It didn’t happen all at once. It was by no means immediately obvious from the get-go. I didn’t even see it happening. Yet slowly, surely, over the years I became, for all practical purposes, a girl.
I could take the easy way out and blame the influence of my wife, but let’s be honest here, she was just the enabler, she was just the one who provided the nascent girl inside me with a safe place to come out and thrive. She’s just the one who had the girly toys laid out, waiting to be played with. It was always there inside me, waiting for its moment to seize the reins.
Back in the day, when I enjoyed the capabilities inherent in a young man’s robust youth, I might have seemed quintessentially masculine to the average observer. I certainly would have claimed to be. As an adolescent, emerging from years of vicious bullying by others of my gender – honestly, there were some horrible years of living as a gazelle on the Serengeti – I determined to up-armour. I started weight-lifting at about age 15. By the time I was taking my masters in Toronto, I was able to bench press as much as 350 lbs., I could do 25 chin-ups, I could whip off a hundred sit-ups, no sweat. Testosterone dripped out of my pores. By no means was I any sort of street fighter, but I worked hard to become sinewy enough to survive all but the most savage of beatings. I worked hard to at least appear like the wrong guy to fuck with. I wanted to make myself into a sort of castle, within which I could enjoy some measure of safety. It at least seemed pretty obvious that I was, without doubt, a guy. (The reader may rest assured that these old joints will sustain no such exertions today).
Yet the signs were there, if you cared to look. I had my close male friends, but the truth was, I didn’t really enjoy the company of guys, not in groups of any size. They never talked about anything meaningful, you know? I had always hated anything competitive – to compete is to strive to win, and you can’t win unless you see to it that the other guy loses. Screw that. No team sports for me. Little League? Be serious. I needed that “hey, batter batter” shit like a dose of the clap. Intra-mural floor hockey? Perhaps I could schedule some reconstructive dentistry instead? There were only two outcomes possible in such contests. Humiliate some other poor slob, and dance on the grave of his former ranking within the wolf pack, or accede to that fate for yourself. Kill or be killed. You have to understand. All of the games adored by young males are games of physical prowess, games of triumphant winners and abject losers. The aim is always to conquer, to vanquish utterly. The only real winning move was not to play.
As I began to mature, I even lost my taste for watching organized sports on TV. I started out caring about such stuff, the Stanley Cup, the Superbowl, the World Series. As the years progressed, I became less and less interested. If it was Team Canada vs. Russia in some hockey tournament then yeah, I was there – but I was only keen, I realized, because that sort of hockey involved more graceful skill, and much less violence. If it was Joe Montana helming the 49ers, then yeah, I wanted to watch the Superbowl something awful – but that was because the highlights of a game involving Montana were the miraculously precise passes to receivers that were only barely open, not the crushing tackles that left opposing players broken, probably to suffer chronic pain or concussion-induced dementia for life.
By the time I met my wife-to-be at law school, I was still trying to come on all manly and shit, but it was becoming obvious that I really wasn’t, and that I didn’t actually like many of the males in our first year cohort. They tended to be arrogant and insensitive. I actually fell in love with Kathy when I noticed her glaring, with death in her eyes, at some male jerks who were talking in class. We were in what they called “small group”, about 15-18 of us in a small room with a law prof. who was there to give us an intensive introduction to a particular branch of the law, in our case “torts”, the law of civil wrongs, negligence and such. These chattering fuck-wits insisted on carrying on with conversations as if they were in the cafeteria or something. It was completely dismissive of the professor’s dignity. I was inwardly mortified. And there was Kathy, across the table, like her pupils were about to shoot laser beams at the morons, obviously wishing an agonizing, lingering death upon the lot of them. That’s my girl. Festering boils to each of them, insensitive pricks.
Once I was married, and working at a Bay Street law firm, it became even more apparent that the only people with whom I really empathized were women. Again, there were a couple of guys I wanted to include in my inner circle, but mainly, it was women. All my best friends seemed to be women. I loved the interactions. You could talk to a woman. You could have a conversation. She wouldn’t try to one-up you. If you had a problem, and just needed to talk about it, she’d simply sympathize – she wouldn’t try to supply an obvious solution you’d already thought about, while implying, as guys always do, that you should be solving your problems with decisive action, rather than merely, weakly, lamenting them. As if the solutions were really that obvious. As if you needed them to supply possible answers any idiot could suggest, instead of simple, honest human sympathy. By contrast, women were warm, and funny, and emotionally receptive. Sometimes they just needed a sympathetic ear too, and it was immensely gratifying to provide one. After a while, you could gain their trust. Their genuine, unaffected trust. That was a magical feeling.
So it went. Over the years, as my career lurched forward in its vaguely semi-successful way, it remained that all of my close friends and confidants were women. If I was at lunch, it was with a woman. If I was having a closed-door consult with a lawyer about some work conundrum, it was with a woman. I felt like one of them. The issues that normally accompany gender seemed to dissolve. We talked. We sympathized. And in all those years of being close to so many women, and this is God’s truth, not once was there even the smallest flirtation, not once the slightest untoward advance either from or towards me. Now, viewed from a certain angle, that might seem a bit depressing to a fellow with an ordinary amount of ego. It might have been reasonable to expect just a little of that sort of energy, I mean, I bathed every day and was a sparkling conversationalist. Yeah, but whaddayagonna do? Some guys can inspire certain inclinations in females, some just can’t, you know? Anyway, the aim wasn’t to ruin my marriage!. I wanted friends I could open up to, and trust. That meant making female friends.
One time, Kathy and one of her BFFs happened to encounter me and one of my female confidants at a lunch venue, and Kathy’s friend later expressed firm but friendly concern: was Kathy comfortable that I was lunching all the time with all of these formidable women? Did she trust my motives? Was she suspicious of theirs?
Nah. Graeme just likes girls, that’s all.
My relentless feminization progressed. At first, I just watched movies and TV shows that Kathy wanted to watch as a way to be conciliatory. Then I started to enjoy them. Then I started investing in them. Then I started watching them when Kathy wasn’t even around. I found myself on the sofa, hypnotized by Say Yes to the Dress, and tut-tutting the wedding dress choices the women were making – oh, Hell no, honey, you don’t want the mermaid, it makes you look too hippy. Maybe something in an A-line. Don’t forget that rouching can obscure a world of sins! I don’t like that sweetheart neckline on you, sweetie, and maybe you should go for something with straps. I developed firm positions on the designs of Pnina Tornai – no, no, no, girl, that’s for the wedding night, not the ceremony, for goodness sakes! I’m there watching What Not to Wear, and egging the girls on to dress better. You’re a diamond in the rough, sweet thing. Change your wardrobe and soar like the good Lord intended! I had my favourite hair stylist. I became adamant about bangs, and highlights.
It only became more deeply ingrained. Once, I would have agreed with Pete Townshend’s assertion that “all men are bored with other men’s lives”. Perhaps, but why then was I sitting, slack-jawed, watching Married at First Sight? 90 Day Fiancé? Married by Mom and Dad?
I’ve seen the first Twilight movie about 22 times, for the love of Christ. I don’t even like it. Why not? Because Bella is the worst conceivable role model for a modern feminist girl! But Kathy wants to watch it, so I go along happily. Similarly, I’ve sat delighted through Pride and Prejudice, maybe 25 times. Oh, Mr. Darcy!!
Beats me. Oh well. It is what it is. At least, so far, I’ve shown no particular enthusiasm for flower arrangements. Too, unlike so many silly, misguided women, I’ve had enough good sense to be a fervent lesbian. Men. Yuck.