Book Two:

dave_beard.jpg (51349 bytes)

Boiled in Oil
by Melanie Anne

Part Two: Broken Promises

Chapter 36

Double Image

January 28, 1993

Mary got a date. Interesting, how I had dreaded these words for so long, only to yearn for them in the last few months. And finally, they have come to pass.

In clarification, her date is on Valentines Day (most appropriate) at a special "partners" bowling tournament. The man in question is Ron, a teammate from her Friday Bowling league. I met Mary on a plane on the way to a Star Trek convention in San Diego in 1975. Previous to that day I had asked out 17 girls in a row with being turned down for a date. I was working the night shift at a photo finishing lab at the time, and was the only one in the Quality Control Department during those hours. My room was a windowless cubicle perhaps 15 feet square, lit by harsh fluorescents and located in the farthest corner of the large factory.

When the boredom and loneliness grew too great, I would leave my post and wander the factory, hoping to find someone to talk to. I barely had the opportunity to become aquatinted with anyone under these conditions, and asking a girl out was a "cold call" proposition. I had no particular sexual desire to be with any of these women, and in fact took exception to a fellow worker who I had told of my intention to ask a particular girl out, who commented that he hoped I would "get into her pants". To this day, that comment disgusts me.

Eventually, I did go out with two of the girls at work, one right after the other - my luck obviously changing. One, a very cute woman some five years my elder with a three year old child (remember, I was 22 at the time) went with me and another couple up to the mountains for a day in the snow. I remember her telling me as we strolled the wooden sidewalks that she felt like we were in the old west and I was the sheriff and she was my girl. The thought revolted me. Even then, I wished that it was I who was the girl on the arm of the sheriff. I never asked her out again.

Another girl went to Disneyland with me. We spent an uncomfortable day (as were all days I tried to date women) as she kept expecting me to do something masculine and put my arm around her or kiss her or something and I kept hesitating. Finally, I did kiss her, just as we came out of "Small World", and it seemed so mechanical and emotionless that it was no more than a chore. That night, when I returned her to her home (she lived with her parents) we spent a few minutes necking in her car. I tried to explore everything with my hands, just to be able to tell myself I had. There was no desire there, just the knowledge that this is what I was "expected" to do. She gave me my first French kiss, which I found quite repulsive. Not getting the kind of response she wanted, she called an end to the festivities and went inside.

I asked out one more girl, then canceled the date when I could not stand the thought that she might expect me to try to make love to her. I asked her out another time and did the same. Finally, I asked her out a third time, and stood her up again, all because I was afraid she would want me to make love to her. I'm truly sorry for the deep hurt I must've caused her.

But, that is the point at which I met Mary on the plane. And Mary was different. She had no expectations from me. She did not seem disappointed in my level of masculinity. Whatever I did or said was "okay". For the first time, I was with a woman who would have me as I was, as the best masculine image I could create, without complaint. That is why I fell in love with her. It was a love born out of fear of rejection and her absolute acceptance of me.

And look at all she has accepted to this day...

But, through all our married years, I had feared her loss. The only terror I truly dreaded was the thought that she might leave me... leave me alone with no one to share life with, no hope of finding another who would accept me as she had.

This led to an incredible jealousy, a jealousy born of fear. I did not want her talking to other men, having coffee with them, talking to them on the phone, all from my own lack of self-worth and the "certain" knowledge that any man she met would be more of a man than I. (How right I was!)

These feelings are what caused me to strive so strongly to keep our family together through my transition. The effort multiplied my psychological and emotional strain many fold. But I knew that if I lost her through this, I would be devastated perhaps beyond redemption.

My efforts were fruitful, and the extra care and love I gave to her made it easier for her to justify remaining with me - that, coupled with her own feelings of inadequacy.

But along the way to womanhood, something unexpected happened: I grew up. As a man, I could never be more than a child, but as a woman I began to mature. Puberty for me came at age 38, and transition (perhaps more than the process of becoming a woman) was the process of becoming an adult.

Through these years, I gradually shed myself of my feelings of inferiority. As I became more and more accepted as a woman, then as an attractive woman, for the first time I began to believe I had some intrinsic worth as a human being. I began to feel that others might find me an asset for WHO I was, not just WHAT I could do.

And even more unexpectedly, MY growing self-esteem spurred a similar growth in MARY'S self-esteem, especially of late. In the middle of last year, and in response to my well-dressed look, Mary began to lose weight, style her hair, upgrade her wardrobe and even to wear lipstick for the first time in fifteen years. At first the old patterns of jealousy returned to haunt me: an old fire dog starting at the clang of the bell. Most amazing, they were not as strong. It was during this time I began to date, Bernard, then Angel. And over the course of each relationship I felt my jealousy of Mary further erode. Also during this time, her self-confidence continued to increase.

Late last year, I began to see Andy again, and as I spent time with him, Mary began to speak of maybe dating some day. I was amazed to find that I no longer felt jealous at all. In fact, I hoped very honestly that she would find someone who would make her feel as happy and fulfilled as Andy made me.

There was still a downside, though. I still worried about Mary and I divorcing, as I was not yet ready to be truly on my own with no guaranteed Life Partner to share old age with. Now, that too has gone. I love Mary, I always will, but as a sister, not a lover. And, in truth, I suppose that is the way it always was. Perhaps we still will grow old together, but it is just as likely (or maybe even more so, now) that we will find a man for each of us, and move on to more fulfilling relationships: the kind we both always really wanted. There is no fear here, no regrets: just a warm feeling of having supported each other so that we both could grow. And in this sisterly love, we have allowed ourselves to have the ability to part paths without excessive sadness, but more with joy and hope for ourselves and for each other.

There is one side effect that is actually my reason for writing this entry. All through my transition, I came to feel more and more a woman, more and more feminine - except at home. I did make progress there, but there seemed to be some limit as to how much I could feel like the new me in the old situation.

I would go to work and feel fine, I would spend time with Andy and feel great, but I would come home and feel male. Even if I was doing feminine things, even if it was a wonderful day, I couldn't shake the masculine feelings at home.

For the longest time, I thought it was because the situation had not substantially changed: I still acted as head of household and protector, filling all the job qualifications of a husband. And I also thought it was because Mary had a continuous knowledge of me from man to woman and integrated both as her whole understanding of who I was. But I was wrong.

When I heard last night that Mary had finally gotten a date, rather that focusing on jealousy or loss or fear of being alone, I just felt female. The negative concerns did not materialize at all, yet I was struck with an overwhelming feeling as if I had just become female in the blink of an eye. I tried some experiments: doing things I normally did that made me feel masculine or male around the house. And lo and behold, I felt feminine and female through it all. How could something which one would expect to be so devastating instead be so elevating?

I thought about it last night in bed. While Mary slept, I looked at her, then explored once more the results of surgery. And slowly the answers to my questions congealed.

Because of my love for Mary, I had felt a responsibility to provide for her the male aura she desired: the masculine myth she had married. And in a snap, someone new had stepped in to supply that. Being this way for her was an obligation borne of love. But being relieved of the duty was peace.

I saw clearly that my commitment to Mary as my former lover, my sister, my best friend, had not lessened. I will always be here for her whenever she needs me, if we stay together or not. My commitment to be with her in her old age will always be here, as that has been her personal greatest fear: to grow old alone. But the responsibility for masculine care has been passed from me to Ron.

No longer do I need to provide that, and in this, I was instantly disenfranchised from those requirements. And the other insight that came to me was that I had felt male because Mary had only me in her life to look to for masculinity. As soon as there was another source, I could feel here shift that gaze from me to him. Sure there is a small sense of loss at not being the one she will look to for protection and strength, just as I had tearfully noted in my diary some three year ago to a much greater degree. But now, that is but a small thing, and completely overshadowed by the joy that someone can provide it for her who really wants to, and that I am not depriving her by failing to provide it.

In other words, two things happened simultaneously: I was relieved of the responsibility of providing masculinity, and Mary no longer expected it from me.

I went to sleep content in my understanding. And this morning, as I awoke, I felt truly feminine, and still do. Even if and when Ron is no longer a part of her life, there will be others. And even in between, she will not look to me to be her knight any longer. Rather, she will look toward the next man in her life, and then the next, until she finally finds the one she perhaps thought I had been so many years ago.

And for me, there is no masculinity left, not even the false facade I had mustered even yesterday. But open to me is my new femininity in all its fullness. And open also is the hope that I too may someday find the man of my dreams and settle down as his wife with a new and truthful and real future of my own.

February 3, 1997

A letter to Lauren:

I told Chris today that right now, I was having the time of my lives, and then I laughed when I realized I had said "lives" not "life". I'm getting seriously into homesteading this new turf. that, in fact, is the subject of my editorial in this month's "Subversive". The whole concept of saying, "I've gone far enough. This is home," is really striking a chord with me these days. The journey is truly over, and building a life has begun. In fact, I think I'll build an empire. Why not?

As for school, it's so much fun!!! I used to hate school, but now I can't wait to get to each class. I just got home from Trig a few moments ago. When we went out for our break, one of the guys in class got in line behind me at the coffee stand and started a conversation. I don't expect it to lead anywhere, and he is really not my type, though nice enough. Still and all, it's really fun to get approached.

Actually, I'm pretty busy right now. As you know, I work a four day week, and each of my Wednesdays off from the office is usually filled with editing and writing for The Subversive. Most nights are for homework (plus cooking dinner and such.)

Every Saturday afternoon, I go over to Andy's and usually spend the night. I've never had a relationship like this before and I really love it. Andy is very attentive and always has an arm around me or is giving me a kiss on the neck or something. We usually spend half the time I'm there just snuggling on the bed in the nude while watching comedy videos and drinking Chinese tea. Last Saturday, I almost cried when it was time to leave. (But of course, I didn't let Andy know that!)

I've finally encouraged Mary to start dating (which quite unexpectedly took a lot of pressure off me.) She was going to go with a fellow (Ron) to a couples bowling event on Valentine's Day, but he had his son that day (he's divorced) and can't disappoint him.

Mary writes him by Email and asks me to word some of her letters to strike the right mood with him. I can honestly say I never imagined I would be helping my "wife" write love letters to interest a guy. But, that's what makes life so special, isn't it: Surprises!

February 4, 1993

Inter-office mail

From: Melanie

Date: Thu, Feb 4, 1993 10:10

Subject: RE: How's school going?

To: Barb'ra

Well, I FINALLY get a moment to write you back! Chris and Steve are so into writing the actual story software program engine, that I am providing them with theory information from the moment I arrive until they reluctantly let me go home. Steve has been putting in some 16 hour days and coming in for the same amount of time on Saturday and Sunday as well. He is really intent on his work! But, the results are nothing short of spectacular, as the engine appears to be doing everything we theorized it would. THAT'S a relief after almost three years of effort without ever knowing if we were truly onto something revolutionary, or just stuffed full of wild blueberry muffins!

As for school, I'm having a wonderful time. Miriam (my friend in my psychology class) asked me to be her study partner, so we're getting together at the library this Saturday to go over our class notes (and talk about our respective boyfriends and our jobs). I met a nice guy in Trig class the other night - Eric. He's about my age (but also looks younger - pat on own back ) and is also re-taking trig to help with his job prospects. He's not really my type, but still its nice to be approached. At least I have a friend in that class, which is hard 'cause the teacher has such a stick up his ass!

Anyway, it really doesn't matter, as I came there to learn, not to be entertained.

One of the most interesting things so far, is that what I am learning in Trig and Psych I bring back here to the office, and then am pleased to discover that we described those very functions in our model without really knowing what they represented. In other words, we built something that works FIRST, and now we are beginning to understand how we did it. Weird!

I'm already in a springtime spirit. Still enjoying Victoria magazine (thanks again for the subscription!) and dreaming of balmy days like this one. Wish I was out in a green country meadow today with the wind blowing through my hair and a picnic lunch on a plaid blanket. *sigh* Ah, well, back to work and goals and story development software and shit. (oops!)

February 26, 1993

So I fell to the floor and then started to laugh,
realized answers won't stick to a graph,
when suddenly wisdom descended on me:
the man who knows nothing is free!

Well , hey, you know, I'd like to know why,
Newtonian Physics, it seems to apply,
yet all of the teachings of Goethe and Hume,
Always spell nothing but doom.

March 3, 1993

Last Saturday, Andy and I drove down to Sand Diego for a birthday bash for a seventy five year old martial arts master. What a wonderful trip and evening! Driving all that way together made me feel like I was married to him, and I must admit I allowed myself to explore that fantasy.

Until recently, I thought that if I ever broke up with Mary, I would not marry again, but now I'm not so sure. Being someone's wife... having a husband of my own... it's very seductive. And these days it doesn't seem strange anymore at all.

April 22, 1993

Inter-office mail

From: Melanie

Date: Thu, Apr 22, 1993 9:41

Subject: Off to the dentist!

To: Barb'ra

I think its going to cool off with Andy for a while. He has always wanted a commitment from me (even three years ago) and I have never wanted to give one. This time I was able to give more (as I was not afraid of reaction at home) but it is still not enough for him, but any more is too much for me. I guess its not that I love Andy, but that I love BEING with Andy, which is a whole different scene. Anyway, we have moved out of acceleration, and now our relationship has a steady speed. I think a couple weeks ago was the high water mark. How long it continue in a stable state without growing, I do not know - maybe a month, maybe forever.

Anyway, I feel much better about toning it down a bit because it gives me a touch more time with my kids, and time to relax without having to think about what somebody else wants. So, I see Andy for breakfast on Wednesdays, Coffee and poetry reading on Thursday nites, and stay over on Friday until Saturday morning, when he has to go to a class. That gives me the whole weekend free with the family. Now I can take the kids to Disneyland or camping or whatever, without having to do tradeoffs with the Andy schedule like I used to.

Well... I'll just wait until the software is out and I become a famous rich bitch, of spurious background, and that should net me all the men I can handle!

April 23, 1993

From: Melanie

Date: Fri, Apr 23, 1993 10:14

Subject: Stand up at the "Tea N' Tea"

To: Barb'ra

Well, I only managed 2 hours of sleep last night. That's because I had a big Psych paper to write, AFTER the story theory Class, AFTER I did a routine on open mike night at the Tea N' Tea. I decided to do an experiment with the performance that I could use in my Psych paper. So, after I read a poem, I linked it into a stand-up comedy routine as the "world's first transsexual comedienne".

I did a bunch of sex change jokes based on personal experience. I wanted to see how reactions would change when the regulars found out about my history. The problem with transition is, that if you are up front about it, that becomes part of people's first impressions. You can never shake it, and they will never look at you just as a woman, but as a sex-change, ie: "the sex-change named Melanie". But if you can have them meet you first as just plain old Melanie and THEN let them know, the will think of you as Melanie (who also happened to have had a sex-change).

Its a conundrum all transition people have to deal with. On the one hand, you really want to be honest and share the first 36 years of your life - all that you are. But on the other hand, if you do share, you will never be just one of the girls. There's really no way out. First you struggle not to be picked out as a freakish guy in drag, but the moment you start making it, you run into the problem of "to tell or not to tell".

That was one of the big reasons I had for going back to college in the first place. I was so honest around here, that I had no idea what life as a woman would be like if people didn't know. And I can tell you, it really is different. But I really don't know if its because they treat me differently or because of my own insecurities. Nonetheless, to find some peace on this issue (especially since the story theory and software will force me into the limelight) I've been doing all these readings, and the stand-up routine and stuff to get an idea of what life will be like after fame, and also to figure out how to deal with future friends.

I found out there's no way to completely get out of the problem, but I can minimize it. I REALLY don't want to not talk about my past, for heaven's sake, its most of what I've done and nine tenths of my experience. But I don't want to give up the closeness I've felt with both men and women who don't know. So the thing is, I HAVE to tell to be at peace with myself.

I've found out in my psych course that first impressions are really important. And also, even if I talk about my past, but don't exhibit any of those traits, its like the difference between a child and an adult: they know I WAS that person, and its okay to fess up, but I'm not that person anymore. So, I'll need some time to make this all second nature.

Lately, I had been avoiding conversations about ol' Dave. But those times are over. I am what I am as Popeye oft says. I can't and should not deny the past. But I have no desire to return to it either. So, here I am, who I am, and here because of who I was. I better get this straight before the software is released and the fame that will come, 'cause afterward will be too late!

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