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...Just In Time to Lose It
My friend Jack used to produce "The 10% Show." I've written here before that I co-anchored the show on Chicago's Cable Access TV, 1988-91.
This morning, I wrote to Jack, "I was thinking of how boyish I used to be, and how inevitably womanly I've become, just in time to lose my gender, i.e., now, at 42, I think I'm in perimenopause...."
Here I was at 35, at the Millennium March on Washington with the IBM delegation.
When I was four years old, I wore a hand-me-down outfit from my older sisters, which I adored: a navy-blue, corduroy sailor-suit with a matching tam. (I don't know why my mother bought such an outfit for girls, but I wasn't complaining.) One day, while dressed in that outfit, my mother took us to eat lunch at a Ridgeway Shopping Center's restaurant, the walls of which featured Peter Max murals. It was right next to the Finast supermarket. (Both stores are gone now.)
After lunch, I asked my mother to take me to Finast and to buy me a can of spinach. She said that she did not remember this incident when I told her about it as an adult, but my mother complied. I walked around, holding the can of spinach for the rest of our day out, but was disappointed that people didn't notice me, being Popeye. I thought I was so cool, yet no one else seemed to get it.
Just a year after the March, I decided to wear a formal gown of my choice for the first time in my life. The occasion was the GLAAD Awards dinner at the Kodak Theater, where the Oscars are held every year. I wanted to look like a celebrity, and did, I felt.
When I was in high school, no one invited me to my proms. The other two times I had occasion to wear gowns, they were chosen for me, as a bridesmaid for both of my sisters' weddings. When I got to choose, I opted for Armani and bought a pair of Bruno Magli shoes with higher-than-flat heels and long, pointy-toes.
It was a challenge to wear the gown, as I felt aroused by my own beauty in it. Now, I'm waiting a year, till my niece Zoe is 16, so I can give it to her, whose beauty is less conflicted, or at least apparently not conflicted in the way that mine was.
When traveling on business in my late-30s and 40s, I felt drawn to more feminine clothing and jewelry, especially the more remote the country. In 2005, I bought the cinnabar earrings I'm wearing in this picture in Shanghai, and the silk top, in Bangalore. Pat took the photo outside at night, during a trip to the Adirondacks last spring. Regardless of the feminine accoutrements, I looked more handsome than pretty in this photo, I thought.
When I was in my twenties and had much less money, I remember investing in two neckties, one from Liberty of London during a trip to England with my mother that she kindly paid for -- the trip, not the tie -- and another from Brooks Brothers that I felt sheepish, buying, but which I held up to myself in the mirror at the store, rather than trying to pretend I was buying it for a man.
Several weeks ago, my colleague, Mike Gautieri, kindly photographed me at work because I wanted a fresh photo for our employee directory. The Tahari blazer in the photo is from 1990, when red was a hot color for women's jackets, and the black blouse is beaded, by Jaeger, from 10 years ago.
The earrings and necklace are pearls from the same 2005 trip to Shanghai. The only thing new in the photo is my 42-year-old face. This face...and body...are an interesting blend of genders, as I was writing in my previous entry.
The small nail-beds of the long fingers with which I'm typing this blog entry make my hands appear to be more feminine than masculine. I guess I'm a bit melancholy that I can no longer pull off boyishness and am becoming more visibly womanly just in time to become invisible; from my observations, I believe that that's what women become when we age.
Though I was a pretty teenager, I was paid little attention by anyone then. When I came out as lesbian at 21, suddenly, I was noticed by lots of women and felt attractive like never before. I became handsome, and then I allowed bits of prettiness to sneak out now and then, and now, looking at the two most recent pictures here, I want to be at peace with being handsome and pretty in parallel...even if decreasingly visibly.