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Theresa Chapter 38

| May 25, 2009
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The Story So Far (TGF subscribers can read earlier installments): Terri’s SRS was only fifty days away — fifty days to shut down the last traces of her old life and move forward into her new life. Doing this kept her busy for the next 47 days, and now her SRS is only three days away. At this point, Brad calls to invite her to dinner at a new restaurant, and she realizes that she has to make some decisions about Eddie and Brad, the two men who seem most interested in her. Should she take this opportunity to break completely with the past? She’s not ready to make such an important decision on the spur of the moment, so she agrees to meet Brad for dinner. The evening is pleasant but uneventful until she asks him about his novel and its principal character — young what’s-his-name.

“His name is Alan,” Brad said. He paused. I suddenly felt a bit woozy.

“Alan,” Brad repeated – or did he? “Frank Allen. That’s what’s-his-name’s name.” He looked at me, appearing concerned. “Are you all right, Terri? You’re a little pale.”

Was he playing some kind of game with me? I took a deep breath. “I’m okay,” I said. “It’s just a bit warm in here.” In my next reincarnation, if I come back as a human being rather than an ant or a cow, I’ll insist on an uncommon given name that doesn’t sound like a common surname. “So, what happens to Frank?” I asked.

“Well, his parents pull him out of prep school and send him to a New York City private high school. He goes through a confused, antagonistic teen-age period. He alienates his parents, of course, and his father finally forces him to volunteer for military service to ‘make a man’ of himself. He eventually sees combat in Vietnam, where his cowardice costs a lot of American lives.”

“Does this come out of anything Jim told you?”

“No. This comes from personal experience. I served in Nam and I knew a guy who failed under fire, just as Allen did.”

“You don’t like Frank very much, do you?”

“I despise him,” Brad said.

“Do you despise the transsexual boy you really don’t know or the guy you used to know who couldn’t handle combat?”

“Both of them. The transsexual boy is my explanation for guys like the SOB I knew. He doesn’t have the guts to live the life he was born with.”

I felt a rush of anger tinged with sorrow. It was appallingly obvious that I had no future with Brad. Sooner or later, he’d learn more about my past, and then he’d despise me, too – if he didn’t already. I stood up and opened my purse.

“Is something wrong?” Brad asked.

“Yes.” I fumbled through my purse, pulled out some money, and dropped it on the table. “This will cover my share of the bill,” I said as I whirled around and headed for the door.

“Terri! What…? Wait a minute!”

I turned to face him. “There’s only one thing you need to know,” I said. “The boy at Littlefield, the one Jim told you about – his name was Alan Sayers, and I was that boy.” A few nearby diners openly stared at me.

“Terri! I…” He stood up and started to come around the table, but our waiter, check in hand, intercepted him. That would hold him up for a minute or two, I thought as I hurried out of the restaurant. By some miracle, a taxi was just dropping a young couple off in front of the restaurant. I jumped in before the driver could pull back into traffic and told him to take me home.

As you might imagine, I didn’t sleep at all well that night. I moved from place to place on my bed, unable to get comfortable long enough to turn my brain off. Why had I given Brad that clue to my past? Perhaps he already knew I was Alan and was toying with me. Perhaps he didn’t know – in that case, I suppose I was telling him to do what he would with the information. Let the despising begin.

I finally dropped off around six and slept for about three hours before getting up and staggering to the kitchen, where I found a fresh pot of coffee and a note from Mother. She had errands to run and two performances to perform, but she hoped she’d see me, late that night or sometime tomorrow morning, before I went to the hospital.

Once again, I realized, it was Theresa vs. The Universe. No friends or family about; not even a household cat to ignore my questions and pleas for advice. I drifted easily back into the arguments I’d had over and over with myself during the last few years.

I don’t know why I had to keep going back into my uncertainties. Surely, by now, I knew all the pros and cons of SRS as it applied to my life and situation. But I was tired and my brain seemed incapable of concentration as each of those pros and cons made its case over and over again. In any event, I’ve talked about all these things before, so there’s no need to bore you by repeating them in agonizing detail, even if I can’t stop inflicting them on myself.

Dad once told me that one could sometimes resolve a problem by writing down the arguments on both sides — as if the pros and cons would stop vying for attention if you gave them a little respect. I found a pad of paper and a pen, and I made two lists:

I feel like a woman
I think like a woman (I think)
I’m living and working as a woman
My career as an actress is beginning to show signs of progress
Because I want to – I have to – be as much of a woman as I can
Passing just isn’t good enough
I need to be legally female for peace of mind
Jessie needs a mother more than a father
But Jessie needs a father too, so I need to find one for her
I can’t be happy as a man

So I can mend fences with my mother, father, sisters
So Jessie can have real blood-related (half-)siblings
Jessie needs a born-female mother (too many things I could never teach her)
I couldn’t have children – that could make it hard to find a father for Jessie
So I can get back on good (?) terms with Norrises, for Jessie’s sake
Financial sacrifice – cost of SRS, also actresses paid less than actors
Could pass for a woman without surgery – I’ve been doing it
SRS pain and danger
Am I sure I could be happy as a woman?

I leaned back, sighed, and re-read my notes. The correct decision was suddenly obvious. I had chosen to have surgery for purely selfish reasons, against the advice and wishes of my family and friends. I would cancel the surgery. Now, where had I hidden Dr. Sterling’s home phone number? It must be somewhere in my room.

My room was a woman’s bedroom, completely refurnished and redecorated since I decided I was no longer Alan. There was nothing of Alan anywhere, except for a few papers and photos in the bottom of a bureau drawer. Where was Dr. Sterling’s number? I felt queasy, weak in the knees, despondent, but I’d made the right decision…

But canceling my SRS was a woman’s decision, based on relationships and the needs of others, heedless of my own needs. Therefore, I was a woman. The surgery would only validate what I already was. I made a new decision: I would have surgery.

Exercising a woman’s proverbial right to change her mind seemed to confirm my femininity. Under the circumstances, I had no problem with stereotyping myself…

Two life-changing decisions in two minutes! What a gal!

As much as I had agonized over my SRS decision, as many times as I had made, unmade, and re-made it over the years, I was happy at last — everything felt exactly right. With all that introspection finally behind me, I needed to talk to someone, but I was all alone. Well, I had the telephone; I could talk to Eddie. I called his number in Los Angeles, but no one answered. I could call Barbara. She was home; we chatted for a few minutes, and then she put Jessie on the line. Jessie was having a grand time with her cousins. They were playing hide-and-seek, and Jessie was about to be It. I promised to call her tomorrow evening and she went back to her game.

The apartment was vast and empty, and I felt lonely. Since Mother wouldn’t be home for hours, I had two options. I could make dinner for myself and watch television, or I could go out for a burger and a movie. The second option was by far the more inviting. I hurried into my bedroom to change clothes and fix up my hair and makeup.

I didn’t need much time to get ready for my solo evening on the town. As I reached for the doorknob, the phone rang. Could it be Brad, calling to apologize — or to tell me he’d contacted the local Mafia and put a price on my head? I almost went out the door without picking up the phone, but something told me to answer it. It was Eddie!

“Eddie! I tried to call you about an hour ago, but you didn’t answer.”

“I couldn’t; I wasn’t there. I was over Pittsburgh or somewhere. I’m at JFK; just arrived. My flight was two hours late. I was afraid you’d be going out and I’d miss you.”

“You almost did — I was just headng out the door. Are you here on business again?”

“You’re my only business this trip. I just wanted to see you again…before…”

“You’ve spent all that money just to see me?”

“Afraid so.”

“I’m honored, sir.”

“You said you were on your way out. Do you have plans?”

“I plan to see you.”

“Terrific! Dinner, dancing? Don’t go anywhere-I’ll catch a cab and get there just as fast as I can.”

“I’ll be waiting for you,” I said happily.

I was dressed for a quickie meal and a movie, not dinner and dancing — but I could take care of that. Eddie!

To Be Continued

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Category: Fiction


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

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