An Obvious Girl, by Karin Bishop
Chapter 7. Sunday Math
I woke the next morning and was so glad to still be in my nightgown that I hugged myself under the covers, my hands feeling the smoothness of the nightgown down my body. I felt slightly embarrassed, like some wanna-be Ann-Margret in Bye, Bye, Birdie,—a favorite of my mother’s and mine, now—but I just felt so good! I got out of bed, my nightgown falling down around my legs, and thought, this is the way it should be, always; it should be so natural a part of my life that I don’t think anything about it at all.
I put on the chenille robe and went downstairs. Mom saw me and pulled out some melon slices and poured a glass of orange juice. Toast joined the melon. I hugged her and sat down to eat.
She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and smiled at me. “My, aren’t we chipper today!”
I swallowed some melon and said, “I just feel so good. So natural and free.”
She pursed her lips. “Well, I don’t want to rain on your parade, young lady, but do you remember a certain note a certain geometry teacher sent home?”
I almost gagged. “Omigod, that completely slipped out of my head! Oh, there went the day.” I angrily speared another piece of melon and slammed my teeth down on the bite.
“Well, not entirely. After you’re dressed, why don’t you see how well you study. Maybe around one or so, I’ll give you a little quiz; we’ll see how you’re doing. Okay?”
“Great,” I grumbled, “studying and a pop quiz.”
“Oh, it won’t be so bad, you’ll see.”
I couldn’t read the look she gave me, and I didn’t know if she meant the studying or the quiz wouldn’t be bad; either way, I thought the day was shot. The way I’d been going in class, I’d be lucky to get two pages done, let alone the thirty or so I’d need to catch up. Damn, why hadn’t she reminded me yesterday? Then I’d have at least four pages done by Monday. Oh well, nothing to it but to do it, I thought.
I put my dishes in the washer and headed upstairs. After washing up and pulling my hair back into a high ponytail and holding it with a scrunchie, I changed into a new pair of white shorts. I loved the way they flared out slightly at the hem. I put on a white cotton bra, the inserts, and marveled again at how comfortable the weight and support felt. I realized that large breasts could be tiring, and I suddenly felt sympathy for some of the girls in my class.
I’d never thought of that before; just more learning about this new world. It also reinforced my resolution of yesterday; my unkind thoughts about the breasts of Sharon and Denise had no place in the person that I want to be—the girl I am.
Finally, I put on a peach and lime-green tank top, tucking my bra straps under the straps of the tank. I found a pair of low socks, pulled on the white Keds, and was going to leave but sat back down to apply a bit of lipgloss and, what the heck, the tiniest of blush. I just felt better that way, smiled at myself in the mirror, and headed back downstairs.
Mom had stacked my schoolbooks on the dining room table, along with a notepad and pencils. She was so thoughtful, but the best way I could repay her back was to really crack down on the work. I sat down, knees together, then decided to cross my legs at the knees. I’d never really tried it before, but tucked as I was, it felt fine, although a little unusual.
I started working, and after fifteen minutes, I’d already reviewed three pages! I only knew it had been fifteen minutes because the clock in the living room chimed the half-hour. I mentally stepped back to analyze whether I was really getting the math, or just skimming and faking it. As I reviewed my review, I realized that I really did have it! The only thing I could think of was that I wasn’t spending my work time daydreaming about what it would be like to be dressed as a girl, because I already was! I just felt like a normal girl doing her homework, and while I’m sure girls had distractions, too, for some reason I could just focus today. So, I jumped back in with enthusiasm.
The next time the clock chimed, I’d made up another ten pages, and I realized that I really did know this stuff; I just had been slagging it off while part of my brain absorbed it. Like when I’d answered wrong in Geometry; it wasn’t because I didn’t know the subject—I just hadn’t been paying attention to the teacher. All along I’d been half-way focused on learning Geometry, but then I’d get distracted. Now that I fully focused, it was all coming together.
I got up to pee. Even that was both normal yet odd; odd in that I peed sitting down and didn’t think anything about it until I was washing my hands. Why was all this coming so naturally? I’d have to think about that fully at a later time; right now it was back to the book.
By the time one o’clock rolled around, I’d done thirty-two pages of review and taken the test at the end of the last chapter. Checking the answers in the back, I’d only gotten one wrong and I immediately realized how I’d goofed—won’t happen again, I thought! I was starting on the next week’s work when Mom appeared.
“You’ve been going great guns, honey; how are you doing?”
“Mom, it’s hard to explain but it’s all come together and I think I’m caught up.”
“Ready for a test?”
“Bring it on!”
She produced a page from a folder she was holding; it was a photocopy of one of my Geometry teacher’s tests. It was one I’d never seen, and I realized that somehow she’d gotten it from him. For a brief moment, everything I’d learned threatened to crawl out of my ears and scamper away, but I pulled it together and attacked the test. Mom timed me; I had 45 minutes to do it and finished in about a half-hour, then checked my work, fixed one goof that I’d rushed through and handed it to her.
She even had the answers! She pulled a second sheet from the folder and checked my work. She smiled continuously and her smile only got bigger. When it was done, she raised her eyebrows, looked at me, and then wrote “100%” across the top in big red letters. I let out a whoop of victory, and she laughed.
“I knew you could do it! Oh, Angela, I’m so proud of you!”
The fact that she called me Angela gave me pause. I was getting strange feelings, but before I could analyze them or discuss them, I had some questions.
“Where did that stuff come from?”
She smiled a little shamefacedly. “Oh, remember when I went to call the doctor? I also called the school and talked to your teacher—no, don’t get excited, I didn’t tell him anything about Angela. I asked about your behavior in class, your daydreaming, and so on. He faxed me this test and the answers, but said it’s not the same one you’ll get. The same material, but not the same exact questions.”
“Aw, shoot!” I pretended to grumble.
“Anyway, he said that if you could pull yourself up to at least an 85% on this test, your final grade would come up a notch.” She looked down at my finished test. “He didn’t say anything about coming up to 100%!”
“Don’t tell him; let me do it again on Monday and give him a heart attack!”
“Well, I think he’ll be pleased. I know I am; you did excellent work, young lady.”
That was what was bothering me. “Mom, can I talk to you about something?”
“Of course, honey, anything.”
“I’ve only been dressing for a day and a half now, really, but you’re already calling me Angela and ‘young lady’ like you’ve always been saying that.”
“Don’t you like it?”
“Oh, yes, I love it, but ... well, it kind of sounds like you’re already familiar with saying it. I mean, you don’t have any hesitation saying ‘young lady’. And I was wondering if you ... if you kind of …already thought of me that way.”
“Do you mean, did I think of you that way before Friday?”
“Well, that, and do you think of me that way now, or are you just playing along?”
She twirled a pencil, studying the tip for a moment while she gathered her thoughts. “I’ve always thought of you as my child—after all, you are—but over the last year or so, I’ve seen how unhappy you were and I’ve lain awake nights thinking of reasons. I was wondering about your gender identity; in fact I’ve wondered about it off and on for years—”
“What?” That startled me!
“Well, you did things, said things when you were younger that sounded just like the things I used to do and say, and I began studying little kids in the playgrounds, boys and girls. When I watched you with the boys, even discounting my own subjectivity because you were mine, you just seemed …other. Apart; an outsider. Truth be told, it was quite rare that you were with a group of boys. I don’t recall ever seeing you voluntarily walk to a group of boys; usually you were herded together with them by a monitor or teacher. Left to your own devices, you invariably played with girls.”
Her smile was warm and a little sad with the memories. “And, again, trying to observe you as objectively as possible, you were …just like them. They were really no different from you; they were just dressed differently. And, of course, they were girls, but the games, the laughter, the chatter, the …movements …all were completely natural. You were just one of the little girls. And with the boys ...there was always that ...difference between you and them. That’s what I noticed, consistently. You just didn’t fit with them …but you did fit with the girls.”
“I never ... I mean, I never consciously tried to say or do girl things—”
“I know, I know; it was so natural, and that was what was so striking about it. Anyway, I was fairly certain that, deep down, you felt like a girl. Of course, it might be something you would grow out of, but I found myself wondering what life would have been like if you’d been born a girl.” She paused a long time.
“And?” I prompted.
She was reluctant to go on. “And ... oh, I shouldn’t …Honey, let’s just be glad—”
“Mom, you’re avoiding the subject, and I don’t think that’s fair right now. We’ve got to be absolutely truthful with one another; I know I have been, no matter how embarrassing it was.”
“I know, honey, and you’ve been very brave. I’m just reluctant to say anything that might influence you in any way.”
I was beginning to understand her—I hoped. So, I plunged in.
“Mom, I don’t know if this will influence you in any way, but you said let’s see where things stood on Monday. I’m going to tell you right now that I’ve never felt better, more alive, more …real, more ...human than I have since becoming Angela. The idea of going back to Andrew is almost more than I can bear; I don’t even want to think about it but I know I have to. But if there’s any way I can become Angela forever, I want to do it. Even before seeing any doctors or shrinks, I know that I want them to change me. Surgically. Completely. You know what I mean.”
She looked at me for a long time. “Wow. Well, you’ve been honest, I must say, and I’m sure that took a lot of courage. Don’t call ‘em shrinks, by the way; they don’t like that.” She frowned. “Well, I guess I have to say my piece.”
And then she didn’t say anything. She seemed about to, and then stopped herself. Frowned. Started to open her mouth, closed it and frowned deeper. I just let her have her space and time to put things into words.
Then to my surprise, she got up and went to the window. My heart sank; I was sure she was going to say that the whole Angela thing was a mistake and that I must change now and we’d take everything back to Target. She turned at the window and looked at me and sighed deeply.
“Honey, if you knew how many nights I wished to God that you could have been born female ...If you knew how many times I prayed that somehow it would all turn out to have been some medical mistake, that you weren’t a boy, that you truly were my daughter ...I thought that if that happened, then you had a chance at happiness. Because that’s what it was all about; not my happiness at having a daughter, but your happiness, my child’s happiness.”
She chuckled sadly. “And then I’d lay awake feeling guilty and beating myself up for denying my son. Honey, it’s been eating me up for years. When you came home Friday and we talked, I almost couldn’t believe my ears; it was all I’d hoped for. The only thing I never had was a name; as soon as I heard Angela I knew it was right, and that somehow I’d try to keep you Angela forever—but only if it was what you wanted …if it was what you needed. Then, of course, I began feeling guilty all over again for trying to influence you to be a girl.”
She looked sheepish. “I guess that’s why I kind of went overboard at Target. But it’s so good to be able to say ‘young lady’ and think of you—at last—as Angela, my daughter. And, like I said before, it just fits. And you …you are so much happier—happier than I’ve ever seen you, ever—and capable of so much more, as Angela, based on your schoolwork today, that I …” She sighed and smiled. “I just can’t deny the truth—you were meant to be my daughter, and should be!”
“Oh, Mom!” was all I could say as I rushed over to hug her.
We cried, looked at each other through our tears, and cried some more. She led me over to the couch, but I think she wanted us closer to the box of tissues on the end table. Finally, sniffling and wiping our eyes and noses, we sat up and laughed a little at our outburst.
Suddenly, I thought of something. “Oh, God, what about tomorrow?”
“You mean school?”
“Unfortunately, the law says you have to go. And unless you want to die a swift but messy death at the hands of the jocks, you’ll have to go as Andrew.”
“I figured that. I don’t want to, though.”
“I know, but it’s only three weeks. You’ve got to focus, though; don’t fall back into Andrew’s bad old habits. Think of yourself as Angela undercover, maybe?”
The phrase ‘Angela undercover’ somehow sounded comical and I laughed.
“Don’t allow yourself to daydream; just nail each class as it comes along. And anyway, you only have to be Andrew—”
“You mean, dress up as Andrew,” I corrected. “Not be.”
She smiled. “Yes, Angela, ‘dress up as Andrew’—until you get home. Then you can wear whatever you want. But!” She held up a warning finger. “No going half-way. Do not try to hide panties under Andrew’s clothes. You must wear only 100% boys’ clothes. It’ll be far safer for you.”
“I understand. Although I won’t really be a 100% boy!”
It was her turn to laugh. “It’ll be rough; keep your head down and focus your attention on your classes. It’s always broken my heart that you never had any friends, but maybe that’s turned out to be a good thing, now; they won’t bother you. And, I thought it was indicative of your future that the very first full day you became Angela, you made a friend. What was her name?”
“You mean Carrie? At the movies? We’re not really friends.”
“She gave you her email address, didn’t she? Don’t fool yourself; girls do things differently than boys and she wants to be your friend. Oh, did you tell her your email address?”
“No; I was just embarrassed enough that I told her my school.”
“Why don’t you think about a new screen name for Angela and send Carrie a note today sometime?”
“I could do that. I will do that! She was kind of cool.”
“But my point is this: In the two years Andrew’s been at Westmont, he has made zero friends. In less than twenty-four hours, Angela already has a friend. Coincidence? I think not.”
I laughed at her using the old cliché, but she had a strong point. “Okay.”
“Okay? To what?”
“Okay to everything. I’ll think of screen names and tonight Angela will email Carrie. At school I will dress as Andrew and act just like Andrew, the poor old schlub, until the end of the year. Once I get inside this house after school, Angela comes out. But Mom, what about summer?”
She looked at me warmly. “I was hoping my daughter and I could spend it together.”
I hugged her again. “You know she will!”
Chapter 8. Monday Changes
It was surprisingly difficult to stop being Angela. Mom and I discussed it and she felt that Sunday night should be the changeover time, not Monday morning.
“Going to need an hour or two to work the girl out of your system,” she teased.
“That’s never gonna happen!” I said, surprising even myself with my fierceness.
Mom sat. “Oh, sweetheart, this has disaster written all over it if we can’t get a handle on it. I blame myself for letting you so completely become Angela this weekend; I’ve just made things harder for you.” She thought for a moment while I brooded over the unfairness of the universe.
Then she looked up and said, “Earlier you laughed at the phrase ‘Angela undercover’ but it applies. Maybe it’ll help; if not, there’s always the mask thing.”
She nodded. “If you’re dressing up like a werewolf for Halloween, do you walk around saying, ‘But I’m not a werewolf!’ or do you get in the suit, put the mask over your head and jump around and go ‘arrr’!” She raised both hands as claws and snarled.
I laughed and was about to say something but she cut me off.
“Or do you take the mask off, like you’re going to the bathroom or something, and still go ‘arr’!”
“No!” I laughed.
“Or do you realize it’s just a silly costume; you know how to act like a werewolf but it doesn’t mean anything to you; it’s just acting like the costume you’re wearing?”
“Okay, point made,” I nodded. “Geez, I’m not dense, you know!”
“Young ladies should not say ‘geez’—ah, there I go,” she slumped and shook her head. “Alright. Until doctors tell us different, Angela is the real child, the real daughter, the real person. Andrew is artificial, a costume, a mask, that Angela has to wear for fifteen days out of the next nineteen, and then only for six hours of the day.”
“I never thought of it like that.”
She continued. “And on the twentieth day, Andrew goes into a box or a laundry bag or even a Hefty Bag and that’s the end of that, God willing.” She gave me a piercing look. “Do you understand?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said solemnly.
“Since we’re in agreement on that key point, I ask that you follow my recommendations. First, during the week, the Andrew mask is only to be worn from waking until you return home from school. You will do everything in the morning that you have been doing as Andrew and go to school. Wear the same clothes, walk the same way, say the same things. And walk home as Andrew. I expect—and I think you do, too!—that the mask will be dropped and Angela will be here when I get home from work.”
“Sixty seconds after coming through the front door!” I said enthusiastically.
She laughed. “Maybe a bit longer; you might want a shower or something. In fact, that’s a good psychological thing, a shower to …wash away the boy, maybe?” She grinned, and I did, too. She chuckled. “As if it were that easy! Anyway, do your homework, chores, watch TV, whatever. That would be your routine from the end of school Monday through Friday. But tonight, I’m going to ask something different of you. Because you’re coming off the first glorious discovery of Angela, with two fully-intense days of being a girl, I think you need to start your adjustment back to Andrew tonight. No nightie, I’m afraid; your old jammies after a shower. Practice the mask, the walk and talk. What do you think?”
“I think—I know—I’m going to be miserable. But I think you’re right and I’ve got to do it that way.”
And that’s what I did, and I was miserable, but kept thinking, ‘Fifteen out of nineteen’ and kept my fingers crossed.
Mom drove me to school the next morning; I could feel her observing me closely and she pronounced me ‘Andrew’ like it was a level of achievement—‘You have successfully achieved Andrew’. I went to class and she went to the Administration. I told her I could weather the PE coach’s stupid remarks but she said there was ‘a bigger picture’ and events needed to be documented. Nothing was said about what the picture was …
I wondered if girls would be even more distracting to me after the weekend, but knowing what I did about myself, and knowing that in a few hours I’d be in a skirt, too, eased things considerably and I was able to focus. I got an A in Spanish, which was my best class; all that time with Santiago was paying off. At lunch I sat alone as I usually did, but got a note in my next class to go to Study Hall and report to Ms. Roberts for last period, which was PE. So I guessed Mom was successful!
Ms. Roberts was one of the younger English teachers and just nodded at me when I showed up at her desk; she quickly told me the Study Hall rules and I managed to get all of my homework done! It was a light load because we were mostly studying for finals, but it was nice to know that it didn’t cut into my Angela time.
Walking home, I heard my name called, only it was ‘Andres’, which was Santiago. He was jiggling his way to me. I stopped and he arrived, winded.
“Why you no in PE?” he said between puffs.
“Why were you not in PE,” I corrected automatically.
“Si, yes; why you not in PE?” he asked, nodding, annoyed. “You leave me with Coach.”
“Sorry, Diego,” I shrugged. It was a diminutive of his full name. “My mother found out the way the coach talks to us and got pissed off.”
“He talks that way when he no pissed off!”
“Not pissed off—no, I mean,” I rolled my eyes. “My mom got pissed off and went to the principal today and demanded I be pulled from the class for the rest of the year—I did not send her, Diego.”
True enough; I thought her Administration trip was about matters in the future, not PE today.
“So I am stuck with Coach for the rest of the year?”
“It’s only three weeks—less, now that today’s gone, and I don’t there’s any PE the last couple of days.”
He gave me a reproachful look. “Thought you were mi amigo.”
“Todavia soy tu amigo, Santiago,” I said. I still am your friend, Santiago.
He did one of those Hispanic looks and noises that was the equivalent of a disgusted ‘yeah, yeah’.
Then he began walking with me. “Tienes que sonreír como un idota ahora,” he sighed. Got to smile like an idiot now.
“Eso no es diferente que antes,” I teased. That’s no different than before.
“Eh!” he laughed and swiped his fingertips across my arm. “Antes, yo era sólo el cincuenta por ciento del idiota!” Before, I was only fifty percent of the idiot!
We laughed together; he told me the coach had got him alone and snarled, “Where’s your little girl friend today?”
I debated telling Mom about that; there were good reasons to tell her and good reasons not to. In the end, I figured I’d pass it on as hearsay and not to be acted on; I was already out of the class so it really didn’t matter. But I felt bad for Santiago.
When I got home, I took the shower to ‘de-boy’ myself, and powdered and fresh, my hair fluffed out, I put on a blue bra and panty set, the inserts, and felt instantly better. I pulled on a berry camisole and denim skirt and flats and what little jewelry I had. I found a thin white ribbon and on a whim I tied it behind my neck and over my head like Alice in Wonderland and liked the look. Then I sat took the new makeup kit to the bathroom and began experimenting. Less is more, I knew, and after three applications and removals, I was getting the hang of modest makeup but had a lot to learn.
Since I had no homework and Mom had told me she would bring dinner home, I had time to surf the internet for teen makeup tips. I began bookmarking a lot of sites; makeup sites, clothing sites, sites to help with girls’ personal problems—all the things in the girls’ magazines but more specific and in depth. I found a makeup page and plugged in my variables—hair, eye, skin color, and so on—and then printed out the color chart it recommended, with the names of three brands and color names for foundation, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, blush, lipstick, and concealer.
Mom came home with Chinese and told me about her meeting with the school; no yelling but she did threaten a lawsuit. She ‘kind of hinted’—her words—that I had recorded the coach, and mentioned another boy was a witness, but did not name Santiago. After swearing her to take no action, I told her what the coach said to Santiago about me today. She was boiling mad.
I wasn’t. “Mom, I’m sitting here in makeup and a pretty skirt, and you’re upset that he called me a girl?”
“No, sweetheart,” she calmed and then chuckled. “I’m upset that he’s so open about his bigotry, and also that he’s inflicting it on that poor friend of yours.”
I was about to say that Santiago wasn’t really a friend—we’d never done anything outside of PE, I meant—but I realized he was my only friend in the sense of anybody I actually spoke with on a regular basis. And I had said I was his friend, today—and I’d said it in Spanish! So, yeah.
“Not so poor, maybe,” I said. “His folks own a restaurant.”
“Really? Which one? Do we know it?”
“I don’t think so. It’s called La Rioja, over by the new mall.” Across town, in other words.
“Um, yes, I think so; they’re from Argentina but I don’t know how much of the food is from there.”
“We should try it sometime. This weekend, maybe.”
“Um, Mom? This weekend …I can be Angela, right?” She smiled and nodded. I frowned. “Well, I guess we could go. I’d just wear what I wear to school.”
“Nonsense; that pretty blue sundress, maybe,” she grinned. “You’d look so cute in that in a Mexican—sorry!—Argentinean restaurant.”
“No; Santiago might be there; I can’t risk him seeing me. As Angela, I mean.”
She just looked at me.
“I don’t …I’m not ready …”
“Sweetheart, we need to discuss this. You will not hide under a rock this summer. You’ve already gone out to the movies, met that new friend of yours, and had a nice time! We’ll be doing more of that once school’s out. And I know that this boy is not a close friend, just a classmate, really. And even if he is working at his family’s restaurant, the difference between the unhappy boy he knows and the pretty girl you are is …well, it’s remarkable. And he doesn’t know me, either, so it should be no problem.” She smirked. “But if we’re eating, and he does show up, just promise me that you won’t suddenly stand up and scream, ‘Omigod! I’m your classmate Andrew and I’m wearing a dress!’” She laughed. “Unless you tell me beforehand so I can bring a video camera!”
She was having way too much fun with that scenario, so I grumbled and went on eating.
I thought about it that night, though; she was right that nobody would know me. And it would be wonderful to be out as mother and daughter. And I do like Mexican—scratch that; I’ve got to find out what kind of food they serve.
Chapter 9. Restrooms
Tuesday was a little weird, then really weird. And, truth be told, it was a little weird making the mental change from dreaming happily in my pretty nightie to putting on the drab Andrew clothes and adopt the shuffling walk. Since yesterday had been so successful, Mom said we could try the nightie—she knew how happy I was to wear one—and see if it affected my ability to ‘be’ Andrew. And I got through the morning okay.
And then the first weird thing was my Geometry teacher.
“Mis ..ter Preston,” he began with a hesitation that was …weird. “Your work yesterday showed a marked improvement.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said. “Um …maybe it’s too early, but will it affect my grade in time?”
“It’s a start,” he nodded. “Your work improved dramatically from Friday, but which is the true standard of your ability?”
I frowned. “What can I do to …I guess I should just keep it up?”
“Exactly, Mis …ter Preston.”
Again with the hesitation, I thought as I walked out of class. Almost like he was the bad guy in The Matrix, with the pause when he said ‘Mis-ter Anderson’, but it wasn’t exactly that; more like—Omigod! I realized he was on the edge of saying ‘Miss Preston’! But I’d been in his class all semester; he knows I’m …
I stopped dead in my tracks. I realized that there was one of those ‘disconnect’ things going on. He knows I’m ‘Mister’ but somehow his senses were signaling that he should say ‘Miss’. That was exciting and really cool and incredibly scary, too. I thought I’d been in total Andrew mode, totally the same boring guy, but something triggered that disconnect in Geometry. Maybe it was just seeing me up close?
There wasn’t a lot of homework for me to do in Study Hall, which was a good thing because I was brooding about Geometry. It had been a little weird. And I guess it was a little more weird when I looked down and had been doodling. I’d been writing ‘Angela Marie Preston’ in cursive, trying things with the ‘G’ and dots on the ‘I’ and things and that would be fine—at home! —but not on a notebook page in school! I quickly turned the page and decided to try focusing on studying for finals.
And then the really weird thing happened. Well, first, I caught my hair in my backpack when I was putting it on when I left Study Hall. I kind of tugged and kind of went ‘ow’ and the rubber thing snapped and my hair came loose, but I got the backpack on. I decided to pee before walking home and had my hand on the Boys’ restroom door and heard this loud ‘a-hem!’ from behind.
A deep voice called, “Wrong room, missy!”
I knew that voice.
The weird thing was, it was polite.
I turned and it was my PE coach. And for the strangest reason, I knew instantly that he didn’t recognize me. I’d only been out of his class for two days! Well, plus two days of a weekend. So four days ago he had been in my face calling me a faggot, and now he was standing there, one hand on a hip, the other extended and pointing in a circle to the Girls’ restroom next door.
“There you go, honey,” he said, still wiggling his finger.
I was already in the process of pushing the door open and he did an ‘Uh-uh-uh!’ like he was an uncle or something. He was still doing the wiggling finger thing and raised his eyebrows.
Still didn’t recognize me …
Nothing to do but follow the moron’s directions. I released the Boys’ restroom door and, what the heck, did a girlish giggle and wiggled my head like ‘Silly me!’
And went into the Girls’ restroom.
Thank goodness, there was nobody in there; enough time had passed since school let out that everybody had peed and gone home. Quickly I did my business and then washed and—yet again, what the heck!—decided to fluff my hair at the mirror and wash my hands, sighing with pleasure. God, if I could do this for real—really be just another girl in the Girls’ restroom …
The coach was gone when I came out, his Good Deed of directing the silly girl to her proper restroom successfully concluded.
Condescending, sexist jerk!
When I told Mom about it that night, I thought she was going to pee herself, she was laughing so hard.
Wednesday was another tough morning, making the mental shift from Angela to Andrew. I got an A on the last Spanish test of the year, seemed to do pretty well in every other class, and got a smile and nod in Geometry. Study Hall was quiet and I went straight home.
And I had to—had to—had to have a bubble bath.
When Mom came home I was wearing a sundress that we’d bought over the weekend, and I was putting together a chicken-and-rice dish that we liked. Mom watched me for a few minutes.
“You’re so …lovely,” she grinned. “That dress just floats around you and you move so gracefully …”
“Thanks, um,” I said and started rinsing the salt water from the chicken.
“Honey, do you want to stick it in the fridge and let me take you out to dinner?”
“It’s no bother, Mom; I can make—”
“Come on, sweetie,” she playfully whined like a young girl. “I haven’t been able to go out with my best girl for, like, ever!”
“Four days ago, Mom,” I said, but was already laughing.
We drove to an Applebee’s across town, with the cheerful, ‘Good evening, ladies!’ that made me warm inside. We had salads and ice tea—much like home—and it was kind of odd. Every TV in the place—and there were many—were all showing baseball games.
“What if you don’t like baseball?” I asked.
“Men think you should,” Mom said, with an odd undercurrent. Her voice turned sad. “Part of being a woman, Angela.”
“Mom, all but two of the waiters are women, and looking around the place, easily half the people are women. But there isn’t one station that isn’t ESPN something-or-other.”
She gave me a look and I added, “And over half the world is female!”
“Over half the world …plus one,” she grinned.
Then she switched subjects and began telling me what to expect tomorrow after school at the doctor’s appointment. I had a pretty good idea after reading things on the internet, and we coordinated times and things. It was a peaceful and happy drive home and after getting in my nightie and washed and moisturized, Mom actually tucked me in bed. She kissed my forehead and smiled, then took a deep sigh.
“Tomorrow may mean everything or it may mean nothing. We either will start moving forward with your new life, or we will explore other avenues to make it happen. Either way, my darling, be brave, be smart, and know that I love you and support you and we will find a way that Angela can live free.”
Nothing of note happened at school the next day, and then we went to the doctor’s office.
Chapter 10. The Doctor and the Spanish Lesson
I had to write a comprehensive, detailed account of my meeting with the doctors; they wanted my impressions as part of their program. So I won’t go into a blow-by-blow account; I don’t want to have to write the darned thing twice.
We met with Dr. Watkins in his office across the street from the University Hospital. First there were some forms, then I peed in a cup, had blood drawn, a few strands of hair were cut and the inside of my cheek swabbed, and then we talked. As a group, then Mom left and I talked with him, and then Mom came back in and I was given a questionnaire to fill out in the waiting area. Great, I thought; Finals haven’t even started and already I’m taking a test. I finished it and was reading old magazines—actually a great back issue of Glamour; I forgot to mention that in my detailed account!—and then I was back in with the doctor.
Then a second doctor was called in, a woman named Dr. Chang, and she had the lab results. Well, I was male, but we all knew that, but I was, as Dr. Watkins put it, ‘barely male’. Dr. Chang did that thing with the thumb and forefinger really close.
They wanted to discuss everything further and asked that I come in the next day just for the labs again—Mom and I looked at each other—and we’d meet on Monday.
And that was it; we were back in the car and Mom cut me off.
“Honey, I have absolutely no idea what any of that meant. I gather it’s probably a good thing they want another set of labs, though.”
She drove home as we compared notes, each telling the other what happened when we’d been alone with the doctor.
The next day at school was a half day, which was the last sort-of official day of classes, because Monday started Finals Week, where the schedule was all over the place, and Seniors were getting ready to graduate. I’d been telling Mom how great it would be, for three reasons. First, only a portion of the school’s kids were there; Seniors were already gone so that was 25% missing right there, and only a percentage of kids left because some families took off for early vacations. It cut down the population considerably. Second, in and out. You walk right to class, head down, open your test booklets and go to work and dump them in the box and go home. Third, I was ready for all of my classes. The only class I’d feared was PE, not for any final, but for the inevitable low grade.
I closed my locker for the last official class day and turned and there was Santiago.
“Hokay, now you are my friend again,” he grinned.
“What do you—oh, PE’s over?”
“Si. You could not stick it out just four more days?”
“Sorry, Diego,” I shook my head. “It wasn’t my idea, remember? I think Mom thought it was three more weeks. She was angry at me for not telling her sooner.” Okay, I was embellishing a little.
He nodded. “Is okay. Coach didn’t yell at me so much. I think he …” He shrugged.
Things kind of clicked into place. “You think he was mostly yelling at me, and you sort of were in the way?”
He smiled and bobbed his head. “Si. Yes, maybe.” He shrugged again. “But it was quiet this week.”
“Well, I’m glad for you. Now maybe you’ll be like my mom and be pissed at me for not getting out of class sooner!”
Santiago laughed. “But he always say ‘faggots’! Meaning more than one!”
That bugged me. “Diego, listen, I’m sorry about that. He didn’t mean anything by that. It’s just the way he talks, like calling all the guys ‘girls’ if they run slow.”
He did that Hispanic thing again, sort of like the French ‘enh’ with the shrug. “Es stúpido.”
What I could tell Santiago about yesterday, the coach, and the restrooms! But I shrugged, too, and said, “Una cosa mala muerte que decir.” Yeah, but it’s a crummy thing to say.
“Su español es cada vez mejor,” he grinned. Your Spanish is better and better.
“Gracias,” I grinned.
He turned and looked across the school. “You know, in Argentina …the gay thing is not so much a problem. Latin culture, sometimes a problem, but Argentina …”
Santiago often talked about his home country when we shuffled along instead of jogging in PE, but he went on to explain that the country had given gays equality in 1992, and after a tremendous financial crash around 2001, things relaxed even more. And just recently, Argentina passed sweeping gender rights reforms, allowing ‘sex-change surgery’ and hormone prescriptions as part of their regular health care—and even to specify which gender they wanted listed with their name!
He did the shrug thing and said, “The crash was big change. When the people are eating from the garbage cans, a kiss between two men is …no es una gran cosa.” Not such a big deal.
“Yeah, but here in the Land of the Free, we freak out if two men kiss.”
There was silence and things felt weird.
“I’m not gay, Santiago,” I said, looking at him.
“I am not gay either, Andrew,” he said. “I thought …” He shrugged.
“Oh, you thought I was but it didn’t bother you—just like the jerks in the locker room saying ‘Argenteenan’ doesn’t bother you?”
“Si. Like no bother if dogs bark—it’s what they do.”
I laughed at the simple way he dismissed the jerks as dogs. “But, really …I’m not gay.” I paused. “You think because the coach stopped yelling ‘faggot’ when I was gone that …”
He was waving a hand. “Just the biggest, loudest dog. No. Andrew, it does not matter to me.”
I didn’t stop to think; it just came out. “Santiago, I’m not gay. I’m a girl.”
God, did I really just say that?
I jumped in. “I’m seeing doctors, I’m …Santiago, do you know what ‘transgendered’ means?”
“Significa sur transsexual, si.” It means being transsexual. He frowned and then nodded. “Yo lo veo.” I see it.
“Okay, I need to know; do you mean ‘you see it’ as meaning you understand it, or ‘you see it’ as meaning you can see it with your eyes?”
“Spanish lesson?” he chuckled. “Both!” He openly laughed now.
Then he saw the shock on my face and waved a hand as he shook his head. “Andrew, mi amigo, please, I do not want to …” He frowned. “I do not want to say this wrong. I can see the girl in you, and I understand transsexuals and it’s okay, okay?”
“You say you see doctors …do you …dress like a girl?”
“Yes,” I said, nodding solemnly. I swallowed. “Every day after school and all weekends.”
“And summer and beyond, like a girl?”
“Si,” I nodded, my mouth dry. “For the rest of my life.”
He paused. “This is not what I came to talk about. I came to joke with you about not being in PE, and then to ask why you do not come to our restaurant.”
“Oh. Oh! Um …Mom and I don’t eat out that often—” I caught myself because of the recent Applebee’s trip. “Well, we did like a quick thing at Applebee’s, but …isn’t your place expensive?”
I had no idea if it was a palace or a corner sandwich shop.
“En realidad, es, más o menos.” Actually, it is, kind of. He nodded. “I thought that was it. I want to invite you and your family.”
“Thank you, Diego!” I said enthusiastically. “And ‘my family’ is just my mother and I.”
“Your mother and …” He left it hanging.
“Me,” I frowned.
“Your mother and …”
“Uh …I don’t know what you mean?”
He rolled his eyes. “It will not be your mother and Andrew. It will be your mother and …”
The lightbulb went on. “Oh! Um …” I looked around; coast clear. “Angela. Mi nombre es Angela.” My name is Angela.
He nodded and pulled out a business card, somewhat bent from the back pocket of his jeans. “Then Mrs. Preston and mi amiga Angela are invited.” He grinned. “Hasta luego,” he nodded and walked away.
End of Part 3
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