It was October 2009. The leaves were falling in Asheville, and tourists were cramming into downtown like a lost, mad mob on the loose. I was at the height of my emotional and financial anxiety. I had been stressing about losing my house for about three months. The banks were up my ass! I was sick of their self-righteous overblown bullshit — and everyone else for that matter. I thought, to hell with all of them.
It was time for me to make a sea change.
I asked Scotty, my friend and hairdresser, to give me a short, short cut. He gave me his version of the GI Joe cut. When I left the hair studio, even the shop owner was a bit frightened for me. She looked at Scotty like he had just created a monster. I looked like I just got out of the Marines. I was pleased.
Scotty was a bit anxious, too, but not because of my haircut. He was about to go to trial on some bogus DUI charge. Really, he was homeless and sleeping in his van in a huge parking lot downtown. Some rookie cop knocked on the door of the van. Scotty answered the door and the cop wrote him up for a DUI because he found a half a fifth of vodka in the van. The keys weren’t even in the ignition. The poor boy was sleeping it off – not driving around. The rookie cop took him in anyway.
I didn’t want Scotty to have to go alone to the Buncombe County Courthouse and face these charges. I mean, who could he bring with him? His mother? She was mad at him. So I offered to go to his first court date with him. I picked out my clothes the night before: a pair of men’s tweed grey slacks, a blue collared dress shirt, man’s belt, man’s shoes, man’s wallet. I topped it all off with a man’s duster/raincoat in black that covered up my tits. Scotty and I needed to be there at 8:30 a.m. and I had to leave the courthouse at 10:30 a.m. to make it to my therapy appointment on time. I hardly thought about what the therapist would think. She’d just have to deal with my drag. Maybe she could deconstruct me.
We arrived at Buncombe County Courthouse around 8:30 a.m. It’s a gorgeous courthouse that was designed and built at the height of Asheville’s art deco era. They did an amazing job on the historical renovation, keeping the painted ceiling and extravagant marble stairways with decadent fixtures intact. There were even stone gargoyles near the ceiling. It was an awesome place. I’d never had a reason to come here until now.
We came through the door where security is stationed. You have to put your wallet and keys on the conveyor belt and pass through the checkpoint. As I was coming through the metal detector I saw a dyke officer in full uniform, with a gun and everything. She smiled at me. She seemed to be the only one who knew I was a woman. There were male guards all around but they didn’t pay any attention to me at all. I smiled back at her but I was absolutely silent.
Scotty and I made our way up the long staircase. The place was mobbed with petty thieves, dope dealers, crack heads, and quite a few people who had fallen behind on their rent. I got in line and waited with him. We talked a bit to pass the time, but I could tell the poor boy was nervous. He filled out a paper requesting a public defender. I told him he wouldn’t be arraigned today, that they would postpone his trial until he could speak to his lawyer. He was still a nervous wreck. I was glad I was there.
Just as he was about to go into the courtroom, a male officer turned to me and said, “Sir, unless you are on the docket, you can’t go in there.”
Scotty looked back and me and smiled. He said, “It’ll be all right. I can go in alone.” I said “OK, but I’ll wait for you by the staircase.” The male officer was totally taken aback. He really did think I was a guy until I opened my mouth. Then he got embarrassed. He couldn’t look at me directly – it was just too much for him. He said I needed to go back by the stairway, and pointed in that direction. Then he just walked away, shaking his head. I know he thought I was just another Asheville freak — which I am.
I was jumping for joy inside. I had ‘passed’ — and I was elated. I could feel this wild adrenaline rush in my brain. While I was waiting by the staircase, I really did feel like a well-dressed man – a lawyer waiting for his client or a bureaucrat on a break. A gorgeous female lawyer was directing the crowd of offenders. She had on a skirt just below the knees and high heels. Her dress revealed all of her sumptuous curves. Her blonde hair bounced around as she directed the offenders to do this or that. I loved her loud bossy attitude. I wanted to hit on her right there, that very second. But I couldn’t freak another County employee out. It was better to keep my mouth shut and wait.
I snapped a picture of myself with my cell phone camera. I looked at the photo. I really did look male. I thought I was rather handsome. I did look a bit perplexed in the photo – but so what? Everyone here was troubled, even the employees.
I had to go to the bathroom and it couldn’t wait. This was a difficult moment. Should I just run in the women’s room and risk being shunned or asked to leave? Or should I shoot for the men’s room and keep my mouth shut? I’ve always hated men’s rooms. They’re so nasty and dirty. I aimed for the ladies room. I made it into the stall just fine, nobody was there and I breathed a sigh of relief. But when I came out to wash my hands, I saw a woman who worked in one of the offices. She kept staring at me as I tried and failed to work the hot water faucet.
“That faucet doesn’t work,” she said. “But this one over here does.”
Oh shit! I had to answer, I couldn’t just sit there like a dummy or she’d think I was rude. I moved to the faucet that worked. I said “Thank you.” She smiled a huge loving smile that made me feel good inside. As I was leaving the rest room she said, “Have a nice day.” I thanked her again. She must be one of those progressives who works for the County and has a secret life after 5. Or maybe she was just glad to see someone — anyone — openly rebel in this stuffy place.
I made my way down to the head of the long marble stairway where Scotty was waiting. He laughed so loud when he saw me. He just roared. He forgot all about his case for a minute and reflected on that guard who took me for a man. We yukked it up. Then we took the stairs down and out the door.
My cell phone rang. It was mortgage company #2. I told the lady on the phone I had no plans to pay them. She said, “You have to pay.” I told her to go fuck herself and hung up the phone. Scotty and I laughed some more while he smoked a quick ciggy.
Then he kissed me on the cheek and told me I was going to be late for therapy. I felt so joyful – so alive. My stress completely disappeared. I made a conscious note to myself to cross dress in public more often – especially when I was filled with anxiety.
It was just so perfect that I would appear in my masculine guise for therapy. I could have my therapist dissect my transvestism. Ah, it was going to be a fun, lively session, to be sure.