As I entered the apartment the aroma of food being prepared in my kitchen greeted me. This wasn’t a completely foreign concept, but it was unusual enough that it got my full attention. At that moment I was elated that Cindy had chosen to reclaim her key.
When she realized I was back, Cindy poked her head out of the tiny kitchen and greeted me, “I thought you might enjoy something different tonight, so I whipped up some dinner.”
I looked at her, “I didn’t know you could cook.”
“Not well, but we wouldn’t starve. It’ll be ready in just a few minutes.” She returned to her duties as I dumped my load of books and papers on the coffee table and took a seat at the dining table.
I sat there for a few moments trying to figure out the best way to start. Even after that I still wasn’t sure, but decided to plow ahead, “I’d like to talk about this Sarah thing.”
Cindy looked toward me from the kitchen and asked, “What about her?”
Uncertainly I began, “I’m a little confused. Did you tell her about me?”
She left her position at the stove and came to sit beside me, “Of course not. It’s like she said, she saw the bra through your shirt at the recital.”
“That right there is reason enough to quit wearing it.”
“But I thought it was helping you?”
“Well yeah, but…”
“But nothing, your playing is the most important thing.” She then got up from the table and went back to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner.
“Okay, but why does she want me to come have ‘sessions’ with her?”
As she continued her work Cindy said, “She’s trying to learn as much about cross gender behaviors as she can. Maybe she thinks the two of you can help each other?”
“I don’t really like the idea. I mean, it’s not like she’s a licensed therapist.”
“No, but she has some experience with transgendered people that you might find useful. Plus yours is a unique situation as far as crossdressing cases are concerned.”
“You don’t really think there are all that many guys running around wearing panties and bras just to make them play the piano better do you?”
“Well, when you put it THAT way…”
“Listen, why don’t you just do this for me. Go once and talk with her about things. Maybe she can help shed some light on things and maybe she can’t. The worst case scenario is that you’ve wasted a couple of hours next Saturday.”
Looking for a change of subject I offered, “I got my performance schedule for the spring semester.”
Cindy carried a large bowl in from the kitchen and set it down on the table, “Here we go.” She took the other seat at our tiny table and began serving the food. “I take it this will be a busy term?”
“You could say that,” I replied as I took my first bite. “Hmm, not bad. What is it?”
She smacked me playfully on the arm before replying, “Nothing too fancy, just a simple chicken pasta bake. Now, what’s this schedule look like?”
I took another bite before answering, “In January I’m supposed to play Beethoven with the school orchestra. In February it’s Prokofiev, then a spot with the Civic doing repeat performances of both the Mozart and Beethoven.”
“Three in one month?”
“Well, it’s two concerts, but yeah. For the performance with the Civic I’ll be doing most of the evening’s program.”
“That sounds a little daunting.”
“Doesn’t it? Anyway, then in March I play Franz List, in April Chopin, and in May it’ll be Bach here and a repeat of the Liszt with the Philharmonic.”
“Then do you get the summer off?”
“Not if Dr. Caroll gets her way. She wants me to submit some applications to competitions for this summer.”
“How do you feel about it?”
I thought about it for a moment before responding, “The idea is sort of growing on me. Spending the summer living out of a suitcase could be fun,” I paused for a moment before finishing, “If you go with me?”
Cindy looked at me for a moment before responding, “I don’t know about that. A whole summer of traveling?”
“At least think about it, all right? It could be fun.” I concluded that portion of the evening’s conversation there, as apparently I wasn’t making any headway. We cleared away the dinner dishes then took seats on the sofa to continue our talk.
“You met Dr. Wyler, right?”
Cindy thought for a moment as she took a seat beside me, “The orchestra conductor, right?”
“What about him?”
“He’s starting to make me very uncomfortable.”
“Every time I turn around he’s right there, always wanting to touch my arm, or my back, or something. It’s getting pretty creepy.”
“I can see how that could be a little disturbing. I do always get this kind of weird sensation in the pit of my stomach whenever he’s around.”
“So it’s not just me?” I was relieved to know that I wasn’t the only one feeling like that.
“Not just you.”
I drifted off into my thoughts for a moment before saying, “I wish I knew what he wanted.”
Later that night as I lay there unable to sleep thanks to my swirling brain I decided that maybe the best way to deal with Dr. Wyler would be to avoid him as much as possible.
The next few days went by in a bit of a blur. I had some finals, but for the most part my semester was already finished. I put in a lot of practice time on the Beethoven and by my lesson with Dr. Caroll Thursday had most of it memorized. On the few occasions when it proved impossible to avoid contact with our esteemed conductor I tried to maintain a level of polite civility. It wasn’t easy, but I managed.
“I’m impressed, as usual Kyle. You’re almost ready to perform the Beethoven already,” Dr. Caroll effused toward the end of our lesson.
I grinned and said, “Well, I really didn’t have a lot to do this week, so I spent a lot of time practicing.”
“It makes me proud to be able to call you my student,” Dr. Caroll beamed.
“Thanks,” I said embarrassedly.
She looked at me strangely for a moment before she next spoke, “I want to ask you about something, but it is rather personal. Don’t feel obligated to answer if you don’t want to.”
A look of concern descended on my face, “What’s that?”
She blushed as she asked, “Do you always wear a bra?”
I swear at that moment you could have heard a pin drop as I sat there with a stunned look on my face. I looked at her unable to speak as I tried to assemble a response. Finally, I said, “Um, only when I play. It sort of helps me keep from overanalyzing everything. You know, keeps my mind preoccupied so I don’t think too much.” I let out a little chuckle after I said it.
Furrowing her brow as she digested this information, eventually she said, “Unusual, but I have to say it seems to work for you. So when did you start doing this?”
“Just after I started studying with you, to tell the truth. I was struggling trying to find a way to maintain what you kept referring to as ‘feminine’ focus. The first lesson, we talked about that and when I tried imagining myself as a girl everything fell into place. Weird I know, but it seemed to work. Maybe it’s because of the way you kept referring to different aspects of playing as feminine. Unfortunately I still had trouble maintaining it. My now girlfriend Cindy was the one who first suggested this solution.”
Having a pretty good idea where she was heading, I jumped in, “No, this has nothing to do with my relationship with her, believe it or not.”
She thought for a moment before continuing, “As I said, it seems to work. May I make a suggestion?”
“You might want to consider wearing a t-shirt with it when you’re in your tux or dress shirts. Once you start to perspire a little it becomes very obvious that it’s there.”
“I’ve heard that recently,” I added. “Can I ask you something?”
I paused for a moment trying to compose my thoughts before asking, “What do you think of Cindy?”
“You mean your girlfriend Cindy? She seems nice enough. I have to wonder what her motivation is in regard to the girls’ clothes, but it’s obvious to anyone who sees the two of you together that there’s some real love there.”
As we ended our session I said, “Have a good Christmas, by the way. I suppose I won’t be seeing you again until the New Year.”
“That’s true. I’ll see you then, Mr. Bronson.”
I left her studio feeling good about my progress on the new concerto, and also feeling better about things in my personal life as well.
Thoughts of my relationship with Cindy dominated my thoughts. While there was still a part of me that wasn’t sure about some of the things she’d done, I knew for certain that I was in love with her. With that knowledge at the forefront of everything, I began to think it might be time to consider making things a little more permanent.
As I was thinking about that possibility, I placed a call to my mom Friday morning to seek her advice as well. “Mom?”
“Kyle! Why haven’t you called sooner?” she scolded.
“I’ve been kind of busy, you know.”
“So what prompted this call? I know you’re not out of money. Your father just made a deposit in your account a couple of days ago.”
“No, it’s nothing like that. Actually if anything, what I’m calling to talk to you about might wind up saving you money.”
You could almost hear the concern in the silence before she asked, “What’s that, sweetie?”
“I was thinking of asking Cindy to move in.”
In a mildly sarcastic tone, my mom said, “I thought she was already living there.”
“I mean as in the two of us having one apartment instead of two with one of them never being used.”
My nerves were nearly completely frayed before mom asked, “Do you love her son?”
“Even after everything that happened a few weeks ago? That was kind of a big deal.”
“Yeah, but it turned out to just be a big misunderstanding. I jumped to some conclusions that turned out to be wrong.”
In a more normal tone she asked, “So how does she feel about all this?”
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t said anything to her about it.”
“But you’re sure enough to mention it to me?” While it was still clear that my mother had some issues with Cindy, something changed in her position and she sounded less defensive in her questioning.
“Like I said, I’d like to know what you think.”
“The only thing that matters to us is that you’re happy. If she makes you happy, then I guess I’ll just have to accept that my little boy is all grown up,” she started to tear up as she said this, as was evident from the sniffs I kept hearing from the other end of the conversation.
“Thanks mom,” I said in reply. Once we ended the phone call I noticed the time. Cindy would soon be back from her last final.
Friday afternoon marked the official end of term at the university and I was taking Cindy out to dinner as a sort of celebration. Nothing fancy, just the pizza place we went to on our first ‘date’. As it was very cold out, we decided to splurge on a cab to the restaurant rather than making the trip on foot as usual.
I know I was looking rather nervous as we sat there waiting on our order. Cindy of course noticed it and asked, “Something wrong?”
“No,” I said trying to brush her off.
Quickly growing exasperated she said, “Come on, Kyle! You don’t get this nervous playing in front of hundreds of people. What’s the matter?”
I began slowly, “I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately.”
“Gee, I never would have guessed,” commented Cindy, displaying my favorite aspect of her sense of humor.
I looked at her and chuckled at that before continuing, “Anyway, l started thinking about you and me.”
I could see anticipation in her eyes as I paused to take a drink. “It seems kind of silly for us to be tying up two apartments when we’re only using one, so I got to thinking that maybe we should, um, officially move in together.”
She looked stunned as the full impact of what I’d just said began to sink in. When she did finally find her voice she asked, “Are you serious?”
I looked her in the eyes and said, “Absolutely.”
Cindy smiled so big it threatened to blot out the sun, assuming it had been out. The next thing I knew she had her arms around my neck and was moving in to kiss me. That was all the answer I needed.
A little later in the evening after returning home we were discussing how best to go about combining our apartments. She commented, “We could easily just live here, other than for the fact that we both have enough stuff to fill this place to the rafters.”
“I guess you have a point there. Maybe we should look into getting a bigger place?”
“I think so. Have you mentioned anything to your folks?”
I smiled as I said, “Funny you should mention that. I was just talking to my mom today and I mentioned that I’d been thinking about this for a while.”
Cindy became concerned as she asked, “And what did she say?”
I forced the smile to fade from my face for a moment, trying my best to look as concerned as Cindy had just now. “Well…” I could carry on the charade no longer as my smile returned, bigger than ever. “She said if you make me happy, then that’s all that matters to them.”
Cindy swatted my arm as she exclaimed, “Stinker! How dare you tease me like that.”
Saturday was a big day. We started off checking the newspaper for apartment ads, then it was time to go see Sarah.
I stood there on her front steps waiting for what seemed like ages, but in reality was just a few seconds. Sarah led me into the living room where we took seats opposite each other. We stared uncomfortably at one another for several moments before she finally broke the silence.
“I’m glad you decided to come today. I was afraid you might not.”
“I don’t really know why, other than that I said I would, so…” I allowed the sentence to go unfinished.
Sarah responded, “Well thanks all the same. It’s my hope that by talking a little about all of this, you might reach some new insights about what you’re doing and why. I’m also starting on my Master’s thesis, and I was hoping you’d be willing to let me interview you about your situation for my paper.”
“What exactly is your paper about?”
“It’s about gender expression. I want to interview a number of people from different parts of the transgender community so I can get a clearer picture of what they have in common and what they don’t. I’m not entirely sure where you’re going to fit on the gender continuum, but your case is so fascinating I was hoping you’d be willing to let me include you.”
“And here I thought you wanted to be like my therapist or something.”
“Well, you might wind up gleaning some increased understanding. Think of me as a sounding board. Bounce your thoughts off of me and see what comes of them.”
“So where should we start?”
“How about if you tell me about how this all started? Oh, do you mind if I record our conversation so I can refer back to it for my thesis?”
“I don’t see why not. You would think I’d be used to being recorded, huh?” I proceeded to go back over the whole story, “When I started school here my piano teacher’s first comment to me was about how feminine and graceful I played. She then started telling me about this theory of hers that a well-rounded performance was androgynous because it included both masculine and feminine elements.
“She was impressed with how well I embodied her theory, but I was having trouble being consistent. The feminine aspects seemed to come and go, depending on how intently I had to concentrate on what I was doing,” I paused a moment.
Sarah asked, “How did you feel about all this?”
“I found it a little difficult to understand at first, but then I figured out that it was when I was concentrating the most that the feminine characteristics disappeared from my playing. I don’t know what made me think of it, but I started imagining myself as a girl when I played, and it worked. I guess that was enough of a distraction that I was able to play without overanalyzing things.
“But I was still having trouble being consistent with it. If I let that mental image lapse, everything fell apart. It was actually Cindy that first suggested wearing panties to help me keep from thinking too much.”
“So, she helped you try it?”
“Yeah, that first time she loaned me a pair of her panties to try and when I played with them on, all of a sudden things just clicked into place. Later she took me shopping to get my own because she didn’t want to share,” I chuckled at that.
I continued, “I started out wearing them just when I needed to play my best, but decided they were so much more comfortable than men’s underwear that I started wearing them all the time.”
“When did you start expanding?”
It took a second for her meaning to click in my brain. Eventually I responded with my own question, “You mean, like wearing a bra and stuff?”
“Yeah,” Sarah smiled as she said it to try to lighten a mood that was beginning to feel more than a little dark.
“As time went on, I guess I sort of got used to the panties and they stopped helping as much. So for a recital appearance I shaved my legs, added pantyhose and a bra to my outfit, and it worked. Each time I added some new feminine thing, like my nails, my playing became better.”
She was taking a lot of notes, so it took her a moment to catch before asking, “So you accredit all of this to the clothes?”
I blushed furiously and answered, “It sounds kind of silly when you put it like that, but yeah.”
Sarah decided to try to dig a little deeper. “Is that all it is? Just to help you play better?”
“That’s how it started. However, it’s kind of becoming more than that lately.” As I said it, my ever-increasing embarrassment threatened to overtake me.
I continued to redden as I responded, “They do feel awfully nice against my skin.”
For a moment I thought I saw Sarah blush before she spoke, “Do you still need them as much for playing?”
“I don’t try playing much without at least wearing the panties, but when I do I can hear the difference, and if they know the particulars so can anyone else who hears me.”
“Do you foresee a time when you won’t feel like you need to wear women’s clothing to play well?”
I thought hard for a moment before answering, “I don’t know.”
Changing directions slightly, Sarah next asked, “How does Cindy feel about all this?”
My mind went blank for a moment before it shifted back into gear and I responded, “She’s been incredibly supportive and non-judgmental about everything. I do worry that she might start to feel threatened by all this.”
“That’s very insightful of you. What if something like that did happen?”
I thought for a moment before responding, “I’d like to think that we could work our way through it. She’s the one who always says my playing is the most important thing. I would hope that’s more than just lip service, for lack of a better term.”
“Have you experienced many problems with other people because of your cross dressing?”
“I didn’t think anyone knew about it before the night of my recital when I heard you talking to Cindy.” The look of concern that crawled across Sarah’s face told me that she was indeed sorry for her part in our fight.
“I freaked out when I thought she was writing about all this without my permission. Then I got seriously pissed off because I thought she’d told you everything.” I tried my best to appear as unconcerned as possible so Sarah wouldn’t feel like she’d done something to hurt me.
“Well I for one am glad you’ve been able to resolve that particular misunderstanding.”
I grinned, “Me too.”
Again shifting topics, Sarah asked, “Earlier you said something about it becoming more than just a means to an end. What did you mean by that?”
Embarrassed, I replied, “I’ve developed a comfort level with the clothes that’s expanding beyond my playing. There are a lot of things I wear and do now that I enjoy immensely just because I like them. Not necessarily just because of the effect they have on my performance.”
“Do you mind me asking, are you wearing lingerie right now?”
I blushed and replied, “Yeah, I am…”
Knowing that I was holding back, she pressed further, “What are you wearing?”
“Panties, pantyhose, and a bra.”
“Why? You’re not playing today, are you?”
Slowly I replied, “Um, no. Not today.”
“So what you’re saying is that you just feel comfortable wearing these things?”
“That’s about it.”
Sarah again paused to catch up on her note taking, then asked, “Is there any kind of sexual component to your dressing?”
My initial thought was to quickly yell, ‘No!’ but decided that might be interpreted as a case of ‘Me thinks thou dost protest too much’. In the end I timidly replied, “No, not at all.”
“Okay.” She looked up at a clock hanging on the living room wall and exclaimed, “Would you look at the time! Would you mind if we stopped for now and picked up another time? I’ve got enough stuff here to keep me busy for a while, anyway.”
“No, that’s fine. We’re going to be out of town over the Christmas holidays, but should be back just after New Year’s.”
“Then how about if you give me a call after you’re back in town so we can schedule some more time to talk. You’re helping immensely with my research.”
“You know, surprisingly I think I’m starting to understand some things a bit better. Maybe you were right. This is going to turn out to be mutually beneficial.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano Concerto No.12 in A Major, kv.414
Ludwig von Beethoven, Concerto No.4 in G Major, Opus 58
Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No.1, Opus 10
Franz Liszt, Piano Concerto No.1 in E flat Major
Frederic Chopin, Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, Opus 21
Johann Sebastian Bach, Harpsichord Concerto No.1 in D minor, BWV 1052
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To Be Continued...
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