Walks the Walk – Post No. 63
Some of the readers have asked whether the author not only talks the talk but also walks the walk? I assume they mean going out and about rather than only in “closet” or underdressing. I certainly don’t want to denigrate either as I spent close to eighty years in a rather stealthy manner doing both before jumping in with both feet within these past few months in 2014. Thought I would devote this post to first summarizing the events chronicled in my memoir in far greater detail and then fast forward to this most exciting but not previously recorded period. I believe that at the end of this post the reader can easily see why I was able to make this passage seem so easy — simple, no one left to displease.
I’m a believer in the trigger theory (described elsewhere in these posts) in that a small percentage of the population respond in such a manner from a certain stimulus causing the onset of our dressing inclinationa It was the Marcy Hotel on Mirror Lake in the Adirondacks — A five-year-old, I was alone in my mother’s room. A curious brat I found and tried on her brassiere — nothing more. How on earth can I remember that incident eighty-four years ago? Seven years later after taking part in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta at school I decided to keep the long black stockings provided for my role as it felt so good. Then the very familiar route that most CDs have traveled – frequent visits to mother’s, or it could be a sister’s, dresser drawers while they were elsewhere. During this teenage period only once did I venture outside the confines of our home while dressed – with a 16-year-old’s driver’s permit, the family car and a dark night in the country. That would have to suffice for seventy-three years! My memoir recounts the expensive pink fog reaction upon renting my first very own apartment as a Frosh at the University of Pennsylvania and a similar buying spree when first occupying a Montreal small apartment. For many the CD experience takes a multitude of turns during this period in their lives in an effort towards attaining a level of transformation sufficient to embolden a trip beyond that menacing front door.
Well, why did I and a host of others delay or never did “test the waters”? There are many valid answers. I left home – first in the military – in the 1940s and married in 1957. So what? Consider, and my story is not unique, that I was alone in the universe, some sort of pervert. Not until the 1970s with the advent of the Internet did I find out that there were millions like me out there (Already covered). To leave home en femme during that period was flaunting death. Next: A few months after marriage I revealed. That was the last spousal discussion in 52 years! Call it a form of DADT – don’t ask don’t tell. Never dressed at home but did underdress partially for work and with bra when on very frequent business trips. Went to great lengths too. Examples: While living in New Jersey before heading for the Newark Airport – took tunnel to 42nd Street Bus Terminal, and retrieved my stash from a locker. On other occasions rented a motel room for an hour in order to underdress before making my flight.
Call it compromise, boundaries or a frank talk between loving partners but the ingredients are key to decision making: family, friends, church and employer as to whether the CD will be seen in public or not. For these reasons or circumstances it is determined whether an individual is able to leave that confining closet early on or never. Please don’t mix in decision making with the needs of those that must take the transition road whether the whole nine yards is required or hormones and electrolysis will suffice.
Rightly or wrongly – only time will tell as it was during the housing disaster — divorced my wife after 52 years! Joined my widowed favorite cousin in 2009 in order to write my Second Edition. Told her everything before moving East. She was fine with it at home as long as I agreed not to go out dressed. Then a heartbreaker: within three years dementia took her away from her sons and I was recognized no longer.
So now in my 89th year of life with spine and neck — initially damaged in a World War II bomber crash — now deteriorated to constant spasms and restricted locomotion, I am hardly the candidate for Miss America. Oh yes, ties to family and friends totally decimated through the grim reaper and that strange malady that causes annual Christmas cards to just wilt away.
All the above explains why the author waited until age 89 to open that door —- circumstances sisters, circumstances.
With that said, it still took the intervention of another to push me out. A sister CD happens to transform fishing vessels from smaller to larger ones. His rather technical work requires to be based some four hours up the Florida coast from where I live, while his/her family live several hours south of me. As a result we had met several times on his way south. She knew that my circumstances (that word again) had changed in that my cousin was now in a northern home for Alzheimer’s, my only brother had recently passed, my management consulting business, what’s left of it, can now be handled through electronic means, and long term friends had either died or that annual Christmas card just stopped coming. That left my (too many) V.A. docs and nurses with an intimate knowledge of the internal workings of a disabled WWII veteran — my remaining anchor to reality. I had no further excuse not to promise that the time was now — get out that door! And that is how I reached this place in this post.
Now I had a good reason for stalling as after all a lady can’t be seen in public without a nice watch, a matching handbag, a few rings and suitable jewelry — well, you get the idea. My own hair, thanks to genes from my mom, was beautifully (As told by many.) curly, long and silver; so off to the nearest salon. I knew that this was going to take all my courage so a rainy day should help. For my first outing I wore lady-cut jeans and a tank top. Had read that the more flesh shown the more feminine an older woman looks. Being a rainy day I wore a rain coat that covered my upper body — gave me more confidence. Operator prepared me for a shampoo — now what to do? Due to my injury I can’t bend my neck back far enough to keep the water from running down my back. I told her but she instructed me again to “lean back more”. I had the words half out of my mouth: : “My neck is busted from a bomber crash in England so that’s the best I can do”; but then I caught myself. What would she think of that creature in the chair? So I sat there while she cheerily poured water down my back. After done washing I moved to another chair with one stupid little towel — bra and tank top thoroughly soaked. And what was she doing? Moping the puddle below where I was seated — not a glance my way!. After blowing and styling my hair the tab was $50 plus the $10 tip that should have been one buck if I had wanted to make a scene. Had she made me? Probably. Once past that hurdle with a buoyed confidence, shopping at supermarket and drugstores were easier. Was regularly referred to as Ma’am. Actually, older women and older men begin to blend in appearance as the hormones equalize. With exceptions, being bent over in posture and using a cane is common for both. And so are the jowls and facial hair. Even the voice begins to sound alike. Have to learn to walk better though. Normally I still use too much make-up but confidence should help reduce that.
One other incident too funny to pass: Went shopping for costume jewelry at Macy’s. With my historically bad gut I had to go — second floor up escalator no less. Restroom was packed; usually use the family room or the handicap stall but no such luck. Wearing a skirt, and carrying a bundle as well, found one stall available and five occupied. As the Brits are wont to say “Will have a go at it”. so I pulled down my panties, rolled down my panty-hose, folded my girdle in half and began the squatting motion — seeking the seat. No seat, so further down I went until my legs gave way and seat met cheeks. Startled, I gave out with a loud and deep “huff” heard clearly throughout the bathroom! Couldn’t stop now so did what nature demanded and pushed my way in most dainty fashion to the nearest mirror. Then my compact fell on the inlaid stone floor. Yep, I now walk the walk – believe me.
Must mention the hair in the picture – felt a fleeting femininity with my own hair and new style.
REMINDER: Comments? Questions? Contact my alter ego, Julie Gaum, at email@example.com
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