Transplanted Life
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Doug's brother
I finally got to meet Doug's brother Tom on Tuesday. He's an alright guy, although he doesn't look much like Doug. Doug says they both take after their respective mothers, so that's to be expected. Tom's pretty clearly a jock, blond hair, about five inches taller than Doug, built. You look at him and just know he works as a lifeguard somewhere, and Doug must feel stupid introducing Tom as his "little" brother.

I was glad that the shoes I wore added a couple inches to my height; I'm an average-sized girl, which means I'm a few inches shorter than an average-sized guy like Doug, and a guy like Tom towers over me. I imagine it would bother me less if I'd grown up female, but I have a hard time dealing with standing toe-to-toe with someone and getting a good look at their chest and neck. I instinctively expect to be eye-level with guys, and since I never had to learn to deal with my male friends suddenly shooting up past me in height in junior high like most girls do, I think I'm lacking some essential experience that makes it seem normal.

Anyway, he was nice enough, although he was also seventeen, and stared at my rack a lot when he thought neither I nor his brother was looking. Probably watched my ass whenever Doug and I were walking in front of him, too. I knew it would happen, so I made an effort to not dress provocatively - Maureen joked before I left that she didn't know I even owned a skirt that went down to my ankles - but, hey, I know what kind of hormones are going through a boy that age. I kind of appreciated the attention a little, although I tried not to show it.

I think Doug weirded him out, though. As Martin, I never had brothers, but I know that when Kurt's eyes wandered to Maggie's butt (or some other body part of some other girl), my response would be a sort of clipped "eyes elsewhere"-type comment, or, if I was dating over my head at the time, a kind of arrogant "you wish" gesture. Guys understand that shorthand, and it's expected. If you're Tom, though, and you're focusing too much attention on your brother's girlfriend's assets, and instead of telling you to step back or acting like you know you've got it good, he just turns to her and acts like they're having a wonderful joke at your expense... Well, that's got to mess with the kid's mind.

Which is an elaborate way of saying, no, we didn't tell him about me. Sure, I'm being open about who and what I am nowadays, but that doesn't mean volunteering it to every peripheral person in my life. Especially as I get further away from thinking of myself as a guy in a woman's body and closer to just thinking of myself as a woman. Martin Hartle is always going to be a part of who I am - heck, I'm changing my name to reflect that - but that past is less of a factor in how I interact with new people.

So, we had seafood for dinner - Tom's family lives out in California, and they have different seafood out there, more mahi mahi and less swordfish - then went to see The Village. I dug, Doug thought it was oK, Tom started going on about how the twist was bullshit. He started trying to argue the point with me, but backed off when Doug told him I could hold my own with Kate in terms of movie-talk. Tom gave his brother the "are you sure it's wise to talk about your ex in front of your current girlfriend" look, and I told him not to worry, Kate had introduced us. Did not mention that we hadn't spoken in a couple weeks.

The weird part of the evening came when we were on our way home. Carter called Doug's cell, asking how much longer we'd be, since she had been out for a run and locked herself out, and Maureen was out with some of her friends... I said I'd be right there, and Tom said they should come along, since he hand't had a chance to see the neighborhod around Harvard anyway. Doug made a crack about how what it's like around Harvard is pretty irrelevent to Tom, but they came with me anyway.

Getting to the funny: Tom dug Carter. Sure, she's not as developed up top as I am, but she still looks pretty good in a sports bra and a pair of running shorts. Besides, Doug later told me that Tom goes for the sporty chicks. It was kind of a riot to see Tom trying to make time with Carter, especially since the first thing Carter did when we got the door open was to flip on SportsCenter. They actually got on pretty well when Tom wasn't doing the boy-girl thing. When it became clear that Tom was kind of comfortable in our living room, Doug and I sat down, but I had to take his lap in the recliner because Carter and Tom had the couch. It's big enough for three, but Carter opted to stay at the opposite end from Tom, and it would have been even more awkward to sit between them.

I thought maybe it would end after Carter excused herself to go to the bathroom, but Tom tried to pump me for information, which I didn't supply. But when Tom noticed she came out and tried to hide behind a copy of Scientific American, he of course asked what school she went to, since he was looking at colleges. Carter, of course, said she didn't go to school, and Tom said that was surprising, and Carter said that she couldn't afford it, which in fact sucked, because it meant she was stuck working miserable retail jobs, when she knows for a fact that she's capable of more. Tom asked "what about your parents", and Carter just stopped, saying she couldn't ask them for anything.

That's when Doug decided it would be a good time for them to get back home, and Tom was smart enough to recognize that as a chance to exit semi-gracefully. Carter and I were both kind of relieved to seem them go.

Although as we watched the Red Sox game recap (me with only a little residual anger), Carter asked me if maybe it wasn't time that she should talk to Samantha's parents. She figures that if she's stuck in Sam's body, then they and college is the only way she doesn't really get trapped in shitty retail jobs for the rest of her life, unless she hooks herself to a man, and hell no to that. Another thing is that four years of college as Samantha is scarier to her than the indefinite rest of her life; she can grasp four years. The other thing is that Sam doesn't want to pretend to be their daughter, but if she came clean with the Haskinses, she figured she'd be on her own again.

I told her I wished I could help, but that does seem like a no-win situation unless Sam's parents are super-understanding and generous. I told her that I was in the same fix, if it was any consolation.

Anyway, that was Tuesday. Yesterday, I worked the afternoon, Doug picked me up, we had supper with Tom, and then as soon as Tom was on his plane headed back to his place to make up for the alone-together time we'd missed this weekend.

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