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No Strings Attached

| Dec 24, 2018
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Lynda at the house party with fellow guests.

On the weekend after Thanksgiving, I ventured down I-95 from Philadelphia to DC for a two-night stay at the Hilton in Georgetown to weave some social fabric. I had booked the trip in June and got a two for one deal on the room. All I had to do was sit through a time share presentation. On the week before the event, I decided I had better get on the coconut telegraph, and began messaging select friends to see what was cookin’.

Some people are excellent at clipping coupons, capitalizing on Black Friday Sales or planning meals. I am below average at these skills. Me, I concentrate on filling up my social calendar. It’s a dangerous game that can lead to mounting credit card debit, but you only go around once right? And besides the Editor-In-Chief for the world renowned TGForum is counting on me to bring the fun. That is just not going to happen if I hang out at my bachelorette pad and watch the Hallmark Channel, although, I do love watching those sappy, predictable love stories. More about that topic later (A cliffhanger). Anyway, I set out various hooks and waited, though it wasn’t long before my friends Beth and Giselle messaged me that they were free and game for partying on Friday night.

To start the weekend off on Thursday, I attended the Bebashi Charity Fundraiser at the Hilton near Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia with my friends Jone and Chris and other esteemed members of the Independence Business Alliance, which is the local chapter of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Congress. Bebashi is focused on HIV Outreach for people of color, who are currently the most at risk for infection. Though the event was filled with people I had never seen before, I felt welcome and did my best to look relevant and mingle at the cocktail party. Charity galas are socializing with a higher purpose. With a pre-determined dinner menu, I got freedom from choice. Yes! I will take more wine please! The entertainment featured a live performance by Rueben Stoddard of American Idol and Broadway fame and was followed up by a DJ. The dance crowd was enthusiastic and we all got down, got funky and got loose. Having had a few friends who died of AIDS in the ‘80s, AIDs prevention is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart, so I was proud to take part in the event.

After Thursday night’s revelry, I enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in on Friday. While I had Beth, Giselle , and Tracy who was in town from California on tap for a visit to a new LGBT bar on Friday night, Saturday night was still a wild card. There were reports of a house party, but It was by invitation only. With Saturday night still wide open, I had to pack to be ready for everything from simply staking out the hotel, working out, maybe a trip to the hot tub, reading and relaxing to museum and monument tours to an excursion to Freddies in Arlington. Freddies is a compact LGBT bar known for its Karaoke.

While I was debating wardrobe choices, Beth sends me a message asking if I am interested in having dinner on Friday night with one of her makeover clients Stephanie who is in town from Kansas City on a business trip. Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come, they got some crazy little women there and I am going to get me one. Why of course, this exercise is all about meeting new people. Hey, it’s not like I don’t have a lot of great friends already, I do, but, my theory is that you are not going to meet that special someone sitting at home. I am told this footloose and fancy free, full-court press stage is very common for women like me who have just transitioned.

Three hours later with two jam-packed suitcases I was ready to roll, totally confident that I was going to look fashionable without looking like I was trying too hard, which of course I was. The key to packing is staying organized and though I had a rough idea of the fall looks I was going for, my summer wardrobe dominated my closets. I have been focusing on purging my male wardrobe, since I am never, I repeat never, going to wear male clothes again. Needless to say, my closets are not in sync with the seasons and packing was a free for all, multi-floor scavenger hunt.

Anyway, by early afternoon on Friday, I was headed down the I-95 corridor which for me is filled with flashback memories of courting my ex-wife, family reunions and business trips. I crank up the music from my onboard collection of CDs and let my mind wander. As the spirit moves me I will sing along until my mind seizes upon a salient thought at which point, I will turn the music down and talk to myself to practice my feminine voice.

I arrived in Georgetown under cover of darkness, checked in, and immediately began primping for dinner, so much for the rest and relaxation. My new friend, Stephanie and I traded text messages. She was about to make a return trip to Nordstrom Rack to pick up a dress that she had scoped out the day before and then head to my hotel room to try on the dress. Alas, the dress of her dreams had been plucked from the racks, so we decided to simply meet outside my hotel. Stephanie had learned an important lesson about clearance racks. Carpe dressem. Seize the dress!

I had no clue what she looked like, but she recognized me from my Facebook page and called out “Lynda”. . . I turned around and there she was . . . in a powder blue ski jacket and jeans looking like a very put together girl next door, a.k.a., soccer mom deluxe. We hit it off right away and strolled about 10 blocks down M Street to Farmers, Fishers Bakers, which featured farm-inspired American fare. The place was packed inside, so we took a table outside with a view of the skating rink. We enjoyed a hearty meal under the twinkling holiday lights and heat lamps as our conversation about the path to transition flowed effortlessly.

My loosely panned mini-vacation was of to a flying start, but I had forgotten my cellphone which was likely still charging next to the sink in my hotel room. There would be no selfies to record this introduction to my new friend from Kansas. Giselle picked us up from the restaurant with Tracy riding shotgun, while Stephanie and I sandwiched Beth in the cozy back seat and we headed up to the new GLBT (grilled lettuce bacon and tomato) bar complex in the Adams Morgan section of Metro DC called A League of Her Own and Pitchers. This bar ‘complex’ features five floors of fun. A League of Her Own on the bottom floor was buzzing with 20-something lesbians. Pitchers on the top floor is dominated by gay men and on the middle floors there’s a dance floor and a sports bar that serves bar food. We toured the floors and eventually set up shop on the dance floor. It was dead when we arrived, but after a few rounds, I was ready to warm up the dance floor, so I simply started dancing. By 11 o’clock the tide had come in and the dance floor was jamming with a wide spectrum of partiers doing their thing to the infectious beat.

Stephanie and I bid adieu to the rest of the crew who split and we melted down at the sports bar until closing. Then we headed out to the street and I hailed a cab back to the hotel. When I last saw Stephanie she was arranging for an Uber. She got about 2 hours of sleep that night as she had an early flight back to Kansas. I reunited with my cellphone back at the hotel, and we kissed and hugged. I missed her. I was delighted to find that one of my DC contacts has already paved the way for me to the house party on Saturday night.

So on Saturday, I had to attend a two-hour timeshare presentation courtesy of Hilton Grand Vacations. What an honor! I got a nice spiel from a polished lady followed by a visit from the closer, a suit and tie guy. They had practiced their lines, and I had practiced mine. “No, no, a thousand times, no!” “No means no.” What part of no do you not understand? “I am simply not in a position to participate.”

At last I was free to go find some real food, so I strolled down M Street in the rain until I found a Mexican Restaurant. My friend Lisa from DC had more details about the Party to share with me. The theme was camouflage. Didn’t see that coming. I had prepared for a variety of fashion scenarios, but I had not packed any camouflage. I debated the merits of shopping for camo at a sporting goods store versus a nap. It was no contest, the nap won, but first I picked up a bottle of Malbec so I wouldn’t arrive at the party empty handed.

Walking in the rain.

After primping, I headed over the Key Bridge into Arlington and set a course for the house party. It was a dark and stormy night, but I made it to the school parking lot across the street with no problem. Lisa rolled in a few minutes later and proceeded to apply her makeup on the spot in her visor mirror. Since I didn’t know the hostess Clio very well, Lisa was my guide to adventure and we walked into the party together. It felt like running a red light. What exactly was in store?

Wonderful conversations, that’s what. It was a pretty mellow scene, but don’t let that fool you. We simply sat and talked. I wasn’t wearing camouflage, and had opted for an orange leopard print tunic with sparkles woven into the fabric. Meanwhile, most the partygoers had managed to incorporate at one item of camouflage into their ensembles. About a half an hour into the festivities an attractive woman dressed as a sexy space traveler in a silvery costume complete with silver helmet, silver platform shoes and a ray gun appeared. Clearly, we were under attack. I instantly felt better about my wardrobe choice as she had clearly gone way, way over the top in a very unique and creative way.

After a little less than three hours of sipping wine and intelligent conversations with fascinating cis and transgender earthlings including free-spirited Monica, I followed Lisa out the door and into the night hoping to meet up with friends at Freddies to put an exclamation point on my visit to DC.

I had hoped to surprise a contingent of DC trans women who I knew would be at Freddies that night. Alas, the baboon tribe had already left moments before I arrived, leaving behind empty margarita glasses and a few survivors I recognized from previous trips to DC but could never identify in a line up. I was starving at that point, so I ordered a cheeseburger and an IPA. I staked out the bar and pondered my Karaoke song choice.

I devoured the cheeseburger and every single French fry and nursed my beer. I thought my karaoke debut was eminent. When it was apparent that closing time was fast approaching and my number had not been called, I lobbied the DJ. I sang a spirited rendition of Rosalita by Springsteen. I am a natural baritone and decided I wasn’t quite up to tackling a song with a femme voice.

I returned to my barstool, my home away from home and the guy next to me compliments me on my efforts. And then bam out of the blue, he throws me a line “Wanna have some fun? No strings attached?” I smiled and said “Oh, I’m into girls, but thanks for asking (with a smile). Had he been attractive things might have been different. But what I was really thinking at that point was something more along the lines of: “What if I want strings to be attached? A date with intelligent conversation, foreplay, that sort of old-fashioned romance thing? I don’t even know your name and you want to hookup, no strings attached? Forget it! I douse him with the remains of my IPA. Or I could have used one of my latest patented brush off lines “Sorry but I have to get up early for church tomorrow.”

I made my way back up I-95 on Sunday. Back in my sanctuary, I opted not for NFL football, but a romantic comedy called Table 19. It features a happy, girl and boy get back together again ending. Afterwards, I had myself a good cry.

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Lynda Martini

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