Growing up as an unaware trans, the single greatest worry I think we all share is getting caught. Dressing that is. I think that makes it a fine topic for a little reminiscing, don’t you? I’d like to say that never happened to me, but of course, it did. Seriously, what a boring post that would be. This one time, in my parents’ house, I was almost caught, but wasn’t! Isn’t that a scream?
In my younger days I spent the equivalent of the Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant in mental energy devoted specifically to not getting caught. After coming out to my mom last summer, she once asked why I never exhibited signs of this. I was a little taken aback. When it’s your life’s mission to work out every single possible angle of how not to literally get caught with your pants down, you become quite talented at it. I had drive times well calculated, with margins of error, for every place they went and I didn’t. I knew precisely what activities downstairs would allow for bathroom breaks too brief to bother knocking on my door, like a Bills game. I knew what clothes I could smuggle in by putting them on in an alley under my male clothes. I had a clearly defined escape route or plan for every eventuality when I dressed memorized in every detail. I ended up needing more than one as well, but it’s OK, a close call is as good as a total miss. Oh yeah, I was one crafty little chick.
Then it happened. When my roommate had to work at night, I liked to call and bug him, mainly to ensure precisely what time he would be coming home that evening. After I was sure his estimates were eerily accurate, I would use the time to dress and watch TV or whatnot. A good safe half hour before he was due to arrive, I’d go to bed, my clothes safely hidden away in my closet. Seemed pretty foolproof and if he came home early, I had plenty of time to dart to my room before he could unlock the door. Simple and safe, right?
One such evening I put on a comfy sweater dress and plopped down on the couch to drink wine and watch ‘Mystic Pizza’; a very enjoyable ending to a long day. One moment I was watching Julia Roberts suffer through an awkward family dinner with her rich boyfriend, and the next I was opening my eyes to a blank TV screen. My roommates door, always open in his absence, was closed. Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap!!! There are worse ways of waking up, like being peed on by a cranked out Hell’s Angel or something, but not many. All my years of meticulous painstaking planning and subterfuge undone by the simple fact that wine makes me kind of sleepy. I had absolutely no idea what to do. To buy time I scrawled a note that said, “I’ll explain later, in the mean time TELL NO ONE!!!”. Yeah, that’ll keep him from talking. I slept fitfully and when I awoke, he was gone again, as was the note.
The day was a dreadful mess. I worked all morning at Berts – one of the dining facilities at UB – where my friend Dan also worked, and spent my break trying to figure out what he knew without being obvious about it. I wanted to tell him something in order to get the first word in, but came up with bupkis. By the time I came home though, I finally thought of something. Jenn with the tongue. Jenn was a friend, and the first one of our set with one of those 90’s tongue studs, hence the name. I don’t think she cared for it, and she wasn’t coming around much anymore. I could use that. She was alternative enough that any crazy story involving her would probably stick. If she ever was going to come over again, I would have to come clean, but in the mean time it seemed perfect.
When my roommate came home later I greeted him in such a jovial mood. In reality I was dying a thousand deaths, but had to play my part. “Oh, what you must have thought last night! Ho ho!” Yes, I said ‘ho ho’, I said I was acting jovial, didn’t I? He appeared shockingly disinterested, but I launched into my bullshit story with a great ruffle of flourishes. Jenn, the clever minx, conned me into dressing en femme to screw with a straight-laced pal she had visiting from Arizona and boy, was it a hoot! Oh, you should have seen the look on her face! My roommate simply stared at me and said, “Yeah, I figured it was something like that. Another stupid story.” Apparently, “stupid stories” were a known thing in my group, because no one at all questioned the tale. “Yep, sounds like something stupid only would do.” Assholes.
So, that was my great and wonderful tale of being caught and somehow conniving my way out of it. The tragic part about this was that I learned absolutely nothing because the same thing happened a few months later. Once again I dusted off the old Jenn with the tongue story and once again, everyone bought it. Second time was a charm, and afterwards had a strict policy against drinking and dressing. It saves lives.