Oh, and I think my marriage is sinking beneath the waves.
I went out for lunch today with my bestie, that’s all we had time for, but as with all besties, we got 2 years of conversation into about 10 minutes. She even remarked, “wow, and we’ve only been together for an hour and I’m already exhausted.”
One of the things she talked about was how she felt being with a man, and how nice it was to walk into a room, or wherever, with a hot man, and know how the room lit up, and how she felt, when it was like that. She was talking about this idea in relation to her own self-analysis about dating physically unattractive men. As in, she was thinking about it.
All I could say was that what someone looks like is a factor. Among many. You choose. There was a Harvard study years ago, and which I have lost track of, that talked about the considerations we make in mating, with factors including health, physical attributes, magnetism, humour, that kind of thing…and that every person weighs the factors differently according to their needs. That the partner we choose is the one who best fits our priorities, our needs, and vice versa.
Bestie was commiserating with my wife over the idea of me upsetting her world when I raised the transgender flag. Indeed, my wife is struggling with it, coming to terms with it, thinking about what it might mean for her.
“I’m not a lesbian,” she said, “have never wanted to be a lesbian.”
“You don’t need to be so literal,” I said. “After all, I am only non-binary, somewhere inbetween.”
“If I wanted a woman, I wouldn’t have chosen you.”
“Well, you did.”
“But I chose you as a man.”
“I’m still me.”
“But you’re not.”
“Of course, I am.”
“You’re a gorgeous man, how can I let go of that?”
“You don’t need to. And what do you mean you wouldn’t have chosen me as a woman.”
“There’s nothing female about you. You’re insensitive, hard, you don’t have any feminine traits.”
“Maybe you just don’t know that part of me yet.”
“You remember I went to a therapist when we were first trying to have children?”
“Never mind. Anyway, this therapist told me that I was so feminine, but that I was compensating and allowing myself to also be masculine, and I needed to relax and let go of that, and let my husband be the man, to take up the masculine for me, and for me to just allow myself to express my femininity.”
“Maybe he didn’t know what he was talking about.”
“Well, maybe not.”
“It’s not like I’m taking anything from you.”
“But you are. You’re taking away the man I love.”
“It’s still me.”
My bestie was relating this concept to her own life, and how important a man is and has been for her to make her feel more attractive. Being with a good-looking man, in other words, makes her feel more attractive. By the way, my bestie is a babe. My humble and sincere apologies for referring to you in that way hon, but you are. And well, me too…and she was commiserating with my wife because I make good arm candy. She and I both have profited from one another as arm candy on and off over our lives–especially when bumping into one’s exes (“you see, I too can move on, and can trade up!” Revenge is a dish best served cold). It’s one of the good parts about being besties with a straight someone of the opposite sex and being able to take advantage of their arm-candy status to flirt with potential real partners (or punish the exes). I digress.
I understand what she is saying: that two good looking people turn heads, an attractive couple turns heads. And I was thinking that I could understand that, and how I didn’t really want to go out on the town dressed as girlieboy with my S.O. for many reasons. First, I know that it would make her uncomfortable. Second, her discomfort would make me uncomfortable. And third, two uncomfortable people don’t look hot, they just look uncomfortable. But I was trying to process the fashion choices and the simple thought that to me, I look good when I am dressed the way I dress when I blur the boundaries.
“I look good,” I said to my wife.
“To me.” And in the end that is what matters, right? “I make clothing choices that I think work with my body, that flatter me…but yes, if your idea of hot is to see this body in jeans and a lumberjack shirt, and not a crispy white blouse, cigarette pants and heels, then yes, it might be jarring for you.”
And my bestie commiserated a little with each of us. But that got me thinking.
I have been out a few times with a very beautiful woman who happens to also be a dominatrix. A few times I have been as a “man”, wearing a man-uniform—a sport coat and nice trousers, nice dress shirt, leather shoes—in other words, the Brooks Brothers or Hackett look. That’s how I look at work too…mostly…And as I pore over those occasions, and please, don’t misinterpret, Mistress is the kind of beautiful that Arrigo Cipriani, founder of the legenday Harry’s Bar in Venice meant when he said, “the perfect bar is no bigger than the size of a room that the smile of one beautiful woman can bring to life.” [My wife, however, even more so, only the power dynamics are not present].
In other words, I have noticed how people have reacted as we have walked into a room, into a restaurant, into a bar. And I am drawing a thread together in linking what my bestie said, what my wife must be thinking, and what I am describing as an-outwardly presenting man walking into an elegant restaurant with a gorgeous woman…and what I have observed is that the glances we have had were just that, glances. Yes, noticed, but different than what follows. It was as if people looked at both of us.
Recently, we went out to a lively restaurant, no different in general location or socio-economic context, but I was not wearing my man-uniform. Instead, I was dressed quite flamboyantly in clothes that could clearly be said to be a little of both, though frankly, a man wearing a little of both has tipped his hand. Vive la difference! I only note my own attire as I noted at the time just how incredibly devoured Mistress was by the eyes of the men, and some of the women, in this restaurant. Please don’t misunderstand. She is always gorgeous. Perhaps she was also emanating a different kind of power that day than usual owing to circumstance, but I don’t think so.
What was going on?
Well, what I am wondering is that when I was with her in man-uniform, the glances were scans—I was being sized up, analysed to see whether I was enough for such an extravagance, and of course, the real attention was on her, but the open lust was kept in check. Whereas when I was there as a girlieboy with her, the male gaze assumed I was a friend, or gay, or no threat to their own potential advances, and so felt no hesitation in disrobing her with their eyes. It was intense. Even I could feel their stares (not at me, but the energy). Was there something about me being a girlieboy that made her more attractive to those who stared? Made her seem more accessible?
And this brings all of this back together for me. A bit of sexual politics. A bit of eros. A bit of figuring it out…And so, my question is this. My bestie was clearly expressing that entering the room with man-candy makes her feel good. My wife is clearly saying the same thing, though in a different way. But clearly being gender-bent candy contributes to something with very different energy in relation to the woman. What is that? What’s going on? How does it feel for her? And how the heck am I going to satisfy this need for my wife?