Saturday, June 19, 2004
We're talking about badly-dubbed martial arts movies here
Among the sillier aspects of living with a girl who remembers being my ex-boyfriend is the petty things Carter chooses to get jealous about. For example, it's been tough for me and Doug to get together and try to put that uncomfortable last date behind us, so when he called this morning and asked what I was up to, I said I had to work until about 9:30, and I was sort of kind of planning on going to the Midnight Ass-Kicking show at the Coolidge after that. He'd never heard of it, but thought it sounded cool.
I just told Carter what I was up to, though, and he chose to pout. He said it was "our thing". I tried to point out that I'd gone to these movies with other guys, including Kurt, and that I'd gone with Jen before that. Heck, I think one of the Martin-me's last dates with Maggie was going to one of those shows. But does that matter? No. He started going with me, so in his mind it's "our thing".
I told him he was free to call Ravi or whoever and I wouldn't mind, but was told that that wasn't funny. Should have guessed as much.
Friday, June 18, 2004
Funny when it happens to someone else
Really, quite comic. I'm lounging around in panties and a slip, watching the start of the ballgame and, I'll admit, idly wondering where Carter is. He's adjusting, but he's still very much in a work-run-home groove. It's rather unusual for him to be out on his own for much more than an hour or two.
When he finally does show, at about eleven, he looks shell-shocked. I ask him what he's been up to, and he says he thinks he's been on a date.
I'm all "get out!" He says it just snuck up on him - a bunch of folks at the supermarket got off work at around 3:30, one of them takes a basketball out of his locker, but drops it. Carter picks it up, dribbles it on his way back. They ask if he's any good, Carter says he used to play a little, back in school. They are, of course, skeptical, and it's at that point that Carter remembers he's something like five-three now (and probably a fraction of an inch shorter than that). Still, they want to see what he's got. He looks at the group, figures he wouldn't be the only girl, so says why not.
It's frustrating to not be very good - not only is he shorter, but he's got pretty small, almost dainty hands, so it's tough to get a good grip on the ball. He's having fun, though, so he barely notices when two or three hours have passed. A couple folks say they've got to go, some of the others realize they're hungry, and they're heading to McDonalds or something. Somehow the suggestion of going to a movie comes up, and but only he and one other guy are interested in the next thing playing, and it's not until he's actually sitting in there that he realizes that Ravi had paid for both their tickets.
My response ("hey, free movie! What'd you see?") annoys him. He just spent an evening with a seventeen-year-old boy, and I was asking about the movie. I asked him what bothered him more, that Ravi was a boy or that he was seventeen. He claimed that they were both pretty damn creepy. But, I said, you can't avoid the fact that you are physically an eighteen-year-old girl. Kind of pretty at that; seventeen-year-old guys are going to be interested. And be fair, you're kind of like a teenager even if you feel closer to thirty, getting used to being one thing physically as opposed to another. I certainly feel that way often enough, after almost a year. Unless, of course, what creeps him out is that he likes this Ravi.
"No! Seriously, I barely know him. If I had a sister, that sort of thing... He's a nice guy, but I didn't feel anything."
Then it's no big deal, I say. What if he thinks it was a "something", Carter asks. Well, I say, you're a girl now. Think of every way a woman has ever shot you down: "Oh, you thought that was a date? I thought we were just hanging out" or "I just got out of a relationship and just want to keep everything low-key." Heck, you could even go with the truth.
Carter wasn't having any of that - after all, I've only told smart, white, upper/middle class folks, and only a couple of those. Not everyone would react as well as Maggie or Doug. So don't tell them the whole truth, I say. "My last boyfriend kidnapped me and held me prisoner for two months so it's kind of tough for me to let a guy get close" works too. Or not usually going out with folks so young.
And then, once you've established that you were just going to be friends, you can play your next game of basketball in just your shorts and sports bra to gain a distraction advantage.
This leads him to ask if I was quite so evil before I was a woman. Hey, I say, I didn't make the rules...
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Feeling like a failure before lunchtime
I thought I'd been pretty clever, scheduling a look at an apartment for right before a job interview. That way, the rental agent would see me dressed up for the interview and think I'm reliable and won't miss my rent and the like. I don't remember ever wearing a tie to look at rentals as Martin, and I have no idea whether women do the equivelent or not. There seem to be more reasons to dress up for a woman than there are for a man, not to mention more levels of dressing up. Heck, there aren't really levels like there are for a man (from shorts/tee to tux), just a continuum, but you've still got to pick the right spot.
I don't know if I'd say it backfired, but it was an "I can't win" thing. I imagine I looked prosperous enough that I didn't have much negotiating room, but I didn't want to say I was looking for work, either - I've got no idea what Michelle's credit history was a year ago, and there's always people looking for apartments in Boston. In the end, I really didn't want to make a decision without Carter, but the rent just looked like it was going to be to high.
Then, afterward, the interview didn't go well. I guess I learned that there were some things I should avoid when looking for work. It was an interview at a hotel, and even though the classified ad had said "no prior experience necessary", they evidently saw Michelle's previous work at a ski resort and started asking about hospitality industrty stuff that I had no clue on. I bet they didn't ask the other candidates who didn't have similar entries on their resumés about specific computer systems. I was like a deer in the headlights, and tried to get by on saying that it had been over a year since I'd used them. You can read people, sometimes, and I got the impression that the woman interviewing me wasn't pleased. It probably didn't help that I'd worn a fairly short skirt, thinking that "Alex" was a guy's name (well, that and it was pretty warm again today). So I guess I learned to hedge my bets re sex appeal, too.
All before 10:30, so I had plenty of time to get to work for an 11:00am-6:30pm shift. So it wound up being a long day.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Buttering me up
"So," I asked, "are you getting along with the other kids?"
Carter gave me a mean look when I greeted him with that, though he said the day went better. But, he asks, is this how it all starts? You just try to get people to leave you alone and eventually you wind up wearing heels, putting on makeup, and letting a man stick his penis in you? I tell him I didn't go to high school like this, so I don't know how it starts in general. As for me, I just got told to fit in or else. Same result, though.
So, when do you think I'll start wishing these tits were bigger, he asked bitterly. I told him there was no need for that, since jugs like the ones I've got can be a pain and a half. Besides, that'd be no more useful than moping about not being a man. Just learn to be cool with the body you've got. After all, there's a good chance you'll be there for another sixty years.
"Don't say that - I'm having enough trouble with waking up like this tomorrow, much less for twenty thousand days afterward!"
That was it for a while, until he turned on the TV to SportsCenter for NBA Finals stuff, and a beer commercial showed up. I forget what one of the girls was wearing, but he said "there's some stuff like that in the closet. What's it like, dressing and acting like that?" I asked him if he wanted to try, and he said no, not in an appalled or protests-too-much way, but just disbelieving. "I can't imagine it. I get what you said yesterday, but making the leap to just flaunting like that..."
I told him about being the fat kid in school and liking the attention. I told him about once I'd discovered sex could be fun, I had a couple hedonistic weeks until I got a scare. "I guess it's like dress... what is it, blues in the Air Force? It feels good to have people like the way you look. That's all. Sometimes it might lead to something nice, too. But that's me. Doesn't have to be your thing."
Then he told me I was really great to do this and not push, though I didn't see what the big deal was; he'd do the same for me. He doesn't think he'd be in any position to help himself, let alone someone else, but he's a better guy than that. But he told me, no, I was special.
Of course, then he asked if we could watch the NBA instead of the Sox tonight, and I couldn't exactly argue. I did tell him it was something I remembered girlfriends doing to me all the time, though.
Monday, June 14, 2004
And yet, I feel bad
I got home from work tonight to find Carter moping on the couch, looking in the direction whatever baseball game was on ESPN but not really watching it. What's up, I say. You wouldn't get it, he says. No-one more likely to get it, I bet.
And it is one of those things. Carter was assigned to the deli section today, and one of the teenagers working there kept making jokes along the lines of "you get to spend the whole day working with meat, must be a dream come true." And it was one of those situations where you just can't find your way out of it; the right sarcastic remark never comes, and even when one feels almost-right, the guy's like eight inches taller than you, twice your weight, and looks like one of the guys from the old neighborhood Carter studied hard and joined the military to leave. "I just... Ever since I got out of high school, I was never physically intimidated. I wasn't really big--"
"You were all right."
A pale, blonde-haired body like the one Carter's can blush really red. "You know what I mean. It's just, I can handle the outside world okay now, most of the time. I don't like it, but I can deal. But when I'm in that kind of situation, it's like I'm back in the self-storage thing again, and..."
He stops, and I feel like I should say something. "God, Carter, what did Dmitri do to you?"
He asks if it isn't enough that they tied and locked him up, and I suppose it is. I also tell him he needs a real shrink, and maybe we can talk to Doug or Maggie or the Feds to find one who can be trusted and will believe him, but he just shakes his head. He can handle it, he says.
"And, I mean, I should be able to handle the rest, too. You handle it. Real girls handle it. I just don't know how."
Well, there is the knowledge that a quick knee to the groin will get most men bawling like babies. He winces, and I say, yeah, I can't really consider that either. I still reach to cover my phantom testicles whenever I see a blow like that on TV, even if I've got my legs crossed.
"It's just about projecting confidence. You're one of the smartest folks I know, and you know you've endured stuff that other folks would have no idea about to look at you. Don't ever, ever forget that."
"But when they start with the sexual stuff..."
"Then you've got to be confident sexually. Come on." I lead him to the bathroom, in front of the mirror. "Now take off your shirt and jeans."
"I just want to show you something. Trust me." He warily does it, and stands in front of the mirror. "Now, look at you. Your shoulders are hunched, and you're kind of bent over, like you're trying to make yourself smaller. That's not going to make you disappear, and it just sort of cedes personal space. You've got to claim that space, okay? So stand up straight, airman!"
He does, and is a little surprised at what a difference a little body language makes. Before he can speak, I start in again.
"Now, I didn't just tell you to get down to your bra and panties just so you could see what you look like embarassed. Now, look at that girl. Forget you're looking in a mirror; imagine you're an 18-year-old man and tell me what you like." He can't bring himself to say anything, so I start to list things off. "Come on, look at her legs. And her ass. You know they'd catch your eye."
"They didn't when we were in our original bodies."
"Let me tell you something: They look better now. Sam was into the whole goth thing, remember, and they sort of tend toward the more extreme body types - bony or needing the black to be slimming. You, though, you've been keeping in great shape - you run two or three miles a day, right?"
Yeah, he says, but not to look good or anything - it just clears his head. Running has always done that, but ever since the switch, it's like it does it more. I remind him he's thinking with a different brain, and he says he's not sure what to think of that. Then he says he supposes the breasts are okay, if you don't mind 'em small.
"No, they're not bad. So, look, this is the part of the movie where the really girly member of the group would give you a makeover, but all you've got is me. So let's see what we can do." There's not a whole lot, given the uniformity of his wardrobe. I fold the legs of his jeans up a little to expose some more leg, saying it's a shame he doesn't have anything a little tighter to show off the butt. I give his T-shirt a little rip, saying it makes him look a little more active and hints at something sexy by stopping just above the cleavage.
Carter stands up and looks in the mirror. "Wow, I can't believe that's the same girl."
"Looks more like you, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, I guess, in a way."
See, it's not just being confident sexually, it's being confident physically. Carter and I, we're at a disadvantage; we don't have this lifetime relationship with our bodies most people have. He talks about how guys never have to think of this stuff, and I say, no, they do, but we've learned it all our lives, so we don't consciously think of what impression we're creating, but just create it.
Still... As much as it's good to see Carter a little more comfortable, a little more able to handle his current body (even pushing his breasts up a little and eying that critically), I feel kind of like Eve giving Adam the apple here. Part of who Carter's been since the incident has been predicated on stubbornly continuing to be all man despite outward appearances. While I feel I've imparted some useful knowledge, I wonder if it will change him at all.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
First part of the Sunday paper
I admit it; I always used to go directly for the center. The center of The Boston Globe, of course, is where you find the comics, the magazine section which features a crossword constructed (on alternate weeks) by Henry Hook or Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon, and the Best Buy/Circuit City ads which would tell me what new DVDs were coming out on Tuesday and the cheapest place to buy them. After those were dispensed with, the next layer out was the Movies section, then the Arts, then skip a few to Sports, then Ideas, and then, maybe, if there was any time left in the day, the national/world/local news.
Right now, though, Carter and I are starting with the Classifieds. He takes the Real Estate section, I grab the Help Wanted section, and we break out the highlighters. We've both got to work this afternoon, so we probably won't actually make any calls until tomorrow, when I don't have to be into work until about four-thirty. He's already grumbling, though, that we can't afford many of the places listed in the Globe, and maybe our luck would be better with the Herald. That would mean actually buying the Herald, though, and if it has anything to recommend it other than Peanuts (Tony Masserotti being basically as miserable as Dan Shaughnessey), I can't think of it off the top of my head.