Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nerves of Eel

Sang-froid is not a phrase I would ever attach to anything I do – nonetheless, as I watch myself inject the oily elixir of man-fluid, I’m like “Damn I’ve got nerves of steel!” Shooting T seems to be, anecdotally at least, a line in the sand for some trans-guys. From the git my hands were steady. I recall the nurse showing me how to do it proper, with the little foam sack meant to replicate your fleshy parts, and the enormous syringe with the exact amount of “prescription” saline. I became clinical, detached, a predator whose prey was his own fat thigh. There’s a quote in “Alcoholics Anonymous” that says “we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” I take this to mean that my historic IV drug use has finally come in handy.

I found a bunch of neophyte hairs underneath my chin – on my wattle, actually – charming. It prompted me to dream this morning, that I had undertaken a job that required my taking a “male-enhancer.” I lay on the bed/office desk (you know how dreams are: “I’m in a shopping mall that was my bedroom in third grade with Mrs. Cannon who was kind of our rabbit Snowball!”) and saw dark and lovely hair rising from my crotch up my belly, twining in that delicious hair mamba, snaking towards my chest upon which were what? Breasts? Pecs? I’ll never know because I had become distracted by a) the albino tarantula to my right, climbing ‘neath the covers, and b) this soft, nearly mold-like troll-head hair that was sprouting on the tips of my toes. The spider I ignored as I understood it to be an exotic omen of complete neutrality, but the hairs on my toes? I can still feel myself tugging them with wonder.

Hadley often asks me if I’m going to continue to take the T. She’s concerned by what I refer to as “crippling anxiety,” a former, recurrent state that has been highlighted by the hormones. Also, I suspect she has mixed feelings about me changing. Fair enough: we were partners for 3 years and I was her first “lesbian” relationship. I like to call it “crippling anxiety” because it sounds so dramatic. I don’t guess I’ve actually been incapacitated by it, but nearly, early on. I had to give a presentation at school and I got so nervous even my ass cheeks were trembling. It was awful. Now I force myself to speak in public situations to mitigate this symptom, and that’s helped. At least my ass isn’t quivering – sweating like crackhead attempting sexual congress, but shaking, no.

So my motto for this year has been “Tranny great in ’08!” – a pep rally rhyme generously donated to me by Amy Jae, my hair stylist. Will I be “Tranny fine in ’09?” What are the lessons of 2008; what, if anything, have I learned?

Lessee: I learned I can hold a grudge with an awe-inspiring tightness. I’m still hurt that an ex dumped me over the phone and you should see me: I’ve got my arms crossed, my foot tapping. I’m waiting for my motherfucking apology. Breaking up with someone you were in deep with over the phone is shitty. It just is. There’s no excuse. But hanging on to the hurt of it for nearly a year, and it’s as fresh as an unsweaty tranny bottom before school? My bad! There’s a guy, Michael, he was one of my closest friends ages ago, who dragged me around on the floor and forcibly removed my rent money from me so he could buy drugs. He’s been sober for YEARS. Have I gotten my apology from him? No. Do I think he owes me one? What do you think? This had to have been in 1980, people, NINETEEN EIGHTY. Then there was this girl in Austin, six years ago…

I wonder how many people are out there now, waiting on my apology? Could be dozens, actually. Yeesh.

I found out I have an incredibly deep reserve of inner-strength, but I could not tap it without other people. I mean, if you haven’t figured this out yet, I’m kind of an ass. And yet, the Universe has seen fit to surround me with the most stellar characters. I’m not sure how this happened, but I will share that asking for help is my third line of defense, and it’s often my best one. My first line is not asking for help. When that fails me utterly, I resort to my second line: fretting and hand-wringing. Then I call someone.

Changing this dramatically requires much of all of us. It asks that I be as fearless and honest with myself, about who I am, who I want to be, what happened, how I was able to sequester this desire, buffalo and fool myself, or perhaps not – maybe this is just a piece of my evolution and has little to do with anything but where I am at exactly now. Or all of the above.

My transition asks that you be open-minded, and generous in ways that may be new for you too, but if you’re in my orb you’re probably already open-minded and generous, and more. Transitioning in general asks that I challenge my notions of gender and sexuality. I’m coming to find out that all gender means is something inside of me, and has only the vaguest relationship to socialized “maleness.” It’s how I feel, not what I look like. It also has to do with how I relate to others, but that’s complicated and deserves more attention than I can give it right now.

I had my heart broken for the first time in 2008, really broken. I’d be kidding myself if I suggested I was anything but still on my knees from that. I so meticulously crafted a life calculated to protect me from exactly that pain, the suffering of lost love, lost life, profound change, and see what happened? I asked to be shown a deeper meaning, of me and of this greater consciousness and I basically got shit-kickin’ gay-bashed in the parking lot after the Sock Hop. I’m lying in the gravel, looking up at the stars, through swollen lips and loose teeth, and look, here come the cavalry! Here’s Jude, and Jessica, there’s Betty and Ben and Kevin. Jerilynn’s here, and Hadley, my brother and more and more and more, and suddenly I recognize this feeling, I know this one, it’s the absence of shame and an overwhelming wave of relief.

Thanks for being there, for extending your hand to the ladyman on the asphalt. Thanks for helping make 2008 Tranny Great. Happy New Year. And in 2009, we’ll all be fine, and if not, I got your back.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mrs. SheGhost of Lady Christmas in the Girlie Past

A whimpering pug rousted me from my ill-conceived dreams at 2:30am. I’m dog-sitting in Hillsborough for Jessica and Ed, and their tiny walrus of a canine snores and snurfles louder than I do in the wee hours. Even my beloved sea-foam green ear plugs cannot keep the sound of slobber at bay.

Mind you, this is largely because my brain is on hyper-hum anyway, and is reaching brains-length across the bed to find something to disrupt my horrible sleep.

I had heard a tiny tidbit about an ex who is a recovering alcoholic, and it was enough to dislodge some grave old hurts in the usual way. I found myself opining, at 3am, which is never ever a good thing, about this future and that past, and that an assured superiority of one’s spiritual path probably means it isn’t very spiritual. I had a lot of very dire predictions and pontifications, build mostly on the shifting sand of my own hurt feelings.

So much for humility. Someone else’s “spiritual shortcomings” are, he sighs wistfully, good indicators of my own.

I recalled two things: 1.) I tripped over my ego’s attachment to my own recovery and fell in a forty ounce and pipe-load of crack. 2.) I have a pact with myself: whenever I get caught up in an ex’s biz I need to remind myself of my transition.

Obsessing about another’s behavior is a delicious diversion from any quakes and tumult I may be experiencing to my own foundation, and when you’re both sprouting and losing hairs in unfamiliar places; when you can’t get your own wardrobe to fit like it did 6 months ago, or even 6 weeks ago; when people keep docking on your mammaries in an attempt to anchor to some gender, since you are clearly confusing them, and they persistently choose the wrong one, you know you’ve got plenty of your own to dwell upon.

I also sense that part of my brain’s fixation on lost relationships is its grief state. I’m grieving Samantha. Even as I’d recently come to a more relaxed, loose-fitting jeans style membership of the Tranny Club, it’s impossible not to observe that certain behaviors I regard as innately Sam may have to go.

I hug on guys like a girl. I stretch up on my toes and wrap around ‘em like a girl. Most of the guys I hug I really love and my flavor of love displays itself pretty maternal. I call people “honey,” although I know some men that do that too, usually dads who are comfortably maternal themselves. I have feelings for men that sometimes feel, well, womanly. I was sharing this with one of my tranny mentors (
men tors!)and his comment echoed my own conundrum. “I never know when I’m attracted to a guy if it’s because I want to have sex with him, or I want to be him!”

Typically, if I want to make sexy times with a man, he’s got something I want, and that’s not just in his low hangin' Luckys. Guys I’m attracted to are generally very stereotypically male. They tend to be the type of man that clomps on a tightrope above obnoxious alpha and a gentle and sweet paternalism. I can almost see myself in that caricature, drawing women to my tent with a deft and acrobatic kindness, a promise of patience and presence, and then clubbing them with my unrepentant clownish surety and Know-It-All-ism.

My mentor-friend recalls how he used to watch his father’s clothes spin in the dryer, and how he wished they would shrink to fit him. My favorite pastime was taking everything out of my father’s jewelry box - a richly oiled, handsome, Danish wood cubbyhole and drawers - and pretending it was mine: the Army pins and medals; myriad cuff links; broken watches; sock garters. They held mysteries, were alchemical; in my dreams the correct amalgamation of these man–ful artifacts would transform me into the man I was. How frustrating to be the frog and wait for the kiss of the princess! It never came, or when it did, the princess fell for the frog, and nothing changed, nothing ever changed.

My ass has been kicked all up and down the block in 2008, often with my own shoe. For me to join the human race means doing a lot of face-plants. My thing is not graceful, is what I’m saying to you. Someone tied my Reeboks together while I was telling you how smart I am. Nothing has brought me closer to other people than changing my sex. Who knew? It has given me a new depth of consideration and compassion for others - because I am so often nursing my own inventory of pratfall induced cuts and bruises I can see yours better too.

Thank God for my birthday I got a whole pack of Beef Band-Aid strips. If I got to sport hurts and owies, at least they’ll be dressed like men.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gold, Myrhh, and Frankenstein

I am so freakin lucky. Dude, I can’t even tell you. Last Thursday I rented myself a little black Versa (like what Hiro drove in “Heroes!” I’m a mutant with tranny super-powers! What would my ability be? Testosterone driven would be the ability to migrate fat to other places, or perhaps sprout random hairs, or maybe make people’s vocal cords thicken to the degree that it chokes them.) It was time to visit my parents.

Over the course of this year, I have experienced deep dark pain and loss and discomforts like multiple paper cuts, sometimes on fantastically sensitive parts, but I have consistently had the love and patience of my friends and family. That makes me one helluva lucky guy. My poor, benighted parents have endured my coming out as an a) Lesbian (yay, it’s 1978 and our daughter’s a pussy-licking lady lover! We couldn’t be more proud!); b) a heroin addict (6 years later and look where pussy-licking led to! Well, I guess there are some painfully loud clues when your kid’s heroes are Lou Reed and William Burroughs, and, while watching “After School Special” she finds herself longing aloud for “track marks.”); c) a tattoo artist, although that, at least, had the potential for income and got me in some magazines and two books, which parents can’t help but loving a little; and d) a God lover (choke! The infamy! Bless their hearts - my parents are atheist activists who raised a tattooed, lesbian, recovering addict freakin’ God lover, which frankly, I think, is a fantastic argument for the existence of a greater consciousness with a wicked sense of humor.)

So what’s this God lovin’, girl chasin’, recoverin’ drunk and junky up to now’days? Why she’s a SHE/HE! Fancy!

Believe me when I report a deep and not-lonely well of compassion for these two crazy kids, who got hooked up in the late 50’s, are still married, are still godless free-thinkers (as their license plates, bearing the letters “FT” for Free Thinker, and their “Darwin” fish stickers remind us), who enjoy nothing more than a good dinner with a well-conceived and artfully executed gin martini, and who somehow ended up with Sideshow Bob for a daughter. This is America: anything is possible. Hey, my dream was track marks.

Even so, when I suggested that I was a pretty boyish kid, I was a little taken aback to hear my mother respond in the negative. In that moment, I am teleported into time, back to the past, when the three of us were in family therapy because their daughter insisted on being suicidal. “And what kind of childhood did you have, Mrs. Peterson?” I hear the psychiatrist ask, neutrally. “Oh, fine.” She responds, with equal neutrality, oblivious to the aghast and agog fish-mouths of her partner and progeny. “Um, Dear,” my father begins, “you had a horrible childhood.” Oh, right. That.

My mother has a gift for revisionist history, a mechanism which no doubt has saved her from immense amounts of pain and suffering. Nonetheless, when I see her clam up on my boy self, I’m a little (just a little) shocked.

I re-frame it. “Remember what a tomboy I was?” I ask in hopes of jarring some tender reserve. She bites, and shares wistfully “Oh, you were fearless! Always climbing trees, and rocks, terrifying us!” after which my father says “You could throw a football better than Eric!” during which I think “I could throw a pass better than you, Old Man!”

Those things don’t make me trans; lots of girls are like that. I think it was more the always wanting to be in suits, and making fake moustaches; I believe the tell was in my profound frustration at everyone’s perception of me as a girl. I mean, I capitulated, but not gracefully, to this “fact” of girlness. My stupid brother had a penis and, I understood, privilege with it. I was forever to be relegated to second class as a girl, which was insult to the blistering hematoma of injury: appearing to be the sex I was not.

I was only shown two sexes as a child. I was told I was one. I don’t know if it’s true that there are only two genders; I suspect there are two, with an infinite possibility of variations and amalgamations betwixt and between and perhaps beyond. I almost don’t care. Somewhere, in that beckoning void, that galaxy of network stars, is the delicious Planet Sam. I don’t need gills, and I won’t need a space suit – a suit and tie maybe – to show up. I know when I showed up at my mom and dad’s doorstep, they welcomed this Stranger From Another Gender. Some guys doing same got the boot, they were exiled, ostracized. Some guys I know still can’t visit the woman and man who bore and raised them. I only ever experienced internal privations, degradations.

Here’s to Mom and Dad. If they cannot call me “he” yet, if they seem to have become smitten anew with my given name “Samantha,” well that’s okay. It’s been hard as fuck for me and I’m, um, me. I showed up on the end-of-the-year, what used to be mimeographed, share sheet, you know, “we went to Germany, Dad had a colonoscopy, Skipper got the diabetes, our kitchen got renovated” thing that people send out for the 25th. The very last sentence read “Oh, and Samantha is transgendering to Sam.”

Aint I a lucky man?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Think I Love You, So What Am I So Afraid Of

Remember Todd Browning’s “Freaks?” Remember how that woman was made into a chicken? I was just reading an article in Harper’s about tarring and feathering the excise collector back in the day – coating the taxman with boiling hot tar that burned their skin and which then was nearly impossible to remove reminded me how humans have an ongoing history of pretending other humans are somehow less than human, in order to exact revenge, or simply blow off a little steam. Torture as the equivalent of two boiler-makers at a bar on the way home from work, or forcing oneself to watch “The Real Housewives of Orange County” on Bravo.

To not allow a child to explore gender roles seems, if not equally, virulent and catastrophic. It seems just as egregious, just as perverse as tarring and feathering, to thwart a child from expressing itself, but then, I think the most paralytic poison is the stuff I create myself and keep sucking.

I’m musing about this as my family tries on and discards or keeps, new ideas about who their former daughter/sister/niece might be. There’s this obdurate piece of us that digs in around other people. Like, we just can’t allow for a change. People refuse to accept Uncle’s new wife because they feel he didn’t grieve the previous Mrs. long enough; we don’t talk to Cousin because she went B’hai, and we’re not really sure what that even means but we don’t like it. You can’t break ranks in many families without getting at least some shame thrown at you. How much of it sticks is, at the end of the day, entirely up to you, but for most of us it’s a messy, smelly affair.

Anyway, I’m old enough now, and changing genders is weird enough, to allow other people their process without judging it too harshly. It’s pretty much super weird. I did remind my father that I won’t be coming home for the holidays with extra arms or tentacles or anything – that would be next year’s imposed debacle. How do you like me now!? I've gone cephalopod! Don't even think about ordering ceviche, motherfucker.

Where it gets ticklish for me is remembering what a little boy I was. I guess I had this fantasy that when I told my parents I was going to man out that a part of them would be like “oh, it all makes sense now.” I was your textbook trans-kid, in so many ways. My hair was cut in what was called a “pixie” and adults “mistook” me for boy all the time. I never thought they were mistaken; I felt the error had been made by addressing me as “she” - I was convinced that I would eventually be seen for the boy I knew myself to be, that perhaps everyone else was under some sort of mythological thrall that prevented them from seeing what was clearly true.

I had a pair of cowboy boots I never removed. Multiple pictures, black and white and dated 1964, document this fetish. There’s me, in a pleated gray wool skirt (ugh) and turtleneck, cowboy boots, climbing the swing set. I was fearless. These aren’t necessarily boy traits, but there’s something about a child transvestite that’s a pretty clear tell. I went to a very small school, and so was able to play on the football and softball team. I was desired as a teammate, as I was so motivated to disprove my girl, I would juggernaut to goal after goal, literally tearing through boys twice my size with the unique, muscular focus of the tomboy. I was always that kid with “something special,” meaning: adults would find some way of reckoning with the gender stuff. Children always knew, and didn’t care, unless they discovered they could jar you, unseat you with it. Children are terribly hierarchical, and prone to bloody coups.

So it’s both understandable, and odd, that my parents should find my transition challenging. My knee-jerk to that is, of course, try being me.

But when I came out as a lesbian, it made so much sense! Oh, of course! That’s why! Things clicked into place, not just for me, but for the nation. The tomboy thing was easily absorbed by that (dare I?) heterodoxy. Yeesh. If I’d kept drinking, none of this would be necessary, but alas, I had to get sober and clear a path to my own self and, once having arrived at some clearing, some patio in the overgrown suburb of my past, go “Oh fuck. Now you’ve done it.” Done it indeed. I don’t think I can go back from here, although my friends tried to convince me otherwise, when I expressed pretend dismay at my burgeoning man-love.* “You can go back, like Pregnant Guy!” My big (trans) brother says, disgustedly, “Pregnant Guy looks like a chick with a beard.”

Oh, it’s all contextual, really, isn’t it?! This world of gender variance is so new, so delicious, so disturbing that sometimes I can hardly bear it. It’s like that moment on a roller-coaster, where you’re sheerly terrified and about to pee your pants with joy. I get so frightened by the unknown, so wrapped up in the future, when trannies have jet-packs and we take dinner in a pill, that I almost miss the nuance, the hair that’s gone missing from my hairline as it recedes into the male-pattern vee at the temples; I might miss the fuzz bloom on my belly; how would it be to not have discovered the fine dark hairs populating my swelling jaw?

I’m pupate; I’m neophyte. I can only psychically relax with other trans-guys. Only with the mutated do I find relief, can I be carried in the current. Woman are a challenge to my masculinity, because I want pairing with them; men are accepting of the novelty, for now, but I am a novelty and not an equal.

Just when I think the world might be made of Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs, these things kaleidoscope and shift and an entirely new dimension is revealed. I typed “reveled” and I should’ve kept it. It’s one of the best parts of being human, the ecstasy of this newness that keeps occurring. I liken it to some spectacular, creepily beautiful origami, that keeps unfolding and folding, now a swan, look, a chrysanthemum! Now a Model T Ford and now a lipoprotein. A tiny elephant or a three-legged rooster, the Chicken Lady – something freakish and foul, something wondrous and phenomenal. That’s just how it is. But it’s like the hairs on the back of my hand: you really really really have to look when the light’s just right.

*Go see Quantum of Solace and tell me you don’t want to make sexy times with James Bond.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Au'voir Tristesse!

I was kickin’ it with a pal last night, an especially alto lass – one of those glamazon uberfraus who’s 7 feet tall in her Chucks. We threw our weary dogs up on the rickety, but oddly substantial wood of my coffee table. “Look at your little feet!” she side-eyed wickedly. I sensed it coming. I’d felt it before, from her, from others – this discomfort with my transition, which often translates in a need to knock me down a peg, either by dismissing my process, “it’s just menopause!” (meaning: I don’t actually need to transition; hormones are simply confusing me about my gender), or by commenting on how something I am doing, or not doing, or wearing, or not wearing, is not up to manly par. I get this from other transguys too, you know. They’re even more invested, more prone to feeling threatened if I’m “not doing it right.”

“You have little woman feet!” Well, actually, for my height, they’re pretty proportionate. This is not the first infraction from her, and so I leap from the corner I’ve trapped myself in: “Why do you always feel the need to emasculate me!?” Why indeed? I'm reminded of being 13 and having a crush on this Jewish girl in my Public Speaking class. One day I was sketching next to her, showing off and giddy with love, when I had this perverse and delicious compulsion, and I put the Star of David in my doodle. I can't say why, exactly, but I did know it would be provocative and arouse ire. Maybe I just wanted some kind of reaction from this girl who separated herself from me in what seemed to me to be an arbitrary, unfair way.

At the very least, transitioning allows for some interesting conversations, if you’re willing to delve the murkier waters at the bottom of a well you’re not sure hosts a fortune in coins or a face-eating troll. I actually almost long for these kinds of exchanges; having grown up in a family that shared nothing that had even the faintest whiff of fear or vulnerability, I have become almost eager to do so on my lonesome.

I can only speculate that a friend’s insistence upon something of mine being “womanly” means s/he feels shaken, unnerved, disturbed by my equally, seemingly obdurate insistence upon it being “manly.” My feet disappoint me – as a woman I thought them deliciously large, and shod them in even larger, bulky man shoes. As a dude? They’re small. Girl can’t help it. But what is it about transitioning that is threatening to other people, people who insist they “love me?”

One friend tells me, “I think of you as maternal. You’re a mother figure for me.” I, in turn, reply, “That’s beautiful! I won’t lose that; I love that quality in a man!” She avers, saying her own father is just such a man.

Maybe it’s just a general need to control – I am drawn to opinionated, controlling men and women. Hell, I’ll just gaze in the old gilt mirror, shall I? Why do what others choose to do with their lives impact me like a…a…an impacted thing (nothing good can come from impaction. I can only conjure teeth, and anal sacs.)?

I sit ‘round a fire in the cold, dank Raleigh drizzle. It’s 10pm: do you know where your trannies are? I’m sucking a cigar, and feeling not a little like Papa Hemingway, pretending I’m at the end of a dock in the Keys, storm passing over a turbulent sea, far far off in the horizon. I don’t feel lonely, at all. This is a miracle, because the ache of loss has had a bully’s grip on my head and my heart. Grief is solitary territory even when you’re standing on common ground with others. It’s always a peninsula threatening to detach, get swept into that selfsame sea you can see the storms over. I pull on the stogie and thank the Thing-That-Made-Me. “I’m finally settling into this transition.” I state aloud.

She left, and Clay died, and Keith got really scary sick, and I went to school full-time and moved twice and had and lost two jobs and got a crush on a girl and didn't care for it, and painted and wrote, and cried and cried and cried and laughed and laughed until my face hurt with sea salt coursing into the cracks of my fattening visage. The testosterone only makes me a little crazy now. My upper body continues to thicken, bursting out of last year’s winter coat, my favorite hoodie, some tee shirts but I keep slouching because of the breasts. Hair here, then there, my gaze averted by cleavage waaaay more than BT; anger, resentment, spitting curses at traffic and now saying “Cunt” and not in a nice way like I used to.

Something’s finished, or is it just the holidays?

I dreamt you took me by the hand and said “we need a lint brush.” My clothes are covered, in dreams and in day-life, by long fine peach and white cat hairs. You wanted me to look fresh and clean and new, for my new part. My new role. I’m moved by your attentiveness; I remember that about you. I walked down the aisle of the dream CVS full of a deep, deep, satisfaction and love, for you, for me, and for all of us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

If You Loved Me You Would

I always weep on the day of my shot. Typically, I jab myself in the early a.m. and trot off to school like a good little trannyboy. Wednesday is the day of manly reckoning; it is also, perversely, my Women’s Studies class.

Studying the history of an oppressed people is often not an uplifting experience. This natural downer is compounded, frequently, by the frustrating nature of this particular class, which often seems to perpetuate the very shibboleths it claims to expose. Today, me and my sore tranny sperm-shot thigh gimped into a class about violence against women. Damn me for a sensitive pirate, but aaaargh! This be a subject near’n’dear to me grizzled heart. No sooner did the instructor recite the requisite statistics (50% of college men would rape if they thought they could get away with it) than I was forced to pretend a splinter got ‘neath me eye-patch. Shit makes me sad, is what I’m saying to you, makes me tear up. Whatever they put in that vial of T comes supplemented with vitamin Waaah.

We were also given a sheet entitled “10 Things Men Can Do To Prevent Gender Violence.” Number 9 says “Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any web site that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner.” Well then we started chatting, like you do in class, about pornography, and the instructor makes a rather sweeping indictment of an entire class of erotica by announcing she “doesn’t understand how someone could be turned on by images of rape.”

So I’m stuck here.

I look at some porn. Okay, I look at A LOT of porn. For Jesus’ sake I shoot testosterone ‘kay!? My friend Almira says if women understood the true nature of T they would all don burqas. Now, I don’t like a lot of what I see; in fact, I really like very little of it. Quite a bit of it is seriously offensive to me. But I have to report, images of rape are not. Rather, let me clarify: fantasy imagery of rape does not offend me in the least. What offends me is men sticking their penises in a woman’s vagina, right after they’ve rear-ended her. What offends me is women putting that in their mouths after same. That’s just disgusting. That looks like real rape to me.

I asked a spectacularly repulsive specimen of the grosser male, a man I painted houses with, side-by-side, and shared incredibly graphic stories of, well, consensual acts not e.coli inclusive, “Why do guys think that a chick sucking the dick that’s been in her butt is hot?” Me, I’m always thinking like a scientist. Him: “It’s like, it’s like, it’s like that chick’ll do anything. She’s really freaky!” Wow. Because for me, I’m like “I don’t want that chick to do anything near me.” That it is so revolting to me nearly obscures its inherent rapery, the humiliation of making this woman suffer something so gross because it makes some man feel like a conqueror.

I get the ass-to-vag thing, although I can’t watch that either. The knowledge of the impending “fiberglass in my urethra” sensation I imagine the “actress” will suffer shortly thereafter, renders that bestial act also not-sexy. It’s humiliating too, in a rapist way – I so much don’t care about this human, I so value my orgasm over this piece of nothing’s health I will ass-to-vag fuck her. This I kind of understand. I get that it’s frustrating for guys getting their fuck on, to have to pay attention to something other than getting their fuck on. The fantasy is a woman who will let you go wherever you want, whenever.

This is male privilege at its finest: most men come so easily they cannot appreciate what many women go through for a simple orgasm. Any little noise is a distraction. You changing the rhythm totally threw me off. I just remembered I forgot to cancel my gym subscription. That touch was perfect; why did you stop; oh there it is again; never mind, it’s gone. Men are outrageous in their demands for something they’re going to get anyway, no matter what. It’s just like at the workplace, what with women making 70 cents to men’s dollar. Same with the freakin orgasm but worse maybe.

Oh, but I was talking about rape. What kind of man am I, that I enjoy scenes of (non-intestinally infected) humiliation and dominance? Does it make it okay that I understand I’ve been acculturated to find violation sexy, acceptable that I appreciate that I’ve sexualized my own trauma, my own history of sexual trespass? Can I watch porn with a clear conscience because I “get” why it does what it does for me, because I’m a feminist, and a “man” who was brought up a “woman?” How can I participate in something I also find not a little shameful?

I don’t have any answers and I can tell you truthfully I’m going to keep watching porn.* But it will continue to present challenges. I want to be a more evolved type of guy. That’s part of the point, I think, why the universe is making women who are men and men who are women, so we can evolve out of stupid ideas around gender and sex.

This sheet we were given also says “Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.”

That, I can promise to uphold. But where else, except free internet porn, am I going to find things like “Elegant Lady Interracial Gang Bang?” and other delicacies too enticing, too hilarious, too stupidly human, not to savor? It’s a journey and a destination.

*like right after I post this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mmmmm! Tastes Like Squid!

Tranny morsels:

A couple weeks back I was feeling particularly low and dark. I pulled into the parking lot at school before I could choose to slam into the metal barrier fencing on 147 and made my first “lifeline” call. “Jessica,” I began with no small amount of gravitas, “I want to die. I just don’t want to do this today.” Jessica knows the personal torment of living less than successfully as an artist, and sugar-coats nothing. “Hang on,” she said, and put her two year old on the phone. “Say something to Uncle Sam, Gussie!”

Then, over the bleak cell reception came the small happy voice. “Hi Tranny!” Gus said, with that unique personal triumph of having cracked both his mother and me up into small pieces. And the world was right again, all ‘round.

I don’t have a small child I can train like a mynah to say “Grandma’s got false teeth!” or “Hi Tranny!” That’s probably a good thing. I would get any child of mine to say all kinds of crazy inappropriate shit. You’d think it would be enough that I do it all the time myself – “my ass is sweating RIGHT NOW! Whatever’s in my pants is giving me angina! Angina! I’ve got angina and a vagina! Weren’t they the backup singers for Tony Orlando and Dawn?” I have to pat my own hand and say “seriously, stop already.”

I dragged both Jessica and Judith (my het BFFs) and a crew of lesbonians to Local 506 to see Athens Boys Choir. Everyone I love must endure total tranny submersion. Fortunately, my besties go along agreeably to whatever freak show I can summon. We all bopped to “Tranny Got Pack,” and shimmied our entire arms to “I like you but I love your Jazz Hands.” I’m delighted to discover other men find their transition deliciously weird and hilarious. You have to laugh, at your wildly erratic voice, moods, surging libido, the balls-out (as it were) awkwardness of morphing gender in public. If you don’t, you’ll wind up playing Twister with the guardrail on Highway 40. There’s enough violence at transpeople without inflicting it on yourself.

I liked being in a club with a bunch of transguys. I liked seeing where everyone was at. I’ve been on testosterone since May and I don’t have a beard and I still get my period. The change this body has manifested is significant, but it’s distinctly my own. There were a couple guys there I tranny-stalk. I see’em at cafes, Whole Foods, places where trannies congregate. It’s the freakin’ trans Serengeti out here, I’ll tell you what. On any given day you can sight at least one transguy within 4 blocks of my house. But these two in particular – I’ve watched them visibly swell and stretch to fit their masculinity over the last six months. I nearly clapped my hands with glee when I discovered observable side-burns on one. I should have a Peterson’s Trans-Guide, where I can find silhouettes and determine regional differences. A side-burn sighting! Where’s my list? Check! And then I text all my club members excitedly, because you have to have a club if you’re some sort of lay scientist. If you see some riled up, vaguely mannish person squatting behind the organic plumquats, peering from betwixt the Lacinato Kale and the Rainbow Chard, that’s me on the transguy prowl.

It’s Thanksgiving. I subscribe to this online horoscope, and I don’t know why because it’s always kind of a buzz-harsher. It always says stuff like “you dream big and are very creative but don’t give in to sloppy planning like you always do.” Anyway, today it said things will be fantastic if I’m really grateful. That’s what I mean, it’s a very Christian, dogmatic horoscope, very judgey. I always feel sufficiently cowed after reading it. But I will pay heed, and be (abashedly) grateful today.

I’m grateful I have a bunch of friends who are complete weirdos, or at least, completely comfortable being around me, who is a weirdo, the least of which weirdness is being a transguy. I’m thankful I ended up living in Trannytown, NC – I mean, who knew? I’m thankful for Obama, even as some of his recent decision-making makes me nervous.

I’m grateful for a biological family who has thus far pretty much ignored what for me is the most monumental decision I’ve ever made aside from the one to stop drinking and drugging (mostly because none of us want to actually answer any personal, possibly baffling, questions nor feel any sort of responsibility or anger for same, and for which I am truly grateful!); I’m glad you’re reading this because I think the deconstruction of social concepts of gender is a significant, relevant battle and on some level you must be interested too; I’m delighted my shoulders are broadening, thickening and that the fur on my cheeks is darkening even ‘though I’m the only one who knows this; I’m grateful for dogs and cats, and elephants and octopi. I dreamt I popped a live octopus in my mouth and ate it and I’m grateful that was just a dream. I think it’s possibly all a dream, this crazy play, so I’m thankful today I don’t have to take myself so seriously. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Forgive Me Monster For I Have Sinned

Kit Yan, transguy activist and poet, and the more masculine half of Good Asian Drivers, posted a spoken word response to HRC’s “Transgender Day of Remembrance” video that really got me thinking. For those of you who don’t know, HRC does not have a history of supporting its trans community, even though it calls itself a “GLBT” organization. A lot of gay rights groups add the “T” to their alphabet soup but apparently don’t really mean it. HRC is a big ass deal in gay politics but they’re the Abercrombie and Fitch of same in that they have always seemed to be more interested in a generic but compelling sexiness than in serving messier aspects of gender and sexuality. If you see a car with a blue and yellow “equal” sticker on it, that’s HRC. But please understand that sticker does not include me as equal.

HRC has persistently supported bills that exclude protection for transpeople. There’s a political strategy behind it – you want to pass the best bill you can, with the most protection for the most people, but that often means leaving people out, people whom senators and representatives find challenging. I worked in gay politics and I worked on a bill that excluded trans. This was in Texas, and I have mixed feelings about it, frankly. On the one hand, I was as clueless and transphobic as a homo can be which spoke to a prevailing current of ignorance and apathy. On the other hand, maybe the bill that did pass was a wedge in a door.

But I digress. My political work lies somewhere else, and here is where it is. Kit spoke eloquently about how transpeople aren’t “good looking” enough for the HRC to absorb and assimilate, like the gay Borgs they can be. Trans makes people really uncomfortable, and that, in part I believe, is because it can look so AWKWARD. Trans can translate to ill at ease, but it’s also deliciously wabi-sabi. Male bodies transitioning to women are especially confronting. People are like “why doesn’t he make that look better? Why does he even bother?!” It’s almost impossible for Americans to let people have their process. And by “Americans” I surely mean me.

Adolescence is awkward and ugly too. Epicene boys, once angelic and faunlike, coarsen and thicken, become graceless sporters of random and unrestricted pubic hair, can be a veritable fairground for facial eruptions. The public humiliation of puberty is compounded by the open knowledge that your outsides are merely mirroring your interior. I didn’t understand trans in 2000; the women I knew personally were painfully mentally ill, tortured by their dysmorphia, clawing with newly-grown nails to create a cubby-hole they could tuck into and feel safe and secure. They were precisely the kind of transperson that I’ve heard made fun of: tons of makeup, inappropriate clothing choices atop a physicality that wanted to burst through same. Ever did their scalp lose tresses; ever their chins, despite electrolysis, push dark thick beard to the fore; always their bones and bodies betrayal, thin hipped and broad-shouldered, overly large mitts and feet, the voice and its external punctuate, the adam’s apple, on and on to be ignored, or dealt with or reckoned or despaired or surrendered.

And here am I, with my saddle-bags, with my breasts, my belly and my hips, looking for all the world like a mannish woman, and feeling like something else entirely. And now, finally, I find my compassion.

My friends began to transition. Now it wasn’t just some outliers I could take under my maternal wing while clucking to myself about what a good, open-minded mother hen I was. My friends weren’t ill, nor were they monstrous. But the idea was! Monstrous to change one’s sex! How could they!? I vaguely recall going through this same evolution with bisexuals, feeling at first abandoned and betrayed, wanting to shame them even for “leaving” even though they never actually left. It’s hard for me to stay mad at an idea, particularly when the idea never really dovetailed with reality, which was just some friends falling in love. This impacted me how?

Bisexuals are monsters. Obese people are monsters. Disabled people. Transgendered people. There’s a chaos, entangled limbs, in these. We’re confronting, even and especially to ourselves. We’re all monstrous, aren’t we? Even so-called beautiful people are monstrous somewhere, sometimes.

Monsters are gorgeous. Wabi-sabi is beautiful. How lucky we are to bear witness to such an extraordinary flowering! Look, it’s too full of light to almost contemplate – that’s why people often want to strike it down, smuffocate it. Let’s not cover our love light under a bushel, my siblings, let’s fucking blast that hate with the shine god gave us. HRC knows better, that’s the shame of it. I’m not buying into anybody’s idea of beauty but God’s. Can I get a witness?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner!

I drove through the early-onset darkness to a small house in the Carolina woods last night. It took me ten minutes to drive three blocks from my apartment but a mere half mile later I was sailing through serpentine country back-roads, doing the high-beam dance and dodging deer.

My friend L had invited me to dinner to make up for the fact that I had stood him up Sunday. That’s the kind of gentleman he is. I’ll get to last Sunday in a minute, because that’s a spectacular story in its own right.

I only know a handful of transguys,* and the handful I got is pretty variegated – gay, straight, slim, big, hirsute, not – and here’s the thing: they’re all GUYS. There’s no mistaking the signature; they’re dudes. I’m not simply remarking on their appearance, which again varies from extremely dowdy butch man to metro homo; I’m talking about their presence, their energy. I scrabble to uncover the dyke, the woman, in our conversations and in their physicality, because I’m looking for a plangent point of intersection, a place I can connect myself to them, but I’m hardscrabbling in a dustbowl. There may have been fecund female ground there at one point, but it’s pretty dry there now. My own presentation, for all my internal masculinity, my thickening face and deepening voice, is still dyke. These men are my big brothers – they are teaching me how not to drown, or at least, how not to flounder, in this crazy whorl of pseudo-adolescence.

If transguy were a Ben and Jerry’s flavor, what would we be? Chocolate chunk and Speedstick?

It’s nice, to slog to the shore and be met by a trans-brother. Dude wants to know, is eager to uncover what’s changed for you, how it’s going, the details and nuances of which only someone taking hormones can be familiar with. Or interested in. His girlfriend, listening to our enthusiastic recollection of our first hair growth, yawned theatrically. “This is fascinating,” she pronounced while lying on the floor. And it is, if you’re me. L had a goatee in his first three months. Me? I’ll be lucky to rock that in three years. Having chin hairs as a chick is apparently no indicator of manly sproutage. My Portland buddy A sighs and says “remember how I had such a good moustache as a dyke? I thought I’d have facial hair in no time! It’s taken me years to grow this sketchy shit!”

So Sunday I basically party crashed this pre-Thanksgiving semi-formal dinner. My friend Holly, thinking she was inviting me to some open house, piggy-backed me on her invite. When we got there, it was a bit awkward, for me at least. Crammed in the kitchen, along with a perfectly golden brown turkey, several equally golden pies, marshmallow yams, green bean casserole, and an overeater’s wet dream’s worth of heaps of stuffing, were about 10 straight women, all between the ages of 25 and early 30’s. I felt like a dirty boot in a closet full of Jimmy Choo. Picture this, if you will, a houseful of clean (even in sweats) young career women, in pastel colors and light makeup, mocking each other’s taste in men, when in walks Tranny, stomping around in all black with tattooed knucks. It’s a testament to everyone’s social skills that we all adapted to the tectonic shift.

I sat at the beautifully, traditionally decorated holiday table, with forkfuls of food I never eat, amidst a bevy of lovely, smart, unilaterally funny ladies. Only a couple of the women there know I’m transitioning; what its meaning is to them I cannot say, except that I’m confident it doesn’t mean they see me as a guy. So I was privy to a lot of conversation I don’t normally get to hear, much less participate in, about men and about dating men. It was both riveting and nauseating. I was reminded of the time when I’d been prematurely allowed to sit at the Grown-ups table one Thanksgiving, only to discover that the “adults” were appallingly immature.

Here’s some advice to women who are interested in things like “integrity.” Allowing a man to buy you dinner implies interest on your part. You can just be checking this interest out; that’s okay. But encouraging someone to buy you dinner just so you get a meal and some attention is gross. I don’t take women to dine unless I have some confidence that they like me, that a relationship of some sort is possible, but I had to learn that the hard way. It still feels like an expensive gamble most of the time, but it does give me pleasure – the same pleasure I imagine someone at the Craps table experiences, palms sweaty, acid in gullet. Listening to these ladies was often terrible insight into the minds of women, albeit very young ones. I certainly did not want to hear that they factored out short men or stout men; I was kind of counting on women’s fabled capacity to overlook stature (!) and even status and gravitate towards wit, kindness, character and personality: things I got in spades.

Oh well. I guess it’s quid pro quo, tit for tat as it were. Women feel it’s okay to “take advantage” of a dude I think because they have to endure things like being stared at, having their body parts commented on, being used for sex, being emotional surrogates, and on and on. Fair enough. Maybe I’m not guilty of those things, but when you sign on to be a guy, it’s not just a sausage that’s in the package. There’s a raft of guilt-by-association, millennia of bad behavior. I’m reduced to my white liberal culpability again.

We all got along. We all had a great time. That’s pretty cool, right there. Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. What I want to remember today is that despite the death and violence my brothers and sisters have endured, I do have love and support, if not understanding. And frankly, I’ve rarely been understood anyway, so I’ll “settle” for love. Right back atcha.

*transguys melt in your mouth, and in your hand! (I’m not sure what I mean by that but it sure reads dirty).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Well I Don't Know Where They Come From But They Sure Do Come

K MacD asked me if my musical tastes were changing. “My friend Tom found he liked different music,” she noted. I had attributed my recent backslide into CLASSIC ROCK (THUD)* to the purchase of my sexy granny ’93 Honda Accord, which has a delightfully archaic tape deck, and no cd or alternate technologies. This has forced me to roam the radio – and we have good radio here – two decent college stations that play to my rather textbook collegiate taste in music: a nice shuffle of Wolf Parade, Bollywood, Wire, Belle and Sebastian, Coltrane, Hank Williams. You get my drift. For someone who never actually went to college I have extremely campus musical leanings.

So why do I find myself hovering between the Oldies and the RAWK stations, captivated by Badfinger and the Byrds, raspily crackeling (my T voice) with Ted Nugent and AC/DC? The former evokes a wistful nostalgia, to be sure. Those “soundtrack of your life” songs evince a time when manhood was still possible for me. I hadn’t fully surrendered to the reality of my body, which would soon betray me in a most spectacular way (if bleeding copiously for 10 days straight into an asbestos brick in your drawers could be called “spectacular”). Sure, I was getting sexy with the boys, but that’s because it felt good, not because I saw myself in any sort of context opposite or paired with them. I may as well have participated in their late night all-boy spankfests. I was still “playing the girl,” much as I did when we played house and someone else got to be “Daddy.”

The CLASSIC ROCK (THUD) station, on the other hand? Wasn’t I just mocking my best friend in Raleigh for that? Wasn’t that me, just three months ago, marveling at the antique clunk of Steppenwolf and Yes, the sodden 70’s sounds of which nearly tormented me like a mass of chigger bites as we built his porch? And now here I am, my favorite songs today are the primitively masculine yet inspired leaden classicism of “Bad Company,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” and “Cat Scratch Fever.”

Are Pantera and Poison in my future? If I find myself listening to Bruce Springsteen, you have my permission to yank away my keys, break into my home, and smash the bottle of testosterone cypionate with a femmie boot heel, whereupon I will relinquish my Mach 17 shaver like a disgraced knight. When I consider clunky, inelegant, manly music, The Boss always comes to mind. I can’t help but think “and you probably fuck like that.” What do I know, me who’s never had a dick? Maybe fucking is really hard when you’re attached to it nerve-wise.

Jaysus and Mary.

This last week has found me secure on my rock of manhood. I look at old pictures (from 8 months ago) and see a fading, former me (“you look like a lady!” exclaims Jessica). I have reached some nexus, some place from which I recognize I can never return, nor do I wish to. I feel detached from that lady of some months ago. I feel her gaze on me, Sam of the Future, hopeful, terrified, poised upon the alcoholic’s familiar tightrope: can’t go on the same, incapable of reckoning with an unseeable, and therefore alarming future. Some bell was tolling, and it had become so loud and insistent its very decibels threatened to unperch me, and I could not see a net, and I was becoming more and more unbalanced, holding on to a ludicrous frilled bumbershoot. You’re British when you’re on a tightrope.

So I fell. I’m still falling. Today it’s exhilarating. “Living on a Prayer” is playing as I drop, past me with bangs, me in a skirt, ooh, look! Me with makeup, must be the 80’s! Oh I tried to be with that guy as a girl – wow how’d that work out for ya! There I am, so sad that you set me apart because I was a girl, even though I played better, threw farther, I’m sad you exiled me first from your games, and then from your world. So I’m falling falling falling and it is delicious, tickling my stomach like the best ride at Coney Island, and I’m laughing and laughing and my voice is getting huskier and huskier, and soon, you’ll forget and you’ll call me “him” without any thought at all.

*why does the phrase “Classic Rock” always sound like there’s a hod of bricks being dumped at your feet?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Please Don't Read This

There was some discussion this morning about one of those “Abortion Trucks” that had parked itself across from a school in Durham. You know the ones I’m talking about – with the four foot high, gruesome human abattoir of fetus parts in a soupy blood stew. It was posited that the act of displaying such carnage might constitute violence in and of itself, by forcing people to look at it, whether they “wanted to” or not. “I don’t want to be forced to see random images of death and violence” was kind of the sentiment behind that.

So I’m driving home considering this idea, of being forced to contemplate the images of abortion, and then, by inference, being forced to contemplate the meaning of abortion. I wonder if it is a bad thing?* Sure, only those of us who peruse as a way of killing time (and inuring ourselves to violence and occasionally compassion) really want to look at that, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably considered abortion thoughtfully as much as you think you want. But what are we looking at? Shouldn’t we perhaps be made to look at images of death and violence, like wars for instance? Isn’t carnage a part of life? Nature doesn’t revere life, nor do its progeny, Flora and Fauna.

I’m kind of feeling like people ought to see what death looks like, even violent death. I think we’ve successfully protected our modern selves, to our detriment and spiritual bankruptcy, from understanding where our food comes from, what happens to people in wars, what dead people really look like, how babies get made from sperm and egg in human bodies. I wonder if we hadn’t wrapped ourselves in bunting, and then further anesthetized ourselves with fantastic, surreal imagery of sex and violence how we would feel about things like homosexuality and transgender? If we had a true comprehension and appreciation of the natural world, how could we give two shits about gay people and non-binary gendered people? I know we need to understand the repercussions of man-made violence to end it – but what about living in a reality and awareness of the natural kingdom, one in which violence is merely a part of the life cycle, animals are often homosexual, and even intersexed and transgendered? We’ve protected ourselves from reality and why?

See, I think the best activism I can do is to live out loud. That’s perfect because it’s a choiceless choice, for me. Watch me transition. I’m doing it, in part, for you. I understand that a piece of being an outlier is to humanize myself for people who are frightened. I’m scared too. I’m scared of death; I don’t want to consider that some animals depose their patriarchs by vicious murder; I don’t want to consider the implications that a random sperm can permeate an ova and become an actual human, one that its parents may not want for whatever reason; I’m frightened too, of a natural world that produces freaks and anomalies, mutants and sociopaths. This is natural fear, but I recognize it’s also an immature fear.

I think it’s natural for some people to be afraid of homosexuality, but I think that is the fear of a seven year old contemplating adult sexuality. We are immaturely fearful little humans and we aren’t allowing ourselves to grow up, at all. I’m grateful for the opportunity to review abortion, even though it was imposed on me. I'd like to control my intake of that kind of brutal imagery, save it for later, but I run the risk of never looking at it at all. I also need to see babies being born, pulled right out of their mother’s vagina. Talk to someone who’s had a baby. There’s all sorts of stuff that goes on with that that is like a big secret-y secret! And not because people aren’t interested, but because there’s this abiding idea that it’s too weird or gross. Would parents be as interested in surgical procedures that force gender conformity for their intersexed children if they felt that genital anomaly wasn’t that big a deal? Surgeries for correction, sure, but conformity?

Perhaps I’m all over the map with this one; I’m just sketching some ideas. Trans is super-natural. It happens all the time. Meat comes from animals that live and play and maybe even love and certainly communicate and, if they’re monkeys or lions, murder their ailing patriarchs. The brains of humans make them think they are male, or female, or neither or both. God exists, somewhere, in all of this. Nature appears not to care. An African American is going to the White House and California banned gay marriage. I hope I’m not flogging some dead horse here, and I will not be displaying photos thereof. And if you see something that hurts your heart, and makes you cry for your humanity, good for you. Now let someone hold you and savor the sweetness that coexists in all that noise, all the blood, and all your fear.

*I’m not sanctioning putting on a horrorshow for the kiddies at the schoolyard. I think that’s a really really bad idea.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Much Of A Good Thing or Neptune's Trident Jabs Me in the Ass

Forgive my tardiness; I’ve been splashing self-consciously in a tide pool of doubt. You know, you’re sitting ass deep in tepid waters that are crawling with fear and remorse and grief and guilt, thinking, on the one hand, “oh how familiar it all is” but being freaked the fuck out nonetheless by the creepy crawlies clambering ‘round your backside.

And of course, there were the elections. I live in NC and I believe we can finally say that this state has gone blue. Blue. I do believe in miracles and I see them every day and please note that I NEED THEM. There are too many instances of heinous human behaviors, especially my own, to counter and amend.

I heard myself say several transphobic things during the elections. It’s as if I think I can get away with it. Also, I’ve noticed that when I’m socially agitated, as I was election night (we hosted a party), devious forms of insecurities can emerge from the tepid brine. That day they took the form of prejudice. I said something ageist, too. You watch these gaseous, noxious clouds emit from depths you refuse to acknowledge: barely mined lodes of racial slurs you heard in high school, that vein of Grandfather’s bigotry, your own need, when you feel threatened, to step atop someone else to elevate your own bad self. You see them as if Mrs. Pigglewiggle had dosed you with “BustmeI’manasshole” powder and now you’re condemned, whenever you open your judgey mouth, to emit less than whimsical flatulence from your face in public.

Also, sometimes the testosterone really actives my not-so-inner prick. I wish I was kidding. I can totally channel my dad – who is usually a pretty nice guy – at his absolute worst: sure of his superiority in all things, so confident of your lesser status, your lame belief system, your irrationality bearing further evidence of a weaker mind, and convinced that you will be a better(ed) human for hearing why this is logically true.

I watch myself become the worst in all the men I know when I’m scared, and I wonder if some men aren’t scared most of the time?

When am I the best of men? I think with Gus, Jessica’s two year old, I’m a good guy. He makes it easy though. I think I’m a good guy when I listen to people, especially women with fine asses. I’m listening to you and I'm actually interested. I’ve been observing men with women at school; they appear to be paying attention to that hot youngster they're with, but they’re not. Guys have the capacity to sort out the necessary information from a barrage of detail, and so only need to hear the right three words from their companion’s pouty mouth to successfully accomplish “listening.” I am attempting to make an art of listening. Like a great many little human on the planet, I enjoy talking about myself too. (I see your eyebrow rise! Shut up! I’m talking about listening here, how deep I am!) Conversation is delicious, and intellect and beauty enhance the experience; testosterone, I’m sad to report, redacts most text, editing a glorious bouquet to a single loud flower.

I guess I’m grateful T has its own built in Humiliator. It keeps me humble. For all the swagger, the dismissal, the overt confidence, I suffer symptoms of near paralyzing fear of public speaking. My ass is incredibly sweaty, which mitigates my offensive narcissism. I really cannot believe you don’t find me handsome. I can’t. Okay, but you have to find me cute, right? But see, when I think that, and then I rise from my chair and my entire lower wardrobe is frantically mopping up butt perspiration – well, it’s like the checks and balance system of our constitution. I suppose I smell, too, but years of past smoking and chronic allergies often render me too occluded to tell. Thankfully, you’re not on testosterone or you would need me to know that I offended.

Am I kidding myself? I’ve always had one large clown shoe hovering dangerously towards my mouth. Still, it’s really important to me to be a decent guy. I don’t want to go through all this drama to be an A-hole. I like men who are sweet, men with confidence; I’m drawn to funny, creative men, who are leaders without being stupidly alpha; I like men with minds that keep me entertained and guessing by their labyrinthine twists and turns. I like men the same way I like women, as it turns out, except without the sexy parts.

Can I be that guy? Am I that guy? At least you won’t ever have to say to me, “my eyes are UP HERE, Buster," that I can promise, and I am listening.