I neither fully comprehend what I'm doing, nor understand why I’m compelled to do it. At the end of the day I ask myself "Do you want to take testosterone?" and the answer is (nearly) always "yes." Sometimes that answer is only superficially about being a "man." I’m not sure I want to be a “man.” Whatever that is.
I don’t know what I am anymore.
I feel like transition really is that: this place of movement, evolution. How can I know where evolution will take me? Will I have the same amount of arms, even? Maybe I’ll be a spider!
I feel like I just don’t get to know – like it’s totally in some greater Consciousness’ hands. This is so humbling. You have this sense of being your own architect – this may explain why people get so entangled in plastic surgeries – that you can somehow manufacture this creature you dream for yourself. But when you’re doing it with chemistry, with hormones, there’s no telling what will happen! Who can predict how it will affect the body, much less the mind!? My brain already feels both more stripped down, and more souped-up. I’ve never been more horned up yet less inclined to date someone, although that may have more to do with having charred oneself radically on a flaming pile of love in recent memory. I’ve never had more confidence, felt more integrated, yet conversely felt so pixeled and insecure.
Let me remind you about adolescence. Remember adolescence? Remember your skin and hair being too oily, your body too large in some places, too small in critical others? Travel back with me to that place of stunning self-absorption, not a pleasurable narcissism, but the neurotic’s microscopic examination of every flawed detail, literally every outlandish and outsized pore and whatever’s impacted in it; consider the social steam-cooking, your acutely felt knowledge that you do not fit in, never will; you are a leering, disgusting, oversexed, and be-zitted social spectacle whom assuredly everyone sees highlighted against the backdrop of its own constant and slumping failure, who stinks and sweats and stutters and forgets everything it has ever known or been in this new, this horrid, this tragic incarnation.
It’s not that bad. But it was, and the present holds a heat, an ember of that time. I do feel a bit like Seth Brundel in the final quarter of The Fly. The testosterone has taken me, like an ill-intentioned hypnotist, to places where, if the mind is hazy, the body recalls all too well. I have a fear of public speaking I haven’t experienced since High School, when I was convinced I was there solely for the nasty and brutish entertainments of the popular. This phenomenon is almost completely corporal, a physical response. As an actual real-time adult, I can walk through that mental-ated gauntlet, force myself to commit to speaking aloud in public, but it is highly unpleasant - please note that I am a performer and I am now terrified to perform.
I smell. There, I said it. I smell different and I smell bad. I am beginning to smell like a guy. EVERYWHERE. I take comfort, refuge even, in my fantasy that whoever falls in love with me will love my smell. It has to be that way, right?! I am terrified of losing my hair prematurely, meaning, before the rest of me looks like a dude. Please God, let me get facial hair before I lose head hair!
Some guys were telling me how the way they looked at women changed. That they had heretofore seen women as sexy and hot, but hadn’t actually wanted to rub their greasy horny eyeballs up and down’em and drown in the jiggly fuck parts, which they now found themselves doing. I think I may look at women less, actually. I think I gave myself carte-blanche, as a dyke, to check women out. I find myself trying to be respectful. I look, I’m a lookie-lookerson, but I’m too self-conscious (a-do-le-scence! Give me an “A!”) and therefore cannot enjoy it. I’m totally experiencing the joyless shame of puberty! Good times!
Also, men are broody. Women are moody; men are broody. I’ve got a minor brood thing that wants to happen. It used to look like female depression, but now it’s like dark, moody guy. I hang out with men a lot now, deliberately, and I can tell you: they have a depression that’s tonally unique to men. Women are dark chocolate; men are bitter. We’re 85% cacao depression. Women often find this darkness sexy and compelling, which means it's culturally marketable so many men don't feel it's a liability . It’s a suck-ass place to be – I can’t articulate this exactly but it’s the place where men feel their victimhood. I wish I could say more about it but it may mean visiting that place and IT’S AWFUL.
I’m told that when women break up with men, it’s done. They’re good that way. Men, on the other hand, as the joke goes, will call late at night and say things like “You stupid bitch I hate you! Come back, Baby, please (sounds of sobbing)!” I fear I may be that guy. That’s mortifying, but possibly true. I’ll leave a little room for doubt so you don’t think I’m a total loser. And right now, what you think of me is painfully important.
That, Ladles and Gentlespoons, is the worst of all of puberty’s great charms and allure: the delusion that others’ opinions of me define me. It is taking all the strong will of this grownup to wrest the wheel from the boy who is determined to drive into the cafeteria assessments of his “peers.” Once in a while, the boy wins, and there we are, the two of us, covered in Shepard’s Pie (it’s Friday’s lunch!) and overcooked peas. As we sit, in our parents’ now smoking and battered Toyota Corolla, bloodied and benzoil-peroxided, amidst the screaming chaos of wounded high-school cliques and claques, we panic: “Are they laughing at my hair?”
Well, ARE THEY?