Jessica left Eloise a decade ago, and then fulfilled a lifetime dream. She had made a break with her past, but is filled with anxiety when an invitation to her high school reunion manages to find her.
Jessica left Eloise a decade ago, and then fulfilled a lifetime dream. She had made a break with her past, but is filled with anxiety when an invitation to her high school reunion manages to find her.
I read it as a positive omen. The invitation to my fortieth high school reunion had somehow found me, even though they used the address from five residences ago -- and, of course, my name had been legally changed for a decade, or so.
Eloise and I left a forwarding address with the apartment management when we purchased our home nearly thirty years ago, but who would have thought they would still have it on file?
My ex-spouse and I haven’t talked much since the divorce and the ensuing custody battles. Even though it’s been over a decade, some scabs are best left undisturbed. I hadn’t received mail from her in all those years, and wouldn’t expect to. Yet, she took the time to forward the letter to me from my old high school classmate. Perhaps she delighted in the conundrum such a letter would present.
As far as I knew, no one from my high school knew that I had transitioned, but the time had finally arrived.
Even though I attended high school in a town sixty miles west of the Twin Cities, the organizational committee had decided to hold our reunion at a hotel in Minneapolis. The letter explained that so since many of my classmates lived in the Cities it just made sense. Also, for those like me, flying in from other parts of the country, Minneapolis would be much easier to travel to than our small town.
As my limo sped along I-494 from the airport to the hotel, I checked my face in the lighted mirror and smiled at my reflection. I looked good. The SRS had been a fountain of youth and my daily regimen of exercise, proper diet, and a dozen or so lotions and crá¨mes kept me looking “forty-ish.”
A huge sign floated above the hotel lobby. Welcome Hawks! I had been a sports nut in high school and had worn out two Hawks’ lettermen’s jackets. Looking down at my size six body I wondered where the forty pounds had gone from my playing days as a safety on the football team. Thank goodness our coach hadn’t believed in weight training. Losing all my excess body fat had been hard, but keeping it off came naturally.
I had written back to the reunion committee telling them “Bob” Wilke no longer existed -- and to send future correspondence to “Jessica” Wilke at my new address. It had been a big step disclosing my change, but it felt good to finally do it. The registration confirmation letter said over one hundred of the 172 in my graduating class would be attending. I had picked ten I really wanted to see and quickly narrowed that short list down to -- one.
John and I had been best friends and played football, basketball, and track together. He ran faster, but I wanted to win more, so we competed fairly equally. Our friendship had cracked one blustery winter night during our senior year. The two of us had spent a laugh-filled night playing board games. Ron and Greg had promised to play with us, but both failed to show. They could normally be counted on when they said they would do something, but Ron got called in to work stocking shelves at the supermarket and Greg remembered a paper he had to write for advanced composition.
John and I had played Stat football, which involved cardboard cards, dice, and a football field board. We played that game so many times during high school the veneer on the coffee table in their basement had worn through from tossed dice. That night his team came from behind on the last play of the game when he ran the only play he could have won on, and I played the absolute wrong defense. Even with that rare combination of events he still had to roll boxcars for a touchdown, which he did.
At the door he did his normal good night routine by turning his back to me and grabbing himself in an embrace; from the back it looked like there was someone hugging him, He made it sound even more authentic with loud kissing noises. We both had steady girlfriends and considered ourselves super-hetero; although — I had my little, secret desire to be a girl and he registered mega-cute on anyone’s meter.
“What a great kiss!” he said, sighing and coming out of his self-love.
I laughed. “You don’t even know what a great kiss is. Ann tells me my kisses are super.”
“Super?” He smirked. “Are you sure Ann didn’t say ‘stupor’?”
“No. She said s-u-p-e-r. Here let me show you.”
I had meant it to be a joke as I moved in on him. I had expected him to duck away in mock horror, but instead he stood his ground with a strange look on his face. I should have backed down, but it had become a macho thing, so I went through with it and kissed him. At first I had continued it as a joke, but then our raging teenage hormones kicked in and we both got into it. I’m not sure how long our kiss lasted, but when it was over I glanced down and saw two very aroused penises straining at the front of our tan Levis.
I turned and tore out of his front door, struggling to find my way through anxious confusion and a roaring blizzard.
We never spoke of that night, but John and I made sure never to be alone -- together -- again. We went to different colleges and saw each other only occasionally over the summers. After college I went east and he moved to St. Louis.
My plan for the reunion was to finally seduce him, if at all possible. Over the years, he had been the object of hundreds of my masturbation fantasies. My imagined life with him had grown to the point where we had children with names and complex little lives.
At the registration desk, I immediately checked the list of attendees. “Will John Ulte be coming?” I sincerely hope he will — in me.
The women behind the desk looked familiar. I hadn’t quite picked up on reunion etiquette. I had looked in her eyes when I should have peered at her nametag.
“He’s registered, but he hasn’t checked in yet. I’m sorry I have to ask, but — your name is. . . ?”
I finally found my way to the name pasted to her chest. “Susan Height. You’re Susan Height!” Susan Height (Krokowski) had sat next to me in junior physics. We had dated a few times, but hadn’t really struck up a relationship.
“That’s right,” she smiled, “but, the thing is — I need your name so I can check you in.” Susan had always been a little anal and evidently hadn’t changed much.
“I’m Jessica . . . Jessica Wilke.” I extended my hand toward her, trying to be friendly, but she looked down at her list without accepting my greeting. I swallowed hard and prepared myself for a put down.
“Wilke? Hmmm. I don’t remember a Jessica . . . Ah, here you are. You’re Bob’s wife, Jessica. We were so-o-o sorry to get your letter about Bob passing. Bob and I were close in high school. We dated.”
Sorry? Bob’s wife? Good friend? The nametag she gave me said “Mrs. Bob Wilke (Jessica).”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “There’s been a. . . .”
“Oh, I love your bag,” she gushed.
I had decided to use my white, leather, Fendi purse. Others I might have chosen would have been more stylish, but not large enough for traveling.
“I’ve been saving up to buy one like that,” she simpered. “Where did you go to find one that looks so authentic?”
Ahhhhhh. The games have begun. In that last moment she had made all the planning and care I had taken to look my best - worthwhile. “I just picked it off the rack at Neiman Marcus. Donna is such a great little helper. When I come in she drops everything, because I’m so useless when I try to shop by myself.”
Her eyes registered the proper respect. I took pleasure in winning round one, but felt embarrassed I had stooped so low.
I picked up the catalog envelope with my name on it and noted the schedule posted on a placard on the table. “I see dinner is at 6:30. Two hours will give me time enough to take a nap.”
She nodded. Her lop-sided smile indicated “Mrs. Bob Wilke” would be topic “A” with her girlfriends.
I glanced around the lobby and saw one or two others who looked like they might be the “silver editions” of my classmates, but none that could be John.
A bellman approached with my luggage and escorted me to suite 718. My fear of heights prevented me from renting a penthouse suite, but I had taken their finest below the tenth floor.
After securing his promise that room service would freshen my outfit for the evening, I gave him a tip that would assure he would see to my needs. He was about the right age and either well-endowed or carrying a huge bundle of keys in a strange place. I caressed his hand lightly to cover my bases should everything else fail.
I sat upright in an overstuffed chair so as not to mess my hair, but tried to catch a short nap. The encounter downstairs had sharpened many memories of high school. I had been relatively happy and good-looking enough to have my pick of girls, but not so handsome I could escape the occasional turn down. I avoided sex, because I didn’t want to knock up some loser, and then be tied down for life. Girls saw my chastity as a sign of respect.
My sports career had been spotty -- a varsity player in three sports, but not a star. Thank God I hadn’t gotten my wish in grade school and grown extra-tall for basketball. As things have turned out, I look perfect in high-heels. So many of those in my transition support group have been doomed to a life in flats.
Each of my operations had gone well. My plastic surgeon could only be termed a genius. My wife said, at one of our court appearances, that I looked like a stranger to her. Not once since I had recovered after the final procedure did anyone perceive me as remotely male, including an army of lovers. Each one had been affirmation I greedily lavished upon myself.
The error the reunion organizers made on my nametag offered an option I hadn’t considered -- I could bide my time, and then “expose” myself, when, and if, I wanted. The idea of spending the evening as “Mrs. Bob Wilke” held tremendous appeal. I only really cared to see John; and he would be the one person who had to know.
When I selected my Gucci dress I had wondered if it might be a bit too much. Donna said fuchsia brought out my best features. When I showed my purchase to my personal trainer, he had said, “That little dress is lucky to have found you. You’re the only woman who could do it justice.” He is such a dear! I love silk; and the georgette, open-back styling seems so right. In the end I decided I deserved to wear the gown -- given everything I had gone through to accomplish what I had.
When I entered the ballroom, which would provide the setting for both the banquet and the following dance, Susan practically ran to my side. “Jessica,” she chirped, “you just have to meet some of Bob’s friends.” She dragged me by the hand toward a group of women who were grasping their drinks with obvious ardor. “Girls, this is Jessica . . . Bob Wilke’s wife.”
“You’re gorgeous,” the first woman cooed.
I recognized Barbara immediately. She went hippie after high school, and had dressed for the evening in a collage of fabric that appeared a little like Annie Hall on hormones.
Barbara continued. “Bob always had an eye for the lookers. I was so sorry to hear he passed on. He was one of my best friends.”
As I recall, Barbara’s best friends were a one-eyed cat named Franko and a bong she called “Bigboy.” “Nice to meet you, Barbara. Bob told me a lot about you. He considered you to be like a sister to him.” I had cast my lot as Bob’s wife for at least the next few hours.
“I’m Joellen,” a big-breasted blonde breathed toward me. She had either knocked back straight vodka -- or jet fuel. Joellen came out of the closet in college. The way her hand rested on mine gave me the indication she had more than a little interest. Maybe her eyes showed some recognition, but they quickly left my face for my breasts.
“Bob had nice things to say about you, too,” I said. Nice and horny things. Long before John took on the role of my Dreamland McSteamy, she had stirred my melting pot.
“We switched things around so you could sit with us,” Susan said, letting me know just how much reunion clout she wielded. “Catherine just got bumped from the fur-er-runt table.”
The three women giggled like junior high meanies.
Joellen took me by the arm and walked me toward the banquet area. “MMMMmm. I love women who wear Bijan. I guess I just love spicy woman. How about you?”
Joellen's flowery Tresor clashed with my plans for the evening, but I kept the “Jolly-Roll” option open by squeezing her hand lightly and bouncing my tush against hers as we walked.
Our table consisted of Susan, Barbara, Joellen, me, and Ann and her husband, who unfortunately had the surname of Rand.
“I didn’t write The Fountainhead,” Ann wryly apologized before anyone asked.
“That’s good, darling,” Joellen quipped, “because it was published five years before any of us were born.”
Ann’s nose wrinkled like a bunny, one of the things I had hated about her when we dated.
We sat in our assigned spots seconds before our salads found a place in front of us.
Susan dug right in. “Jessica,” she pointed her fork at a spot near my left nostril, “Bob never came to the reunions. This is our fifth.”
“That’s right,” Barbara bubbled. “We had a fifth year, a tenth, a twentieth and a thirtieth.”
Joellen clutched my thigh under the table with unhidden meaning. “Each one has become a lot less proper and a whole lot more fun.”
Ann’s husband looked at something over my shoulder, but obviously directed his response to me. “You’re going to have to excuse these girls, they’re almost ready to burst with curiosity; and if I know them, you’re going to get asked more than a few questions that will seem inappropriate.”
Susan nudged him with her elbow. “Nothing’s ‘inappropriate’ at these reunions. Do you remember what you said last reunion when Elizabeth’s zipper broke.” She grinned and turned to me. “He said, without a moment’s thought, ‘It’s about time you opened up.’ ”
I managed a grin, but didn’t see the immense humor. I sipped on a Diet Coke and probably never would find hilarity in something, or someone, so dull.
“Okay, I’ll ask it, so no one else has to,” Barbara said, dragging her words together through a lifetime of cannabis haze. “Are you a trophy wife?”
Few things have caused me to blush for the last many years, but that did the trick.
“Come on. . .answer,” Joellen demanded, as her hand ran on eager fingertips from my knee to my waist.
I could spend the night with her. Women had often found their way to my bed. About the only sexual partners I can’t enjoy are gay men.
Joellen leaned in close to me and nibbled on my ear before she pulled back and spoke. “You’re about fifteen years younger than all of us, so you must be something Bob found after he made all his money.”
“Yeah,” Susan brightened, “how did Bob make all his money?”
“Bob was only married once, and he was in import/export,” I answered. “Bob” had founded his own business shortly after college and built it slowly around a core of very loyal staff. When the time had been right to transition, I had sold the business. Unfortunately some of those people were immediately let go by the new owner, but I had needed to get top dollar to pay for the SRS and everything. . .and to set up my “retirement.”
“Did you work with him?” Ann asked. She hadn’t looked at her husband all evening. It was painfully obvious she couldn’t stand him.
When Eloise and I had gone out together we couldn’t keep our eyes, or our hands, off each other. She was my soulmate. I closed my eyes and pictured her the last time I had seen her . . . in court . . . when she had won a permanent injunction to keep me away from our children. She had looked absolutely stunning that day, as always.
“My spouse and I worked very closely,” I offered.
A main course of meat had been generously described as filet mignon. They served the green beans and baked potatoes cold and without seasoning. My dish had a large chip and the silverware was stained, so that I wanted to wipe it with my napkin, which also showed signs of too much use.
“Do you have children?” Ann asked. “We tried for years and then gave up. I don’t know why we never adopted.”
Children? I frowned as I thought of Becca and Reese. I hadn’t seen so much as a picture in the last decade. I hid my mouth behind a napkin until I could plaster a smile on my lips. “Two — a boy and a girl.”
Susan whistled. “How did you keep your figure after two kids? Each of my three boys added ten pounds to me, and not where I wanted them.”
After that they let me off the hot seat, the conversation turned to the Vikings’ football prospects. My mind drifted to my life with Eloise. She had been as positive as any woman could be about my nature, even though from time to time I would do something that would embarrass her.
A neighbor had seen me walking one morning en femme and cornered Eloise about it. Becca, at three, had walked in on me while I was dressed in a nightgown and gone screaming to her mother. Several times I had made Halloween very uncomfortable for Eloise by the obvious ease I felt while decked out in front of our friends as Chris Evert or Dolly Parton.
We had forged an understanding that she broke when it came time for me to be true to myself. I had expected we would remain married; and I would be a second mom to our kids. She refused to be logical and had cruelly ripped our lives to shreds. God only knows what it did to Reese to grow up with only one parent.
“There’s John,” Susan yelped. “Jessica, you’d asked about John. Boy is he looking tasty. Jessica, did you have a particular reason you wanted to meet him?”
I shook my head; partially to tell Susan “no” and mainly to clear the fog from my brain. Seeing John had caused my thoughts to seize. He looked yummy. All desire to hook up with the bellboy or Joellen had been swept from my mind. My mission to live my fantasies had become perfectly clear.
As soon as our mint ice cream slabs had been consumed, the band started a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night. I cast aside all inhibitions and floated to John’s table.
“John,” I said, as I tapped him on the shoulder, “care to dance?”
He looked at my nametag, and then locked in on my face. “Bob’s . . . ?”
“I’d love to dance with you.” I cut him off, and then wondered what it was he had been ready to ask.
He stood and took my hand.
I glanced around the table he had been sitting at and was relieved to see no sign of a woman.
The dance started with him holding me at arm’s-length. Mrs. Gassman would have approved. She had chaperoned our high school dances and always said she wanted to see sunlight between us while we slow-danced.
“Are you enjoying yourself?” he asked.
I nodded. Immensely so, now that he has violated Mrs. Gassman’s edict and pulled me to him.
“You haven’t been to one of these before, have you?”
I shook my head, but didn’t raise it off his shoulder - where it had found a comfy home.
The band moved quickly from one slow song to another, having accurately gauged the requirements of the pentagenarian crowd.
Each song heightened my need for John’s arms around me. Every step moved us closer to the king-sized bed in room 718. The foreplay from forty years prior at the door of his parents’ house had left embers in my soul that quickly burst into flame when his breath rushed into my ear.
I forced myself not to grind my hot sex into his groin, sensing we would have a long night to enjoy one another.
If he had a wife, she couldn’t possibly be attending the reunion or she would have torn my eyes out after the second song. If she did exist, I would deal with her in the morning. John would be mine for at least a few hours and more than likely much, much longer.
I was ready to leave after the band’s first set. “John, would you like to have a drink in my room?”
“I’d love to,” he said. “Let me get my life partner, Louis, and the three of us can go up and have a talk and catch up on things. Forty years is a long time for good friends not to see each other.”
Thank you to Erin, Jenny Walker, and Dimelza Cassidy for their kind support.
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