Am I naive? Or just new? I keep thinking that “my next post will be the happy ending(?) of my posts about online dating… or lack thereof.
Dating, I mean.
This is crazy. It can’t be this… silly. Someone asks someone else out and they go someplace to chat and learn about each other and see if there’s a there, there. Right?
Maybe it’s my target demo. As a 57-year old woman going on the edge of seventeen (Stevie!) I set the age parameters at 45 to 65. I’m a reasonable, mature woman, I don’t expect to be some forty-year old’s mid-life crisis. And anyway, my forties sucked. From 36 to 45, I thought my body was in the worse shape of my life – using work and stress and any other excuse I could find to justify not working out. The truth is my ancestors (Irish & Scottish on my father’s side, Finnish, Polish & Swedish on my mother’s ) are prone to many things of which I am most proud – Storytellers, Poets, Scrappy Warriors who never back down (look across the histories of all my pedigrees, none of them have ever let anyone hold them down for very long) but exercise and eating right? Our diets will always start after the next whiskey.
So, I set the bar a little higher on the three (at last count) dating app profiles but I always swipe left for anyone under 49. I am already struggling to find things to talk about — I don’t wanna get called out for not knowing an entire decade of pop culture and other small talk… and maybe that’s the rub. Three dates (so far) pulled the rip cord hours before our pre-negotiated meeting time by playing the illness card. (making the above case) One “back thrown out,” one “tummy-ache,” and one was “just not feeling well.”
It didn’t help that each time I was already into “date pre-pro” which is a three hour process of trying on and discarding half my wardrobe in utter disgust – finally settling for “something, somewhat cute” then hair and make-up (I’ve gotten eyeliner down to a maximum of two complete attempts.) And each time the red abort light went on, I was stopped somewhere between shapewear and curlers…
Maybe this is why these guys are single? (Ya think?) Do they know how much we’ve got in on this stupid coffee or measly glass of wine? They can pull a shirt form the dryer (still damp) and run out the door and we’re supposed to smile and think “Awe, boys will be…”
Gimme a break – put your back into it guys and push even just a little… I’m a freakin’ catch, bitch!
But okay… that’s not what I’m writing about today. And so spoiler alert, this isn’t the happy ending either, it is a slightly different cul-de-sac encounter on my way to one (please God, I’ll even settle for slightly amusing at this point.)
No… today’s post is about collateral damage.
For those of you who’ve been following this thread, you met “Aubs,” Aubrianna, a young woman I met as her mentor in the SDSU TV & Film Production Mentorship Program. She’s an amazing person, who made the jump just this month to come to Hollywood and pursue her dreams (despite my warnings that only the strong survive and we eat our young, bladdity bladdity blaaaaa – I never listened to these warning either when I was her age. so good for her, she passed test one).
She has been a gracious house guest (despite her love for the Batchelor – which is like watching a car crash for me, and our enabling of each other of drinking wine on a school night). Aubs must be born under some powerful stars, because inside of the first week of being here she found her new apartment, she got an interview with a Producer on a hit network show and was standing next to me when I got invited to a real bonafide “Oscar After Party” – and was “Taft-Hartleyed” into the invitation as well. She should buy a lottery ticket – she’s on fire!
Now, for those of you outside the ‘Studio zone” (the thirty mile radius of Hollywood the unions use to determine additional compensation for its members that all productions adopt to stay competitive) – The Oscar After Party is the mythical chimera that you have to pretend you’re too cool to want, or so bored you have to go to… again, but is for all intents and purposes the annual Prom night for Tinseltown. You’re either going, or quietly envious.. especially if you’ve… never gone.
Fair disclosure? I have watched the Oscars and the Emmy’s mouthing my own acceptance speech along with each winner. Marcy and I would always dream-up “the dress” we would wear to the awards when the day came that we would be walking the steps to the podium, (she was prone to Thrift-store vintage, me, I’m holding out to wear the hottest designer du jour). I have never watched the broadcast without waiting to exhale for the three hours, not because I had a horse in the race, but because one day, I will (for reals) .. and it just hasn’t happened yet.
So when we got the invitation, I went all in. This was a “red carpet dresscode” and I ask you… do you have a real honest-to-goodness evening gown? I’ve acquired a lot of frocks since I became everyone’s favorite Barbie. Many generous souls have created my wardrobe. I am supremely grateful. It’s one of the most beautiful and tangible examples of acceptance from the divine women/angels in my life. Audie, Robyn, Auntieji, Ana, I have everything from LA casual to St. John’s Palos Verdes fabulous.
But I’ve never even tried a real, evening gown on, let alone had one.
So it was off to Santee Alley. The famed “dress row” of the downtown fashion district. And 40 dresses later, I had my frock. The next day I was guide (now thst i”m an expert) for Aubs came (and I had pick mine up from being was altered) and…
…she nailed hers on the first freakin’ dress she tried on. I wanted to hurl. The dress practically jumped off the rack onto her body! (bitch!) and then she found the perfect shoes next store. It was over so fast we even had time to celebrate with a trip Phillipe’s (famed french dip sandwiches) since we were stil one day outside of the “carbs?-are-you-insane-you-have-an-Oscar-Gosh-Darned-Party-to-go-to” zone.
And Aubs had a friend who stepped forward to do both our hair and make-up. On the “day of,” we went down to hang with Cassidy, who, in between “bong-rips” mades us both fabulous. (Look I’m not judging – she was great!) We raced back from El Segundo (hey, I will drive for contouring!) got dressed – were smart enough to shoot some quick pics in case tonight’s rain ended our Cinderella night before we could prove it happened, and jumped into our Uber…
Now, If April showers bring May flowers, Oscar Awards bring torrential rains. Many use this as a way to prove the Soddom & Gomorrah thingy, but we prefer to see it as the blessing from the Universe that our work is sacred. Potato-Tomato. So we sloshed across the hastily laid astroturf that was better at protecting the Beverly Hills Mansion’s lawns than the hems of our full length frocks…
…when we got inside the Best actor Award was being announced (even though our invitation was for the after party only) and we were in Oz, down the rabbit hole – thru the looking glass all in one. Magic. Excitement. The air was electric…
And we looked good.
After a few cocktails, some flirting, some dancing, and lots of air kisses, hanging out with the party’s host, the Fabulous MacAfrica (not enough time to describe this force of nature) and the divine Ruthie (the star of last blogs post), more selfies,
a mini-concert with Dennis Quaid’s band the Sharks.
… yes, it was time to try to find the ladies room.
When I returned, a forty-going on sixty something man was chatting up Aubs. I joined in and Aubs introduced me as her aunt (we’d agreed – it was lovely) and the man graciously acknowledged my intrusion. But we all settled fairly quickly into a nice chat and somehow I got on the subject of my career in “reality tv” to which, he said, “well it’s kinda like what’s going on here…”
Aubs and I were both confused by his suddenly going all meta on us, breaking the “fourth wall” on what seemed like a conversation. “Sorry?” I said, whiplash just beginning to bruise my neck from the sudden left turn (with no signal!). The air seemed to freeze and I swear the music stopped…
He blinked a moment, and looked at me and said, “well, we’ve got a fake woman, here,” and he pointed at Aubs, and said, “…and a real woman, here.”
We were both stunned.
Well, he said, without any compunction whatsoever, “You’re a transvestite, aren’t you?”
Gobsmacked… my minded stopped like Wylie Coyote in that half second in the air, thirty feet past the edge of the cliff, right before gravity yanks them by the tail into terminal velocity …
I managed to stammer out, “… no.” trying to sound as calm as possible. Desperately teetering on the tightrope between dignity, protecting my transiblings, and a possible murder conviction.
You’re not? He pressed.
Now I am getting weightless. That sickly, disorienting feeling of surreality that comes and you no longer have any connection to your own body or reason.
This is where Aubs stepped in, my Champion, astride a shining stallion red off-the shoulder gown flowing in the unseens winds… “This conversation is over.” She said, with the surety of a death sentence.
Is it? He challenged, with the utter unshakable gall that is white male privilege.
“Oh, yes,” replied Aubrianna, The Red, with fist balling and pupils narrowing to predatory malice.
He slunk away without another word.
Are you alright? She asked, the malice instantly replaced with gentle concern. Yes, I nodded. And bucked myself up with all the cliche’s — I didn’t care about that assclown’s opinion before we started talking why do I now?, He’s a typical doooooosch. etc. etc.
But it stung like hell. But, I took a breath and put it away — I was not going to blow Aub’s first Oscar Afterparty in what I hope for us both will be a long string that will blur into blasé.
We finished off the evening with a few more trips to the Vodka Ice fountain, more dancing and another Lfyt ride. Then it was sweet Oscar dreams for us both and I’m sure she was as giddy as I was when oxygen finally hit my brain after peeling off my shapewear and getting my first full breath in hours…
But my dreams were short lived – I was still stung.
But, you would’ve been proud of me. I waited three whole days until we were safely away from the after Oscar glow to ask Aubs, “Be honest. Is there anything that could’ve…”
I couldn’t find the right words – cuz here’s the thing about me and some (not all, we are not and never will be, one size fits all) I DO, finally after 48 years of hating, ignoring and eventually not seeing what is in the mirror, like what I see.
Even tho’ I can see all my imperfections.
And before my cisters jump to my defense, you must understand this – YES YES YES all women must deal with society’s expectations and mysogynistic, patriarchal standards of beauty. Yes we’ve all been taking one step forward and ten steps backward at self-love, self-care and not anything-shaming, and some days are better than others but here’s where we, my trans women and I have an added element that many of our cisters still have a hard time understanding (while others get it right away). Our bodies were forged in the crucible of testosterone. And despite all of the surgeon’s skill and inner meditation and self-love, we can still see where we were and where we aren’t, on top of all the above mentioned beauty issues that every woman deals with. It’s a triple whammy. A three-headed Cerberus waiting for us in every mirror.
And for me. I know that the tag-team wrestling match between enlightenment & acceptance and self-consciousness & cynicism is a no-holds-barred match which IS the journey. And I’ve been winning more often than not through the love and acceptance of my family blood & chosen.
So… asking this question without selling myself out was a tricky affair… and thankfully, Aubs stepped in before I tied the noose.
“Nothing. Not at all. I have no idea what could’ve possibly given that idea.”
“Was it… my… voice?” Which, truth be told, sells me out on every phone support call. I have a prepared speech that doesn’t even work thirty seconds after I give it… so, I get it. If you cannot see the lipsticked mouth saying it, you will naturally infer sir.
“No,” said Aubs, trying really hard to help me. “Maybe… honestly, it’s your height?” She could be right. I was never tall when the world regarded me as Scott. But now? I’m the tallest in every group photo… sigh.
As my wounds started to heal (licking does actually help, mom!) I was ready to dig into why this was still bothering me days later… when I was interrupted by the ding of a bumble message coming in… Apparently, Someone was all abuzz about me… (their words not mine.)
Yes. He was handsome. And (sigh) he was “in the biz” (a grip) making me suddenly “Get it” guys in my biz need Bumble, Tinder, and Plenty of Fish because they’ve been shiite at relationships, working too long on my and my fellow showrunner’s sets…
After some playful banter back and forth, I got…
“WHOA – I just saw that I missed a very important aspect of your profile… but I actually do think you are amazing and I would still like to get to know you.”
He was talking of course about my trans-proclamation:“I don’t want to be the first transgender woman that you’ve dated, and if you cannot take me home to meet your family, then we can’t be friends, let alone lovers.”
As I’ve said, I don’t want to be someone’s teacher or hold someone’s hand while they dip a toe “into the wild side,” and I for sure, don’t want to be someone’s fetish. I also don’t want to state any of the above with any apology, any shame, or any anything, not me.
But his WHOA… pissed me off.
I tried to tell him that saying it in that way made me feel like it was everything I tried so hard to make sure it wouldn’t be. And that his saying he would “still” like to get to know me makes it sound like I’m “less than,” and he’s making it seem like he’s making a concession, deigning to meet me.
I tried to be gracious and thread the needle between standing up for myself and making it a teachable moment.
He shot back, “Well, come on, give me a break,
Like the Oscar assclown, I felt the air literally sucked from lungs. As a zillion retorts jumped from the ropes into the melee to be the first to tear him a new one, grace and decorum quietly snuck through the roiling chaos, and I watched as my fingers typed:
“You could not be more wrong or offensive. I am a woman. You are right. I am an amazing person. And when you can understand that, come find me.” I then unmatched him – Bumble’s way of flushing the toilet. A digital mic drop.
And that’s when the lightbulb went on – I could see why this and the Oscar dooosch had gotten so far under my skin. They both had the unshakable faith that they had done/said nothing wrong. Even when it was pointed out to them. They doubled down. They never once took a breath – listened to the world and said, gosh, maybe I got this wrong. I’m sorry.
It’s so cray, because this is not a subject that is new. Trans is a word that is all over the news (the good the bad and the republican), “they” as a reference to non-binary folx is Webster’s word of the decade, so how could these clowns be sooooo fucking ignorant? Arrogant or both?
Oh, Scottie Jeanette, bless your ever loving heart. The answer my friend is blowing in the wind…they’re both fucking dudes.
Now. I can hear the throats clearing and the eyes rolling from here. Everything from isn’t she charming patting of my head to resigned sllghtly sympathetic eyebrow raising to out and out denials and excuses made for the testosteroned ones… but, you all know what I’m talking about. The depth of their privilege and the lack of even a flash of awareness was stunning. Startling. Depressing. And it made me feel hopeless.
Because of our work, and the folx I run and hang with, my life can feel like it’s a fantasy. If I shut out the constant news cycle, and ignore the shenanigans in our nation’s capitol, the world feels like a fantasy come true, progressive, diverse, beautiful and thriving.
Not everyone is Queer, but we are sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces, nephews, uncles, brothers and sons of everyone, so you might not be us, but you know us and how to respect us.
But these are encounters in L-freaking-A, for phuc-sayk! Are you kidding me? And where do we start to get these perfect specimens to open their hearts or even try to understand…?
I realize that it may never happen. Those two idiots explain why we have to fight for the rest of our lives to be human. Because somebody’s gotta do it, and it clearly ain’t them.
So wtf to do? WTF… to do?
I set out on Bumble (and Tinder and Plenty of Fish) to find someone “man enough to love me as much as I could love him, strong enough to hug me harder than I could him.”
I never knew I was looking for a unicorn.
Everyone tells me that I’m going to meet someone who’s going to literally fall out of the sky.
Cuz it ain’t happening on my phone…
Scottie Jeanette Madden
Screenwriter, Author, Cook and Lover. Author of "Getting Back To Me, from girl to boy to woman in just fifty years" & "Recklass In The Kitchen" a year of light, laughter & love... oh. and food!