24 April 2009

Another Moment Fugue

We played a game of "smile tag." She started it. Honest. (Are you reading this, Dominick?)

Bruce and I were having lunch at a Thai restaurant near his office. I sat against the wall; he sat with his back facing the next table. There she sat, on the opposite end of the table from Bruce, facing me.

She was looking at me from head to toe as Bruce and I sat down. I wore a casual top in a hue somewhere between aqua and turqouise that flared over a long print skirt in shades of blue, green and pink. On my feet were a pair of Keen flip-flops: the kind with the toe guard and the traction soles. None of it was exceptional, I thought: Any number of women my age could have been dressed in a similar way if they were going to lunch or shopping on a fine spring day like today.

And, I wasn't wearing any makeup, save for a dark pink shade of lipstick. I felt so good about my skin after the facial massage last night that I didn't want to touch it. Also, I wanted to see just how "natural" I could be. On my way to lunch, I ran an errand, during which I met someone I hadn't seen in several months. She complimented me on how "pretty" and "fresh" she thought I looked.

That, of course, made me wonder what that woman behind Bruce saw. As he and I talked and ate, I could see her out of the corner of my eye. I think she wanted me to look at her for longer than I did. She might've been a friendly enough person, but I couldn't imagine her in any other moment but that one, so I would not be interested in seeing her again.

Of course, if this scene had happened before my transition, when I was still living as Nick, it would've been just another case of girl-flirts-with-guy-in-restaurant. And she was like other women who were attracted to me and whose phone numbers I might've requested: Petite, curvy and dark-haired, with a face that bore too much complexity to be described as "pretty" or "pleasant," although she was not unattractive. I think that much of her look had to do with her eyes which, although a very dark and deep shade of brown, were as translucent as water.

But of course she was not looking at Nick; she was eyeing me. Might she be a lesbian? Bisexual? Maybe, I thought, although one can never tell for sure unless...Well, how graphic do you want me to be? Funny, how I wanted to know those things even though I had no intention of seeing her again. I guess I'm strange that way: I am curious about people I have absolutely no desire to see again.

I guessed that she might be a creative person of some sort. I've gone through times in my life when I would not consider a relationship with any other kind of person, and other times when I swore them off. I'm not in either of those phases now: I'm rediscovering men, and learning which types attract me. I prefer tall men with dark or darkish hair, and although I thought I'd want a man who's close to my own age, I find myself with Dominick and not caring that he's much younger than I am.

But I digress (again!). Each of the woman's glances toward me seemed to grow longer than the previous one. And, I must say, her smile had a disarmingly direct warmth: something I wouldn't have expected from her. As Nick, I could have interpreted it in a certain way and acted accordingly. But now that I'm Justine, I don't have to be prissy (which is, by the way, not the same as being a lady). So now I don't have to say she intrigued me; now I can say she baffled me. Well, all right, "baffled" is not quite right either. I simply couldn't figure out what she saw when she looked at me and started our game of "smile tag."

She parted about five minutes before Bruce and I left. On her way out, she turned her head and gave me another long glance and smile. I wished her a nice weekend; she expressed the same wish for me.

And that moment survives, partially, only because I'm writing it down now. Barring the unforeseen, I will have lunch with Bruce again next Friday--and see Dominick this weekend.

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