Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Southern Comfort Conference

Holy smokes! Writing this blog is intimidating more than any other I have written. The last few days were simply overwhelming in both, the quality and quantity, of the events that took place. I met SO many truly unique and wonderful people. I’ve got to tell you, you have never seen anything like having close to 1500 transgender people in the same place at once – it was simply incredible.

Due to my work schedule and finances I just couldn’t take the entire week off and so had to settle for only spending Friday and Saturday at the event. This is a mistake I will NOT make again should I get the chance to attend another SCC. If there is a next time, I will damn well be there for the entire event!

Friday started off the same as most days where I intend to travel femme. After my wife and daughter left for work/school, yours truly started running like hell to get ready and get to the airport. So help me, I have no idea what I did differently that Friday morning, but I was surprised when I looked in the mirror and later at the photo’s I tool that morning before I left. I don’t think I had ever looked better and so I was very pleased as I headed for the airport

I’ve got to tell you, it drove me nuts not having my laptop and toolbox with me. Alarms were going off in my head all day long that I was forgetting something because I didn’t have these things that I normally travel with. Got to the airport and checked in with the Delta counter. Even though he had seen me there countless times before, the gentleman that checked me in was clearly set back a step when he looked at my ID, but he recovered quickly and sent me on my merry way.

Got the TSA check point and then things got interesting.

“Ma’am?” she calls out to me while waving me forward “Next in line please”

I stepped forward and handed her my ID and ticket. I swear I’m not kidding, the young lady looked confused for a second or two.

“I’m sorry, I need your ID,” she says.

“Ummm . . That is my ID.” I assured her, giving her my best ‘I’m just a friendly neighborhood crossdresser, and not a psychopathic, axe murdering terrorist’ smile. Suddenly she had this honestly shocked look on her face! She had honestly had NO idea I was male when I handed her my ID.

“Will you wait here a moment please?” she asks, with just a hint of panic in her voice.

“Sure,” I told her, starting to feel just a touch of panic my damn self. That would be just about right – I’ve flown dozens of times with out a single hassle, and now that I’m on the way to the worlds largest TG/Cross dressing event, I’m going to refused travel! Shortly, the young lady and another TSA representative return and pull me off to the side.

“Do you have another form of ID we can see just to verify this is you?” he asks very respectfully, the height of professionalism.

“Sure,” I told him as I pull out a credit card that also has my pic on it. “I’m kind of surprised you ask though, because y’all have never had a problem with my flying before.”

“Oh, it’s no problem,” he says while comparing my ID, credit card, and face. “It’s our job to be careful and we just want to be sure you are who you say you are. Have a nice flight!” he says and hands my documents back to me.

I had a conversation with someone at SCC who told me I was fearless. I told her she was crazy, that I was often scared to death but just kept plowing on anyway, and she suggested that I should consider sharing that in my blogs as well. With that thought in mind, here is what you may not realize from my description of the above events with the TSA. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was scared to death, as soon as things left the by now familiar routine, I became very nervous and anxious. By the time I got through the X-ray machine I was pretty well drenched in perspiration and not at all pleased with events.

I got the Atlanta airport with no further excitement (just the way I like it) and then proceeded to walk around in circles, utterly lost. For all of the hundreds of times I’ve flown through the Atlanta airport, this was the first time I’d ever actually had it as my destination. I couldn’t find a sign anywhere and I absolutely could not find the rental car shuttles, even after asking people where they were. After walking around in circles for about 20 minutes, I was walking by a young man who was sitting down, clearly taking a break.

“You look lost,” he said. “What are you looking for?” He proceeded to give me clear directions and I easily found them. I mention it just because I thought it was neat that he was friendly and willing to go out of his way to help a cross dresser.

I got a good laugh at the Avis lot when I pulled up to the exit guard, rolled the window down, and handed her my ID.

“And how are you today ma’am?” she asks as she looks at my ID. “I mean sir. . . I mean what ever you want to be!” We both busted out laughing and I told that it was no problem, she was welcome to call me what ever she was comfortable with as long as it was polite and “G” rated.

Approaching Atlanta

Headed down the highway and suddenly the Village People “YMCA” comes on the radio. I thought that was kind of prophetic. At last I got to the SCC at the Crowne Plaza and that’s where Kimberly’s trip through the looking glass started.

When I entered the lobby I was stunned to see literally dozens of us standing and walking about. Some were gorgeous, some were . . . umm . . .different . . .

I recall seeing one person wearing a school girl uniform with a top that was WAY too small, exposing her entire and very ample and hair covered beer belly. Not a little bit of the hairy belly, or a hint of it, the outfit appeared to be designed to show the entire beer belly. Brrrrrrrrrr. . . .

Anyway, I walk past a LOT of people to the reception desk where I present my credit card, platinum Priority Club card, and ID. It’s one of the few times I’ve done this where I saw NO surprise on their faces, because of course by now this staff was VERY experienced with cross dressers arriving! How weird to not be “the” crossdresser and the Lone Ranger – here I was but one of hundreds.

Got my room key, grabbed my bag . . . and almost trip over Marissa (MJ) – one of my very favorite people from Crossdressers.com! We laughed and hugged, and when she told me she had lost track of the person she had arrived with, I invited her to come get comfortable and wait in my room. By this time, it’s only an hour or so until dinner, and due to my nerve wracking experience with the TSA, and an afternoon traveling, I now smell like a goat. That’s all right though, because I had gone way over board and packed at least six outfits for the two days!

Suzy, Marissa, and I

I got washed up, changed, and then gave Suzy Harrison a call. Suzy is one of the neatest people I know. She lives in Australia, has a great sense of humor, and tries not to take herself or life too seriously. We have almost identical lives and so have much in common. She has been married over 30 years. In a week I will have been married for 21 years. We both have children, we both are Field Service Engineers that travel a lot. Meeting Suzy in person is the reason I went to the SCC. I get out a lot, so I don’t need a very expensive excuse and event to get the chance to dress up, but the chance the meet Suzy was irresistible to me.

Meeting her in person was every bit as much fun as trading insults . . . err . . . I mean showing our mutual respect for each other on the internet. I swear, just sitting here writing this, I’m getting teary eyed, because it sucks that she lives so far away that we won’t be able to see each other.

So many things happened, and I met so many people, I can’t possibly describe or name them all. I met dozens of people I have traded emails with over they years from all across the country. I had several dozen more that I have never met come up to tell me how much they enjoyed my blogs (crazy nutters! LOL) I met about half a dozen that I had already met on my trips across the country. By far, I enjoyed the company of those from crossdressers.com the most. They were fun, enjoyed laughter, and were just comfortable people to be around.

Suzy helped me pick out new hair while I was there. I’ve been wanting a longer wig for a while now, and decided to go for it. The bad news is my wife will kill me if she gets wind of what it cost me, so y’all don’t tell her OK? (OK, this is a sneaky test to see if she ever reads my posts/blogs)

Went to dinner where we had a table or two set aside for all the gals from Crossdressers.com. Again, so many people and names that I can’t possibly keep them all straight, but there were a few that really stuck out for me.

Suzy I’ve already mentioned.

Marissa (MJ) AKA “Daddy Mom” - MJ was the quiet and thoughtful one of the bunch. With all of us loud mouths around, she was the one who brought a touch of peace and serenity.

Joann – wow this woman is gorgeous and also blessed to be petite. Much like Suzy and I, Joann travels and gets out a lot, and is clearly very comfortable with herself.

Tammi - Tammi is a lot of fun to talk to. Her eyes sparkle all of the time and she clearly enjoys life. I spent the wee hours of the morning on my last day there chatting with her until the lack of sleep, and my drinking to damn much caught up with me around 2 or 3 AM.

Tracy Schapes - Tracy, much like the other ladies I’ve mentioned, is just an awesome person. One look in her eyes and you know your dealing with good and kind person. She was SOO cute too (I’ll describe that in just a bit)

Deja True - About a month ago I started talking with Deja on the internet, but I really didn’t have much of a picture of what she was like yet. Deja is her own woman. When every one else flocked to do this or that, déjà went her own way. You were free to join her, or not, as you please, but she wasn’t gonna follow any crowd.

Dita - Oh my God Dita was a hoot! When she and Suzy got together, it was like a feedback loop, where the humor and sarcasm just ran out of control.

Georgia Girl - The young one of the bunch, and I believe the only one with the courage (and ability) to sport her own hair. I've got a hunch we will be seeing a lot more of her out and about soon!

Kris Haley - I’ve traded emails with Kris for around a year as she lives in Peoria IL, a city I visit fairly often. Funny thing, all of our attempts to meet up in her home town failed – we had to both go hundreds of miles from home to finally meet!

Michelle Madison - I have met Michelle several times before on my trips to the Boston area but this is the first time I think we ever really got the chance to actually talk to each other!

Jose - Jose is one of those neat people that have gone out of their way for me in the last few years by trying to help me find interesting and nice people and places to visit when I travel. A fine lady.

I could go on and on, but if I try to mention every single person I met, I will never get this finished!

Enjoyed a good dinner with outstanding company and just had a ball laughing and talking with the ladies at our table.
Myself, Suzy, Joann

Joann, ??, Tracy

Marissa, Deja, Suzy, Tracy

Oh, and when I say I “enjoyed” dinner, I meant it. I’ve been dieting for the last month trying to make damn sure I fit in the gown I bought, so here was my chance to actually eat for the first time in a month with out guilt. Darned if I can recall their name, but there was a really cute couple that performed for us and they were outstanding! I took a short video to give you some idea.

The guy was a transman and the lady was the cutest little lady you have ever seen or heard. She was a doll and was wearing this cute little dress that I’d wager most of us wanted.

After dinner, everyone change yet again! The after dinner thing was supposed to be some sort of Fetish dance. I don’t own anything even remotely “fetish” in style and so Suzy offered to let me wear a PVC skirt she had brought. I thought about, even went so far as to take a look at it, but just couldn’t bring myself to go there. Instead, I went for one of my favorite short skirt outfits.

I’ll bet some of you have realized by now that I can be sort of OCD but some things. When I saw Tracy Shape, in her adorable outfit, I was instantly hooked on her. Every time I saw her I just wanted to run up and give her hug and tell her how cute she was. I think I actually did this once or twice (all right maybe half a dozen times), but I managed to not do it as often as the urge struck me. Come on, take a look at her and tell me she is not just about the most adorable thing you have ever seen?

Leaving for the Club

Suzy looking hot in her PVC dress !

Enjoyed the SCC activity for a while then headed out on the bus for a local drag club called Le Buzz I think it was. The staff really went way out of their way to be great hosts and I give them a 10 out of 10 for that. The only problem for me is that I don’t enjoy drag shows, shoulder to shoulder crowds, and smoke filled rooms. Neither does Suzy so we headed to the outside bar just to find Deja already sitting there. She had this attitude like “Yeah, not my scene and it’s about time you two came to your senses and came out here”. We hung out and talked for a while, then headed back to the hotel and bed at about 2AM.

The alarm went off at 7AM . . . then 7:10AM . . . then 7:20AM . . . then I convinced myself to get outta bed at 7:30AM. Got dressed in one of my favorite outfits headed down stairs to meet the day.

I went to a couple of the seminars, met and talked with Jose, and then hooked up with Suzy who made me cry. She told me that she wouldn’t be out in the world if it hadn’t been for her reading my stupid stories. I told her she was being silly because she was one of the bravest people I knew, but she just kept yapping until we were both wiping tears out of our eyes. Stupid Australians anyway . . .

Ultimately I told her it was all Karen Hutton’s fault, because if it hadn’t been for reading her stories, I wouldn’t be out and about!

At last, it came time to get ready for the formal dinner! My first chance to wear a formal dress outside of a locked room. Make it or break it time for all the effort I devoted to finding a gown and making sure I’d fit in the darn thing. Showered, put my makeup on, and then reached for THE gown! Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to get into a long, tight, black, crosses behind your back, gown without getting makeup on it?!?! I was VERY careful because I knew I would cry for hours if I smeared makeup down the outside of my gown. Got it on at last and then put on my new wig – and almost cried anyway. You can’t imagine the relief and joy I felt when I looked in the mirror and saw that it had all come together to be even better than I had hoped and dreamed.

I absolutely couldn’t be happier with the way it all turned out. Took a few pics before I headed downstairs to the lady I had bought my wig from. When I bought it, she had agreed to touch it up for me before the formal. In about 30 seconds she had it looking fantastic where my 30 minutes of effort had failed.

Just before dinner, they had a gorgeous Tgirl playing a grand piano. She was just awesome and had the most riveting eyes I have ever seen. Dark hair and piercing bright blue eyes that I’d swear were brighter than lasers. A lot of us from Crossdressers.com got together for a group photo, that turned into a dozen group photos, that turned into a hundred group photos.

Everyone kept handing camera’s up, because of course we all wanted our own pictures. After about 10 minutes of taking the same picture over and over, I realized I was so far behind so many people, that I couldn’t even see the person taking the picture anymore. I decided to be funny and pulled a chair over to stand on it. You should have seen the look on Tracy’s face when she realized she had to look UP at someone! Well, it amused me at the time, but the more I think about it while looking back on it, the more I figure I was probably making an ass outta myself.

Got to the dinner and waited for Suzy . . . and waited . . . and waited. . . About 10 minutes after the dinner started I gave up and called her room. She answered with a note of panic clearly in her voice.

“What the hell are you doing still up there?” I asked her.

“I need help!” she replied.

“Well I’ll be right there then!” I hung up and told everyone I’d be right back. Dita asked if everything I was OK, and so I told her Suzy wanted a hand getting ready. Dita immediately sprang into action and we sprinted for the elevator just like Charlie’s Angles! All, maybe we didn’t run!

Got to Suzy’s room to find that she was having a “wardrobe malfunction”. Dita grabbed a box of pins and went to work while I stood behind the two talking trash and trying to look important and act like I was in charge. I can’t recall much of the conversation, just that sarcasm was the main theme and we spent the entire time laughing. By the time she was done, Dita had Suzy’s gown looking better than the designer had intended and we headed back down to dinner.

Enjoyed another fine dinner and then stepped out to wait for them to set up the room for the hard rock band that was going to play. We all stuck around for a song or two, then about half a dozen of us decided that while they were very good, the music just wasn’t our cup of tea.
Marissa doing her Angel Impression

Someone talked to the hotel folks and found that there was a latin club not far from us that had live music, so we all changed in to something less conspicuous and headed out. Nah – like hell we did! This was the first time I’d ever had an excuse to wear a gown, and I told everyone that there was no way in hell they were gonna drag me out of it!

We arranged for a courtesy van to take us to the club and off we went! OMG – you should have seen the looks we got when we arrived. Half a dozen crossdresesrs, some of us still in gowns – it was priceless.


The band was just incredible! I’ve never heard a live latin band before and was very much impressed. I took a few pics of the room and band and also a short video.

I honestly don’t recall who approached who first, but ultimately several of us were chatting up a table of absolutely drop dead gorgeous GG’s. I am still kicking myself that I didn’t get a pic of them! At one point they were playing truth or dare, and so we had this beautiful woman come up and tell us she had been dared to come pinch one of our “breasts”. As you can imagine, she didn’t get any arguments from anyone at our table!

Joann was so brave – she jumped right out on the dance floor and got busy!

Eventually the shuttle bus returned to claim us and we headed back to the hotel. It was at this point I realized that it is not wise to stuff a large Blackberry, camera, glasses, makeup compact, cash, and credit cards into a tiny purse that does not zip or snap closed. I realized this when I closed the door to the van . . . and heard everything in my cute little purse hit the very dark floor of the van. Got to MJ’s hotel and held everyone up while I tried to round up my belongings. Everyone said good night to MJ and then we headed to our hotel . . . where my cute little purse once again dumped all of my belongings. Said my good byes to just about everyone but just hated for the night to end, so Tammi and I sat downstairs chatting for a while. When we called it a night at around 2 or 3 I think, I realized I had probably had too much to drink. I realized this when I discovered that my 4 inch stilettos were not as easy to walk in as I had thought they were! When the alarm went off at 7AM and I had to get up to go to the airport I was no longer thinking I had drank too much the night before, I knew it for sure! The throbbing headache was clear and unambiguous evidence that I had gone too far. Ouch . . .

I just can’t stress it enough – this was a AWESOME and magical experience and I just can’t wait to do it again!

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