A grand lover of women
Eddie is a limousine-for-hire driver in Chicago. He's a very large black man of 38. He wears a black suit, white shirt and black tie when he drives, and black leather driving gloves. His sunglasses are by Gianni Versace. Extremely articulate, he is nonetheless soft-spoken and very kindly.
I wanted to cultivate this image of being a grand lover of women. So I speak this way, with this voice, because I want to be a man of authority. Not cruel authority. Rather the kind of man in whom women feel they can find strength, sympathy, intelligence.
I've found that women respond very favorably to a man who does two things: He asks them questions about themselves, and then he listens to the answers. It's remarkable how few men seem to do this. I've been very successful doing it. If you show respect for someone, they'll respect you, and I've had many women fall in love with me, or just want to go to bed with me, simply because I listened to what they had to say. I ask more questions and listen to more answers, and it has always worked.
In my work, I meet a lot of women. Women going to the airport, women going to the theater, women going to the museums. We talk while we drive, and that's where I find out if I'm going to ... well, usually I can see it in the rearview mirror, the way their eyes look at me. So I'm asking questions, listening to their answers, and watching their eyes. Not directly. Not overtly. Just glances from time to time. I can see it in the glances.
If a woman invites me into her apartment, I know I'm in. I'm very considerate. I don't push too hard. I don't insist. But when we begin making love, things change. Then it's as though this engine takes me over, and my penis becomes the center of everything. It feels that way to me, and the women feel the same way. They tell me that. They think I'm fine, attractive and all that. But they think my penis is a dynamo, some sort of creative blizzard.
This has been going on for years, and I used to classify it as a kind of gig, like a musician's gigs. But lately I've begun to understand what it's like for a musician to be on the road, night after night, club after club. It's got to be difficult for them, playing in so many places to so many audiences. But I imagine the thing that sustains them is the fact that they're playing. They're improvising all the time. They're looking into their hearts, no matter whether it's in Philly, Pittsburgh or Chicago. No matter the moment, they're feeling their heart.
It's not like that for me. I'm beginning to think that, although my penis is talented, its talent is nothing more than superficial. I'm playing the notes, but what the tune can mean, what it can make you feel -- that eludes me. These are nice women, usually. Some of them have even been in love with me. Some of them. But after it's all said and done, they don't really seem to be into it.
My penis is into it, but not my heart. So every time I get into my car and drive away, I feel like this beautiful limousine is pulling from the curb with a well-spoken, considerate, grand lover of women in it who, way down deep, is a shallow loner.
A gringo lover
Jeffrey is 28 years old, born and raised in Los Angeles. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, works in investment banking and is a salsa dancer of remarkable ability.
It doesn't interest me so much, but it sure interests the women I dance with that I'm white. I mean, look at me! I've got this curly blond hair. I look like a Swedish accountant. If you were a film director and you wanted to cast some swarthy matinee idol to play the lead in your movie about Che Guevara, maybe you'd go to Benicio Del Toro, but you'd never even look at me. Maybe you'd let me park your car or something. I mean, you wouldn't even notice me.
But I was born in the barrio in East L.A. My parents had grown up there and the Latinos just moved in around them over the years. I spent years dancing salsa, at junior high school parties and in high school. I've been going to the Mayan in downtown Los Angeles for years, and that's the biggest salsa club in the world! So, I can dance! Salsa, son, son montuña, mambo, merengue -- all of it.
Everybody was used to me in L.A., so this wasn't a big deal. But here in New York, it is a big deal. You know the Copacabana on West 34th? Every Tuesday night at 6 they have a deal where you can get in for 5 bucks. Five! And that includes a buffet meal -- you know, chicken, rice and beans on a paper plate. But it's delicious. The crowd gathers outside after work, so you see hundreds of women, every kind of woman, mostly dressed for work because that's where they're coming from. Wool skirts. Heels. Conservative! But these are Latin women, so they're there to dance.
The minute the doors open, the DJ starts up, and those guys play the best music ever. The dancing is immediate. The first time I went to the Copacabana, I couldn't get anyone to even look at me. I stood in line, and I had a coat and tie on because that's the way I have to dress at work. I did get a few looks, but they were mostly of, uh, amusement. I went inside and got a plate of food, and sat down to watch the dancing. It was right away astonishing, just as good as at the Mayan. The difference was that at the Mayan the women are dressed in next to nothing. It's L.A., after all. At the Copacabana on Tuesdays they all look like lawyers. But they're lawyers that can dance.
I sat and watched for about an hour, and no one even noticed me. But then I asked this one girl to dance. Alma. She's Puerto Rican, very cute, with beautiful makeup. She was wearing a business suit, kind of State Department style, you know, dark blue with a dark gray blouse. Except she had on 3-inch red heels that she'd brought in her purse. I asked her to dance because she was absolutely the best dancer on the floor. But when I asked her, she looked at me as though I was the geek who wins the science prize in high school. I think what got her to acquiesce was that I asked her to dance in Spanish. That was a big surprise.
The bigger surprise came after we'd danced a number (it was a Ray Barretto) and she asked me to dance another one.
"Where you from?" she asked.
"L.A.," I said.
"Everybody out there dance like you?"
She had kind of a Robert De Niro accent. I liked it.
"No," I smiled. She smiled back. "I'm the only guy that dances like me," I said.
Something that has always attracted me about Latina women is that they represent the Mediterranean to me. Warmth. Blue sea. They're very comfortable with themselves. I mean, anyone who can dance the way they do, can look at you the way they do, has to be comfortable about how they feel about themselves. Because they're moving in fact the way everyone else can move, but doesn't.
But Alma saw me as the exotic, I guess because she thought I'd had to come so much greater a distance than she had, just in order to dance the way I do. I mean, an emotional distance. A cultural distance. A white boy who dances like this?
Not that we talked about it all that much. Mostly the exotic thing for Alma once we had a chance to really, uh, relate is how my penis looks. We had danced several nights together, and really had started going out. She asked me to her apartment one morning after we'd danced all night. We were lying on her bed and she was kissing me. She was a little undressed, beautiful dark skin, with a gold necklace on, her eyes made up in blues and dark purples, beautiful. Black hair, fine hair shining in the light. And she took me into her hand and began giggling, a giggle of surprise, of delight.
"I never saw such a thing before," she said. She glanced up at me, into my eyes.
"I never made love to a man like you, Jeffrey." She kissed me.
"How so?" I asked.
"You're so pink!"
Lately, from some of the remarks that friends of Alma make -- kind of behind my back -- I think I'm getting a little reputation. I'm unusual. You know, there's always been this thing about Latin lovers? Well, I'm a gringo lover, and so there's a lot of speculation about me. It's nice speculation, just like Alma's laughter is nice. It's the laughter of -- discovery.
Jolene's given name is Edward. She's been Jolene for about 10 years and is very close to signing the paperwork for a sex-change operation.
I told my mother, and even though she was shocked out of her mind at first, she finally agreed, and now she supports what I want to do. My mother's been just great, really great about it. I'm not sure my dad would have been so, you know, so willing to go along. In fact I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been, and I guess it's good that he passed away before all this got to be such an issue. I've been through all the hormone changes. I haven't shaved in years. I've got tits now, beautiful ones and, you know, I'm kind of shapely!
The one thing that I find both funny and irritating, though, is that I still get these looks now and then from people in elevators or at the supermarket. It's as though they know! They can see that I'm, well, a tranny. Not quite a man, not quite a woman. I think it's because of my hands, actually, and maybe my shoulders. I'm a little embarrassed by my hands, if you want the truth. They're like my father's hands, and he was a building contractor. His were like slabs of meat. Mine are too, sort of, even though they're, well, they're more refined than his were! But it is hard to find a nice ring for my fingers. Women's rings don't come in my size.
This paperwork's a problem, though. Not that there's so much of it or anything. I mean, I can fill out a form! But I can't really do it yet. It's not as if I don't want to. I knew when I was 3 that I was a girl. Being a boy just never was interesting to me. So even though I had nice pairs of jeans and cowboy shirts and all that, I spent all my time being a girl, at least in my heart. I got beat up a few times in high school, by those jerks that go around beating up queers.
So it was a real blessing for me to get out of Las Vegas and go to Columbia. I was happy at Columbia. I got to read what I wanted to read, wear skirts and blouses, go shopping for shoes with other girls and be a girl, like I always wanted to be.
But still there's this paperwork. And here's the problem. I sit at my desk with my robe on. It's satin. It's dark blue. Real cute. There's all this paper in front of me. Releases and newsletters and legal documents and all this stuff! But there's also me spread out before me. And when I open my robe and look down at me, that's me there. My penis! I never thought of it as even a penis. Maybe a bulbous vagina. Or a kind of large-ish, uh, clitoris. But when you get right down to it, it's a penis. That's for sure. Can I possibly just erase it, like I'm planning to do? Is that fair? I mean, is that fair to it? Oh, I know I'll have a nice little pussy and it'll be pretty and womanly and all that. But I think, despite everything I just said, I worry that that penis really is me! It's just very confusing!
Everything in my life has been aiming toward this change, and in my heart, now, for the very first time ever I realize I'm a man, too. I sit here wondering, how can this be? Me? A man? So I touch it and a look at it and I try to figure out how I feel about doing it in like this. I probably will. I'm pretty sure I will. I've always been excited about what I'll be gaining when I do that. But it's likely I'm going to be losing something very important, and I'm worried about it. Worried about it! Which is something I never thought about until the moment I started filling out the damned paperwork.
Tomorrow: Little Timmy gets me in trouble