Day 35: Gunther
My Friday funk stretches into a stagnant Saturday. The lost momentum, the gawping neighbors, the perceived everydayness of my journey takes its toll after all the gender euphoria.
So I decide, screw it, I’ll give myself the whole of Saturday to enjoy a good mope, then track down my mojo on Sunday.
Alas and along the way, I get sideswiped by another series of unfortunate (email) events.
Let me explain… now that I’m in the midst of my month-long coming-out parade, I’m trying very hard to be less of a recluse. Over the past several years, weekends home without the kids meant I could dress how I chose, without judgment. The downside was the abject sacrifice of my social life. Well, now that I can openly dress how I choose AND invite people over whom I’ve come out to, my weekends, ostensibly, don’t need to be so solitary.
Pretty cool, right? My youngest clearly has boarded that train. Why not others?
So in the course of an email conversation with a friend who knows about my transgendering, I mentioned the possibility of watching Doctor Who together over the weekend, catching up on episodes he missed because of a local cable war that tragically removed this magnificent show from his television lineup. Who knows, I say, maybe I’ll even invite over a few mutual friends who also know of my current situation.
A pretense to stop being such a recluse. An excuse to hang out, right?
His response is to email my other friends under the subject line, “Fair Warning,” complaining that I’ve come up with another “crazy” scheme that will undoubtedly die a quiet death after two or three get togethers. So count him out.
How do I know this? Because he accidentally sent said email to me. A faux pas for the digital age.
I must admit I had to read the email about 10 times before finally putting two and two together. So how do you respond to something like that? I decide to go with a little self-deprecating humor…
I guess I deserve that. But I am trying to be less of a recluse. Turn over a new leaf. Blah, blah, blah. That said, it probably would die a quiet death after a few get togethers, curses!
I imagine there was plenty of pin-dropping silence as he read my response and realized, to his horror, that he had sent this unvarnished “truth” to the wrong sendee.
Ten minutes pass, and I get lengthy response that explains in detail the validity of his claims, apologizes for his horrid mistake, further explains the reasons for his claims, and ends with a humorous semi-apology.
I appreciate the attempt, but the abject lack of an offer to get together in light of said faux pas, takes what little wind I had out of my sails.
So it might not come as a surprise that as Sunday morning rolls around, I’m still in the doldrums. Still in a funk. And still, most definitely, without my mojo.
Enough is enough. I decide it’s time for a pick-me-up, and that pick-me-up comes in the form of my old roommate and college friend, Gunther. Okay, it’s possible his name’s not really Gunther, but it’s getting harder and harder to not identify people in the blog without using proper names. I mean, when I start using names like Mr. No B.S. and the Gay Stutterer, you know I’m scrapping the bottom of the barrel. So since my old buddy and I were both big fans of Hepcats (don’t ask), I’m going with Gunther.
Gunther & DiG… the vaudeville comedy duo.
I drop him an email, he lives on the left coast, and I get a quick response that he’s watching the Eagles game. I laugh, because I am as well, and we promise to connect after the game ends, an inglorious loss to the Arizona Cardinals on a last-minute 75-yard touchdown pass.
On a slight tangent, you might be perplexed at how someone dealing with gender identity issues, in the male to female direction, is still such a sports fan. Well as my patron saint Eddie Izzard explains, many of us are simply male tomboys. And I like that concept a lot. A tomboy trapped in a man’s body. Perhaps not the best description after a couple drinks, but right now, it makes a helluva lot of sense to me.
Anyway, it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other face to face. San Diego Comic Con, a year previous. Work-related trips for both of us, with the added bonus of grabbing lunch away from the crowds and catching up a bit.
Despite the distance, we are still very close friends. Fraternity brothers, in the truest sense. Then college roommates in South Philadelphia and the awesomely named town of Bala Cynwyd.
We hung out though several circles of friends, dated through a few of them as well. But one day he called me up to “talk.” Now this was some time ago… probably the early ’90s, and lots of people were coming out as gay. Kind of trendy to be honest. And it was Gunther’s time to come out to me.
We went for a walk as he worked up his nerve. I kid with him now that it turned into a really long walk as it took him forever to say the words. I put two and two together about midway through and after he came out, I told him I was happy for him and appreciated him taking the time to share his news. I might have even shared my crossdressing secret with him. But that was his day, not mine.
Before you pat me on the shoulder for being so awesome back in the day, there is a possibility, a remote possibility, mind you, that I may have asked, shall we say, about giving and receiving. Subtle I am not.
Well now that the shoe is on the other foot, I promise myself to take less time getting to the point. A little less beating around the bush, if you will.
We hop on the phone and get the pleasantries out of the way, and I ask him if he remembers what I told him when he came out to me. He does, but I can tell he’s not 100% sure if he should go there. Like perhaps I’m going to talk about the restaurant we walked by and not the crossdressing portion of the conversation. I can almost hear the warning across the phone line, “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger.”
Fuck it. Once more unto the breach. I take a deep breath and tell him my news. But since I can’t see him, I can’t tell how he’s reacting. Me being me, I don’t give him an opportunity to get a word in edgewise until I’ve had my say, ending with, “Well, I think I came out to you faster than you came out to me!”
There a pause. A pause across the continent that could forebode ill or simply mean he needs some time to process. Fortunately it’s the latter. And the ease that is evident in his voice tells me it’s going to be okay.
We talk about coming out in general, the fear and then the euphoria. But throughout, he is happy for me, even asking if it really took him that long to come out. I cannot tell a lie. It did. But for my part, I apologize if I wasn’t more supportive, if my questions about intimate details were beyond the pale. But he waves me off, telling me I was more supportive than he had ever hoped for.
I finally admit that the reason I called, aside from coming out, is that I need a friend, a pick-me-up. I explain about the “Fair Warning” email and he tells me something that heals my fragile soul. And for the sake of accuracy, I must admit that while the heartfelt sentiment is Gunther’s, the clumsily paraphrased words are mine and not at all as eloquent as his.
“It’s what I’ve always admired about you. That you’ve always taken that risk. You’ve never been afraid to fail. ‘This is what I want to do, this is what I want to try, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.’ And I’d rather have a friend who tried ten things and failed at nine, then a friend who’s afraid to try anything at all.”
I cannot express how much those words mean to me, fragile soul or not. And as you can see, I am blessed with an amazing group of friends.
Who knew all I had to do was come out to them, to reveal who I really am to them, for me to realize just how lucky I truly am.