Even though it was a Holiday for most people, I still had to work. This was going to be the first day back to work since last Friday. When I had left here three days ago, I had just been presented a release form that the owners of the coffee shop wanted me to sign releasing them from any liability if I was harassed. I don’t think I had ever been as mad as I had been that day. Luckily Jenny had a calmer head then I did. She immediately called her Grandmother who had lined up an attorney for us from the firm she uses. We had not met with them as of yet, so I figured it be best if I just went back to work as if nothing happened. When I got there at 9:30, I saw that Hannah and Zach were there from the morning shift. I walked into the back where I instantly ran into Dannii. The look of pure shock on her face when she saw me with my new hair style and manicured nails made me smile on the inside. She quickly looked away and mumbled good morning to me and headed out to the front. It made me think back to last week and when Jenny came in and how Dannii had reacted. I made a note to ask Jenny about it.
After punching in I put my ‘Alexa’ name tag on and I checked myself in the mirror. The ribbon Jenny had added pulled my hair back and I will admit that I looked pretty cute. I smiled and headed out for a normal day of work. As Hannah and Zach left us I could hear Zach say “I don’t believe it. There is no way that is a guy.” I smiled to myself until I heard Zach say “What a freak.” I knew those comments were going to come and had tried to brace myself for it, but being the first I had heard hit me a little hard. I tried to take a moment to compose myself a bit, but the cackling of Hannah and Zack as they left didn’t help. Zach couldn’t stop staring at me and laughing as he walked out the door. After the glorious week I spent with Jenny, the real world decided to immediately came roaring back. I stepped into the back room again and took a few deep breaths to further compose myself. I checked myself in the mirror again and the smile seemed to have dimmed a bit, but it was still there. I knew that this was right and knew I had to work my way past the remarks that were coming my way.
I joined Dannii behind the counter but noticed she was even colder towards me than she had been previously. I tried to ask her if she had a good New Year’s and such. I just tried to engage in some small talk. She tried to ignore me or give me some vague answers to my questions. I don’t know if I just began annoying her or what but she finally turned and looked at me and asked “Why? Why did you do this? You were such a cute guy. Did she do this to you?” I noticed the emphasis on the she and remembered that she had asked me something similar last week. The comment about being a cute guy did hit me however. I had never realized she thought I was cute, but that didn’t matter. I looked her straight in the eye and began telling the story that I had the feeling that I was going to have to repeat several times over the next few weeks, months.
“For a long time something didn’t seem right. I had always dressed in secret but never could understand why. Then something happened and I dressed and went out and it felt right. Jenny just happened to be along as I discovered this. As time has gone on this just felt right. And as far as Jenny, she has helped me some but she didn’t do this to me. I am just lucky that she has stood by me. She is the best girlfriend anyone could ever have.” I didn’t think Dannii needed to know how a paper that Jenny was writing started this.
“I still don’t understand. It seems weird to me. How do you decide you want to be a different sex?” Dannii stated, but turned away before I could say anything. I was just getting ready to try and get her attention and explain this when Cade came walking through the door. He just stared at me as if I was some foreign person, which I guess I was. He gave a quick good morning and disappeared into his office. It was only a moment later when he reemerged and came right up to me.
“Alex-a, what are you doing here? Did you sign the agreement?” Cade asked. I told him I had not as I hadn’t met with my lawyer yet. “Well, I don’t think it would be wise if you were not here until this matter is settled.” The harshness of his comments hit me but his next words really got me. ‘You should go punch out and I will be taking you off of the schedule until this is resolved.”
“Are you firing me?’ I asked. I could feel the emotions in me building up but knew I had to keep calm. “I have been here for two years. You can’t do this to me.”
“I’m sorry Alex, I mean Alexa. I think for all parties that it would be for the best. Once this is resolved we can re-evaluate things.” The coldness seemed to be get colder.
‘But Cade, I need the money.” I pleaded.
“You should have thought of that be..” Cade suddenly stopped himself. I jumped on it immediately.
“I should have thought of that before what? Before I started my change?” My anger was starting to get the best of me. I couldn’t believe that he just said that! I went to the back and grabbed my coat. As I walked out I stopped and looked at Cade. “You might as well call John and tell him that I WILL NOT, repeat WILL NOT be signing the release and that I am seriously considering further legal action against both the company and you personally.” I couldn’t believe that he had just said that. I had always gotten along with Cade so I started to wonder whether he was doing this on his own or if he was just doing this under orders. It didn’t really matter. He had said the magic words and I stormed out of the coffee shop, nearly breaking the door as I went out. I made it my car and just sat there. I was still in a state of shock over what had transpired. I knew some people were going to need some adjusting to the change I was going through, but I did not think that my job would be an issue. As the realization that I had lost my only source of income came over me, I began to get scared. What would I do for money? I know what Jenny would say but I would feel guilty about taking money from her. I knew my parents were out of the picture so I guess it would mean I would have to find a new job.
Rather than head back to my apartment immediately, I tried to get ahold of Dr. Burke to see if she was available. I got both her office and cell phone voice mails. This was not something that required an emergency, so I declined calling the hotline. I resigned myself to going back to the apartment where I knew the inevitable show down was to begin with Jenny. I entered the apartment ready to take her on but melted soon as I saw her. The look on my face must have told the whole story. “Did they fire you she asked?” as the color of her face became redder.
“No I was told that until this matter resolved, they thought it was best if I didn’t come in.” I explained to Jenny. I could see the anger building up in her as I told her what Cade had said to me.
“That son of a bitch! That is discrimination! They might have sealed their fate right there!” Jenny was beyond mad. She was practically foaming at the mouth she was so mad. I almost started laughing because I saw spit flying as she screamed. I assured her that this was not going to be an event I would overlook when we met with the lawyer tomorrow. I was surprised at how worked up Jenny had gotten over what I had told her. On Friday, when this all started, she was the calmest one out the three of us roommates. Now she was mad. Not just mad, pissed. She wanted to extract a pound of flesh from John Lee and his partners. I started to think about her family at that point. I had heard stories of Jenny’s family and how ruthless they had been in their business dealings. I was wondering if some family genetics were rising to the surface.
I plopped myself down on the couch and motioned Jenny to join me. I began to rub her shoulders and tease her about how she was reacting. At first, she was little miffed at me but soon saw some of the humor I was seeing and began to relax and even laugh at it. Katie comes out of her room, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and asks what the commotion was out here. When I tell Katie about what had happened she started to throw her two cents in. Jenny started to get wound up again. I tried to calm the two of them down, but it seemed I was out of luck. My mind had been made up that I was going after them and was almost calm about it, like I was resigned to fate. Jenny and Katie were really worked up over the situation. They were ready to start a media firestorm, Katie had already made some comment on Twitter. I begged her to take it down but she refused. “No one is going to treat my little sister that way. I don’t think they will know what hit them when I am done” With that I watch Katie grab her phone again and begin typing away on it. My phone beeps and I see Kate has posted another tweet about my situation and ripping the coffee shop. I urge her to take it down, not only because I didn’t want this whole thing to get out of hand but it really outs me in my transition. Jenny joins me in trying to get Katie to take down the Tweets. Katie eventually obliges but my nervousness over the damage that may have already been done grows.
We spend the rest of the days doing various chores around the apartment such as cleaning and laundry. When the plan of cleaning up around the apartment came up, Jenny and I were instantly warned by Katie that it did not mean it was time for some dress up game for me and Jenny. Jenny gave a playful little pout but I just laughed at my girlfriend’s reaction. As I excused myself to get changed from my work uniform a thought crossed my mind. A few minutes later, I returned to the living room wearing my “soccer mom” outfit. Jenny leapt into my arms and hugged me while Katie just shook her head. “She has corrupted you Alexa.” Katie said but she was smiling. Jenny turned and looked at Katie with a pleading look. Resigning herself to the inevitable, Katie tells Jenny “Go get changed. You two need some serious mental help.” Jenny returns and we begin working away. Jenny teases Katie that she can put together a ‘soccer mom” uniform for her if she wants. Katie shakes her head “No way. I’m not getting sucked into you two weirdos’ little games” Jenny tries to tell her it is fun but Katie would have none of it.
The rest of the day is non-descript as we clean the apartment. Being that Katie was working again tonight Jenny I decided we would just stay home and make some dinner and watch TV. Plus, I had decided it was time for another cooking lesson for Jenny. She had come a long way since we had first started seeing each other and had come to enjoy it, most the time. She still had an issue with doing things like making meatballs where she was squishing things with her hands to mix them. I never took pity on her and thought I would show her how to make chicken enchiladas in a cheese/sour cream sauce. I got her to begin cooking up some chicken breast in a pan and showing her how to split the chicken breast up to shred it a little more. The next was the mixture of the sauce. My favorite part was after we got the chicken and part of the sauce mixed up. I instructed her on how to fill the tortillas and roll them despite her repeated whines and flashing of big eyes to get out of it. “You are going to learn these things. I can’t be cooking all the time” She squealed and giggled as she took handfuls of the chicken mixture and placed it in the tortillas. I just stood and laughed at her. My fun was interrupted by a knock at our door.
“Could you get that babe? My hands are a little full.” Jenny asked with a smart alek smile. I told her I would and she continued making her whining noises as I made my way to the door. Looking through the peephole, I was presented with the shock of my life. I looked down and realized I was still wearing the ‘soccer mom ‘outfit. I really wish I had a chance to change, but I bet Jenny would wish she could change more than I did. Before I could even warn Jenny, the knock repeated itself. I opened the door and greeted the person at it.
“Mary? What are you doing here? Please come in.” I exclaimed as warmly as I could. The bewildered look on the older woman’s face was pretty funny, but I did not want to laugh.
“Alexa?” Jenny’s grandmother asks as I stood before her and invited her in. Taking her coat, I could still see the look on her face slowly changed to one of acceptance. “It so good to finally meet you. Is my granddaughter around?” Another squeal form the kitchen answered that question quickly. “Is she cooking?” Mary asked as the bewildered look returned to her face. I nodded and informed her I was teaching her. “About time she learned.” Her grandmother said with a satisfied smile. She leaned in and gave me a light hug that was interrupted by a call from the kitchen.
“Who is it Lex?” Jenny asked from around the corner. I told her to come out and see as I and Jenny’s grandmother stood there waiting for Jenny. The look on her face when she rounded the corner was one that was a mixture of shock and dare I say embarrassment. Jenny looked down like a little girl who had just been caught with her hand in a cookie jar. I looked over at her grandmother. Knowing her sense of humor a little I was not surprised to see the little grin and the wink she flashed me before turning to Jenny.
“What were you doing in the kitchen young lady and why are you dressed that way?” Mary said in mock horror. Jenny immediately started stumbling over her words as her grandmother stepped forward to her. Mary got in front of Jenny and lifted her chin and looked her straight in the eye. “It’s about time you learn a useful skill” Mary said with a smile to let Jenny know she was having a little fun and the two were soon hugging. I could see the look of relief on Jenny’s face as she released her grandmother and directed her to the chair in our living room. Jenny and I sat down on the couch. Unlike most times, we simply sat next to each other rather than basically melding into one form. We did still hold hands as we sat waiting for Mary to speak. After she got herself settled, she looked at us “My first question for you two is, What is with the outfits?” Jenny and I both giggled as Jenny explained the history of the outfit. I chimed in a little explaining that Jenny had gotten me a matching one after I had teased her so bad about it. Jenny’s grandmother chuckled at the story which was a good sign. “I do think they are cute little outfits. As a matter of fact I am not a stranger to that look. I remember as a young girl dressing very similar when I was helping my father out at the bar.”
“What are you doing here grandma?” Jenny finally asked. We sat there as Mary went into her explanation.
“Well Jennifer, after your reaction on Christmas eve, I knew there was little more to the two of you than just the typical boy-, I mean relationship. And then when you called on Friday explaining the situation with Alexa’s job I knew you could use some support. I came to make sure that the attorneys will understand the severity of the situation and that this isn’t just some matter to be trifled with. Plus, there is a foundation board meeting tomorrow. I figured I could use that as camouflage to come up here.” Mary looks at me with a genuine smile on her face. ‘First, it really is a pleasure to finally meet you Alexa. But I do want to know how you are holding up through all of this?” The concern that Mary’s voice projected appeared to be genuine. It kind of threw me as to how accepting Mary seemed to be sitting here with her granddaughter and her partner sitting there dressed in matching outfits.
“I’m doing pretty well. Mostly thanks to your granddaughter. She is the most supportive person in the world. I do feel bad that I messed up your family’s Christmas. But thank you for letting her come back.” I tell Mary as I give Jenny’s hand a tight squeeze At first, she gives me a sympathetic smile before I saw the devilish look creep into her eyes.
“Well when she almost ran me over after she talked with Katie, I figured there was no stopping her. And besides you needed her.” The teasing from her grandmother caused Jenny to blush again. Before Mary could go on she looked at the two of us again. “Before we go on, could you two please change? While the costumes are cute, I find it difficult to hold a serious conversation with the two of you.” As Jenny and I get off the couch and begin to head back to our bedroom to change, we are stopped by Jenny’s grandmother. “Jenny, please stay back a second. Alexa, please give us a minute.” The two of us oblige Mary and I can see a nervous look come over Jenny’s eyes as we split. I didn’t get too far before I realized that Mary had set this up. She wanted to get Jenny alone and used us changing as an excuse. The woman was a master manipulator.
Back in our room I pull on a pair of dark tights along with a plaid mini skirt and ribbed black turtle neck. After putting on a pair of knee high black heeled boots I rush my hair out and return out to the living room. Jenny is just heading back and gives me a smile that is a happy one which gives me confidence as I return to face the matron of the Thompson family. I sit down on the couch near Mary. “That is much better Alexa. I will say you are a very attractive young woman. I also realize how much Jenny cares for you, which she just stated to me.” I let out a sigh of relief as Mary’s words sink in. “One reason I came here is that I wanted to see for myself that this isn’t some game you two are playing.”
“I can assure you Mary that it is not. It just happened that as I was coming to terms of what I am I connected with Jenny. I know it seems strange, but I really do want to live my life as a woman and I want to live it with Jenny. I, I um..” The words I want to say become stuck in my throat. I want to tell Mary that I love her granddaughter, but I am scarred to tell her. I am afraid that my admission will cause undo harm to the relationship of Jenny and Mary. But somehow, I am saved.
“You love her I believe is what you want to tell me isn’t it.” Mary looks me in the eye. With my mouth still not working all I can do is nod. ‘I know” Mary says in a voice just above a whisper. “And she loves you, I can tell. And that’s why I am here. Whether you realize it or not, your actions will affect Jenny. There will be a perception of her that will not be very flattering. I just said the same to her. Do you want to know what her answer was?” I nod my head as Mary continues. “She said she would stand by you no matter what you decided.” I wasn’t surprised that Jenny would say that, but was sort of shocked that those words were being repeated by her grandmother. “If she feels that way, I want to be here to help. It won’t be easy. There will still be people out there with prejudices that will deliberately try and harm both of you. I will admit I do not completely understand the dynamic here so give me some time. Just do me one favor, watch over Jennifer. I still think she is a little naïve as to the possible repercussions to her.”
The support that Grandma Mary has just shown me, both of us, overwhelms me. I understand that she might have some apprehension and I have to ask her, but before I can Jenny returns to the living room dressed in a similar skirt and sweater to mine. Mary smiles and comments at how nice both of us look. She even comments that if she had seen me on the street she would never think I was a man. That gives me the confidence to ask her a question. “Thank you for that and don’t worry about Jenny. But I want to ask, you don’t seem, how do I say this, you aren’t looking down on the ‘lifestyle’ like most people your age.” How come?” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew that I had said something wrong.
“Just how old do you think I am Alexa?” Mary asked with slightly indignant expression on her face.
“Thirty-Five?” I answered looking down in shame.
“Good girl” Mary said with that evil smile usually reserved for her granddaughter. Jenny giggled as she sat next to me. “Alexa, you are not far from the truth. Most people my age do not understand homosexuality. In our day, it just wasn’t talked about and those who were ‘different’ were just ridiculed. But I have a personal situation that opened my eyes. I had a cousin who was a few years younger than me, Bridget. Her father was a police officer here in Minneapolis and owned part of the bar with my father. Anyway, Bridget and I were close, very close. When we were young we did everything together. Since we were both the only girls in our families we were like sisters. And we were both kind of tom-boys. Playing ball, catching frogs down at the lakes, things like that. As we got older, I grew out of that phase but she never really seemed to. She started to hate having to do anything like a normal girl. Even as a teenager she still enjoyed playing baseball and football with the boys. Her mother frowned on this completely, she viewed this as unladylike behavior. It caused a lot of tension in her house. She would come to me very upset that her mother would force things on her like wearing a dress. She wanted to be herself and her parents seemed to be making her move in a predetermined direction. One day, she was caught by her father kissing another girl behind the garage at her parent’s house. He was far beyond angry.” Looking directly at me she said, “I bet it was not unlike how your father reacted, but since she was fifteen and it was a different time he actually beat her. She broke away from him and made her way to our house. Her father was right behind her and dragged her out by her hair. I tried to stop him and help her but my mother scolded me and told me to butt out. That was the last time I saw my cousin.” Mary wiped a tear from her eye as she told Jenny and I this.
For our part, Jenny and I sat there in shock. While we both knew that we had and will be treated with criticism and harshness over our choices, we had never faced the physical abuse like she did. Especially from someone who supposedly loved her. Jenny took her grandmother’s hand in hers and attempted to comfort her. “What happened to her grandma?” Jenny asked.
“She was sent away to a convent in Kansas. I did receive a couple of letters from her. She hated the life there. She had dreams that she was not going to be able to fulfill if she stayed. I remember how she would talk when we younger about how she wanted to be an architect and build big buildings. At that time, women weren’t architects or lawyers or anything really. Single woman were clerks, nurses or secretaries until they were married and they became mothers and housewives. But she had dreams. The convent took the spirit out of her. I remember about a year after she was sent off we received word that she had died. There was never any explanation. My feeling is that she killed herself. I have tried to find out a few times over the years but the nuns will not tell me anything.” Emotion seemed to overcome Mary once again as she pulled a handkerchief out of her purse and dabbed her eyes. She looked at the two of us and a smile crossed her face. She reached over and grabbed my hand as well. “Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your lives. Not even me. But most of all be there for each other.” The smile was a loving one. It reminded me of the ones Jenny gives me. I felt Jenny and I had the strongest ally possible as we tried to live our life. Mary took a deep breath. “Enough of that. I actually came to take you two to dinner. “
“We don’t need to go anywhere. We have already made something grandma” Jenny says
“Is there enough?” Mary asks.
Jenny assures her there is. I add “We would love to have you, plus I don’t want to die of food poisoning alone.” I say with a smirk that earns me a quick elbow to the side and a hearty laugh from Mary. We spend the next few hours eating and talking. Mary and I are quite impressed with the food and we both complimented Jenny on the meal. Jenny for her part became almost unbearable in her smugness over the meal. She strutted around with a grin on her face. Soon Mary decided it was getting late and she excused herself.
“You two better get some rest” Mary said as she moved into Grandmother mode. “You have a big day tomorrow.” Jenny and I both nodded at the instructions as Mary laid them out. We escorted her to the door where she gave one last piece of advice. “Please wear something appropriate tomorrow. Do not wear your washer woman outfits.” The smile she gave us was playful but also serious. I receive a brief hug from Mary and told by her to remember what she has said. The hug between Jenny and her grandmother was much longer. The expression of love between Grandmother and granddaughter was touching. Jenny almost seemed sad as we said our lasts good-byes and Mary moved off with her driver leading the way. We walk hand in hand back to living room and reflect on the evening we just experienced and the support from the one member of Jenny’s family that means the most to her.
The alarm goes off way too early for a day off from school. I get up before Jenny and make my way into the bathroom where I shower and shave off the little face growth I had. I really want to talk to Jenny about electrolysis. I return to the bedroom where I find a sharp business suit in grey laid out for me. This will be a first. I have worn a suit in the past, but never one with a skirt. The skirt, even though a modest knee length pencil skirt was really exciting to me. I had always worn something more my age or dressy. This felt like my first ‘adult’ outfit.
Jenny come up from behind me and wishes me a good morning with a big kiss. This is always the best way to start the day and I try to extended it a little longer but am playfully admonished before Jenny heads off to take her shower. I find a fuchsia blouse that I add to the suit and look for a matching pair of shoes. While neither of us has anything in a grey that matches I settle for a pair of black pumps. I complete my makeup and the drying of my hair before heading out and having a cup of coffee. I do have to wait awhile for Jenny, but soon she appears in a conservative suit of navy, complete down to the wool pencil skirt. The look gets me a little excited and I try and tease her a bit about how we look by saying aren’t we going against her grandmother’s direction about wearing costumes. I was just told to shut up in playful way and that I looked very businesslike. I could see something spinning in her head and an evil smile cross her face as I poured her a cup of coffee.
Not long after that, we found ourselves sitting in a conference room at the law firm of Hamilton, Larson & Rosburg on the 38th floor of the Wells Fargo tower. This was not just any law firm, but one of the biggest and most prestigious in the state. Once again the reach of the Thompson’s was making an impact on my life. It took some time before a rather young attorney entered the room along with a woman about my and Jenny’s age. The look and the feel that the lawyer projected was one of disinterest to even resignation that he had to be in this meeting. When he finally was situated the tenor of his voice made it seem even more like he didn’t not want to be here and involved in this situation. He placed a folder and a legal pad down on the table “Hello, I’m Paul Edwards. I have been asked to meet with you to see if you have a valid case to sue for discrimination. So, um, Miss Quinn can you tell me what exactly transpired at The Java Express the last few days.” I went into a long monologue on the events that led me to this point. During all of this I could see that Mr. Edwards was more concerned with the lint that might be on his expensive suit than what I had to say. At one point I looked over at Jenny in a moment of frustration. I could tell she was feeling the same frustrations, and being Jenny she was not going to let it go unnoticed.
“Excuse me. Are we keeping you from something?” Jenny asked our appointed attorney.
With a sneer, Paul Edwards look up at the two us. “Here’s the deal. You decided to void you employment when you showed up at work dressed as a woman. You had deceived your employer as to the nature of your lifestyle. Bedsides that, they haven’t fired you, just taken hours from you. I really don’t see any reason for this meeting. All I know is this file was thrown on my desk and I was told I was meeting with you. I think that this is a frivolous lawsuit and I do not have the time to deal with it.” The smugness just oozed out of every pore in his body and before Jenny or I could open our mouths, the door to the conference room suddenly opened. There stood a pretty young assistant and an Eighty Five year-old woman who was dressed impeccably.
“Excuse me young man, could you repeat what you were saying to my granddaughter and her partner her about a frivolous lawsuit?” Mary spoke eloquently with a fire in her eyes. Jenny and I looked at each other and smiled as we knew that the cavalry had arrived.
The young attorney was unphassed by Mary’s appearance in the meeting and repeated what he had just said to me and Jenny, that this was a frivolous lawsuit. “Now if you will excuse me, I have some other things to see to. Good morning ladies.” The way that the word ladies came out of the attorney’s mouth was one of the most condescending things I had ever heard. I was insulted and very mad as was Jenny. Mary however remained completely calm. She simply picked up the phone sitting on the conference table and pushed a few buttons. Someone on the other line must have picked up as Mary spoke in to the phone very nonchalantly “Bart, this is Mary. Could you come down to the Calhoun conference room for a moment? Thank you.” Mary hung up the phone and looked at the barrister as he was trying to gather his things. “I think you need to sit down for a minute. I have someone coming down to consult with us.”
At that moment a very distinguished older gentleman entered the room. By the reaction of the young attorney it was someone important as his knees began to buckle as the gentleman entered the room. “Mary” he said with a large smile on his face as he greeted Jenny’s grandmother. “I didn’t realize that you were in town. I figured you were in West Palm until April.” The two shook hands and then exchanged a kiss on the cheeks.”
“I was planning on staying until this unfortunate incident I called you about Friday. Bart I would like to introduce you to my granddaughter Jennifer and her partner Alexa.” Mary motioned to us and the gentleman came over and shook our hands. Out of the corner of my eye I could see young Mr. Edwards become more nervous the longer the gentleman stayed and the friendlier he became with Mary, Jenny and myself.
“Jenny, we have met several times. You are looking well and it is a pleasure to meet you Alexa. I hope that Paul is taking care of everything to your satisfaction.” As he said this I could see the smile disappear from his face as he looked at the young attorney.
“Ah, Mr. Hamilton. I was just trying to explain to these ladies that there was no point to this lawsuit and..” before he could get out another word Mr. Hamilton held up his hand to stop Paul from going on.
“Do you realize who this woman is?’ Mr. Hamilton said to Paul, who simply shook his head at his superior. “This is Mary Thompson. Not only is she the Grandmother of Jennifer here but she is also the chairperson of the Charles M. Thompson Foundation as well as a board member of The Thompson Companies. On top of that, she is a close, personal friend of mine. You will grant her granddaughter and her partner all of your attention. If you feel that this is still a frivolous lawsuit or is beneath you, then I will have someone else take this case over and you and I will be having a long discussion about your future role here.”
I watched Paul stand there and take the most elegant beat down I had ever seen. For the first time that I could ever recall, I saw someone gulp in nervousness. Paul began hemming and hawing as Mr. Hamilton starred him down. Paul eventually sat back down in his seat across from us. The young woman who had come in with him had been trying to suppress a giggle the whole time Mr. Hamilton had been going off on Paul. I started to get the feeling that Paul was not very well liked in this office. Mr. Hamilton nodded at Jenny and I and then told Mary to stop by his office when she was done. The smile of victory that Mary flashed at the young attorney was priceless. I had always been told not to mess with fathers of daughters. I just learned that you don’t mess with Grandmothers!.
The tenor of meeting changes entirely as Paul asked several more pointed questions. The question that came up that really got me was when the amount of the lawsuit. I hadn’t thought about that. When the number of $1 million came up I was floored. I had only though of numbers like $1 million in things like contracts for athletes and movie stars, not as an amount that I would be trying to get out of a company. I was in shock. Mary took control of the meeting at that point. “We do not want the sum to be some frivolous amount, but we do want to make a statement. I think what we can put out any number we want, but it is the settlement that they will propose that will be the major factor.”
Paul shook his head. “Ma’am I don’t think they will settle. I still feel that they have a legitimate argument here. As I said before, she has not even been fired. They will be willing to go to court and take their chances.”
Mary just shook her head. ‘Where did you go to law school?” Paul said Mitchell Hamline and Mary shook her head more. “Did they not teach you anything there? They will want to settle because they do not want to deal with the negative publicity. As soon as this lawsuit becomes public, they are instantly branded as anti-gay and anti-transgender. No business, especially one on a college campus wants that label. We need to think about that, young man!” The force with which Mary said that was astounding and it stunned the attorney. Jenny and I just grinned as we realized who was in charge at this meeting. The assistant knows it too as she sits there with her mouth hanging open following Mary’s law lesson. Paul acquiesced to Mary’s lecture and it was agreed that I would file a federal suit seeking $1 million in damages against the partners of The Java Express under violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The number made my head spin but all the charges were correct. I looked at both Jenny and Mary to see if I was doing the right thing and I could tell by their expression that I was. I finally agreed to the terms and soon everything was set. Mary, Jenny and I rose and shook hands with my attorney. While I still was feeling somewhat pressured by all this I knew it was something that needed to be done.
As we walked through the lobby of the building Mary was all smiles and took the time to assure me I was doing the right thing. Her stance to all this was surprising. I wish we had some more time to discuss this but she had to take her leave of us, as she had a luncheon and then a board meeting. She did however make us promise to have dinner with her this evening. Jenny and I said our goodbyes for the time being and moved off towards her car. As we got away from most of the people I could feel Jenny’s hand take mine and she pulled me aside. “Are you all right Lex?” she asked. I look at her and can see the concern in her eyes. I try and answer her but the words come out as a jumbled mess. She just grabs my hand and says “Come one, let’s go get a cup of coffee or lunch. We head out onto the street and find a small diner about a block away. We take a seat and each just order a cup of coffee for the moment as the waitress leaves us menus. Jenny looks at me and again asks if I am alright.
“ I don’t know.” I say as I thank the waitress for the coffee. “I mean I do want them to pay for all of this, but going after them for money just feels wrong to me. Do you know what I mean? I don’t want to hurt them forever, I just want what’s due to me.” Jen gives me that sympathetic look again. A look of love and caring. But she knows there is more and urges me to go on. She asks, no more like tells me that there is more. I nod and tell her “I don’t want this all over the place. I just have this feeling that people outside of the two us want to make this a bigger deal and want to make me some sort of poster child for transgender issues. I just want to be left alone. I want US to be left alone. I don’t want to drag you into all of this. That’s the last thing you need.” I am almost pleading as I explain myself to Jenny.
The smile never leaves her face. “Lex, I am here for YOU. If I get dragged into it so what? They did something wrong. Not just wrong in the case of you but they broke the law! I will stand by you no matter what!” The smile becomes a little broader as she continues. ‘There are just sometimes you don’t get it do you ALY! And yes, I used that name. You and I are together now and for a long time to come. Get that through your head. I will stand up for you no matter who it is. In fact, I am feeling so tough right now, let’s go see Dick!” Her laugh at her own comment gets me to laughing too. Just the thought of Jenny standing up to King Richard has gotten me to lighten up a little. The mood had definitely changed as the waitress came back and took our order, but the nagging fear of being thrust into the spot light nags at me. We enjoy our lunch and head out to my next appointment of the day.
Jenny and I walk into offices of my counselor, Dr. Deborah V. Burke. Jenny claimed she just wanted to say hello to Debbie and see how her New Year’s was, but I think she was trying to find a way to weasel an invite into my session. So, when Debbie came out and greeted us with the comment of us being her favorite ‘sickening’ couple and a laugh. Jenny is instantly all up in Debbie asking about her weekend and if she had fun. Debbie told Jenny she had, but before it could go any farther, I inform Debbie that Jenny was just fishing, trying to get invited into our session. Debbie politely tells Jen that this meeting is for Debbie and I and that she will have to wait for me in the lobby. Jenny gives a little pout and I stick my tongue out at my girlfriend playfully. This does not go unnoticed by my counselor who gives a little laugh as I receive a playful punch in the arm from my girlfriend. In very dramatic fashion Jenny sulks back to a chair in the waiting area as Debbie and I head back towards her office to begin my semi-weekly session.
As we sit, Debbie dives into asking how my New Year’s went. I went on to tell her first about our little adventure at the spa. It was only then that Debbie noticed the change in my hair style and that my nails had been done. She made comment on how I beamed when I had told her this. I also told her about the beautiful evening that Jenny and I had shared. I tried to leave out the more intimate moments, but there were times that I just let it slip. Thankfully Debbie was not bothered by my sharing, she seemed happy that things were going so well between Jenny and me. She asked if I had spoken to either of my parents. With a down turn look I told her no. I was still pretty upset about the issue, even though my mother had reached out to me again on New Year’s via text message. She tried to encourage me to make a step. I was pretty forceful in my refusal to do that. “My mother knows where I am. She has my phone number, she can call me.” I think Debbie was taken aback by my attitude over the issue of my mother. She tried to talk to me some more about it, but I wasn’t listening. “I have decided to live my life as Alexa. That is not going to change and I do not trust my parents to accept this. There will be no meeting halfway on this.” Debbie asked if she contacted them and tried to have them come in, would that bother me. I could come in and she would moderate the meeting I told her she could try, but that I wasn’t going to hold my breath that it would work.
Debbie sat back at this point. I think my attitude had taken her off guard. But being the shrink that she is, she sensed that something was wrong. Was it my job, she asked. At that point I could feel my defiance slip away. I fidgeted a bit as she asked if there had been problems at work. It took me a moment before I went on and told her about the events of both Friday and Yesterday. The frown on her face grew every time I told her something new about the situation. I don’t know what she was madder about, the taking away of my hours or the fact that they wanted me to sign the release. She instantly asked if I needed some legal help. She told me that they had working relationships with several lawyers around town who had worked on these issues. It was then that I explained to her how with the help of Jenny’s grandmother, I had met with an attorney today, that was the reason for the way I was dressed. I told her first about the little incident with Mr. Edwards and how soon he was ‘persuaded into dropping his attitude and to work earnestly on my case. “I am glad you found some representation Alexa, but you don’t seem very confident in what is going on?” Debbie asked. “What is bothering you?”
“I don’t know Debbie. Jenny and I had a long talk about it over lunch. Yes, I know that what the owner’s and Cade had done was wrong. I know they have broken a law, but I don’t want to hurt them. I just want to work this out. I somewhat feel like I am being pressured into this.” Debbie nodded thoughtfully at what I said. She also went on to explain that going after them legally wasn’t just for me. “You have the opportunity to make all employer’s aware of the rights of transgender people.”
“But that’s just it Dr. Burke!” I say somewhat forcefully. “I don’t want to become some standard bearer for transgender issues. I am still trying to come to terms with it myself. I just feel if I get pushed into the spotlight it will harm me and harm Jenny.”
“So, who are you more concerned with Alexa, you or Jenny? Debbie asks. “Jenny has pretty much made it be known that she will be by your side no matter what. She is a strong young woman. She will stand up to anything. Are you scarred it will push you farther along the path of no return?”
I had to think of my answer to Dr. Burke’s question. Was I scared to go farther into my transition? No, I wasn’t. I wanted this but the fact Jenny was with me always made me feel like I was cheating her of something. I express this feeling to Debbie. “I’m not scared so much as I don’t want it to be a big thing. And to be honest, it probably is Jenny I am more concerned with. I always have this nagging feeling that I am cheating her of something. She deserves better than me.” My head drops as I say this and I can hear a sigh of exasperation come from Debbie. I look up to see Debbie simply staring at me, her eyes seemed to say “You dummy. That girl loves you. So knock it off.” After a moment I can see some sort of resolve come over my counselor’s eyes.
“Alexa, you must understand that I don’t think you have to worry about Jenny. Our conversation was pretty deep. I laid out everything to her. I tried to throw every scenario I could think of at her. The resolve she has for your relationship is incredible. That girl loves you. I think no matter what you decide, you have to do it for yourself, not Jenny. Jenny will be there for you.” Debbie says in an almost stern voice, like a mother talking to a ..daughter. I nod and we continue on to other subjects that have come up since we talked on Thursday. The change in Debbie’s attitude was remarkable. She had gone from the concerned lecturing mother to a friend reveling in the excitement of the spa day and the evening at the Foshay. “I have always wanted to stay in the Foshay. I think that it is the only hotel in Minneapolis I want to stay at. And you stayed in one of the Suites?” I tell her all about the room. Debbie seems impressed a little by the adventure that I had shared. As is usually the case, by the time my session is over Debbie has me feeling better about myself and the change I am going to. I walk out of Debbie’s office with my head held high.
As I reach the waiting area, I find Jenny just hanging up her phone. She looked all serious and stands up to greet me. She looks at me and starts speaking. “A meeting has been set with the lawyers to meet with the coffee shop people tomorrow morning. Secondly, we have been invited to have dinner with my grandmother tonight at the Alumni Club at 6.” I instantly became nervous.
“I have nothing to wear.” As soon as I said this I watch a smile grow on Jenny’s face. I instantly knew I had walked into that one. The beaming Jenny looked at me and said that the only way to cure that was to go shopping! She was almost cheering. I shook my head and accused her of setting me up on that and giggled. “I guess Sarah hasn’t collected any commission from us in a few days” I say as I too begin to giggle. With that we are off to see ‘our ‘fashion consultant’ at Nordstrom. As had been the case with every time we have come in, Sarah abandons everything and comes over to us. Soon the three of us are scrounging through the racks looking for a dress for me for tonight. We settle on a royal blue wrap dress and Jenny insists we need to find the matching heels. Sarah and I just giggle at Jenny’s enthusiasm. After we find everything I need the inevitable argument over who is paying comes up as we reach the cash register. Sarah has seen us do this so many times before she just gets everything rung up and waits with a smile on her face. Eventually I relent and let Jenny pick up the tab. Looking at the clock we realize need to get back and get changed so we can meet Mary.
Back at home we quickly change out of our clothes and begin to get ready for the evening. The tough part was that at one point we both found ourselves standing there in only our undergarments. The knowledge that we were working against the clock quickly succumbed to our carnal desires, almost. We began to get a little intimate before a ringing phone calling a wrong number interrupted us. It was enough to get us back on track. I don my wrap dress while Jenny goes to the mega closet that is her room to look for something to wear. After putting my hair into a little up-do and finishing my makeup, I head out to the living room and enjoy a glass of wine while I wait for Jenny. The wait was well worth it as Jenny exists wearing a long sleeve sheath dress in a deep black. The dress was adorned with sequins that started with a heavy concentration at the shoulders and slowly dispersed as you went down the dress. The plunging neck line left almost nothing to the imagination, stopping almost directly at the middle of her breasts. To say that the dress got me excited would have been the understatement of the century. Jenny just playfully slapped me away as I tried to make a move on her. “Latter Lex. We don’t want to make my grandmother mad.” I tried to give her the pouty look she loves to give me and she just laughed. “You’re getting better, but it still won’t work” she chastised me.
We ordered up a cab and took the ride downtown to the IDS Building and head to the 50th floor of the iconic Minneapolis skyscraper. We exit the elevator and turn left to enter the exclusive University of Minnesota Alumni Club. I had only heard stories about this place. I had never dreamt I would see the inside of it. There was a man in a suit at the door that ask us our name. Jenny gave him our names and his faced moved from a dour expression to one of overflowing niceness. “Ms. Thompson, Ms. Quinn. How nice to have you. Your grandmother is already seated. Please follow me.” With that he pushed open the door where a young man stood acting as a doorman. We followed the gentleman to a far point of the dining area where we saw Jenny’s grandmother enjoying a drink, looking out at the view to the west of the city. The maître d held a chair out for Jenny and then for me across from Jenny’s grandmother and then made his way to fetch our waitress.
As we were getting settled, Mary turned and looked at us holding her drink in her hand. Taking a sip of what looked like a Manhattan she said, “God I hate this town in winter. Whiskey is the only way to get through it” Jenny and I giggled at grandma who had big smile across her face and gave us a wink. The waitress soon appeared and took our drink order of wine and moved off. “Well Jennifer, I see we have decided that we don’t need to cover much even though it is winter.” A nervous Jenny looked down to see if she was over-exposed while Mary looked at me with a huge grin on her face. Jenny finally figured out it was her grandmother teasing her again and told her to be quiet. Soon the table was filled with laughter and stories. There was also some good natured teasing of my girlfriend by her maternal grandmother, who even gave me a bit of a hard time for being so modest in my attire. I think she may have jokingly even called me a ‘prude’ at one point. Jenny laughed at my feeble attempt to protest.
After we finished our meal, things turned a little more serious. Mary filled us in a little on what she had heard from her friend, Mr. Larson. “Bart seems to think that Mr. Lee will attempt to play hardball right off the bat. He will say that you were never fired Alexa. Which technically is true. But the fact that he attempted to force you to sign the waiver does not put him in a good light. Plus the fact that from what I understand from Jennifer, you have been gradually, what is the word, transitioning? Yes transitioning, for a while now and that no one from ownership or management said anything. It was only when that shrew of a girl was so mean to you that they did something and that is not right.” The venom that the octogenarian spoke with was incredible. She was just as riled up over this as Jenny was or I had been last week. When I expressed my concern that I wanted to be more involved with the negotiations, Mary instantly put a hand up.
“Alexa, you don’t need to do anything at this point. It’s in the hand of the lawyers now. If you are needed they will call you. Just relax. and don’t worry about your attorney. Bart is taking a special interest in this case. Mainly because I told him to do so. You to just go out and relax tomorrow. Enjoy the day.” Mary says with a smile, before looking at her gran daughter. “And that does not mean ‘Retail Therapy’ young lady.” Jenny looks at her grandmother with an innocent look as if to say ‘What me?” Her grandmother just laughs at her. ‘I know how you operate young lady. I’ve seen the credit card bills.” Jenny just blushed.
Following coffee and desert, Jenny and I escorted Mary back to her hotel and made our way back to the apartment. With Katie still trying get in as many hours as possible before the start of the new semester, Jenny and I just change out of our dresses and curl up on the couch. With all the craziness of the last few weeks, it felt good to just put on our Gopher Jerseys and cuddle together on the couch. I still laughed at the fact that she had gotten me one. When I see her in ‘her’ gold jersey, I have to tell her once again that she is the sexiest thing to ever wear the Maroon and Gold. She cuddles up to me and tells me ‘No I ‘m not. You are” and quickly shuts me up with a long, sensuous kiss that leaves me breathless. We settle into watch old reruns of “Friends’ and just hold each other. I am not sure who went down first, but I do realize that at some point we had both fallen to sleep. I awoke with the TV off and the lights off. Katie must have found us curled up together when she came home and took care of powering down for the night. I often wonder what is going through Katie’s mind as she sees us in this position. She always tells us she is happy that Jenny and I found each other but I am sure she feels left out. I decided at that point that I would get Jenny’s help and that we are going on a mission to find a guy for Katie. I giggled to myself that I was sounding like my girlfriend. I give her a light kiss on the cheek, which earns me a pleasurable moan from my sleeping girlfriend before snuggling into her again on the couch. This feeling was too good to interrupt.
My eyes suddenly pop open a few hours later just as the sun is rising. I lay there and just watch Jenny as she sleeps away in my arms. I start my daily self-doubt treatment that I am with her. I know that I shouldn’t still be in shock over Jenny and her feelings, but as I tried to explain to Debbie yesterday, I always will be nervous of losing her. I give Jenny a gentle kiss as I try and free myself from her. Jenny stirs a little but I do free myself and make my way to the bathroom. As I reenter the living room a sudden feeling of anxiousness takes over. With school not having started yet and having no job I feel lost. I need something to do. I figure that the first thing I could do is make breakfast for the house. As silently as possible I slip into the kitchen and start the coffee pot and begin searching through the fridge for something for breakfast. With the limited contents being a package of bacon and only a couple of eggs I decide it would have to be pancakes this morning. As I mix the batter, I feel two arms wrap around me and squeeze me tightly, lovingly. “Good morning” I hear as I feel Jenny nuzzle into my neck. The sensation starts to overtake me as I place the bowl on the counter and spin around and give my girlfriend a deep, loving kiss. What a way to start the day! I forget all about making the pancakes and begin trying to work my way back towards the couch. Jenny must have seen something and began to giggle.
‘What is it with you two? I bet you two did nothing all night when you were home alone but as soon as I get back you become two little nymphos.” Katie says from behind me. I suddenly let go of Jenny and turn around. “Good morning Kathleen Elizabeth!” I say trying to be as much of a smart ass as possible. “Don’t good morning me young lady!” Katie says trying to sound all stern. It didn’t take long for all three of us to all break out in laughter. We all make our way back out towards the kitchen where I go back to making pancakes and trying to control my libido. Katie comes and gets cups of coffee for her and Jenny and we have an enjoyable morning eating and talking. It felt so normal and I realized it was something we had all missed over the last month. Katie was the one who recognized the fact that this was the first time that all three of us had just hung out in the morning with no issues or nowhere to go. It felt like home. Jenny and I did cuddle up together, but that was only another sign that this was how life was supposed to be and how sorely it was missed.
After cleaning up the three of us just lounged around and enjoyed more coffee and conversation, but is wasn’t long before the anxious feelings I had started to take control again. I was practically bouncing off the walls of the apartment looking for things to occupy me. I knew I had to get out so I turned to my roommates. “I need to get out of here. I am going crazy wanting to know what is going on at that meeting. Let’s go somewhere. Anywhere.” Jenny flashed me a sympathetic smile. Both she and Katie were aware of my plight, but Jenny of course had some more insight into all my fears. Before a decision could be made, Katie piped up.
“I can’t. I have plans.” She said as a slight blush came over her face. A big smile and evil look came over Jenny’s face at the mention that Katie would not be able to accompany us. I think the same look came over my face as I took my seat next to Jenny. Katie continued to avoid our stares and mumbled under her breath. “I have a lunch date.” If our curiosity was piqued by Katie’s announcement she had plans, the idea of having a lunch date really got us revved up. Before the Thompson Inquisition could begin, Katie said she was having lunch with Wyatt. He had called her yesterday and said he wanted to take her out. The smile on Jenny’s face got even bigger as she reached over to hug our roommate.
“Are we going to have a ‘Dear Diary’ moment today?” Jenny asked as she was giggling away. My thoughts of this morning about trying to find someone for Katie seemed to be satisfied. I just told Katie I was happy for her all the while my girlfriend hugged Katie to death.
“I don’t think so. It’s just lunch, but it would be nice if it was.” Katie stated as she returned Jenny’s hug.
“Well then,” Jenny stated. “We will stay out of your way today in case you have two need to come back for some ‘private’ time.” Jenny said with a giggle.
Katie laughed at that. “Oh, sure blame me for giving you two some ‘Jexy Time’. But go you two, get ready. I do want to take some time alone to get ready. I don’t need you two hovering around me telling me what to do.” The seriousness with which she was trying to say that was belied by the smile in her face and even though both Jenny and I pleaded with Katie, she refused to budge. Grudgingly Jenny and I went to shower and change so we could get out of Katie’s way. After we were finally ready we told Katie we wanted all the dirt when we get back. Katie smiled and shook her head. “A lady never tells.”
I couldn’t let it pass “You’re a lady?” I ask my sister. I was told I was number one by Katie as Jenny and I walked out the door to the sounds of giggling. As we entered the car we realized we had no plan. We just looked at each other. “So, what do you want to do?” I asked. Jenny just looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. We both broke out into laughter as we realized for once we didn’t have a plan. After floating some ideas, we decided that we would go to Como Park. Not only does it contain a zoo, but it also has a beautiful conservatory. It is a great place to escape on a cold winter’s day. And since most of the ‘kids’ are back at school, it should be fairly quiet.
We make the short drive from the Minneapolis campus over to St. Paul and begin walking around the zoo area its self. With the seals and Polar bears out and enjoying the weather it is always fun and I harass Jenny to walk over and look at the Bison. Ever since I was a little kid and we went to Custer State Park in South Dakota I have been fascinated by Bison. They are huge animals that seem so mellow, but from stories I heard they can destroy everything in their site. As I think about that trip, I suddenly feel sad. I think for the first time in several days, I think about my family and my father. Even though he has lived up to his name for most of his life, there were times when he was a fun and caring father. I laid my head on Jenny’s shoulder as I remembered those good times. ‘You OK babe? She asks. I just nod quietly and tell her I was just thinking about my family. As usual. Jenny just comforts me rather than try to tell me how wrong I am to still be holding up hope for my father to come around.
We enter the conservatory and quickly find a place to shed our coats. We walk hand in hand in the climate controlled glass structure looking at all the various plants. From the ferns in the Fern Room to the Bonsai Trees in the Ordway Garden. It is all so beautiful and this place is such a warm respite from the cold January air, I can’t help but feel even closer to Jenny. As we stroll through the Sunken Garden looking at their various seasonal flowers, I start to long for Jenny. I pull her in close and give her a long, deep kiss. The moment is perfect, the surroundings are beautiful and the love I have for this woman couldn’t be stronger. As we part she just looks at me with a smile on her face. “What was that for?” she asks.
“Because I love you and I just felt I needed to do that. Thanks for being, well, you.” I say as I give her another kiss. A kiss that is rudely interrupted.
‘That’s disgusting!” A middle age woman trying to control a couple of toddlers says to us. An obvious look of disgust crosses her face. “Why don’t you two dykes take it somewhere else.” I begin to pull at Jenny’s hand to leave, but the normal unflappable Jenny begins to get wound up.
“So, what’s worse. That my girlfriend and I just kissed or the bigotry you just displayed?” The woman was suddenly taken aback by Jenny’s comment. I was hoping that would be the end of it but Jenny was just getting started. “We are people too, and this woman I am deeply in love with has more character than most of you suburban soccer mom types. Let me ask you a question, what would you do if one of your children there came home in 15 years and said ‘Mom I’m gay!’ How would you handle it then?”
The woman looked ashamed of herself as she tried to answer. The words seemed to come out hard for her but she did say she would support them. “So why would you ridicule us then?” Jenny. “This beautiful woman, that I love more than anything in the world has been through hell and back over the last couple of weeks and she is still standing and smiling. Her family disowned her two days before Christmas and then she lost her job! Why? Because she is trying to live her life the way SHE wants to! I not only love this gorgeous young woman but I am proud to say it. She is the strongest person I know! I get sick of you people who are for equality no matter race, creed, color or preferences but once you are confronted with it you revert to the bigoted people you say you despise.” Jenny was as mad as I had ever seen her. She instantly turned to me to see me standing there, my mouth open in shock. I could see the color leave her face and I knew I had to get her out of there. I led her off to a bench down the walkway and helped her to sit down. For once it was my turn to comfort and I was never happier to do it.
As I held my girlfriend all the worries that I had about myself, my family my job and Jenny seemed to disappear. The thoughts that this might be some whim of Jenny’s instantly vanished. I knew at that moment that I had nothing to fear. Jenny just stood up for me in a very public way and showed that she cared about me. Whatever those others said about me or did to me didn’t matter. I had Jenny and that’s all that mattered. If they wanted to fire me because I was a woman, so what? If my parents didn’t want a daughter so what? If people wanted to call me a dyke. Fuck ‘em. My name is Alexa Quinn and I am loved by the one person that truly mattered. The time for feeling sorry for myself was over!
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