Saturday, 23 February 2008

Becoming Jen (Part 6)

The Harsh Light Of Night.

I had taken my first tentative steps out as Jen. However that was with the protective cloak of darkness. The next target would have to be to get out in the daytime. I wasn't ready just yet though. I'd made some progress by engaging the startled Off Licence shop assistant, and that had been OK. However that was with an adrenaline fuelled surge of confidence, which I wasn't sure I could repeat. I would really need to improve my look if I was to obtain the necessary degree of passingness (think I've made that word up, but I know what I mean).

I needed the next challenge. Now that Caroline was aware of my compulsion, and our marriage was in its death throws I figured that I had nothing to lose by revealing Jenny to her. One evening I announced I was going to get changed and go out. She said nothing. I knew she wasn't happy, but I needed to do something. I got dressed upstairs, my clothes having now moved from the cellar to the spare bedroom. I went for a long denim skirt and a cowl neck stretchy brown top, my 1 pair of walkable shoes. I topped off with my black jacket and an over the shoulder black handbag. For only the second time in my life I attempted makeup, suitable for public consumption. Now my biggest fear then (as it is now) was covering my moustache area. I shaved, then shaved, then shaved again. My tactic seemed to be to plaster on as much foundation as I could muster. This time I more successfully applied mascara without causing temporary blindness. Wig fixed and bra stuffed I went downstairs. Now I knew that Caz was understandably uncomfortable, and at first she couldn't look at me. After some awkward stilted conversation, looking at opposite walls, to her credit and my gratitude, she capitulated. I think she recognised my determination, and the enevebility of the situation. She ended up being supportive in her way. I repeatedly asked her if I looked OK. She repeatedly replied that I would be fine. After risking one more attempt to gain approval and reassurance it was time to go. Carefully peering round the door frame on neighbour alert, I cantered the short distant to the car. By now it was well past midnight. I wanted to do something relatively normal (yeah right!) so my plan was to hit the 24 hour Tescos. I couldnt risk the nearest branch, where I would run the risk of being spotted by someone who knew me, so I chose the 20 min drive to the Uttoxeter branch.

A 24 hour supermarket at the death of night is the natural environment of your common or garden Semi Closeted Trans woman. If you listen carefully you can hear the hushed tones of Sir David Attenborough "Here you can see the lesser spotted T-girl performing the ritual dance of the shopping aisle, dodging and ducking to avoid the being spied by her hunter, the Very Common Drunk Young Male."

The theory is, that in the wee small hours, the shop will be relatively deserted. However I did not count upon biggest of downsides, the lighting. With enough fluorescent lighting for a cricket pitch this is not the place for hamfisted makeup. I took a deep breath and then another....and then another and walked in. Like some sort of Special Forces Operative I reconnoitred my surroundings. 2 women on tills, 1 customer unloading a trolley and some far off signs of shelf stacking. This could be done..I would need to keep aware of my escape route, but I could do it. However, straight away I made a rookie mistake. Forever needing self reassurance I checked my appearance in the thin mirror on the side of the photo booth. My fragile confidence drained like a deplugged bath! (I am clearly suffering from simile fatigue). To my eyes I looked totally unconvincing as a woman. I suffered one of those "What the hell are you doing" moments, that would come to haunt me. I stood frozen with doubt for a moment, but with my 4th deep breath of the night steeled myself, and continued into the store. I wanted to buy something believable. By that I mean that something that would be worth visiting a supermarket at 1 am. People rarely need an emergency meringue case, for instance. For the life of me I couldn't decide, I eventually plumped for buying toilet rolls!! I headed for the till. I had to concentrate on my walk. Unfortunately I ended up walking with a bum clenching totter that along with me holding toilet rolls, gave only one impression. I made it to the till. The assistant looked at me with eyes of knowing, that suggested that I was nothing unusual. She must have been a star Tesco employee, because even at that time she ran through the mantra of, "Do you have a Clubcard? Are you collecting the computers for schools vouchers? and Do you want help with your packing?" I figured that I could cope with one packet of loo rolls, so I gave as feminine a sounding "No Thanks" as I could. I left the store with a spring in my step (difficult while atttempting a feminine wiggle), a patter patter patter in my chest and a barely stiffled smirk of self satisfaction.

Back in the car I started to come down. My heartbeat soothed to a dull thud. I sat for while... I sobbed, not sure if it was through joy, relief or guilt. Looking back now it may well have been the sadness of solitude. It was another important step for me, and I had no one to share it with..Whatever the reason, I just sobbed a bit. This soon passed and I gradually pulled myself together to drive home. The house and street were quiet and Caroline was in bed. I fell asleep fully dressed and fitfully on the sofa. I had the first inklings of previously unbelievable alternative future which was scarey and comforting at the same time.

Next time...definately daylight

Encounters So Far
+ McDonalds Drive Through - giggling "chefs"
+ Bargain Booze - startled but kind assistant
+ Tescos (1am) - knowing checkout girl


brad said...

Oh my. That was a big step. I was nervous for our first costume event (Edwardian tea) and that wasn't even in character. That was nothing compared to this.

Jenny Harvey said...

It definately was a big step back then. Its wierd now I'm more comfortable in my role, that it was so stressful and exciting.
The funny thing is then and now, I would run a mile from any fancy dress or costume event

Jenny Harvey said...

Thanks for reading
I would be very impressed though, if you can follow some of my paricularly British references