You know, this trip was so boring that I considered not even writing a blog at all about it, but the whole blog thing has sort of become a habit with me.
First, let’s start with something personal. Twenty years ago I lost touch with two of my half brothers – we had the same Father but different mothers. When my mother and father divorced, they went with our abusive father, and I went with my mother, so we only lived together for a year here and there while we were growing up. As adults, I’m afraid that both of them took after my father when it comes to drinking and being abusive to their wives and children. A little over twenty years ago they did something that I just couldn’t tolerate and I told them to never, EVER contact me again. Well, over the years it has nagged at me that they might have changed, and that today they might be people worth knowing, people that might want to be part of a family. While I was never abusive to people, I did go through a few years where I abused the hell out of alcohol, and I pulled my head out of my backside and hoped and dreamed that they might have too. Anyway, I’ve been looking for them for close to twenty years now and just found one of them last week, or more accurately, I found his wife and children, and they put me in touch with him.
The bad news? He has not changed much and he and his wife separated many years ago.
The good news? I am now in touch with his wife and three beautiful daughters, and all have welcomed me with open arms.
So, I don’t know if he and I will ever have anything approaching a relationship, but at least I can get to know his daughters.
I’ve been too sick for a week or two to travel pretty, and considering how much I now hate to fly as Matt, this has really sucked. I started running a fever and coughing up a lung on the way to Salt Lake City a week or two ago, and haven’t been well since. I did manage to get my install done, but out of desperation to get back to my hotel where I could put my 102 degree behind into bed, I was a bit TOO efficient. The installation was scheduled to last for an entire day, but I got it done in only four hours, and with my customers thanks and good wishes, I headed for my hotel. Despite my customer being thrilled and thanking me when I took my leave of him, a day later my manager called to let me know that they were raising hell that we had charged them so much for only four hours of work. I’m 45 years old, and that is the first time I have ever had my butt chewed out for being TOO efficient.
I was so sick that when it came time to fly home the next morning, I seriously considered changing my flights so that I could spend the day sleeping in the hotel, but I went ahead and loaded up on aspirin and cough syrup, and made the trip home where I spent the entire three day weekend shivering in bed.
The following week, I was still coughing, but at least the fever had let up, and so I made a boring trip to Detroit as Matt, taking nothing feminine with me. It was such an odd feeling to be carrying such a small suitcase instead of the large monster suitcase that I normally have to carry in order to have enough clothes for two people for a week! Finally, when this week rolled around, my coughing had eased off to the point where I decided that I would go ahead and fly to my next service call in Sacramento California pretty.
I really prefer longer and prettier skirts, but these days I have to decide if they are worth the hassle they are going to bring me when going through the TSA inspection process. Their new policy is to “frisk” anyone wearing a long or full skirt. I keep telling myself ‘To hell with ‘em – I’ll wear what I damned well want to wear!’, but in the end I keep choosing shorter skirts to avoid the hassle. It’s not even that I mind the hassle so much myself, it’s just that I hate the thought of what the poor women that have to frisk me are thinking. The last thing in the world that I want is for people to resent Austin’s frequent flying cross dresser. I don’t want them going home grumbling about ‘that damned cross dresser that probably gets his rocks off by being frisked!’ Come on, you know as well as I do that some form of that conversation would be bound to pop up sooner or later. I don’t so much mind the idea of them laughing after I’m gone, and in a perfect, if unlikely world, people would just accept and maybe even respect me for how I travel, but the whole thought of them being angry and resentful about cross dressers because of me goes against everything I have tried to accomplish. Still, I miss my pretty skirts, and may well start wearing them again regardless of how the TSA folks feel about it.
Do you know that the flight to Sacramento was so boring that I have absolutely nothing to share about it? There were no cute or amusing comments or events. About the only thing that amused me about the entire flight there was the huge piles of luggage in the Sacramento airport that they had stacked all of the way to the ceiling. Much as I shake my head at the concept, apparently someone thought that this qualified as “art”. Personally I’m not so sure.
The next morning I made my way to a remote location for the University of California where I quickly performed a warranty repair, and was on my happy way back to the hotel. After a few hours responding to work related emails, I was at last free to get cleaned up and head out to see what the area had to offer. I knew I was in trouble though, when I took a look in the mirror and thought ‘you look like hell’.
I should have just taken a shower and gone back to ugly old Matt, but I pressed on hoping that I would feel better about myself once I got out. My first stop was at a small mall with a JC Penny’s, Burlington Coat Factory, and a Marshals.
When I entered JC Penny’s I had the overwhelming feeling that I was nothing but an old man in a skirt, and everyone knew it. I’m like anyone else I think, and from time to time my confidence does waver, but I don’t often feel it that strongly. Everywhere I looked, I felt like people were looking at me and grinning that ‘isn’t that cute? Look at the cross dressing freak’ grin. Still, I went through JC Penny’s, found nothing I wanted, and so entered the mall area to make my way to the other stores. It only took a second to discover that this mall was apparently on it’s way to being closed, because there were very few open shops in it, and Marshals was already closed and empty. As I walked down the almost deserted hall on the way to the Burlington Coat Factory, with the sound of my heels echoing loudly through the building, I felt like I was the main attraction to those few people in the area. The folks at the two or three up and running kiosks all stopped and watched me as I walked past, none of them saying a word or trying to draw me in. Just watching the cross dresser go by . . .
I took a look through the dresses and tops in Burlington, but didn’t find anything I thought I needed, and so I made my way to the shoe section. I found a pair that I was interested in and so took them to a small bench to try them on. As I was removing my shoes I can see two pretty young girls in their early teens glancing at me, and laughing and talking to each other excitedly. In a moment, they start walking in my direction, and they both come to a stop a foot or so away from me as I am just putting on a red pump..
“Hi!” said the one who was apparently the bravest. Despite myself and my own lack of confidence today, I couldn’t help grinning at the brave young woman.
“Hello.” I replied to her.
“Hi!” said the other young lady, with a shit eating grin that stretched from ear to ear.
“Hello to you too! How are you today?” I asked them with a laugh.
“Fine.” The second girl said with a giggle.
“Excuse us!” the first girl said, and then they boldly walked on past, apparently having proven to each other that they had the courage to go talk to the weirdo trying on shoes.
I decided that the shoes were more orange than red, which accounts for why they were on clearance, and put them back on the shelf.
Then and there my confidence just crashed, and I decided that there was no point to staying out as Kim if I was going to feel miserable and ugly the entire time, and so I resolved to make my way to the car and return to the hotel. My confidence was so shot that I actually considered walking back to my car outside in the rain instead of walking back through the empty echo chamber of a hallway, but I decided that I was not going to sink that far, and so I tried to keep my head held high as the people stared at me walking back through the mall.
Today when I got out of bed to catch my flight home, I was dismayed to find that my fever is back and my cough is worse than ever. I can only hope that yesterdays total lack of confidence on my part was just the first symptom of my returning illness, because if I’m gonna feel that way every time I go out in public, I’m probably gonna have to stop doing it.
I just got the call that I need to be on an Airplane to Manassas VA Sunday. We have a huge customer there and one of their older machines is not working, and it is costing them tens of thousands of dollars each day that it is not running. The bad news is that they have been trying to fix it themselves and have been swapping lots of components, and adjusting and tweaking things. Now that they have spent two weeks to utterly cripple the machine, they are demanding that we get someone there to fix it, and they want it done yesterday, if not sooner. Odds are good that I will spend most of next week trying to indo all of the damage that they have caused in their futile attempts to resolve the issue. This machine is built by our Berlin division and is highly reliable, probably the most reliable thing my company makes that I work on. In this case, that is kind of a bad thing, because being so reliable means that I’ve only had to work on them two or three times in the last half a decade, and that hardly qualifies me as n expert. I feel like the lamb being led off to be slaughtered. I wonder if I will be better by then so that I can fly pretty? I kind of doubt it.
I sure wish that I could have heard the story that the two young ladies from the shoe department shared with their friends later . . .