31 October 2008

What Are You Doing On Halloween?

So what were you for Halloween?

During the past week or so, a few people--co-workers, mostly, as I've spent just about all of my waking hours at the college--asked me what I was going to "go as" for the holiday.

And how did I reply? With the easiest joke my transition has given me: "Oh, I'm going in drag!" Good for a few laughs.

What they--most of them, anyway--don't understand is that in my life as Nick, I spent every day in drag. Boy-drag, that is. Pants and shirts, not blouses and skirts. On occasion, ties instead of the necklaces and pendants I often wear now. Watches were my only jewelery, and my palette included brown, navy, beige, black and gray. I still wear those colors (beige, not so often: It washes me out.) but now I combine them with all sorts of beautiful hues: lavender, violet, lilac, thistle (When I lived as a guy, they were all "purple")rose, peony, magenta, coral (pink, the most forbidden color of all). crimson, cherry, scarlet, cranberry (red, to you guys!) and, well the list goes on. One color, I've discovered, is welcome in both genders--and, fortunately for me, one I love: burgundy

I think now of a day during my first year of living and working "as" Justine. I complimented Marianne, who was a fellow adjunct English prof at LaGuardia College, on a sweater she wore that day. "Thank you."

"That color really works on you," I said.

Shyrlee, another adjunct prof, was looking on. "What do you call that color?," she chimed in.

I thought for a moment. "Celery."

Their jaws dropped. "You really are a woman," they intoned in unison.

Ah, the joys of color. And skirts. Or pants, when I want to, not because I have to, wear them. And those nice, soft, flowing lines that elicit compliments about my appearance. Yes, my appearance. As in "you look really nice today."

I heard that a lot yesterday. I wore a suit consisting of a blazer and calf-length skirt made of wool in a purplish/burgandyish/maroonish color (And I teach English?), in a very classical cut. Under the blazer I wore a women's button-down shirt in a color Bontrager bicycles calls "Serious pink." I know that because I use that handlebar wrap, in that color, on both of my Mercians. It's about the same shade as magnolia buds, maybe a bit deeper.

With them, I wore nude pantyhose and closed-toe dress slingbacks with three-inch heels. I bought the shoes years ago, before I started living full-time. Great investment: They look good with just about anything, from that suit or others I have, to jeans.

But that suit and shirt elicited all the compliments. When I put it on, I felt good--no, radiant. Which leads me to wonder: Did I really look that good, or were people picking up on how I felt. Even with a cold that left me tired before I got to the class in which I was observed, I felt as if the Beatles could've been singing Something to me personally.

Some feminists might hate me for saying this, but I wish I could've been a pretty girl or young woman. But now I hope that, at least sometimes, I can be an attractive woman. And it won't happen because of my looks. Rather, it's a matter of style (not mere fashion), intelligence and grace. I wonder how much, if at all, I will ever have any of those qualities, especially the latter two.

Still, somehow I find myself feeling good, feeling radiant, even charismatic in some way, for much of the time. Of course, I like it when people pick up on, and affirm those qualities in me. But I just enjoy feeling that way, for its own sake. Frivolous, perhaps. But we all have to have our flaws, and at least one person who will indulge at least one of them.

Intelligent, confident, radiant, attractive, charismatic, creative--and feminine: Now there's the person I want to be for Halloween. And every day.

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