So the phone rings, and there's this guy I have a little trouble placing at first, and he seems to want a little advice.
"The gay bar, it closed."
Oh, him! He'd called a year ago, wanting help with going out dressed. I couldn't make out if he was really deciding to be trans, but I'd given it the benefit of the doubt. We'd met near campus, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to go in or not. He had his stuff in a bag, but was shy about changing in the men's room in the town's only gay bar.
So I'd suggested a ladies' room on campus, a two-holer that I knew of with an outside door, lockable, with a good mirror.
And we caravaned over there, and when I got out of my car, he said, over and over, how beautiful I was in my outfit, and I felt, like, hmm, false note here.
But I made sure the coast was clear, and got him in there and changed, and -- wow -- better looking than me, an easy passer. But terrified anyway. He asked for pointers, and I coached him a bit:
"Walk like you're carrying an orange between your thighs and mustn't drop it. Okay, now bring your elbows in a bit. We don't hold our arms out or carry books on our side, because men need that space, and we women yield it to them. Don't lean into your steps. Put your foot out while standing upright, then let your hips and your back foot bring you over your front foot. It's a semicircle around your focal point, which is where your uterus would be. 'K? Now loosen up your neck a little bit -- men hold theirs stiff, which says they are in command, while we bobble around on ours a little, which is pliability. Good, good! Ready to go?"
So we went, and the drag show wouldn't be starting till ten, so we commandered one of the few booths and nursed two beers each for the better part of five hours.
And I never heard from him again.
"Yes, they lost their lease so the owner could get its reputation "cleaned up" for the basketball fans when the new arena's built."
"Oh. That's terrible. Where do people go now?"
"Well, there's a place run by two lesbians across town."
"Do people go there dressed?"
"Not really. And it's very small and intimate, sort of for people who all already know each other. I think. I mean, I've never been. Not really into bars."
"Well," he began again tentatively, "How about Portland? Aren't there some places there?"
"I'm sure! I mean, there's twenty times the scene there that there is here. This isn't a city, it's a town; folks go home from work and watch videos over dinner."
He laughed. "Yeah, they do. So, umm, if I got the name of a place in Portland, do you think you could, umm, ride up there with me?"
This surprised me. In twelve months, he's still needing a babysitter to get into places? Assuming that's all he's after, which seems to be the case. Poor guy!
"No ... no, I don't think so. You see, I'm just a girl."
"Oh." He turned that over in his mind a bit. "Oh, I see. Well, uh, thanks for all the help, and umm, see you around sometime."