There’s a little something I didn’t include in my summary of the OutReach Magic Festival, which occurred two weekends ago, but wanted to talk up in a separate post. Don’t be alarmed, for it was a relatively minor thing. Matter of fact, it’s something that felt peculiar to me initially, yet I find myself thinking about it quite a lot.
Here’s how it went down: It was after 6:30PM that Sunday evening. The festival had just concluded, the process of tearing down tents and carts was almost finished, and most of those in attendance were already heading home. I was just about to head home myself after retrieving my belongings, which were locked safely in the car of a fellow support group member (our group’s tent was already dismantled). I also wanted to snap up a shirt with the event logo (which OutReach still had one of in medium, thankfully), not to mention have some extra chit-chat with my friend, J., before we called it a day.
J. and I had our cars in different parking lots at Warner Park, meaning after the two of us had our hugs and bade each other farewell, we went in opposite directions. J. went one way, while I crossed a pedestrian bridge to head the other way. Along my path was the location where the beer tent, if I want to recall correctly, was in the final stages of dismantling. (Side note: Yes, Magic Festival served alcohol. Thankfully, it appeared that those who imbibed in the hooch did so in moderation.)
I was keeping my eyes straight ahead and looking for the path toward my car’s lot when I heard a voice saying, “Hey, you got a cigarette?” Since I don’t smoke (and never have, thank goodness), I presumed the male voice who made that request was talking with someone else, so I paid no mind to the request.
But I heard the question again, and it was a little more pointed… toward me. “Hey, hey!” the voice directed at me, “You got a cigarette?”
At that point, I had to turn my direction toward where the voice came from. And it came from a dark-haired gentleman, somewhere in his 40s (I guess), relatively well built… and if I must say, rather handsome.
And, yes, he was wanting to ask me if I had a cigarette. And I told him flat out, no, I don’t (because… yuck!). But right then, he didn’t sound so much like he wanted to pollute his lungs (that’s a relief)… but instead wanted to check me out.
“Oooh… look at you,” he said to me as he looked me, still very much in female mode, up and down. “Comment allez-vous?“ he added in a somewhat feminine voice. Well, I want to think that’s what he said; I don’t recall directly, and I just brought up “How do you do?” in Google Translate. But for sure he was speaking French.
As this gentleman was demonstrating his linguistic skills, he gave his right hand to me. Said hand was adorned with a somewhat elaborate… well, I don’t know if you would call a “ring” something that was not only silver and wrapped around his ring finger but also extended up his finger, rand along the back of his hand, and ended around his wrist. But that’s how I recall it in my memory.
Something struck me when he extended his hand and continued to compliment me. Well, a couple of things to be honest. First and foremost, I think he clocked me as a male. For those unfamiliar with that term, when a crossdresser is “clocked” (or “read”), someone is seeing through their display and can determine that they’re someone other than the gender they desire to “pass” as. In my case, my best efforts to pass as Allison may not have been good enough, at least to this guy’s eyes. *sigh* Not the most fun of feelings, really.
Despite his apparent reading of me as male, another realization I had when hearing the tone in his voice (friendly, a little bit fey) was that he may have been just like me — a guy who also, every now and again, presents himself to the world as female. As a drag performer, perhaps? I didn’t get to ask his name, nor for that matter did I recall seeing his face earlier, as male or female. So perhaps he wasn’t clocking me as a male so much as wanting to tell me in his own way, “You do look awesome. Keep it up.”
(A side note about my brain’s recognition skills, or lack thereof: If you were to put someone displaying as one gender before me — someone I had never seen before — then a few minutes later show me that same person presenting as another gender, my mind would discern them as totally separate human beings. Perhaps that’s why a drag performer or similar instance of a gender transformation appeals to me so much.)
Obviously, I do not know for sure if this person was a drag performer or was clocking me when he saw me. That’s all just speculation in my mind, based on my interaction with him. And there was one last thought that occurred to me after I politely thanked him and told him I had to be on my way, while he went back to tearing down that vendor area…
Perhaps in his own appealing way, this guy was just plain ol’ flirting with me!
If that was the case, it would have been a first for me in female mode. Emphasis on “female mode” since when I was in vocational training very, very early in my end-of-teen years, a fellow student would constantly flirt with me. I turned her down every time, especially knowing the fact that she had a boyfriend. (Side note: Comments from creepy admirers on Flickr doesn’t count.)
Admittedly, it didn’t dawn upon me until when I was in my car and heading home. But when that guy offered his hand and thought I looked divine (well, not beauty-queen divine or even Drag Race divine), some complete stranger thought told me in person that they thought Allison was pretty hot… in the “You got a body that just won’t quit” kind of hot.
No, I don’t think I’m that hot. Even with leather items in my wardrobe, I still don’t think I’m Vogue or Cosmopolitan or Marie Claire cover model material. And I never believe some cute guy will come up while I’m en femme and suddenly ask, “Chez toi ou chez moi?“ (That’s French for “Your place or mine?”) Still, despite that concern of being clocked as male (and I do still think that guy clocked me), I’m actually glad he flirted with me because it gave me a positive bit of self-confidence.
And now that I write that sentence, a fourth realization just came to me: That guy was admiring me! Not, mind you, in a “wanna have sex?” kind of way (uh, ew?), but in a way that communicated this belief: You are brave for being who you are and showing your true self to the world. Had I realized that, I would have thanked him profusely on the spot.
It’s a safe bet I’ll probably never get the chance to thank him, though, because who knows if I’ll ever see him again. Heck, I don’t really have a recollection of exactly how he looked other than what I listed above. But if I were given the chance to see him again, I’ll have to offer him a word of gratitude for his compliments. It did mean a lot.