Bridesmaid, Part 10

Synopsis:

The saga continues. I go shopping with Adam and find something in the bargain...

Story:

"If this is, as you say, until June 25th, why do you think you did
it?" Julia said.

We were discussing Kenny and the dress because, I figured, everyone
else who knew had weighed in, so why not she?

"I resented the fact that he was so adamant that it was getting
even?" I said, uncertainly.

"Ah," she said, with her trademark bemused smile. "So, this was
solely to get even. You bought over $1,500 worth of dresses, shoes
and lingerie to get even..."

"Also, Catherine thought I was a girl, and she said I needed to
dress better..."

"So, a complete stranger criticizes your fashion sense and you go
and buy, what was it, a lace bra and panties?"

"I shouldn't have said anything," I muttered.

"Brian, Brian, Brian. I'm just trying to understand. But, that
comment was a little snarky, I'll grant you..."

"Thank you SO much..."

"So, let's continue. Kenny isn't here. How do you explain today's
outfit?"

I was wearing a blue baby-doll top, with pink trim around the top, a
pair of Chip and Pepper jeans with embroidery and a pair of 3" Jimmy
Choo booties. Oh, I was also wearing a pink thong. "What's wrong with
it?"

"Nothing," she smiled. "It's very cute and, need I say it, very
feminine."

"That's inappropriate."

"Why?"

"Because it is. It's biased."

"How so?"

"You're trying to bait me."

"Bait you?"

"Saying it's feminine. You, Lisa, Melissa, you've all been pushing
me about that."

"What did Melissa say?"

"I was talking to Melissa after I got back, and never mind..."

"Come on, Brian..."

"She asked me what I bought, and..." I stopped mid-sentence and
stared at the floor.

"And I told her..."

"Brian..."

"Averycutepinksundress..."

The missile homed in. "A very cute pink sun dress... and what did
she say?"

"She called me a girly girl..."

"And you said..."

"'Stop. Let's talk about work.'"

"How did that make you feel?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Then why did you bring it up?"

"I didn't. You did. You asked me what she said."

"Brian, we don't have to cover this, but ask yourself if you want to."

"I don't know."

"About what?"

"About what it means. About whether I want to talk about it. About
everything."

"Everything?"

"Everything. The outfit. Melissa. The girly girl thing."

"Let's start with the outfit."

"What about it?"

"How would you describe it?"

"A top. Jeans. And booties."

"Booties?" she said with a smile.

"What would you call them?"

"Booties."

"So?"

"That's an interesting thing for you to say."

"Why for me and not you?"

"Why do you think?"

"Stop it. Is this a male/female thing?"

"Is it? 6 months ago, what would you have called them?"

"I'm guessing you're looking for boots."

"You or me?"

"Enough."

"Fair enough. What did you do when Melissa called you a girly girl?
Did you get upset?"

"What's your point?"

"Answer the question, Brian."

"I'm embarrassed..."

"After all these years, you shouldn't be."

"I am."

"No judgments, remember?"

"I tried on the dress...."

"How did it feel?"

"I hate to say it..."

"No judgments..."

"I liked it," I mumbled.

"Go with it. Why?"

"I like the feel of the fabric. I like the way it swirls when I
turn. I like the way it makes my legs look, when I wear it with
heels." I started to whimper. "I am a basket case, Julia."

"Why do you think that?"

"I don't know. Because I like the way the dress feels. Because I
like this outfit. Because I'm wearing Jimmy Choo booties. Jimmy.
Choo. Booties. Do you understand?"

"Keep going. Why do you think that you're first addressing this now?"

"Isn't that what I pay you for?"

"Cute, Brian. What's happened lately?"

"Kenny? Lisa not believing me?"

"And?"

"And what? They're my mother and father?" I said, regretting it the
minute I said it.

"I didn't say that."

"That's not it."

"Then, why did you say it?"

"Because it always seems to come back to that?"

"Brian..."

"I don't know. Never mind. I was wrong."

"Brian..."

"I don't know. I've thought about it. Kenny, I can see. Like he's
rejected my sexuality, so I'm going to throw it in his face?"

"When you won't even see him again...."

"I will. At the wedding."

"And?"

"I dunno."

"Work with it."

"You don't like Jessica, you closeted abusive freak. Or you like her
when it serves your purposes, but not behind closed doors." My voice
got louder. "Well, I am going to be the girliest girl I can be. I'll
wear lacy bras and panties. Pink sun dresses. Heels. I am going to be
sugar and goddamn spice, and every guy is going to want me, and it'll
drive you nuts because you can't handle it... Jeez, this sounds like
that session about my father..."

"Keep going."

"Fine, Kenny's my father. What about Lisa?"

"What about her? What about not saying no when she asked you to be a
bridesmaid?"

"I don't know. I fear rejection? I fear her leaving me like my mom
and sister?" I smiled weakly. "But, then didn't we say that you were
mommy?"

"Brian, I am your therapist. I'm not going to turn you away. Keep
going."

"Um... ah... um. I don't know if I have unconditional love. So, I
didn't say no because I couldn't afford to lose the most important
woman in my life. For the third time. So I did what she wanted. Now
what?"

"Now what what?"

"So, I'm here. Freaking out."

"Come on, we're doing great..."

"I'm a guy, but then there's this other side..."

"What other side?"

"It's... never mind..."

"Keep going."

I started to laugh. Uncontrollably.

"What's so funny?"

I kept laughing. "Brian..."

"I'm sorry," I said, shaking my head.

"For?"

"I'm losing it. I really am." I just kept laughing.

"Brian," she said, somewhat angrily.

"It's... no, it's ridiculous."

"BRIAN..."

"I feel like I'm going through puberty..."

"Hmmm. What do you mean?"

"I have all these conflicting feelings... I'm a guy. But, I like
Jessica. I like dresses and heels and makeup and lingerie... Oh
god..." I said, burying my face in my hands.

"What? What is it?"

"I am going through puberty. This time, I'm a thirteen year old girl."

She smiled. "Why do you say that?"

"Listen to me, Julia. I was a boy. Or maybe a tomboy. Now I want to
be pretty, so the boys will like me. What do you call that? Maybe
it's not puberty. Maybe it's a nervous breakdown."

"That's a little extreme. I think this is a good thing."

"How?"

"I mean that you're finally trying to figure out your way. You're
dealing with all of these conflicting feelings..."

"What have I been doing here the past four years then?"

"No, clearly, you've been dealing with things. Your father, your
family, your sexuality..."

"But?"

"I think you're exploring another part of yourself. Your feminine
side, as it were."

I laughed. "I'm a gay man who likes giving blow jobs. I think my
feminine side's pretty strong..."

"Brian. You know what I mean."

"Fine. Now what? I'm in this nether world. Am I a guy? A girl? A
freak? I'm at a loss."

"Why do you have to make a decision?"

"Because, you and I both know that most guys are like Kenny..."

"No, they're not."

"Julia, come on. You and I both know that drag queens..."

"Brian..."

"Look, like it or not, that's a catch-all for guys who dress like
women. But, fine. You know how..." I sighed "cross-dressers are
treated in the gay community. I can wear what I want, but I'll either
be celibate or spend the rest of my life with pseudo-straight guys
who won't be there in full because, like Kenny, they won't be out..."

"Have you convinced yourself yet?"

"Facts are facts. In an ideal world, we could do what we wanted.
But, we can't. So, now, I can't win."

"What would you do in ideal world?"

"Be with Adam. As Jessica. Or Brian as Jessica. But sometimes Brian.
But, if being with a gay guy is a fantasy, Adam is like science
fiction."

"So, things went well on your date with Adam..."

"It wasn't a date, but yes. Actually, yes, but no."

"Explain."

"Things went well with Adam and Jessica. Not Adam and Brian." With
that, I recounted the entire date. From picking out my outfit to Lisa
and Jim to the ice cream. Everything.

"Interesting. It sounds like you really let go. Enjoyed yourself
fully. Just were, without thinking."

"I did. But, now I regret it."

"Why?"

"Because I potentially hurt someone who doesn't deserve it. A really
nice guy."

"How did you hurt him?"

"Because I'm not me with him. I'm Jessica."

"Are you going to tell him?"

"Are you calling for lying?"

"No. But why do you feel the need to tell him?"

"Jim."

"Jim?"

"He called me and told me I had to."

"Why?"

"He said Adam's interested in me and was entitled to know."

"So, he tells you and you obey?"

"Ha fucking ha. No, he said that Adam didn't deserve to be led on
and that he deserved to know. And he's right."

"Why?"

"Adam wants a girlfriend. Besides, Jim's been surprisingly on
target..."

"Yes he has, but why say anything now?"

"I'd rather end things with Adam before it gets too close. Later
rather than sooner equals more pain, no?"

"I suppose. How do you propose to do so?"

Quoting the old Tom Lehrer song 'Wernher von Braun,' "Vonce they go
up, who cares vhere they're down..."

"Brian..."

"I don't know. How should I?"

"I don't know."

"What do I pay you for?"

She smiled. "This is beyond my pay grade Brian. Sorry, but I'm at a
loss..."

"Great...."

"Brian, you need to address this. Just tell him. Just make sure
someone knows when you're going to do it."

I got nervous. "Why? What do you think he'll do. Oh god..."

"Brian, calm down. Does he seem violent?"

"No. Then why did you say that?"

"Because, unfortunately, this is an uncertain situation. And lots of
men, even calm ones, can react inappropriately."

"Inappropriately? What would be wrong to you?"

"Brian, just be careful."

"Thank you, mom but not mom. Partial mom. Muh."

"Very cute, Brian. By the way, that outfit is adorable. The most
feminine yet."

"This? It's jeans."

"That's what it makes so feminine. The baby doll top. The
embroidered jeans. The booties. You're picking and choosing things
that work. Dressing like a real woman. Not someone who pulled the
outfit from the Ann Taylor window."

"Boy, I have great fashion sense for a thirteen year old girl."

"Brian, it's a compliment. It means you're synthesizing the parts of
you. Think about it for next session. Although, I'm amazed that you
still like heels..."

"I'm new at it. And I don't always wear them..."

"Just here? Are you trying to make a point?"

"Julia, you sound defensive," I said with a grin. "No. Not just
here. Just sometimes..."

"Continue," she said, parrying my smile with one of her own.

"Sometimes, I like to wear them. Sometimes, I don't." She kept
smiling. "Do not say something like it's my prerogative."

"I didn't. You did. I'll see you next week."

"I'm coming in jeans and a football jersey."

"Next week, Brian," she said with a smile.

------------------------

Sunday at 11 AM, Adam and I met for brunch. I knew I had to tell
him, but not today. I agonized over what to wear. I wanted to wear
the jeans and the football jersey. I wanted to break him in slowly to
Brian. I tried them on. I looked paradoxically even more girly. Like
a cute little cheerleader who took her jock boyfriend's shirt.
Instead, I wore a white baby doll top, brown knee length bohemian
skirt and gold flats. Light makeup. Just blush and lip gloss. I know.
I know. Another baby doll top and bohemian skirt. But, you know what?
I looked cute. Adam deserved cute. Scratch that. He deserved a cute
girlfriend. And I was going to find him one.

"Hey, Jessica," he said with a big grin, when I got to the
restaurant. "You look great."

"Thanks," I said, kissing him on the cheek. 'Stop sending mixed
signals,' I thought. 'No, wait, it was on the cheek. That's just
being friendly.' "OK," I said, looking him up and down. "This is
slightly better."

"What?" he said. "What's wrong with this. It's Sunday." After all my
agonizing, he was wearing worn jeans, sneakers and yet another golf
shirt. Men. I mean, straight men.

"True. But, those jeans are worn."

"I thought worn was in."

"Worn is in. Ratty is not."

"And the difference would be?" he said, with a smile.

"$125." I said, with a smile.

"Oh...."

"Do you own any other shirts besides golf shirts?"

"T-shirts. Come on, it's Sunday. Can I say something?"

"You just did."

"Seriously..."

"OK."

"I love the way you're dressed."

I blushed. "Adam... thank you."

"No, I mean, the effort you took. The shirt, the skirt... you make
an effort to look good. My ex would've been in a t-shirt and jeans.
You have such... I don't know... grace or something..."

Grace, wonderful. That helps my neuroses. "Stop it, Adam. This is
nothing. It's not like it's an evening gown or something..."

"I know. I just want you... no, sorry, I mean, someone like you. A
girl."

Oh boy, now I was freaking. 'Maintain calm. Make a joke.' "And your
ex was what, asexual?"

"No," he said, laughing. "That's not what I meant. I just meant that
you look like you enjoy girly stuff. I mean it's Sunday morning, and
you're in a skirt. Not sweats."

"So?" I said, a little too defensively.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it in a bad way. It's a good thing. I like
girls."

Damn. I knew that. "That's good," I lied.

"Sorry, I really meant it as a compliment. I like women who like
being women."

"Barefoot and pregnant?"

"No. OK, I know that sounds sexist. I don't mean subservient. I like
the fact that you're this hotshot computer consultant..."

"Getting better," I said, with a smile.

"I just mean, that you also like skirts and stuff..."

"I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan..." I started singing.

He laughed so loudly that other people turned around. "I can't win.
So, I'll stop."

"Thank you," I laughed. "I have my sweats days, by the way."

"I hope I never see them."

"Really?"

"Unless you're changing the terms of our deal."

"Our deal?"

"Just friends..."

OK, Jim was right. "The deal is still on. So, you'll never see me in
sweats."

"Some other lucky guy will," he said sadly.

"And," I said brightly, trying to change the subject, "some girl
will benefit from my work today."

"Speaking of which, I e-mailed Denise."

"And?"

"We're going out Tuesday."

"Great!"

"We'll see."

"Be optimistic."

"I am. But, cautiously so. I've been on enough bad dates..."

"Haven't we all. But, you have to be positive."

"I will be. This is just you and me."

"True enough. With your charm and the new clothes you'll get today,
she'll be knocked out."

"Hopefully, she'll make the same effort..."

"She will. It's a first date."

"Que sera sera, as my mother likes to say. That, and get married."

"Why do married people push that?"

"Misery loves company. And my mother wants more grandchildren."

"Ah...."

"What about you?"

"I want you to have kids...."

"And you?"

"Won't happen."

"Why?"

"I'm not suited to motherhood." For starters, I had a penis.

"You're such a sweet person."

"I'm nuts."

"No, you're not."

"Trust me, I am. You've seen good... Jessica." Close call there.

"Is bad Jessica really bad? Sorry..."

"Adam, for the umpteenth time, women don't mind flirting. It's not
bad Jessica. It's workaholic neurotic Jessica. A kid needs a...
parent who can be there."

"Sorry if I hit a nerve."

"You didn't. I know what I am." I almost laughed in my own face.
"What about you? I bet you'd be a good dad."

"I hope so."

"We'll get you the right woman, and you'll see."

"Thanks, mom."

"We'll clean you up and sell you off."

"Again, I'm a used car."

"I thought it was 'pre-owned'..."

"Eat..." he said, as our meals came. "I'm feeling worse as we
speak," he said with a smile.

"But, you'll look better, and isn't that what's important."

After brunch, we hit Bloomingdale's. I still pushed Barney's, but I
swear he broke out in hives when I said it, so I gave in. We went
downstairs to the men's department.

"What do you think of this?" I said, holding up a black button down
shirt with blue stripes.

"I dunno..."

"You need an opinion."

"Do I? You lead. I follow. Works for me."

In the midst of this high level colloquy, a saleswoman came over.
Cute. About 5'4", 120 lbs., dark hair and dark eyes. Late 20s.

"Hi, I'm Arianna. How may I help you today?" 'Nice touch,' I
thought. 'How may I help you? Very proactive.'

"Well, Arianna, I'm Jessica and this is Adam. I'm trying to do
something with him."

She looked him up and down. "Good raw material, but I see what
you're saying."

Adam blushed. "Um...."

"And," I said, "he's useless...."

"Aren't they all?"

"I can get stuff off high shelves..."

"Anyway," I said, ignoring him. "I'm working on him and I don't mind
the help."

She picked up a pair of black wool pants. "Go try on these with that
shirt."

"Wool itches," he mumbled.

"What are you, ten?" I said. "It doesn't itch. Besides, 3" heels are
a walk in the park..."

"Then why do you wear them?"

"For you ungrateful imbeciles. Put on the pants. Go," I said,
pointing to the dressing room.

"Polishing him up?" Arianna asked. "Be careful. Someone else'll try
and grab him. He's cute. Rough, but cute."

"Oh, we're not a couple. He's just a friend."

"Really?" she said, raising an eyebrow. "What's wrong with him?"

"Nothing," I said, with a laugh. "It's me. I like assholes, what can
I say?"

"Hmmm.."

"Interested?"

"Should I be?"

"He really is a great guy. Sweet. Caring."

"And cute."

"Uh huh," I laughed. "Let's see what I can do."

Just then Adam came out of the dressing room in the black shirt and
pants. He looked hot. 'OK,' I thought, 'get him to Arianna before you
do something stupid.'

"Nice," I said. "Very nice."

"Are you going to hang a pine tree from my neck so I don't smell?"

Arianna looked confused. "Inside joke," I said.

"You know there's a sale on six," she said to me, with a smile. "We
have some great tops. Yours is adorable, by the way."

"Thank you. Well, Adam, I hate to leave you, but I leave you in the
capable hands of Arianna here. I'll be back in half an hour..."

"Jess," he pleaded.

I pulled him aside. "She's cute and interested. Don't worry."

"What if she's a freak?"

"Then, call me on my cell. I'm not marrying you off. She is cute, no?"

"Yeah, but I thought you were going to help me."

"I am. I intend to approve everything you buy. I'm also helping you
with women, like you wanted. Go, fly little bird."

"Please..."

"Cell," I said, holding it up. "I'm not abandoning you on the door
step, you baby."

I looked back to see Arianna handing him multiple items. She was
holding his arm. He looked lost. I went upstairs and looked around
for a half hour or so. I was still processing my puberty, so I didn't
buy anything. My cell phone rang. It was Adam.

"Um, we're done down here," he said, in a tired voice.

"And?"

"And what? Arianna kept handing me stuff."

"And, you oaf?"

"And, we'll talk?"

"Good talk or bad talk?"

"Good."

"That's great."

"Just come here..." When I got downstairs, Adam had four bags.
Arianna was grinning from ear to ear.

"My god! What did you buy?"

"I dunno anymore. A lot of pants. Some shirts. A couple of jackets.
Arianna said she was coming to my place to burn my golf shirts."

"Good."

"They're comfortable."

"Fine. You can wear them when no one's around."

Arianna smiled. "He told me what you said about pleats. I agree.
He's got it. He should flaunt it." Adam turned beet red.

"Boy, he's shy, isn't he?" she whispered to me. She turned to him.
"You will look great. Wear the black shirt with the tan wool pants
Thursday..."

"Thursday?" I said.

Adam grinned. "I told her she had to let me take her out to
celebrate my upgrade..."

I smiled. "That's great." And I believed it. Sort of. Another part
of me wanted to be Arianna.

"Thank you," she said. She looked at my hands. "Nothing?"

"I may come back... I was distracted... by work stuff."

"I told you. She's a workaholic."

"Boy, you two covered a lot of ground."

"This and that," she said, with a half smile. "Anyway, Adam, I will
see you Thursday. Jessica, very nice meeting you."

"You too." I went to say "same," but that sounded too manly. What a
laugh. I'm flitting around in a skirt and worried about 'same.'

"Adam," she said. "Excuse us for a second."

"Uh oh," he said. "This can't be good."

"Just go," I said. "Don't worry." He walked a few feet away. "Yes,
Arianna?"

"Thank you. Are you sure you're OK with this?"

"I offered."

"He likes you. He talked a lot about you."

"We're friends. Really. I want my friend to be happy. Just treat him
well. Sorry. That's a little over the top. It's a date."

She smiled. "It's nice that you care."

"I do. He really is a great guy. It really is me, not him."

"OK," she said, then laughed a little. "He's very nervous around
women."

"He is. But, he's really great once you get to know him."

"I'll take your word. I like them that way. I've had enough God's
gifts, if you know what I mean."

I laughed. "I'll coach him before..."

"Thanks again."

"You're welcome." I sighed inwardly. I wanted Adam to be happy. I
really did. But I wanted him happy with me, not Arianna. But then I
realized that wasn't fair either. He wanted Jessica, sure. But he
wanted a woman, not me. If I couldn't be that woman, the least I
could do was get him what he wanted. I walked over to him.

"Nice move, ace. The date line. Very suave."

"I don't know what came over me..."

"Confidence? What have Gina and I been saying to you?"

"I owe it all to you. If you weren't here, nothing would've
happened..."

"For starters, you wouldn't be here. You'd be shopping in the
defeated white guy store..."

"I'm serious, Jessica. Thank you."

"You're welcome. You really like her?"

"Who knows? She seems nice enough. It's just that I did at all.
We'll see what happens. But, like you said, it's not high school. If
it works, great. If not, oh well. But I'm getting into the game."

"That's really great," I said, mustering a smile. Which I also
meant. It's just that I couldn't shake the feeling that I didn't want
him in the game. I wanted it to be me and him. But that wasn't
possible.

"You OK with this?"

"Of course. Why would you say that?"

"You seem bothered by something..."

"Nothing. Just a random Kenny thought."

"Stop. He is an asshole. He screwed up, not you. You're great. He's
not even worth the thought," he said, getting more and more upset.

"Calm down," I said, smiling. "Thank you. It's just hard to shake
sometimes."

"I know. My ex was a bitch, and I agonized over her for a while."

"See?"

"I know. You just really deserve the best. Not him."

"Thank you. Do you mind if we walk for a while? If those packages
aren't too heavy, I mean?"

"I should be OK."

"I just want to window shop."

He smiled. "Oh boy... and we're not even a couple."

We walked up Madison for a while. We walked past Barney's. He
blanched.

"Don't worry. I won't make you go in." I said, punching him.

As we passed by Makola, a store in the low seventies, he turned to
me. "I... never mind."

"What?"

"Nothing..."

"Come on..."

"OK, I'm going to ask you something. If it's too weird, you can say
no. Just don't get upset."

"You're scaring me here, Ad..." I said with a smile. "What?"

"You see that dress?" he said, pointing to a pink and white
sleeveless, knee length floral print dress with a flared skirt.

"Yes?"

"OK, here goes. I'd really love to see you in it."

"What?" I blushed.

"Sorry, that's weird. Don't be angry."

"It's not weird," I said. "I mean, a little bit. But, I'm not upset.
Why that? I'd figure you want a mini or something."

"Boy, full of yourself, aren't you?" he grinned. "I don't know. That
one just fits you somehow. Like it matches the inner you. Sorry, that
sounds extremely gay."

"It doesn't. It's sweet. I mean, no one's ever asked me something
like that. Sure, I'll try it on, if they have my size."

We went in. "May I help you?" said a saleswoman, in her 50s.

"My friend here would like to see me in the dress in the window."

She looked at him, then me, then smiled. "Of course, 8?"

"Yes, please."

She looked through the rack and handed it to me. "The dressing room
is in back, dear. I'll bring you a pair of appropriate shoes. Size 9?"

"Wow, you're good."

She smiled. "Years of practice, dear. Go."

I went into the dressing room, and I tried it on. Adam was right. It
looked right. It's not that it was sexy or anything. It just looked
good. Very pink. Very soft. I could see me on his arm at a Sunday
afternoon wedding. Very feminine. That touched a nerve. I started to
cry.

The saleswoman came in and handed me a pair of 3" heels. "What's
wrong, dear?"

"Nothing," I lied. "For some reason, the dress made me think of my
mom. She died 11 years ago." I paused. "Sorry, it's funny what'll set
you off, isn't it?"

She put her arm around me. "It's OK, sweetie. My mother's been dead
twenty three years and, one day in the supermarket, Vienna Fingers
did it. She loved them and it made me think about her... anyway,
stand up. Dear... what's your name?"

"Jessica."

"Jessica, you look gorgeous in that dress."

"Thank you."

"I also have to tell you that man out there is quite a catch. Not
many men would sit still for this, much less pick out a dress for
you."

"I know. He's just a friend, though?"

"A friend. And he picks out a dress for you. He's certainly doesn't
seem gay..."

'I wish,' I thought. 'No, I don't. Then he'd be Kenny.' I laughed,
"Not quite. Just shy around women. If you told him that you thought
he was, I can only imagine what would happen."

"Jessica, a piece of advice?"

"Uh oh..."

"He likes you. The way he looks at you, it's obvious." I started to
cry again. "What now, sweetie?"

"It's complicated. He deserves better than me."

"I don't know you. Or him. But you seem very nice to me."

I smiled. "Anything to close a sale."

She smiled back. "Telling a 14 that she's an 8 is closing a sale.
This isn't. Go show him."

I wiped my eyes and walked out. Before I could say anything, Adam
said, "Wow, Jess... that looks... right. Made for you."

I blushed. "Adam... stop." He was hitting too close to home.

"You look like Grace Kelly."

'Grace Kelly?' I thought. 'Maybe he is gay.' "Grace Kelly?"

"I know it sounds gay. But did you ever see 'Rear Window?'" The
sales woman listened to this exchange in what could only be called
barely disguised amusement.

"Sure..."

"There was something about Grace Kelly in that movie. She was just
so... something. Like it was hot, but not Cindy Crawford hot..."

"Uh huh... keep going."

"She just was like this ideal woman. I mean she was gorgeous, but I
just remember thinking that her personality too made her this ideal.
Graceful, feminine... like you." He saw me turn white. "I'm sorry,
was that wrong?"

It wasn't. But it was. Like here was therapy all over again. Am I
Brian the gay man? Jessica, his apparent princess? I loved how he
felt. I wanted to be his Grace Kelly. But I couldn't shake the
opposite feeling. The feeling that I lost who I was. That I was a
freak. That when he found out, I'd be even more alone. "No, it
wasn't. I'm just embarrassed by the attention."

"Why?"

"I don't deserve it."

"Stop it. Yes, you do. You're beautiful and nice and..."

I smiled. "Keep going."

"I don't know. Like I said, that dress made me think of you. It's so
pretty and feminine. Like you. Like I see you and I feel better. I'm
sorry if that's wrong. I said it before, I like that you have these
two parts, the computer genius and the girl... OK, I feel stupid."

"Why?"

"I'm spilling my guts in a store. And I picked out a dress. And I
have diarrhea of the mouth."

"Adam, don't feel awkward. I'm glad you feel comfortable around me."
I turned to the saleswoman. "Can I wear this out?"

OK, now I was officially a loser. I bought a dress to impress a guy
who thought I was a girl. Because he liked it. I started to hum
"Wishing and Hoping" to myself. Adam didn't get the joke. The
saleswoman did.

"Of course," she said, smiling. I went to get my credit card in the
dressing room.

"Stop," Adam said. "Let me get it. For all your help today."

"He's buying you clothes..." the saleswoman said.

Adam blushed. "It's just because... because... just let me."

Now I blushed. "Thank you." The only thought that ran through my
mind was that more than him buying me a dress, I wanted him to take
it off me.

"Just return the shoes tomorrow. I wouldn't want to ruin the
outfit." She pulled me aside. "Trust an old lady. He's in love with
you."

That felt like a punch in the stomach. He was in love with me, or at
least had a crush on me. And I was in love with him. But, I felt like
the lowest form of life. I was leading this guy on. I didn't think
he'd do anything if he found out, but I wouldn't blame if he did. I
mean, he'd be well within his rights to do so. He pours his heart to
a girl and she turns out to have lied straight to his face about the
biggest thing possible. Or, if it wasn't the biggest, I was at a loss
as to what was first.

When we left, he turned to me. "I am soooo sorry. I really must've
embarrassed you in there. Going on about Grace Kelly. I can't believe
I said it. I am such a jerk."

"Adam, you are NOT a jerk. It was really sweet. I've never had
anyone say things like that about me before..."

"You deserve to. I'm sorry, but you do."

"I'm far from perfect, trust me."

"I know..."

"You know?" I said, with mock indignation.

He laughed. "It's just, compared to my ex, you are so sweet and
soft. I mean, she would've laughed in my face if I asked her to try
on that dress."

"Adam, she was a bitch and a half. But, she is in the past. There's
someone out there who will appreciate you and your caring and your
effort... maybe Arianna or Denise..."

"Just not you."

"I'm not who you think I am." BIG understatement.

"All I know is that when I see you in that dress, I see someone that
looks right. It's funny. I'd swear if I didn't know any better, you
look like you're walking lighter than before."

"What?"

"You seem even more graceful. Like the rest of the girls walk. You
glide. OK, I have to stop that."

I laughed. "I don't mind. But, yeah, you may want to hold off on
that on a date."

"Damn, where's my Palm Pilot when I need to take notes."

"Ha ha, Adam. Thanks for the dress, by the way."

"It should thank you." I rolled my eyes, so he said, "Hey, I have to
get comments like that out now, before my dates."

I won't bore you anymore with the rest of the walk. We talked about
Arianna and Denise and dating tips. Ironic, huh? Me, giving dating
tips. Right up there with the Billy Joel Driving School. When I got
home, I looked at myself in the mirror. Scratch that, I stared. I had
no idea who was staring back. Here was this girl. This beautiful
girl. And I liked her. I liked her poise, her delicate manner. I
liked the way she exuded femininity. The way she let this other part
of me out I HATE YOU, JULIA!!!! But, I hated her too. She was every
stereotype come to life. The mincing little fag out to seduce
straight men. The drag queen. I never wanted to be someone's 'down
low.' I was out and proud, or at least out, and now I was back in
somehow. I took off the dress and stood there naked. And, then, I did
something I found truly reprehensible. I tucked myself up to see
whether I'd be OK without a penis. And, what was worse was I couldn't
decide. I felt truly alone.

Notes:

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