An Encounter Sadly Missed

| Jun 25, 2018
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It didn’t take me long to pick her out of the crowd. After all, there wasn’t much of a crowd. There never is on a Thursday morning at that particular Walmart Super Center.

My wife had sent me to pick up some bananas, eggs and a few household supplies. I was also told to make some prints of photos of her last ladies’ golf group trip that were stored on a USB stick in my pocket. I was also going to take the opportunity to browse the collection of new ladies’ swimwear on the racks as summer approached.

In other words it was another typical weekday morning for the semi-retired me except due to the hurried nature of the errand I was not in Linda mode. That was a bit unusual. I think they call the look ‘casual.’ In our world it is called ‘in drab.’

So there I was, walking down the big aisle at the Walmart, the one that leads customers from the entrance to the back of the store, ladies’ wear then housewares to the left, the market and groceries to the right. You know the one. Other Walmart Super Centers have the market to the right as you enter. That’s one of the things I like about Walmart: I can go in to pretty well any of their stores anywhere in the world and know where I will find what I want to find.

I wasn’t expecting to see her. But there she was. As I passed an elderly couple and a heavy-set woman also headed toward the back of the store, she was coming toward us. She was still some distance away but she was not hard for this expert to spot.

I first noticed her because she was wearing a skirt. This was Walmart. Most of the women were wearing jeans, shorts or leggings. Those who wore skirts usually had their hips bulging out. This gal’s skirt hung loosely from somewhere under her blouse. She had no hips. She had no butt. I could say she was an unusual sight for a Walmart in the American South where years of eating great quantities of sweet and fried foods takes its toll on the female figure. However this was Walmart -– where the unusual is the usual. To see what is considered extreme in that store after you finish reading this story go Google the term ‘Walmartians’. Hint: If you find your waist measurement is larger than your hip measurement your skirt is going to droop. I’m guessing this gal had a 34” waist and 28” hips. Like a lot of us she should check the hip pads available from The Breast Form Store or do as I used to do: fold over a small towel and wrap it around my hips inside my panty hose.

There was another thing: the check pattern of her blouse did not match the check pattern of her skirt. I’m sure Tasi would tell you that look rarely works from a fashion sense and it definitely did not work in this gal’s case.

Otherwise she was quite attractive. She was tall, almost as tall as I am. Her make up job was good. She was wearing lipstick and eyeliner. Her head was a bit large for her slim body but her pageboy haircut/wig framed her face nicely.

We were almost upon each other. The other folks beside me did not seem to be paying any attention to her. To be fair she was really quite nice looking compared to a lot of what we see in Walmart. The object of my attention was far from extreme. She just caught my attention because at another time, except for the plaids she could be me! Or I could be her! She was definitely somewhere on the transgender spectrum.

Being a sympathetic sort of person I felt I should say hello and try to reassure her that it is okay to be there. But again this is a Walmart in America. Strangers don’t say hello to each other. Just as we were about to pass two more things happened: I noticed a sort of ‘deer caught in the headlights’ look on her face as she faced the old couple, the heavy-set woman and the (handsome) man coming her way. She did not look too comfortable being out and about.

Then as I was going to say ‘hi’ suddenly, without looking where she was going, she made a right turn down one of the side aisles in the housewares section. Who does that? It was like a forest animal quickly making its escape. What could have frightened her? No one around me seemed to be paying any attention to her.

Well, that was not quite true. Since the time I had read her when I was at the daily specials and she was just passing the art supplies I had not taken my eyes off her. I had read her as a sister, a kindred spirit, one of us. I wanted to reach out.

However, seeing me seeing her, what had she seen? It might not have occurred to her that my interest could be friendly. The (handsome) guy staring at her could have seemed just another one of those rednecks populating that part of America. Perhaps she was expecting me to issue some sort of derogatory remark. Fight or flight? She probably thought flight was the best option. We’ve all been there.

Then it was my turn to make a route decision. Should I continue on to the camera section or turn and follow? I could quietly check her actions, perhaps invite her for a coffee and perhaps make a new friend. But again this is Walmart in America. It could be pretty well any store or street in America. Our movements and actions were certainly being recorded by a vast array of security cameras. There was a good chance somebody in the security section had caught and profiled her and was watching her every movement at that moment. If I were to follow and things subsequently somewhere went badly for her I would likely be picked out of the security tapes and broadcast as a ‘person of interest.’ Barely a day goes by on the local news when we are not being asked to identify this or that person of interest.

News Report: “Breaking News. This just in on the violent beating death of transgender activist Molly Milwall: Police have released this footage of a man seen stalking her hours earlier in the local Walmart. We know that they did not have contact at Walmart and they did not leave together but his actions at the store make him a person of interest. If you know this man please contact the local police.”

The guys at the golf club: “Hey that looks like that goofy Canadian guy, the one with the wicked slice who is always saying ‘eh’ at the end of his sentences. He’s a pain in the ass with his talk of great health care insurance. Let’s phone in the tip.”

So I let her go. Besides I had been sent on a series of Honey Dew missions. You know, ‘Honey do these errands for me!’

Once I had the photos and the groceries I did take a bit of a look around the store but it seems she was gone. At that moment she could have very well been back in a hotel room thinking how well she passed and that there had been only one guy who seemed about to give her trouble but she had taken swift evasive action. Been there; done that. I enjoy the thrill and the risk of being out in public and perhaps she does, too.

That was it for me and her but it was not the end of the story. The incident made me think about how difficult it is for us t-girls to read those that are reading us. How are we to know whether or not the feelings behind those second glances are of scorn, ridicule or something more friendly? What if the person does not want to threaten but wants to reach out maybe in support or perhaps to ask a question about something she’s noticed about her husband or boyfriend. That has happened to me before. What if the person is someone like I was, a fellow traveler but at the moment out in drab?

It does not happen too often but I can recall occasions when I have turned away or walked away when I felt someone was eyeing me with a little bit too much interest. I saw the interest as potentially leading to a threat. What might I have missed if the interest was more supportive?

So gals, it also got me wondering. Do we all have our strategies, our safety routes to escape confrontation? How many of us plan a ‘back way out’ of potential trouble? Just as if our home were to catch fire, do we have an escape route in mind when we go shopping? Or to a club? Or use a public restroom?

I don’t have those escapes. I’m at the stage in life where if someone were to be confrontational I think I would say, “I am who I am. Get over it!”

That is what I say I would say but here is the funny part. It took only 24 hours for ‘the shoe to be on the other foot.’ My wife was going to be away for five hours. I had time to go shopping by myself and to do it as Linda. I headed for a Super Target. It looks a lot like a Walmart but the colors are different. I had seen a new style of bikini there that I was sure would hold in my breast forms and my package down below. I wanted to try it and a dozen other things on. So off I went, wearing a simple blouse and jean skirt, low shoes and carrying my favorite purse.

No sooner had I exited my car and started the walk to the store than I noticed four ladies walking somewhat ahead of me and across my path. It was the kind of route people take when they have forgotten where they parked and are heading over a couple of rows of cars. They were dressed for the golf course and that is why I first noticed them. I love wearing golf outfits and I wanted to check out theirs. Then I noticed one of the ladies was looking at me. The others were talking with each other but the one kept looking at me. Women just don’t do that. No woman would ever look at a stranger with such intensity unless to her there was something very strange about the stranger.

I did not recognize her so I don’t think she recognized me. However she sure had read me. She was not giving me the look of ‘Wow! That gal is tall!’ or ‘that blouse does not go with that skirt.’ It was the look of ‘imagine, seeing a crossdresser out at this hour!’ or perhaps ‘I wonder if that is the guy my friend was telling me about?’

In any case now it was my turn to ‘fight or flight.’ I told myself I just did not want to be engaged in conversation, friendly or not, when there were bikinis to try on. Just like ships on the ocean I altered my course to avoid any chance of a confrontation. The incident passed. She probably went to her golf game and I found a bikini I liked enough to buy. Bring on the summer.

I know many of you are probably reading this and scorning me and my friend the day before for not staying our course and asserting our right to be there. Sorry gals, it was ‘just not my hill to die on,’ as they say.

Someday, some way, somehow I will stand my ground. However in the meantime I will be more aware that not everything more than a passing glance my way is for hostile reasons. If you see me in a Walmart or Target and you are in drab please say hello and if you offer to buy me coffee we could have a great conversation.

The moral of the story: We don’t have to be perfect to be passable. Very few women are perfect in their looks. Sometimes the biggest barrier to our own ‘pass-ability’ is our own self confidence or lack of it. We just have to avoid being offensive in our look and know that not every ‘reading’ is a hostile one.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul, Transgender Opinion

Linda Jensen

About the Author ()

Canadian writer Linda Jensen is a long time contributor to TGForum. Before the days of the Internet Linda started her writing with the Transvestian newspaper. Her writing ranges from factual accounts of her adventures to fiction although frankly sometimes her real life adventures are stranger than the fiction. Linda is married to a loving partner who upon learning about Linda said, "she was part of you before I met you. Although I didn't know it she was part of the package I fell in love with. I don't want to mess up that package." "Does it get any better than that?" asks Linda.

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