I had another “two worlds collide”-style moment last week, when I introduced one of my oldest friends, Jonathan, to one of my newest, Andrea. I’m not sure quite what they made of each other, but it was an enjoyable if rather surreal moment for me.
I was able to arrange a work-related meeting for Wednesday afternoon, conveniently located so I could go straight to Butterfly Club HQ immediately afterwards, which would hopefully save me a good 90 minutes by not going home first after work. In fact, my meeting finished quite early so I was at the club by around 4pm – don’t tell the boss! – so I was more like two and a half hours early. For the first time ever, I arrived before Michelle, but I saw no reason to break with tradition so I began making myself up in the living room area leaving the bathroom free for her upon her arrival. Michelle arrived at around 5pm, and within about 20 minutes of her arrival, I was ready to depart.
Having had the advance knowledge that I would be a bit early on this evening, I had planned to contact my old friend Jonathan to see if he fancied meeting up for a drink, a chat and a bite to eat. This would be the third occasion that he had met the new me, and in fact since that evening back in October when I told him and my other friend Vin that I was TS, neither of them have met Bob again. Shortly before I was going to contact him, Andrea got in touch with me to ask if I wanted to do anything on Wednesday evening. Andrea, Michelle and I had been out for dinner together on the previous two Wednesdays, so the possibility of yet another LLFDC outing was there. However, since I don’t get ready early enough to meet up with Jonathan all that often, I suggested to Andrea that she might like to join us, and she was happy enough to do so. I decided against mentioning it to Michelle too as I didn’t want Jonathan to feel swamped, just him and three trans* women. Perhaps next time.
Truth be told, I did feel more than a little guilty about not inviting Michelle along too, particularly when she texted me the night before to ask if we would be dining again that Wednesday. I had to reply that no, I was out with Jonathan. It was only the next day, when I realised she’d probably ask Andrea too, that I thought I had best tell her that Andrea was coming along as well. I so hope she wasn’t offended (actually I have seen her since and I’m pretty sure she’s ok. She’s still speaking to me anyway – good!). Incidentally, the reason why Michelle asked if we were dining is that the three of us had been out for dinner on the previous two Wednesday evenings, even though I didn’t write about them at the time. So very briefly, Kirsty’s Quick Restaurant Reviews ™
- The Plough Inn, Hillsborough. Wed 18th February. Fabulous. Curry night, suited me down to the ground, I had chicken pakoras to start (delicious, a full meal in themselves), chicken vindaloo with rice and naan (a very pleasant change to get an indian-style meal with discernible vegetables in it, not just meat, sauce and rice) and we shared a sweet platter afterwards. Lovely surroundings, a nice quite secluded table and a really friendly, attentive waitress. We will be back. You can read what Michelle thought here and what Andrea thought here
- Blue Chicago, Lisburn. Wed 25th February. Pretty good. we only ended up here because we had arrived in our more usual destination Ed’s Bar & Grill to discover there was some kind of a function going on with a DJ and loud music, so the only conversation possible over a meal would have been using sign language. Blue Chicago was an excellent alternative, I had a 6oz burger covered in BBQ pulled pork, with chunky chips and coleslaw. Very good for what it was, and we’ll probably be back there too in due course. Again, Michelle’s account is here and Andrea’s here.
Anyway, I contacted Jonathan asked if he was (a) available to meet up and (b) if it would be OK if my BFF Andrea joined us too. He responded that (a) he’d love to meet and (b) any friend of mine was sure to be a friend of his too. So that was fine.
After a quick trip to Boots to pick up some foundation and concealer, with my existing stocks running perilously low, I arrived in the hotel at around 6.30. Since I was going to have around 3 hours before I would have to drive again, I decided to risk a small glass of wine while I sat chatting with Jonathan. We just had a bit of a general catch-up, and I heard a bit about his work woes, then as the time approached when Andrea was due to arrive, I began to tell him a bit more about her so he knew who he was meeting. Particularly, about how she was now into her second month of living full-time as a woman, how it was all going spectacularly well so far, and this lead in turn to him curiously asking me about the process of transition. Even though I’m not going through it myself for now, I have one very close friend attending the GIC (Gender Identity Clinic), two other friends also there and full time, one recently discharged and one more about to begin. So I know a little bit. And after running through the type of thing that I understand to go on, and the processes involved, he then asked me;
“So is this on your agenda then?”
He kind of stumped me with that. I mean, I should have seen it coming but I didn’t and I wasn’t prepared for such a blunt question. He then softened the question a bit
“You know, if Mrs K was supportive and the kids knew, all other things being equal…”
At least that let me give an ideal world response;
“All other things being equal, I would go full time this year. But all other things are far from equal, that’s my problem…”
Right at that moment, just as my mood was about to drop as I yet again re-entered the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” zone, my phone rang. It was Andrea. She was standing at the door of the hotel bar, so I got up from my seat from where I could see her. She came along with a big smile on her face and joined us at the table.
Without going into details of all that we spoke about, all three of us had plenty to talk about for the next two and a half hours. Andrea and I ordered some bar food – I had sausage and mash, which was tasty and huge, and Andrea ordered a goats cheese tart starter with a side salad. You could tell it was only a starter, that was not a proper evening meal portion, so she took half a sausage from me.
As I sat there, with Andrea on my left and Jonathan on my right, it was a rather odd feeling. I know I had been through this before back in November when I introduced both Andrea and Michelle to my old friends Vin and Deirdre, but this feeling of two worlds colliding was more marked for me because it was more intimate, and somewhere I had been with just me and Jonathan before. It was lovely in fact. We were chatting happily away, so much so in fact that Jonathan missed his usual 9pm bus.
On the downside, Jonathan misgendered me twice in Andrea’s presence, which I think annoyed her more than it annoyed me. I am prepared to give him a lot of leeway as he gets used to the new me. We have known each other for over twenty years, and the support that he has given me since I revealed my true self to him back in October has been wonderful. But it’s going to take time for him to get used to the idea of me as a woman. Which would explain why at one point while speaking to Andrea, he referred to me as “this man”, and later on as “he”. He did have the good grace to feel bad about it, and with the first occurrence a raised eyebrow from me was all it took. Second time, he didn’t realise at all what he had done and I had to spell it out to him when and how he had used the wrong pronoun. Like I say, a lot of getting used to, but he is trying.
Because Jonathan had missed his usual bus, we ended up staying past 10pm, which meant that I had to text Michelle to let he know that contrary to what I had thought, I wouldn’t be putting in an appearance back at the support group. I think she understood, but after not inviting her along on that particular evening and leaving her to her own devices to a certain extent, I did feel very guilty. Although as it turns out, she had a pretty successful shopping trip on her own, maybe more successful than it would have been had she been meeting up with me or Andrea. So all’s well that ends well.
Eventually the three of us parted ways, but not before Jonathan took a picture of his two female companions with our very glamorous quilted anoraks.
Andrea went back to her car, and then Jonathan and I walked together back to the Europa bus station, from where he would catch the last bus home and I would retrieve my car from the multi storey above the station. On the way back round he apologised again for the misgenderings, and then we came to something of an understanding. As I have already noted, none of the three of Bob’s friends who have met Kirsty have seen Bob again so far. I had threatened to break this record a few weeks ago when I had tentatively hinted to Jonathan that we could meet for lunch some day, but then never followed through on it. It was he who raised the subject again. He asked if I was having second thoughts about meeting up as Bob. And yes, I was. Very clear second thoughts. It would just feel wrong. I know I would feel horrible meeting him like that again, it would probably be confusing for him and would lead to further misgenderings. I want him to know me first and foremost as Kirsty, with Bob a memory. Well I want everyone to know me like that, or else not know Bob at all. But we can’t always get what we want now can we? But at least he doesn’t now have an expectation that Bob is going to reappear in his life any time soon. If ever.
I got out a couple more times at the weekend. On Saturday evening Andrea and I met for dinner at the Parson’s Nose in Hillsborough, the second time we had been there together. It is best described as a gastropub, and I had a delicious daube of beef with garlic mash and seasonal vegetables. The mash was very garlicky indeed, not a bad thing in my book, and the seasonal vegetables were more like seasonal foliage. However the beef, ah the beef, was wonderful. A thick cylindrical lump of cow, so tender that a knife was optional, it fell apart with my fork. Just gorgeous. For dessert I had apple & hazelnut crumble with cinnamon ice cream, and it was perfectly good. Nothing earth shattering, but a tasty honest to goodness pud. Add to that some good service from a lovely waitress who addressed us as “ladies” all night, and some ok service from a waiter who addressed us as “guys” all night, and it was very enjoyable.
Eagle eyed readers will have spotted that there was no starter listed in my restaurant review. The reason for that is that we were time-restricted as we were going to the cinema afterwards. My second trip to the cinema as my real self, and this was a lot busier than the first time. After little more than a cursory glance down the listings on Wednesday evening, we had plumped for Kingsman: The Secret Service. Good call.
Just pure entertainment, with a very British slant. Like a tongue-in-cheek 1960’s James Bond movie, with a ludicrous evil madman bent upon, well I’ll not spoil it for you, all updated with 21st century levels of balletic ultraviolence. What’s not to love? The cinema itself was very busy, but all was well. We collected our tickets from the automated dispenser as we had pre-booked, then a quick visit to the loo before the film began. Standing in the main concourse waiting for Andrea was a very interesting moment. It was very busy indeed, and as I was standing there, the doors to one of the auditoria opened and a stream of humanity emerged, every one of them walking straight towards me as they exited. Not one of them gave me a second glance. If I can go unnoticed in that environment, I can go unnoticed in most. And that’s what I want, just to be myself like most other people can be without having to worry if I’m going to be “seen”, i.e. read.
And finally, it was my fourth visit to my book group last night. This month’s selection was “The Rich Are Different” by Susan Howatch. It was chosen by one of our members who had read and loved it over 25 years ago. It was ok. It was something of a guilty pleasure, a little bit on the pulpy side and full of unpleasant self-centred characters, but with a fairly compelling storyline for all that. It told the story of a group of mainly American Wall Street investment bankers in the run up to and aftermath of the Wall Street Crash, but was really centred upon a young English woman from minor nobility who became professionally and romantically involved with one of the Americans early on. Really it had “mini series’ written all over it. Had a little bit of a touch of the Jeffrey Archers too, which isn’t the greatest compliment I could pay. The thing I got out of it most was learning about the Wall Street Crash and the circumstances that lead up to it. The shocking thing was the incredibly close parallels with what happened in the lead up to the more recent market crash in 2007-08, the aftershocks of which are still being felt. But perhaps that’s the subject for Kirsty’s economics blog. Anyway, a solid 6/10 from me. And as one of my book group friends said about it; “It’s not really a book group book is it?”. As an aside, this was the first all-female book group. There are usually two or three guys go along, but not this time. I’m not sure if it felt any different or not, perhaps right at the end when there were only three of us left, but I suppose the type of men who are going to go along to a Sunday evening book group aren’t exactly going to be your usual football-loving lager-swilling alpha males anyway are they? I also discovered that a book group first-timer, Ann, knows my BFF Andrea from her walking group, which was subsequently confirmed by Andrea (“Oh Ann, she’s lovely“). Small world.
I had planned to meet another friend, Andrea D, after my book group, but she cancelled on me. As luck would have it, Andrea and Michelle were out together while I was at the book group (dining out yet again!), so I just headed back up to the support group HQ to await their return accompanied by my own book that I am reading at the moment (“Elizabeth is Missing” by Emma Healey – highly recommended, more details later as it will be a book group selection in a couple of months) and more importantly, some chocolate brownies that I baked on Saturday afternoon. So unexpectedly and rather pleasantly, I rounded off the weekend sitting for an hour with my two friends enjoying the chat, the tea and my own baking skills. Then Andrea took the last of my brownies away with her so she could warm it up at home and eat it with some ice cream. It’s nice to be appreciated!
Until next time