Getting One's Feet Wet
Katherine was in early and checks on me. “It is nice seeing you early, along with seeing you sharply dressed. Please continue to work on possible investment possibilities for Ms Marjorie Lourdes. After you review Marjorie’s information, I want you to begin studying Sophie Lourdes profile.”
She says, “I like the camisole you’re wearing today. Does this mean you’re open to connecting with your feminine side?”
I’m stunned, I’m tempted to touch myself making sure the camis is flat. I say, “It has a little more padding, but being flat I didn’t think it would be very noticeable.”
Katherine says, “I hope you become comfortable with it. I think you should wear a couple of them when you visit with the Lourdes.”
I say, “I don’t want them thinking the wrong thing; like I’m misleading them.”
Kathy says, “I’d hope they see it as you being sensitive to them. I am sure they will prefer seeing a man more open than the traditional guys they prefer to avoid.” She pauses, “Wait until later this morning and go see what’s new with Connie at Professional Clothier’s… Was she lite some items earlier in the week?”
I said, “Yes, but I’ve already purchased a lot. I feel bad that the Corporation is paying for so much.”
Katherine says, “That soon enough ends today or tomorrow here if you shop with your special Lioness card maybe a week longer. Jennifer Attwood sees it as you investing in yourself for the company. I know Jennifer once talked to one new Associate telling her, “You’ve gone over $10,000. If you go over $15,000 I’ll want to know how you justify it. …I am more interested in understanding you and you understanding how we value you.”
Jaime walks over to them, “Yes, and I told Jennifer that I wasn’t use to wearing the more traditional business clothes then worn here. It was for me an investment in being a team player. I never have to worry about being uniquely me. But Jennifer told me to figure how to flex the style here so I don’t lose myself. …I’ve already been here four years. Carrying two large accounts and how they and my smaller stuff has gone. It more than justifies what they invested in me.”
Katherine and Jaime both say, they’re comfortable with me. It was good to hear Katherine say, “Ms Attwood chose you because she’s sure you will do a great job. A person like Ms Attwood doesn’t make a major change without knowing the caliber of the person she’s calling on.”
I spend much of the day working up the investment portfolio I am to present Tuesday. It includes: Eoliche Euro Incorporazione an Italian wind energy company that is successfully making its way into the wider European market. Maria Bertella leads a group of women engineers and business women as majority owners. Their business is not limited to women, but they are the founders and chief designers of their own wind turbine motors, their huge blades and other design parts. It includes their own manufacturing plants in which both huge and intricate parts are made. The quality of their manufacturing plants has them also selling to others.
American Fashion Network, JESS Apparel operated under the auspices of Jaqueline Wilson. I see it as a complimenting company to Sophia’s Earth Oils, especially the fragrance division. It took some time to evaluate its advantages and disadvantages of being in some of the same markets.
Craig Technologies, Inc. in Florida, operated by CEO Carol Craig is both technologically savvy as well as a very good manufacturing concern. It has established itself in a short time acquiring a good reputation despite much scrutiny from its competitors. I value it to be worthy of long term investment.
Before lunch I am down to Connie, the Clothiers manager. I had called her early enough to secure my time. She, like Katherine and Jaime, comments that she likes how I am stretching the fashion wardrobe I’m buying. She shows me a new shoe from Cole Hans, a name I only knew I couldn’t afford before. She says, “I am only one of three buyers who can put an order in with our heel requirements. I have a black pair and it also comes in gray and blue; I don’t think you’ll be interested in the red, pink or silver at this time. You should get a black pair and choose one of the other two.”
Seeing them, I say, “Along with being pretty shoes the best I can say is they might be seen as unisex. I expect most people like me, will see them as women’s shoes.”
No sooner I say that and Connie asks, “So along with the black pair, which one will you like to get. You already have one pair of slacks that will go well with them. I hope you’re comfortable enough to order two or three more.
I try joking with her, “I was wondering if you have the silver chain belt in my size.”
Connie without hesitation says, “It’s a well-polished stainless steel, but yes consider it purchased.” When I do speak up and tell her I wasn’t being serious. She responds, “I’ll include it anyway. I expect there will be a time you decide it’s you and wear it. After that you’ll want to wear it on special occasions. Along with three pairs of slacks in varying lengths, and the two pairs of shoes; I am getting a collection of panties, camis and casual shoes to wear at home. One pair of heels is for my date out with Bonnie.
Lastly, I got four shirt/blouses one is definitely feminine, a blue blouse with pink trim. Connie says, “You are not even close $10,000, but if Ms Jennifer checks, I am sure she will be happy with what you have selected.”
I question, “Ms Attwood comfortable for me? It’s an investment in the company and me being in line with what they want for now.”
She says, “If a year from now you have not worn and enjoyed your purchases from here, I will buy any of them back at my cost.” Finally she asks, “Please let me fit you for a bra and some delicate tops to wear.” I question about wearing the camis I have. Connie informs me they work very well under your blouses, as well as over your bra. Send word down Monday if you enjoy them tonight.”
I remembered back in school, girls buying bras saying to one another that their first bras are special. Connie says she’s throwing in the cutlets and won’t charge me if I return them unused as I plan.
I gather along with the other associates and assistants for our Friday afternoon gathering. I thought at first they were joking with me at my expense. Then they start to compliment me on my week. The detail of their compliments helps me to hear their sincerity as well as their appreciation for all I’ve done. There is no mention of a forced feminization like I first felt.
Betsy, who was to be the hardest sell in my breaking the feminine barrier, praises me for my style. “I think Ms Attwood chose well in choosing you to break into our ranks. You seem to be a breath of fresh air. I so regretted this week and I am not one easily pleased as I’m sure you have heard.”
I try denying that I heard any such thing until she says, “Go powder your nose it is glowing.” I did take out a compact and look. It is my embarrassed face not my nose glowing.
Betsy has been here twenty-three years as Associate. She at forty-nine is a very savvy person and attractive. She is a bit of a feminist and its said only dresses up when she decides. She comes over to give me a hug and places in my hand a small box of earrings. If you ever decide to wear earrings I hope you will consider these when you do.” We kiss cheeks and then she whispers in my ear, “May you enjoy your years here as much as I do mine.” Katherine later tells me. Betsy could be a part owner by now, but likes what she does. She does not like being a boss. I’ve been told she’s happy as the senior Associate.
I am beginning to leave at four, when Katherine comes along with Diane. “We are looking forward to seeing you and Bonnie tonight at the Foxy Lady. We’re wondering if you want to go out to eat alone with Bonnie. We could tell you a nice place to eat. We could pick you two up and take you if you want. What reservations have you made?”
I look at my phone, remembering I had put it on very low and not taken it off. There are at least three messages from home or Bonnie’s phone. I was about to scream that the women were intruding into my personal life. I check two messages Bonnie left. I was to call back at once with a response that was over three hours ago. The last call Bonnie said, ‘Diane and Jaime were wanting to get together. And since you didn’t return my calls, I insisted they invite Katherine I hope you don’t object. The first call was at 11:00 a.m. and then at 1:12 p.m. when Bonnie finally committed us.’ I wasn’t upset with her; it was me who hadn’t responded.
But hadn’t she thought about my being given a difficult time if we went as planned? Bonnie was happy to have the help of my co-workers. It is nice to be in a city large enough to have a number of places catering to business women and the LG community. The Foxy Lady is enjoyed by straight women as well as those in the lesbian and transgender community, and men as some straight people as well.
I had been there twice before, once was when I was harassed by a large guy and a group at other night spots. The other time was with work and the decision of the vast majority. I enjoyed my time there with friends; the music, visits and dancing were all pleasing.
My original idea of letting my hair down with Bonnie didn’t include co-workers. Now I need to get home and get ready as well as adjust me attitude. My usual reaction at this point would be very angry and possibly change the plans. The prior week has me now looking at things differently…
I left work early but Bonnie is already at home by the time I get there. She is gleeful saying, “Elliot, I was able to get someone to cover my school responsibilities for tonight. We’re free to have a great night of fun, isn’t that wonderful?”
I begin to speak and she quickly says, “Do you have a girl-like voice you can start using for tonight?” I smile and agree as she is infectiously happy. I say it again trying to be more feminine in my speaking. Bonnie says, “There I like that voice.”
Using the voice she likes, I ask her, “Why did you invite Katherine and the others to be with us tonight? I was looking forward to a fun night, just the two of us.”
Bonnie smiles, “I hoped you didn’t mind, but I was afraid it would be too much stress on you to carry half of the conversation, ordering drinks and something to eat. I shared with Jaime that Katherine didn’t need to be asked if they thought it would interfere with your chance to have fun. Do I gather right that you and Katherine have talked and she too is coming?”
“Bonnie, I wasn’t wanting any of them to know I was going to act as a girl with you. That was to be between us two.”
Bonnie says, “That is why I called you and asked for you to call me back. You however didn’t return my calls. I didn’t want to put you on the spot tonight, nor did I want to cancel. I am sorry if you feel hurt. We can cancel, I will call them telling them I changed my mind and want you all to myself.”
I say, “Bonnie, I don’t know how to speak to other women unless I’m talking investments or business. What am I to do?”
She says, “The first thing I suggest is to just greet them and then listen. Your clients are going to be women.” Bonnie says, “The truth is if all you talk to women about is business and finances; all you’re going to be is a resource person. Women want to be heard but you don’t listen to them. They won’t trust you with what’s dear to them. If you can’t talk to Jaime or those you work with. How is Ms. Lourdes going to become comfortable with you?”
The truth is that has been my experience at Lioness Investments. This is the first week some women have ever talked to me as a person. The truth is I didn’t like them much until this week.
I have a better estimation of Barb Dirks and Brook Dobbs now than I did two weeks ago. They liked my work, but I didn’t think they ever cared about me. I don’t know if I ever offended Barb, but I can’t say the same about Brook. When she was first pregnant with her Emma. I couldn’t stand her excuses of being sick and I had told her: “You’re fortunate to have a baby. I don’t understand why they’d allow you to be an Associate.” Brook left my office crying that day and I almost lost my job.
The other day Bobbi James, Associate 14B, ran down the hall several times because she had morning sickness. I already knew her as a dedicated worker. Thursday she had a client in her office when she got sick. I happened to be in the hall when she came running out.
I told her, “You’re not going to make it, use my wastebasket.” She did and then I sent her down the hall to clean up.
I took time to go in and talk with her client and confirmed the good investments Bobbi was suggesting. It was not a simple acquisition that she was suggesting, but it was a great idea for her client and a relief for a struggling company that had a great product. I was sure Bobbi expected me to judge her like I had Brook. I liked surprising her like that when I didn't.
Once I showered, Bonnie had out the outfit she talked about this morning, but along with it were the pink bra and breast forms Connie had sold me. It’s a joke to me that I would wear them now as I was sure what I’d look like with them on. My first vision was of ten inches of boob sticking out from my chest. The three plus inches is quite enough. Once the bra and blouse were in place I became uncomfortable because I see a woman looking back at me and she’s me.
I thought the outfit was old and would look awful on me. Now, I recognize the outfit as one Bonnie recently order, but it wasn’t quite right for her. But with me, it is another thing completely. Bonnie says, “The colors work with your complexion and eyes better.” That becomes more apparent as Bonnie is dressed and helps with my makeup. Mascara and eyeliner are added, after a colorful peach and sunglow yellow as eye shadow. None of it was heavy or overboard and it all looks good on me.
I make us a small sandwich, both of us getting two quarters. It is enough to keep us satisfied until we eat later. While I was eating I didn’t hear Jaime drive up or come to the door. I had been awfully nervous anticipating Jaime and Diane seeing me. This saved me from more anxious waiting.
Bonnie asks me, “Stand up and go see who’s coming please.” I stood up, turned around and was ready to go see who was coming. Bonnie had already let them in as I’m smoothing out my skirt and then look up.
I smile and say, “Hi, Jamie and Diane.” Their smiling back puts me at ease.
Diane says, “I like how you look and your voice matches who I see in front of me.”
“Thank you for the compliment, but I’m nervous as hell. Bonnie takes all the credit for how I look.”
Jaime says, “I do not see any string marks where she would have tied you up like a puppet. I’m guessing you helped and cooperated. I am proud of you and give my thanks to Bonnie for helping.” She then says, “If you two are ready, we should be on our way to Marcino’s. Katherine will meet us there.”
I’m okay going to the Foxy Lady, because I know it is open to people dressed like me. I’d be very anxious about going to Marcino’s because it is a regular night spot with great food and ambiance. What if someone makes a fuss about me being there.
Bonnie points and tell me, “Pick up your purse and let’s get going.” There is a small purse with a long strap. I know enough to put it on my shoulder and to use my arm to keep it inside of where I can hold it. I know the three women are watching me and they’re amused.
“I’m sorry but I’m not use to this and I’m trying to do it properly.”
Jaime says, “You’re doing fine. I don’t know about the others but I can see you’re trying hard to do it like you think you should.” We’re at the Jaime’s vehicle and she’s holding the back door on her side for me. I had been rehearsing in my mind to sit down and to scoot in. But now I am trying to bow my head and put a foot in. It is a big stride and stretch and I know it’s not right. I stand straight again and I’m still out of the vehicle. I watch Bonnie through the open door on the other side.
This time I turn sitting in the seat and begin bringing one foot in and then the other. I turn myself to face forward as Jaime is closing my door. Once we’re to Marcino’s there is a doorman to help us out and another to park the car. Jaime hands me a credit card saying, “Elle or Elliot can use this. I look at the card see both names embossed there.
I ask, “Is this legal?”
Bonnie points to an ATM machine and says, “It is once you use it in an ATM machine.” She whispers, three numbers and the nickname of my favorite team. I go use the ATM machine and drew out two hundred dollars cash. The balance on my card shows more than what I expected. I look into my purse and find a smaller purse with a place for my card and a place for my cash. In fact, there is at least $30-50 already in my purse.
Once I’m ready, Diane says to the Maître de, “We’re with Katherine Bode.” The Maître de takes us to Katherine’s table, saying, “Women have a great night.”
Katherine seeing me says “O my Elle you are so attractive.” She comes and gives me a hug and I hear a kiss but don’t feel one. It is my first women’s air-kiss. Katherine pulls me to sit near her but I stay standing until Bonnie is next to me on the other side. We all eat small with each course as there are to be seven courses. I am listening to the women as Bonnie had suggested.
Come our travel to the Foxy Lady, I find myself telling the four what clothes I would have purchased before as if I was truly a woman. It was my second drink at the Foxy Lady that I begin to lose my inhibitions even more. Bonnie’s request is for me to dance the first and last dance of the evening with her.
It was after I had danced with Jaime and Diane that a woman named Lucy cuts in to dance with me. That and the next song being slow, Lucy holds onto me and takes me to a corner table with her friends. They’re warming up to me and treating me as a close friend. When Bonnie came over later to retrieve me. I didn’t remember much of what happened, but was able on the way home to tell them all we had talked about.
It was not until we get home that Bonnie had me take a shower and get ready for bed. Bonnie’s entertained me as I am finally regaining my sobriety. I said, “”You know Bonnie, I could never be a woman.” Then I talked on about the things I wouldn’t be able to do: Walk in heels, get use to a bra, talk as another woman.
Bonnie said, “We did not realize you were drunk before I brought you back from the other women. They ask me if you could help them to become pregnant.”
Bonnie said she asked which one of them? Lucy said, “We were hoping each of us could take a turn. We were hoping to take him to one of our places and sober him up. We would not have taken advantage of him, if we could help it.” Bonnie, Jaime and Katherine counted the drinks, they knew I had and were up to seven. I knew I had at least two with Lucy and friends.
“Gosh,” said Katherine, “They’re not water!” Jaime asked, “Did the women take you to the restroom?”
I scratched my head and replied, “Yes, they might have. I wondered how they knew I needed to go.”
Bonnie says, “That is when they probably checked out your plumbing.” By that time I had fallen asleep and didn’t fully wake up until Bonnie woke me in the morning. But she also put me under the shower last night and had me take care of the makeup I had on. She said, I made a fuss and talked to her most of the time. But I didn’t remember anything. I thought I had imagined watching closely as a woman took off her makeup. That might have been me.
I shower again and ask Bonnie, “Please help me to take these boobs off my chest.” That is when she tells me, “Your Aunt Jennifer called and asked if we were likely to be home at 11:00 this morning. She said, she wanted to talk to us about Elle going to church in the morning. So I guess you might as well keep the breasts on and dress as Elle.”
I say, “Aunt Jennifer isn’t my boss, Ms. Jennifer Atwood is.” I eat breakfast before I resign to the fact I should put on a little makeup. The concealer and foundation are not hard. I thought I had done a good job in putting some facial makeup on until Bonnie says I need to use a triangle form to put it on and make sure it is even over all my face. Twice I think I’m done, when she points out areas asking, “What’s that?”
Little by little my eyes are becoming better at recognizing subtle differences. I lightly use some eyeshadow to the praise of Bonnie. But we’re interrupted by a call from Katherine.
I’m a little upset and tell her so, “Bonnie said Jennifer is coming over, wants me to go to church with her as Aunt Jennifer tomorrow. I thought I have weekends off. Aunt Jennifer shouldn’t be insisting I need to go to church.”
Katherine matter of factly, says, “Get over it. Jennifer has a policy of doing this with all of us. It proves to be helpful and endears us to some of our clients. Both of the Lourdes are religious and you have one time to make a first impression.”
She then says, “How are you after last night? Did Bonnie share you came close to being a baby maker?” I think she’s joking with me, but my phone’s on loud and Bonnie is shaking her head that it is true. She’ll tell me more after Aunt Jennifer is gone.
Kathy says, “I’m checking to see if you got the message you’re to meet Ms. Marjorie Lourdes at the Venus Health Spa Club?” When I tell her yes. She asks, “What does that tell you in preparation for in meeting with her?”
I tell her I’ll be ready, but I get the feeling she thinks I don’t really understand. My understanding is that the first day we’re just meeting one another. If I don’t take time with her at the spa; then I’d have to wait until that even or the next day. She confirms my understanding and then leaves it to me to decide how to handle Tuesday and the exclusive spa…
Aunt Jennifer is late arriving at 11:30 a.m. and I can tell she’s pleased to find me dressed as ‘Ellie’ Sanders as she calls me. She says, “I’d like you Ellie to go with me tomorrow to my church. And then again the following Sunday to a Christian church that is very welcoming of women and the LGBT community.”
I interrupt, “I thought most churches welcome women that’s been the majority of the people wherever I’ve been. Things must have change a lot.”
Aunt Jenn says, “I’m talking about us independent thinkers to be part of running the ministry of a church and to be taken seriously. The Lourdes had one of the first women pastors in a large church and she was very good. When she left and they hired a man as their pastor. He worked to change much of what was accomplished before him. Marjorie was one of those who saw to it that he was changed and soon out. She wouldn’t have gotten far if most didn’t want the change. But it wouldn’t have happened if passive women were waiting for the change to be made.”
“Our church has a male head of staff but Rev. Martha, the Associate Pastor, is strong in her own right. Hopefully you will meet her tomorrow. I’d like to go to the late service at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. Hopefully she would be free to go to dinner with us if she will.”
My Aunt says, “Bonnie, you are very welcome to come with us and you’d both be my treat for dinner. I’m not wanting you to come out of duty or just for Elliot but if you care to.”
I’m wanting to ask if I have a choice which I’m sure I do. However I am now more certain that Jennifer knows the importance of what she’s talking about.
Bonnie says, “I plan to consider it. I’m hoping right now; you’d consider having lunch with us. It’s a simple soup and sandwich. We have plenty but if it’s not what you want it will keep.” Bonnie must have done her homework for Aunt Jennifer enjoys soup and eats simply on weekends unless she goes out to eat.
When we’re done our business, Bonnie asks me to help watch the soup and set the table. She wants to visit with my Aunt. I can’t help but feel I’m being domesticated. I know better than to say it out loud. I am finally realizing Bonnie and my Aunt Jennifer believe in me in ways I had not understood before. Jennifer evens takes the opportunity to express it.
“You know Elliot, I think a lot of your ability. I thought you would actually choose to strike out on your own, since I’m not one to change the nature of my company. You are impressing me as Elliot, not Ellie and please don’t think I’m pushing you to be a woman. I just want you to gain a glimpse of your clients’ view of the world.”
Before reacting, I think out my approach to customers and decide it is different from my previous job. I’m not sure of what Aunt Jennifer was referring to concerning Marjorie Lourdes. I do chuckle to myself concerning Ms. Lourdes visit to her spa club. ‘Knowing it’s a women’s only club? What would I be willing to do as Elliot? Could I chance her staying there, my short changing my chance to get to know her informally like a friend or would I chance it cutting into my coming to know her.’
To be continued…
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