other way. Then everyone would look hard at me.
When I first met Jill I had just quit again, and it was just as well. Jill was never a woman to think a cross-dressing husband kinda cute. In those days, sexually, as far as I could tell, she was not given to experiments or kinks of any sort. She wanted a husband she could respect, a friend, one not too demanding. Sex for her had to be strictly penises and vaginas, and that’s what she called them, not even oral. And sex for her was an occasional recreation, not a kind of marvelous and crucial compulsory behavior. She’s a very good-looking woman, a lawyer, tall and slender, with a decisive manner that keeps her clients confident that she knows what she’s doing. When we decided to move in together I thought I would stay quit. We got along well. We liked being with each other. At first she thought that my name being “Jack” and hers “Jill” was just too cute for words, that we couldn’t possibly be compatible. But she weathered the kidding from friends and associates, and we found that we were able to get on, pretty much.
I respected her a lot, and she admired the way I did my work. We could talk about anything, and she’d listen to me carefully. Then she’d ask a few questions. Then she’d let some time pass, and finally she’d deliver her own views as if she were a judge presenting a final opinion. After that the question, if there was any, was settled and not open for discussion. Usually we agreed, so I didn’t mind that the final decisions affecting both of us were usually hers. I got to assume that was the way things should be, and I liked the way she ran our lives. It saved me a lot of hassle. I think she was the one who decided one day that it was time we were married, and I certainly didn’t disagree. By then I depended on her self-confident self-assurance, and looked to it for guidance. I thought this was love.
Once I tried to tell her about transgendered people, people like me, trying to lead up to a confession that I had once been one of them (and, I guess I hoped secretly, might be one of them again some day). I thought I was being casual enough, but she turned the topic off abruptly. She muttered words like “sick” and “perverse,” and looked at me closely. She then asked me in her attorney’s voice why I had raised the subject. A pang of fear sliced into me, and I said quickly that a client had joked about it, that’s all, and as soon as I could I left the room to settle down, my heart still pounding furiously, still terrified. A narrow escape. So my pleasure in wearing girls’ clothes stayed underground, hidden even from me. After a while I thought there wasn’t any. Which is why I didn’t tell her anything before we got married.
I began dressing again during our honeymoon. I know this doesn’t sound like a great compliment to Jill’s sexual attractiveness, and I mean no disrespect. But desire for a woman and desire to look like a woman were very nearly the same thing for me. And back then Jill was — well — deliberate in her lovemaking. Most of the kinds of love people like she found “distasteful.” She loved being in charge, controlling events and controlling her feelings about them. If it wasn’t cuddling, and it wasn’t vaginal intercourse, she didn’t care for it, and she made that known whenever I’d try to roam further with her. I knew from when we started living together that she was severely inhibited, and I hoped she’d loosen up in time. But it didn’t matter. I needed her, and I had come to depend on her, and she seemed to care about me. I would marry her again, even now, despite everything she did to me. Maybe because of everything, in a way. But not for the sex when we first got married.
I still remember the morning in the hotel when she asked me to hand her a white, delicately embroidered slip from her bureau drawer. I picked it up and started toward the bed to hand it to her, and felt the most delicious “THWANG!” as my belly rose up in joy at the feel of the lovely thing in my hand, and my prick rose up too. Before I knew what I was doing I had unfolded it and held it fitted in front of me, admiring the lace across the hemline. “Very funny!” she said, as she took it away. Then when she noticed my aroused state, she asked, amused “Why, Jack, what can you have in mind?” I certainly didn’t tell her what I really had in mind, but one thing leads to another, and it was easy to distract her.
That afternoon I stopped at a lingerie store and bought myself a slip just like hers, and later that afternoon I hid it in our hotel room in the back of our closet, so it would seem to have been forgotten by some previous guest if she found it. She never did, and that was the beginning of the stash that has since become my proper wardrobe. The next morning while she was off having her hair done I put on one of her brassieres and then my slip. It all felt so exquisite that I threw a golf shirt and slacks on over them, and feeling delicate and dainty and sweetly feminine, I went back to the lingerie store to buy my own bra. I bought two, because I couldn’t decide which was more “me,” a satin underwire, or a stunning lacy whisper of a bra I just loved at first sight. Barely married, I was at it again, and absolutely delighted to be at it again.
For a few years Jill never knew. As a lawyer she was very hard working, and tough and devious I was told, and I could believe it. She left the house every morning at eight and returned every evening at six, often later when there was a big case brewing. I was then an electronic systems designer, mostly computing systems. I wasn’t the cleverest one around, but I was precise and reliable, with fantastic speed when I was writing up or solving problems, and that was my edge. My client list kept growing because my programs always worked, and were always installed on time. I kept a small office for consulting and for storing the stock modules and menus I custom assembled for each client. But until Jill found my clothes and demanded to know what they were, I did a lot of my work at home, dressed and made up like the beautiful woman I wanted to imagine myself, enjoying myself immensely. Then I’d modem or fax it in.
At the other end of the fax was my secretary Darlene. Darlene was no computer whiz, and no great brain either. But she knew the alphabet, and she could be trusted to file any papers marked up with one of its twenty-six letters, then to find them again and fax them out to the house when I asked for them. She also impressed the hell out of clients who came in to see me, and that was why I kept her on after I found she couldn’t do much else. She didn’t need to. There she sat in the reception area all day long, being gorgeous and fixing her makeup and tucking in her curls, and answering the phone in a bedroom voice so sultry people would think at first that they’d reached some 900 number somewhere else. Her voice and appearance could seduce anyone into being a client. I’d talk to Darlene a few times each day, and I’d see her a few times each week when I went in to the office, and if it had been any more frequent I’d certainly have gotten the hots for her myself, and maybe what happened wouldn’t have happened, at least not the way it did. Jill wasn’t happy that my secretary was such a Barbie doll, but she knew that Darlene was just right for what I asked of her, namely not much, and that she was even better for what I didn’t ask of her, namely to keep clients eager to call the firm with repeat business. She knew that I never saw much of her, because I was mostly home. So that was no problem.
We settled into a routine. Breakfast with Jill, mostly just coffee and toast or a roll, me unshaven and in jogging clothes as if ready to hit the old streets. Then as soon as Jill left for the day I’d shave twice and change into a pretty outfit from the skin on out, bra, panties and stockings with garter belt or girdle or maybe a pair of pantyhose, slip, skirt and blouse or maybe a dress, or maybe a suit, or a slack suit, and pumps, strappy heels, flats, or sandals, depending on the season and my moods. I loved starting to dress by whim, in a mid-calf full skirt or a slutty mini, and then matching everything else to that first random desire, so by the end of the process I was dressed for the day, wearing appropriate jewelry and settled in to work feeling elegant and tasteful, my ensemble different each time. My hair is full and I let it grow to cover my ears, so I could brush it back when I went out as a man, and I could blow-dry it into a page boy to look feminine as soon as Jill left the house, or even curl it when I wanted to take the time.
Since I was home more than Jill and my time was more flexible, I did most of the shopping. Sometimes I took to dawdling in the supermarket at high risk, I thought, wearing women’s shirts and pants, loafers and “natural” (that is, invisible) lipstick, and with a feeling of enormous risk maybe a touch of eye makeup. Beneath this undetectable femininity — not even androgynous, I realize now — I wore wonderfully seductive bras and panties and slips and teddies that would have reduced a cave man to paralytic gibberish if he’d seen them on a cave woman. Once I dared fate by wearing a flowered shirt that buttoned the wrong way, living on the edge I thought. But I lost my nerve and never unbuttoned my jacket to show it.
I never dared to go further, to appear in a skirt, or in unambiguous makeup, because I was so terribly ashamed of this delightful compulsion. To be found out would be devastating I thought, an embarrassment I could never live down. My manhood was at stake. For a man to look like a girl was demeaning, ridiculous. I shared the world’s view that an effeminate man is contemptible, a clown, a sissy, a fruit, a joke, fit target for any insults. Even behind closed doors and drawn shades at home I felt dangerously at risk. There was a twinge of anxiety most of the time I was dressed, even at home, and I kept my oversized jogging outfit on a chair as emergency cover gear if the doorbell should suddenly ring. But I loved every minute of it. I adored that image in the mirror, posing and primping. Nothing was too good for her!
I also loved every minute I spent shopping for more clothes. When I finished an important piece of work I’d reward myself with a special treat. Dressed like a man, I’d carry into the store a slip of paper with my sizes written on it, and I would seem to consult it as I pawed through rack after rack of beautiful skirts and bodyshirts and dresses, looking for the one item I simply had to have. I hoped all the salegirls would assume I was buying for someone else, and I consulted my paper frequently, as if women’s sizes were obscure and beyong comprehension. As if this persuaded them. As if they cared. But I could not risk seeming to be what I was, even to strangers. I was a man. To dress like a woman was to be no man, to be less than nothing.
All this gear grew in bulk, and soon occupied the closets and drawers of my workroom and of another spare bedroom in our oversized house, places where Jill never went. But it happened finally. One day when I was at the office Jill came home early, wondering whether a spare bedroom might make a home office for her weekends. She looked in on mine, and at the size of its closet, and at everything in the closet, and then she looked at closets and bureau drawers in the other rooms. Lawyers are careful and thorough, and by the time I got home she had located my whole extensive collection. She had also reached an exact understanding of everything. She had concluded that while she was at work I was keeping a variety of women in the house during the day, a slut who wore leather minis and tight tubes and cutoffs, a businesswoman who wore severe suits, a housewife whose tastes ran to sundresses and flowered prints, and from all the drawers billowing with sexy lingerie, a whole whorehouse full of high class call girls.
When I got home my life ended, my life as it had been up to that moment, anyhow. In a tight voice she demanded to know who these bitches were, and how I dared bring them under her roof. Incoherent, humiliated, mortified, hysterical with fear, tearful and stammering, for the next two solid hours I desperately tried to persuade her of everything I had been trying to hide from her ever since our honeymoon, the unacceptable truth about me. I pointed out that all of the clothes and shoes were of one size, mine. All that proved to her was that my taste in the women I brought home was self-absorbed and narcissistic, and she said that from my behavior in bed she’d suspected as much. I tried to convince her that no women would ever consent to leave so much clothing here. Too vague an argument for a legal mind to accept. Desperate and red-faced, I finally stripped off my jacket, shirt, tie and pants to display show her that even at that moment I was wearing a matched embroidered slip, bra, and panties, all in the same size as the clothing she’d found, a variant matched in brand name as well as size by other brands and sets and styles and shades and colors of the other garments hidden in my closets and dresser drawers. She was horrified to stare at my body clad in its delicate lacy harness, and for once she was speechless, as traumatized in her way as I was. Only then did she begin to believe it was possible the stuff was mine.
So she sat me down and cross-examined me, relentlessly. When, how, bought where? She kept returning to Why, and I had no real answer. What finally persuaded her was my high marks on a tough quiz she herself set and judged. Men never know anything about women’s styles, she was convinced, and she never hesitated to say it when I’d recommend that she wear something I thought becoming to her. But I’d spent a lot of time trying to look nice, even elegant, and I’d shopped with an eye toward completing different outfits, and I’d kept up with the fashion magazines despite my envy of all the beautiful women who populated them. I did have reasonably good taste! She sat down and said, for example. “Those red three inch heeled pumps! What would you wear with those?” And I hauled out of a drawer the black pullover sweater I’d worn with them, and from the closet in the room next door a matching red full skirt; then I pearl-dived into my earring box and found a perfect pair of dramatic coordinated black and red clip-on hoops. Or she’d say “That blue and gold cocktail dress with the slit to the waist, if it isn’t higher — what stockings go with it?” and I came up with them, and “Is there a purse also?” and I came up with a darling little matching clutch bag I’d found in an opportunity shop one day, not believing my luck! Little by little she began to believe I had spent more time on my outfits than on my computer programming. Maybe I had.
She took due note as I folded each sweater carefully before putting it back, and settled each blouse neatly on its hanger before hanging it away — obviously I knew and cared for each article the way she cared for hers. She knew that in male mode I was a slob, my pants and jackets ending up wherever I tossed them. I knew she was persuaded when she came out with “That silver miniskirt — that’s for a teenager looking to get laid! How dare you wear such a thing at your age?” I showed her the ruffled blouse that kept me looking demure above if a little slutty below.
Then her interrogation went on to its next phase. “I don’t see any outer garments. Where do you keep them?” she asked. I told her there were none, that I never dared walk out even into the back yard when I was dressed. She was astonished, and unexpectedly, angered by that answer. “You don’t flounce about outside in those things?” she asked, “Why not? Are you ashamed of your perversion? Are you ashamed someone might think you’re a woman, or something else equally demeaning?” I told her I was strictly a closet TV, terrified of being found out, that my manliness would be compromised if it were known. “It isn’t compromised by the fact that you do it?” she asked. Then, again, “Why do you do it?” I told her I didn’t know myself, but that I had always wanted to do it, that it was sometimes pleasantly erotic and always deeply satisfying, and that it was a kind of compulsion, maybe inborn. I started to tell her about the way it allowed me to express my feminine side, and how gender and sex are different things, gender being in the mind, and all that, but she wanted to hear no part of it. I compared it to homosexuality, another gender orientation people don’t choose but discover in themselves.
That started a new round of ferocious questioning. “Oh, Jack? Do you get together with other perverts, and do twisted things with each other?” She sounded as if she couldn’t even imagine what those things were. I assured her that gays and transvestites were altogether different, that gays are attracted to people of the same sex but transvestites are so strongly attracted to the opposite sex they want to look like them. I told her there were hundreds of thousands of transvstites like me though I personally knew none of them, and that no one knew about me except me, and now she knew. “Why do you want to be a woman?” she asked again narrowly. I assured her I didn’t, but that I loved looking like one, and that when I looked beautiful, all my desires focussed all the more on real women. On her, I added quickly. She was not convinced, but continued, “If you like to look like a woman, why don’t you want to be a woman? Why don’t you want other people to know? Why do you hide it from me, your own wife? It’s disgusting, but is it so shameful?” I assured her it was, or I thought it was, and she glared at me. Then she was silent. I awaited her verdict.
“I see,” she said. Then she said cryptically, “Everything fits!” And then she sat silent again. Ominously silent.
I couldn’t stand it. I said, “So now you believe me?,” and she glanced at me with enough contempt to wither a rainforest, then glanced away again, and said nothing. She was convinced. I had been moved in her mind from her frying pan into her fire, from a mass adulterer to a pitiable, self-confessed drag queen, a hypocrite sexist wimp filled with fear and self-loathing.
It was my night to serve dinner, and she sat through it frowning, deliberately not looking anywhere I might catch her eye, chewing slowly, saying nothing. As I poured the coffee she suddenly looked up and said, “All right! Here’s how it is! I married a man, not a woman, and not an imitation man and not an imitation woman. I don’t care what your fantasies are like, or why, or what your so-called inborn compulsions are like or why. I think you can stop, and you should stop, and you will stop. From now on the only women’s clothes in this house will be mine. The only person wearing women’s clothes in this house will be me. You will be a man, and you will dress like one. You will act like a man. Or else I will leave you, and I won’t mind telling all of our friends why I’m leaving you.” She paused. “Coward!” she spit out.
I hoped this was her final pronouncement, so we could begin to discuss things more calmly. But then she added, “No talk! No explanations! No pleading! I want promises from you first thing in the morning, Jack, my so-called husband Jack, or I move out.” She then went straight into our bedroom and slammed the door. I decided I had better spend the night in a guest bedroom.
No opportunity to talk, and no appeal. No way to ask even obvious things, like was there was a deadline for moving my dresses out, or where I should put them, or did she mean I should throw them out. Before this I had seen her ruthless decisiveness, the way she would speak her mind by uttering an ultimatum. But those dealt with trivial things, like whether pizza or other such unhealthy foods should be allowed into the house, or whether people who make porn movies should serve long jail terms. She could be sharing, and lively, and fun, and she could usually talk me into anything. But she could also switch on her lawyer mode, as heavy and unyielding as cast iron, and then I was afraid to dare to want anything she didn’t want. This night would determine the end of our marriage or its continuation on her terms. And for me, life outside our marriage had become unthinkable.
I couldn’t sleep. Then the next day I folded, or rather, I came apart. I promised to do everything she asked, and that I wouldn’t do the things she hadn’t asked, or rather, that I would stop dressing at home, and that I would clear everything out of my closets, all the women’s clothing, that is, not the men’s. I told her that as far as women’s clothing was concerned, from now on she could wear the pants in the family, and then I apologized that I wasn’t being sarcastic when I put it that way. I told her I loved her, that she was the center of my life. I started to cry, then I couldn’t stop crying. She nodded, looking a little sour, and I was still blubbering when she left for work without a word.
That same day, I got a stack of boxes from a transfer and removal company, made trip after trip, and brought all of my clothes to the office. When I showed up in the reception area with the first box Darlene raised her beautifully plucked eyebrows, checked her lipstick, and asked what all of this was about. I told her Jill asked me to store a lot of boxes here, figuring Darlene wouldn’t have a followup question. She didn’t. I stacked them out of the way, against the wall in the large utility room where we kept the xerox, the coffee maker, and the office supplies
Within a month I was back at it, this time at the office. I took to coming in early on weekdays, every day, opening a box of lingerie and putting on panties, slips, teddies, stockings, and bras under my business suits, so I could feel them hugging and tugging at me all day long, then undressing and stowing them again after Darlene had left for the day. I had the Reception area of the office mirrored, which made it look bigger, and pleased Darlene because now she could see herself from her desk by looking in any direction. Saturday or Sunday I’d plead heavy overwork to Jill and head for the office, and then I’d spend the day in a specially treasured dress or pants suit, or just pass the time changing from outfit to outfit, admiring myself a little wistfully in each, then trying the next.
Jill’s mood seemed different after my unconditional surrender, or maybe it was how she felt about me that changed, along with her idea of who she had married. Obviously I was no longer her Prince Charming, but some kind of would-be excuse for an imitation woman or an imitation gay man, neither one nor the other. We fixed dinners for each other as we had in the past, but instead of saying appreciative things when I put in extra effort or she especially liked something, she’d say “Well, at least this one came out all right, for once.” Or if a dish wasn’t to her liking, then she’d say, “If you can’t do it properly, why do you try to do it at all?” When her turn to cook came around, as often as not she’d pick up takeout on the way home from work. She did not wish to serve me.
In bed she behaved the same way. She was never an enthusiastic lover, as I’ve explained, but now Jill …well…was not even affectionate. When I would put an arm around her as we settled in to sleep, instead of snuggling in at me she just lay there, and if I began to caress her she’d say “Didn’t we do this already this month?” or “I’d rather sleep, but if you have to, try to pay attention to my needs for once.” After a while I quit trying. She didn’t seem to mind. But at work, whenever I stepped into a pair of hi-cut nylon panties I would get all the more excited, and after a while whenever I was dressed I would masturbate like a teenager. On weekends at the office, when I saw my mirrored image in an exquisite white chiffon summer dress, I could hardly keep my hands off myself, and I didn’t.
I wondered if talk of separation or a divorce was in order, but I realized I shouldn’t raise the topic — she’d simply say “You’d like that, wouldn’t you!”, and leave me all the more aware that she would rather continue to punish me for not being the person she had thought I was. There was a breach of contract here, and I had penalties to pay. We had our circles of friends, and we went to parties and dinners with them, and Jill never let on there was a problem. As a lawyer and as a woman, she hated to lose, and she wouldn’t quit with me even after she was convinced she had married a world class loser. And I realized I didn’t want to lose her. She wasn’t fun, but her certainty strengthened me. I didn’t want to live on my own any more. I needed her. I wondered whether the feminine in me was responding to the masculine in her, but I couldn’t think that one through, and I decided finally that she’d get over her resentment if I waited her out.
Then something odd happened. Darlene looked disturbed one afternoon as I came through the outer office, wrestling through things in her purse, and opening and closing her lower drawers as if looking for something. “Something missing?” I asked her. “Not exactly,” she said. She hesitated. “Uh, you don’t happen to keep any tampons with your bras and skirts and things in the utility room, do you?” I was shocked, and said nothing. I replayed her words in my head unbelievingly. “Oh, never mind,” she said, “I’ll check next door and see if Vera or any of the other girls has any to spare.” She started to get up. My hair still stood up, and I felt struck in the stomach. I had to answer something, so I said carefully, “No, why do you ask?” Mistake right off. Better if I wasn’t supposed to know what “Jill” had put in those boxes. Darlene was still looking for her purse when she replied absent-mindedly, “Oh, I’ve run out, and I thought maybe when you got dressed up in those cute outfits you also put in a tampon. My brother did. I better go see if Vera can help me.” She got up, went out, and headed down the corridor.
I went back into my office, and sat down with my mind roiled and running half-crazed. She knew! But she didn’t seem to care that she knew! I had been hiding from her for months. But to Darlene, my dreadful secret was no more than a possible source for tampons in an emergency. What was my next move? Should I seem not to understand what she had said? And if I didn’t understand, should I let it pass, or should I go back out there and ask her to explain it? Should I deny that I ever “dressed up” in those clothes? I couldn’t, because I didn’t know how she knew. Maybe somehow she’d seen me and there was no way I could lie about it. Here was my worst nightmare come true a second time, my ultimate humiliation known at the office as well as at home. And it meant nothing at all to her.
I decided to take my cue from her, and without confessing anything to ask her about her brother, as if none of this was a big deal or even a little one. I waited until I heard her come back, and a little apprehensive, I stood up and started over toward her reception area. Somehow I felt that my life was about to change. It was a little exciting. I told myself to calm down.