Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Little Old Lady at Trader Joe’s - A blog for SuddenlyFem by CiCi Kytten

I’m a part-time girl. I go back and forth. With no plans to transition.  And only vague plans to go full-time.  I don’t look like a woman.  I don’t pass. Whenever I’m out and dressed, people know. I’m not fooling anyone. And I’m not really trying to fool anyone. At 6’1” and having never taken hormones, that seems a pretty unachievable goal.

Nonetheless, I still go out quite often. I still spend a lot of time en femme. It’s the way I feel most comfortable. But even more so, it’s the way I feel most special. (And doesn’t everyone want to feel special?)

"When I first started going out, I only dressed for the nightclubs I attended."

When I first started going out, I only dressed for the nightclubs I attended. I’d drive to LA, stay at a motel, and dress there. I’d go straight from the motel to the club. Then straight back at the end of the night. No stops along the way. No errands or snack stops.

Then, something changed. You see, I was always hesitant to change out of my girl clothes.  Once I was dressed. Once I was CiCi. I didn’t want to go back to being male. I didn’t want to go back to being not-so-special. So I became more daring. This was all years ago. But it seems like yesterday. I started driving more as CiCi. I’d even stop along the way at convenience stores, gas stations... the 7-11.  Did I get stares?  Yes.  Comments?  Rarely. 

And with every stop and every side trip, my confidence grew.

Looking back now, I see this as an important point in my development. To be more visible. To show the world that we’re here. To show the world that I’m here. (If only the trans girls who pass beautifully go out, then how will the rest of the world ever know we exist?)  But at the time, it was hardly a political act or a contribution to the cause. It was a selfish act.  It was just me trying to stay CiCi a little bit longer.  It was just me testing my limits. And, in a sense, simultaneously testing the limits of the people of L.A.

In those days, I often found myself driving home from L.A. on Sunday mornings. I’d wake up in some cheap motel, shower off my hangover, and try to hit the freeway before it got too busy. I’d listen to “Breakfast with the Beatles” on the radio... a longtime Sunday morning program.  And I’d make a little shopping list as I drove.

Since it was Sunday morning, I knew that my fridge and cupboards would be empty, so I often stopped at Trader Joe’s or Sprouts on the way home. I stopped at Stater Bros. or Von’s a few times, but, quite honestly, I just felt a little more comfortable among the hipsters at Trader Joe’s.

And it was on one such occasion that I ran into an older woman -- decidedly unhip -- in the aisles of Trader Joe’s.  

Did you ever notice as you shop, that you often keep running into the same people again and again... in dairy.  In the fresh fruits and vegetables. In frozen foods.  And on this particular Sunday morning, I kept running into this little old lady.

And I could tell right away she didn’t like me.

Now to start, I didn’t look like your typical Sunday morning Trader Joe’s shopper. I certainly wasn’t on my way home from church. I was in a little tank top and shorty shorts -- with high heeled boots.  My typical, casual CiCi attire. In contrast, I’m sure every woman in the place was at least a foot shorter than me -- and dressed in flats.

I’m used to getting glances. Children in particular seem to point and stare. I’m used to that. But this older woman -- with her permanent frown and thick glasses -- seemed particularly focused on me.  It was as if she couldn’t take her eyes off me.  Was it anger? Disgust? Revulsion?

I didn’t know. I tried to ignore her. I tried to remember my mental shopping list and focus on my task.  But, like I said, I just kept running into her.

All in all, a pretty forgettable event -- if it had ended there. But then I walked out to the parking lot. And there she was, parked right next to me.  Loading her baskets into her car.  Again I tried to ignore her.  Again I kept to myself.

And that’s when she blew my mind. I can’t recall exactly what she said, but it went something like this:

You know, when I first saw you, I thought to myself, Great, there’s another tall pretty blonde girl.  Reminding me all over again how old I am. And how young I used to be. And then... I looked a little closer, and I said to myself, Oh wait... there’s something more going on here, isn’t there?  Something different. I tried to speak to you inside, but I didn’t want to embarrass you. Or make a fool of myself. But I think you’re wonderful. I think you’re so brave... and so pretty. I’m glad I got the chance to tell you that.

And that was it. A few quick words. Caught off guard, I stuttered some kind of thanks, and then she was gone. Smiling now. Not frowning. She was never frowning. She was just old... and for some reason, old people -- with their wrinkled faces -- always seem to me to be frowning. 

All that time, I thought she was checking me out. And she was. But not in a negative way. In a positive way.  With curiosity, yes. But with admiration too.

There were tears in my eyes as I drove away.  Pride and happiness.  But anger too.   Anger at myself for jumping to conclusions. Anger at myself for projecting my own doubts and fears and reservations onto her.  

I mean, if I hadn’t run into the old woman in the parking lot, I never would have known her true feelings. I never would have known she was admiring me. And it occurred to me... all of those negative feelings and disapproving thoughts didn’t come from an older conservative woman on her way home from church. They came from me.

And yet again. Something else to work on.

Take care out there.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.



Skinnie Stallion said...

This is such a wonderful disarming and heart warming story.

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Ivan Doull said...

Love your stories ,very interesting,love your attitude ,right on you .

Anonymous said...

You may pass much better than you give yourself credit, IMO.

I would much rather keep bumping into (a very sexy) you in aisle after aisle while shopping than with some of the gross wally-world shopper pics that make it online.

Kudos to the open minded elderly lady that saw both beauty and strength in your presentation.

Hugs, Lydia L

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