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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

When I earn my face

A fellow worker is incensed.

“A man,” she says, “dressed like a woman, has gone to the women’s restroom!”

Who? Where?

“He’s over there!”

I see what to my eyes is woman only, about my age, the kind called pleasingly plump, busying herself at a public computer terminal. her handbag rests on the countertop by the monitor. She’s gray, her expression careworn. It's even a little dull. She’s been to a thrift store, to judge by the pleated-trim skirt, but she’s shopped her color well, and hasn’t mixed silver with gold. Perhaps her hands are large, and maybe there’s a hint of Adam’s apple; to confirm would require rudeness.

To me she passes.

This is the monster, bent on who knows what
devious plan, that went to the “wrong” restroom.

And how was she going to go to the “right” one?

On the spot, I must begin my co-worker’s training, for the lady’s sake, and, oh, for sure, my own.

There are lots of men, I tell her, that have this condition; it is well known to the medical community, there is a course of treatment that they recommend.

This is now a woman: we must be kind.

Here is a website: see, this is a doctor; a dancer; an airline pilot; this, a member of New Zealand’s Parliament. This, a famous writer of travelogues.

My friend begins to marvel. “Look, they are all so beautiful! Oh, my!”

Oh, my.

I become aware that I am sad.

I will not have this beauty.

I have begun too late. But I hope, when I earn my face, some beauty from my heart will show, enough to go, oh god! to a restroom in this place.

-- risa b


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