The Woman Within
The Woman Within
“Ohhh… Ron, you’re getting boobies just like mine,” my older sister Lisa squealed. I was mortified when I looked down and two tiny peaks formed a sort of party tent on my T shirt. I had not noticed before, but she was right. She was not the only one to notice. As they became more obvious, the other boys humiliated me by taunting and groping me. The most stinging remark was “You should have been a girl Ron.” Up to now I was just another adolescent boy, but these set me apart from the other boys and made me the object of ridicule. The doctor's assured my parents that I was normal and would grow out of it when the hormones kicked in. It was called gynecomastia, or abnormal enlargement of the male breast. But I didn’t grow out of it. I watched Lisa carefully. When she complained that they felt heavy and her nipples hurt, Mother assured her that was normal. Then one day, mine started to ache too. I was confused and bewildered. Normal, Mother said – for a woman. Was I becoming a woman? My breasts grew very sensitive and my confusion deepened when I found that massaging them gave me erotic pleasure. As they grew bigger, they developed a pronounced jiggle as I walked. I tried to hide them by going about with my arms crossed over my chest. Isn't that bouncing awfully uncomfortable dear?" my mother asked.
"I don’t know what to do about it mom," was all that I could say. "Well I do," she said. With that she left the room returning momentarily with one of my sister's bras. She instructed me in the correct manner of putting it on and noted with some satisfaction I think, that I filled the cups. This was much more comfortable, but of course, it made them project more from my chest.
My father would have none of this. He immediately noticed my new profile and ordered the bra removed. He then declared that from now on I couldn't leave the house unless they were tightly bound with an Ace bandage. “I’ve tried since you were a kid to get you involved in sports and normal manly things, and now I come home and find you in a bra. Do you want to be a girl son?” Dad was as old school as they come. A lantern-jawed ex soldier, he had indeed set impossible goals for me to achieve. Once he told me how proud he would be if I tried out for the football team. I actually did show up for tryouts, but when we were told to dress out, I slunk off in the corner. Some kid coming out from the shower shouted “the girl’s lockers are down the hall,” and everybody laughed. I turned down Dad’s offer of swimming lessons, summer camps and hunting trips. He probably thought I just didn’t want to be in his company but the real reason was that I couldn’t undress in front of other boys. I know I deprived him of the satisfaction of seeing his son grow into an image of himself. “No dad, I don’t want to be a girl.” I said. So every day I left for school with my chest bound by Ace bandages. That, plus a combination of loose shirts and layering helped me escape most public notice.
But not all. One day as I walked home from school, I was assaulted by 3 boys from school. They taunted me and groped me. I tried to run, but they caught me and surrounded me. My face burned with embarrassment and I felt tears welling up in my eyes. They finally succeeded in tearing off my shirt and the Ace bandages. This delighted them and they soon had me on the ground with my arms pinned down. My humiliation now turned to pure terror as I felt my pants being pulled down. "Oh God, help me" I screamed as I realized they were going to rape me. I was totally powerless to resist as my fragile manhood was about to be torn from me. I felt the biggest boy tried to penetrate me from behind as the other two screamed their encouragement. I struggled desperately to free myself, but it was the intervention of a passing stranger who broke up my ordeal. I ran home crying with my arms folded over my chest. My Father was working in the driveway, and I flew into his arms. I felt dirty and violated. I only wanted my Father’s strength and comfort. Sobbing breathlessly, I told him what had happened.
“Well they probably thought you were a girl” he said biting off each word in ridicule. I was electrified at this remark. That he could excuse the fact that I had nearly been raped as a mistake in gender recognition was beyond anything I could grasp. My shame could seek no comfort from him. I realized at this moment that I had lost my father forever. His stern countenance revealed no trace of compassion. I found this only in my mother’s arms.
From time to time Mother brought up the issue of a bra for me. And my father’s response was usually some variation of, “Hell no, I won’t have a son of mine wearing women’s underwear. He’s caused me enough embarrassment already.” On one such occasion my mother reached over and pulled up the front of my sweatshirt.
“For God’s sake John, will you face the facts? Look at him- he’s my size.”
By now they were indeed the size and shape of a girl of equivalent age. My father’s eyes bugged. “I guess you’re right” he replied weakly. As I slipped into one of Mother’s bras,
I was surprised to find her scent still lingering. This was much more comfortable for me at least at home. My father brought up the option of having them surgically removed. My mother sprang on him like a tigress defending her cub. “Hell no” she said, “I will not have him cut on for your damn vanity”. And so, I kept my breasts which I now regarded as a special gift.
During this time my mother and I became closer than we had ever been. I keenly felt her compassion as much as I felt my father’s rejection. One Saturday morning when my Father was gone, she said we were going to the shopping center. I started for my room to bind myself as usual, but she said that wouldn’t be necessary today. We went directly to the foundation department of a large department store. She found a sales lady and announced “I want my daughter professionally fitted in a support bra.” Wow! I was dumbfounded! ‘My daughter.’ This was the first time she had used the feminine noun for me and a thrill ran through me. “Certainly, follow me ladies.” the sales lady said.
As if in a dream I followed them into the fitting room where I removed my jacket and blouse as instructed. I was vaguely aware of the sales lady stretching the tape over my bra. What was this woman thinking? This was the first time that anyone outside the family had seen me without my Ace bandages. Did she take me for a boy with breasts or just an awkward gangly girl? My beardless face and unisex hair offered no clue.
“38 C cup should do it,” and the sales lady went to select several models. Mother picked one and held it out to me. Now I was grateful that she had showed me the proper way to put on a bra. I was distantly aware of their conversation about uplift and separation that this model provided. It did feel wonderful and it completely controlled the jiggle. Mother finally selected the two that she thought offered the most support and added a frilly pink sleep bra. Almost as an after thought she sent the saleslady back for a black lace push up bra. When I wiggled into this I was amazed that I appeared to be at least a D cup and I had more cleavage than I had ever had. The sales lady even showed us that the lace lining the top of the cups could be folded under revealing even more.
“I don’t know when you will wear it dear, but every girl ought to have one.” my mother said smiling her approval.
It was only in the car going home that the full enormity of what had just happened settled on me. Mother has pronounced me her ‘daughter’, thereby validating my innermost suspicion that I should have been a girl. Those boys had been right years ago when they taunted me. Mother knew it and now I know it. She was also openly defying my father and ending forever his intention to make a man of me. And if further proof was required, I had successfully passed the scrutiny of another woman in the most personal circumstances. I felt that which I had been fighting all my life beginning to slip away, replaced by the warm glow of reassurance. If I could not have my father's approval, I would at least have my mother's.
Mother now took every opportunity to encourage my feelings of femininity. She brought me pretty frilly things to wear in the privacy of my bedroom or under a robe. We spent hours at her dressing table styling my hair. She taught me about skin care and moisturizers. She brought home my first pair of heels- bone white pumps with three inch heels and patiently taught me to walk with confidence and grace- lessons I never forgot.
All this attention was appealing to my very core. Being pretty was much nicer than being drab
One time my sister had a sleep-over for 2 of her friends. Some time in the night, the girls entered my bedroom and aroused me. It seems that Lisa had told them about my secret and they wanted to see for themselves. I was agreeable, but said,
“Only if we all do it.” So giggling like school girls, we all unbuttoned our pajama tops. I was very proud to show my perky boobs to the other girls and there was much feeling and comparing. I noted too that only one girl was larger than me, and she was already sagging. Lisa and I were to grow closer after this incident- not as brother and sister, but more like sisters. I think she knew I was identifying with women and wanted their company.
There were further opportunities to bond with my mother. On one such occasion there was to be a designer fashion show in town and it happened that my father would be out of town. Mother had two tickets for us. But first she declared,
“We have to do something about that awful mop of hair.” This occasioned a trip to the hair salon where they created a sort of pixie cut that could be styled girly or boyish as the occasion demanded. At home we selected what we would wear for the event. Mother a charcoal skirt and blazer outfit with burgundy alligator sling back pumps. We were delighted to find that I could wear most of her clothes in a size 14. I selected a white satin blouse paired with a light grey pencil skirt. We decided that red leather heels and a belt would make that outfit pop. But since my mother wore a size 9 and I wore an 11, this necessitated a trip to the shoe store.
“How do I go Mother?” “Girl mode definitely dear. We can’t have boys trying on heels in public”. We came home with a beautiful pair of red leather ankle strap sandals with a 3 ½ inch heels. As I stood looking at myself in the mirror, Mother observed that I was over 6 feet tall. “Tall women make the best models dear,” she concluded.
On the morning of the event, Mother and I spent hours getting ready. We found that my still youthful skin needed only a light foundation with some rouge highlights over the cheekbones .She plucked my eyebrows into as feminine a shape as we thought we could get away with. She instructed me carefully in the application of mascara and eyeliner, having me do it over until I got it right. Lipstick and gloss were a snap. As she worked she observed,
“I knew you could be prettier than your sister. She never cared about her looks and never let me teach her anything. She’s was always more a boy than you were.”
“So, I’ve not been a disappointment to you Mother?”
“No Hon, you’ve been the daughter I’ve never had with Lisa.”
Mother had her own little grown-up Barbie doll now and she loved it.
We slipped into our clothes giggling more like best girlfriends than mother and son. Mother chose a garter belt and hose, but offered me pantyhose as all the younger women were them wearing them these days. The white satin blouse, cinched by the belt, molded perfectly over my bosom. Mother’s efforts had produced a striking change. I was lovely. I was ready to meet the world as the woman I should have been. As we walked from the car, our heels clicking on the pavement, she repeated her instructions for the
100th time. “Walk with your hips leading, take shorter steps, relax your upper body, let your arms swing naturally, stick your chest out, and remember to adjust your skirt when you sit.”
The room was buzzing with the titter of high-pitched girly laughter and the clink of wine glasses. A long spotlighted runway dominated the room with clusters of folding chairs surrounding it. We left our purses on our chairs and joined the other ladies in a glass of wine. Mother immediately engaged a clutch of women in conversation, but I was a little self-conscious about my voice and preferred to limit my interaction. There was no question about being accepted as a young woman and one woman even commented,
“Your daughter has such lovely long legs. She should be on the runway.” Mother beamed with satisfaction at the compliment.
The show was delightful and as each new outfit was modeled, we eagerly imagined how we would look in it. One tall elegant model appeared in a stunning royal blue gown with a high empire waist and a décolletage trimmed in rhinestones.
“I want to wear a gown like that someday,” I whispered into my mother’s ear.
In the car going home, Mother asked,
“Wouldn’t be much nicer if you had a handsome young man to whirl you around the dance floor in that lovely blue gown that you admired?” she said. “A man… I don’t know,” I answered.
“Do you like men?” she asked.
“I like being around girls, but still I watch men, and wonder what it would feel like to be in their arms. And besides, I’m not exactly like the other girls you know.”
“There’s a man for every girl dear,” she concluded.
“And besides, I don’t even know if men would find me attractive.”
During this time I enjoyed cross dressing whenever my parents were away. It was wonderful to release the inner woman. On one such occasion, I met a young man in a movie theater. We talked, held hands which soon led to petting. I shamelessly allowed him to unbutton my blouse. I thrilled as he caressed my breasts. We were both fully aroused by now and he had a very large bulge in his pants. It was a hormone-laced voyage of discovery for both of us, he being as inexperienced as I was. He soon had an enormous climax, and I was amazed and pleased that I could produce such an effect on a man. But I had my answer. Men could be attracted to me sexually, and apparently I was to them.
At age 18 mother started me on female hormones- she being a pharmacist. As my male hormone was never very high, I didn’t need a blocker. But the estrogen and progesterone worked wonders. Almost immediately a experienced a general calming and satisfaction with life. My skin became softer and clearer, my hair more luxurious. My breasts grew fuller and the aerolas darker and larger.
And so I entered my adult life, working in male mode and hiding my bosom as best I could. I worked in an office of 4 women and 8 men who never suspected that I had a secret in my shirt. Cross dressing after work allowed me to unleash the woman inside for shopping, clubbing, and once, for love.
Hunter actually thought I was a good looking woman. He was 25 with a model’s good looks, and I was over 30. I never would have approached him first. He simply would not be on my radar screen. We met on one of those rate/ me/date/me sites where I
foolishly posted my picture in a little black dress and heels. But his emails were so sweet and respectful. He was very complimentary and asked only if we could chat. I couldn’t resist. I’ll admit that I took it as quite a compliment and I was as giddy as a schoolgirl anticipating a prom night.
He was a culinary arts student in New York City and since I made routine trips there, my fantasy world blossomed with the possibility that we might actually meet. In my heart I knew that this should never happen. .
Hunter was so dynamic. Exciting things were happening in his life and he was eager to share them with me. He freely emailed me about his course work, his career plans, and even some relationship issues with girls. He dated quite a few young women but always he came back to me. I listened and gave him my best advice and like conspirators we plotted his next move.
We finally met in the spring at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. I wore a tweedy jacket and skirt with brown leather boots. His good looks were breath-taking in person. He was tall and slender with steel grey eyes and curly blond hair. We had a long lunch under the greens of the Tavern, and at the end he asked if he could see me again.
“Hunter dear, I’m not like any other woman you’ve met,” I said. I know, that’s why I want to see you again” he replied. I took a long swallow of wine and confessed that I had been born a man. He stared at me unbelievingly, his eyes wide in wonder. “I don’t care,” he finally stammered, “I want to see you again.”
The next few months were deliriously happy ones as we explored and deepened our feelings for each other. Our intimate moments were natural and joyous. Nevertheless, Hunter had some rough edges. He was naïve in many ways. He had never been to a symphony or an opera, never owned a suit or ordered wine in a restaurant. I happily addressed and remedied these deficiencies in his experience.
He needed a little help with his appearance. He appeared one night to take me to the Symphony, followed by dinner. He had three days worth of beard, and rumpled jeans paired with a shabby sport coat. I was in a black sheath, Manolo Blahnik stilettos and
black Donna Karan hose. The next day I bought him a suit and several shirts and ties. I had to show him how to tie the tie.
Young men, I discovered were often shy and unsure of themselves. Hunter was likely to blow the slightest mishap all out of proportion. I suppose this was a consequence of having less life experience to draw upon. If his soufflé didn’t rise that morning he would despair that his culinary career was over. So I guess chefs begin to develop their emotional volatility early on. I’d always put my arm around him and soon his perspective would be adjusted. I never understood what he saw in me.
“Hunter, why did you pick me on that website? You could have had any of the beautiful 20 or 30 year old girls,” I asked him one day.
“Because you’ve got it all together,” he said with a wry look on his face.
“Meaning what?” I asked.
“You’re calm, cool, and comely. Besides I like how you look in a dress, hose and heels and I like how you smell and feel.”
“But Hunter, most women my age dress that way.” “Yes, I know,” he said with a twinkle in his eye
Hunter was as generous as his situation would allow. But he had no appreciation of age-appropriate gifts. He once gave me a beautiful black lace bustier that he bought from Victoria’s Secret. I tried it on and said, “Oh God Hunter, I look like the front bumper of a 1950 Buick”. “No you don’t. You’ll look like Lady Gaga when we go out clubbing.” What was this man thinking about me?
Another gift was a tartan miniskirt and it was really short. So I found myself prancing all over midtown with cold January winds caressing my bottom but from the look in his eyes, he approved.
In the end, I had to let my little cub find his own way. His studies were taking more of his time and my trips to New York were getting fewer and fewer.
In male mode, I occasionally dated women, who were either delighted when I revealed myself, or repulsed, saying “it would be like having sex with another woman.” I never wore a T shirt, learned to swim, or exposed myself in any way. I could have had them surgically removed of course, but they were beautiful part of me that gave me much pleasure.
It finally occurred to me that if I looked a little more female I might appear in public without benefit of binding. I started laser beard removal, and had my hair cut to a little more girly style. A little color on my lips and maybe some earrings pretty much insured that I would be taken as woman. I found however that I had to patronize two sets of shops and stores- one male mode, one female.
“So when are you going to do it” my friend Kay asked. Kay was my age and lived in the same apartment building. I first met her when she knocked at my door to return some misdirected mail. I absentmindedly opened the door wearing only a T shirt and no binder underneath. Her eyes instantly riveted on my perfectly obvious bosom. She knew now.
Kay and I were to become close friends as we would see other nearly every day. I’d often carry her groceries in which would lead to a coffee klatch in her kitchen. It was during one such coffee that she looked at me in her direct manner and said “Are you going to tell me about them”? “Them”? I stupidly replied. She cupped her breasts in answer. My first thought was to dismiss the question entirely. But wait! Here was a woman interested in me. I desperately wanted female companionship since my mother passed. I’d take the chance and I told her my whole story. Mother grooming me, my father’s rejection and my crossdressing as an adult. This was cathartic and I felt much relieved after telling her. Again she looked me directly in the eye and whispered “Can I see”? I unbuttoned my oversize shirt, and unzipped the tight binder vest underneath letting my breasts free. After a long moment she said “I can see why your mother was proud”.
Kay insisted we go out clubbing together on Saturday nights. I was at first hesistated but once she got me in a slinkly black dress and strappy spike heels and black hose, I agreed that I looked pretty good. These girl’s night outs were much fun and I really felt like a complete woman. Inevitable we would attract men, and when she gave me the eye, I knew I was to take a cab home alone. The situation was more complicated when it was me who caught someone’s eye. I loved the attention of men, and contrary to the feelings of most natural women, I loved it when they talked to my cleavage. I felt like a temptress, and I recalled the incident with the young man in the movie theater. Kay explained this was the natural order of things- women tempted men.
“Do what”? I asked.
“You know, transgender. How long can you keep up this charade of changing your gender to fit the occasion? And that breast binding of yours is positively medieval.”
“Well it’s kept me from sagging,” I responded. “Every woman your age is entitled to sag a little.” She replied.
She was right. By age 50, I had grown impatient with this lifestyle. I was aware that life was passing me by without ever releasing the inner woman that lurked within my skin. I decided I would transgender. We found a clinic in Cleveland that specialized in such matters. After 3 days of tests and interviews with a half dozen specialists, it was determined that I was a good candidate and could expect optimal results.
Although the clinic required that I live full time for a year in my desired sex, I was not entirely convinced I’d have the ultimate procedure. They did adjust my hormone treatment and very soon after I noticed further softening of my skin and my hair grew more luxuriantly. I also experienced an inner contentment that was never there before. I was convinced I was on the right track.
That same year my trachea was shaved to eliminate the Adam’s apple and I began professional voice instruction to help me develop the pitch, lilt and expression of a female voice. My experience was that I could pass as a female in person, but on the telephone I’d be ‘sired’.
My figure needed a bit more work. I still had the straight boy hips I was born with. Had I been younger, the hormones might have corrected this, but for me there was no option but surgery. Fortunately there was a procedure that implanted silicon sacks over each hip bone and buttock, which could then be filled with injected saline. This was offered by a luxurious spa-hospital in India. Ultimately Kay and I booked a flight to India.
The hospital was indeed luxurious and we were soon installed in side by side rooms. The doctor I was assigned, filled me with confidence and it was decided that 500 ml of saline would be injected into each hip and buttock. That would add about 2 inches to my contours, bringing my lower body into proportion with my upper.
The procedure went smoothly. And after a few days of pampered luxury, we were ready to fly home. I was shocked however to find that I couldn’t get my pants over my hips. I had foolishly forgotten that little detail. Kay had to make an emergency pants-buying spree downtown before we could fly home. It was an uncomfortable flight home for me, and I discovered that I was now a 16 dress size.
These changes were now impossible to hide and I undertook to tell my friends and relatives. The clinic had warned me that most such patients can expect to loose some friends and even family. It was indeed so- my father never spoke to me again.
I was greatly vexed at how to tell the dozen or so people at the graphic design center where I worked. I decided I’d introduce my new self slowly, a little at a time to get them used to the changes. Of course, now that I had to wear women’s pants. I couldn’t very well hide that. I did however add clear polish on my nails.
Not many noticed when I went back to work on Monday. “Packing on a little extras weight Ron?” my obnoxious co-worker Walter asked. But the four women in the office said nothing. After a week of so, I added earrings, very small but perfectly visible. Next I took to wearing women’s shoes- flats of course, and boyish ones at that. Still no one noticed. A little color on my lips brought no reaction.
Finally I had only one card left to play. I would wear an every day bra and forgo the binding. To lessen the impact, I chose to wear a big bulky sweater. I had to walk through the outer office past the three secretaries, then down an office-lined passage to my own office. I had hardly closed the door when Alice, the office spinster, and Megan the office tart, pushed their way in and closed the door.
“What’s going on with you?” hissed Alice. Before I could answer, Megan piped up,
“You’ve got boobs! Did you get implants?”
“No, I got them the same way you got yours. I’ve just been keeping them under wraps,” I said. “Could we see?” asked Megan. I raised my sweater to reveal my bosom in a crisp pink bra. “ohhhh, they are real!” squealed Megan and she reached out to cup them. Alice was a bit more restrained. “Are you changing your sex Ron?” She asked. “Yes girls, after a lifetime I’m finally being honest with myself and adjusting my body to fit the inner soul. So please, from now on call me Rhonda.”
“We knew something was going on when we noticed you were wearing nail polish” said Megan. Oh fine- I walk into the office with 42 inch hips in women’s pants, and they notice I’m wearing clear nail polish I thought to myself.
The cat was out of the bag now. I had to assume that everyone in the office knew. That afternoon, one of the guys passing me in the hall murmured “Still got your balls Ron?” Another asked “Care if I cop a feel Ron?”
Later in the afternoon, Mary Alice and Grace came into my office asking for a peek. The girls were genuinely curious and I suppose if I was to be one of them, I could reveal a little of myself. “How did you manage to hide those from us?” Mary Alice asked. I let them in on my secret binding ritual.
I hoped that day would be the hard part. Next Monday and from now on, I’m going to walk in as 100%woman. That weekend I had my hair cut into the layered bob I wear today. I had my nails done and I even made a stop at the spa for exfoliation.
Monday morning I selected a calf-length plaid wool skirt, a black turtleneck sweater, belted at the waist, black leather high heeled boots and gold hoop earrings completed the outfit. I swept into the office with as much drama as I could muster, I did a little pirouette
for the girls before they surrounded me saying,
“Rhonda you look marvelous”, and” I love your style,” and “where did you find that lovely skirt?” It was like welcoming a long lost traveler.
But, it was the reaction from the boys that surprised me the most. They immediately offered me the deference they accorded to other females in the office. They held doors, they brought coffee, there was the occasional flirtatious glance, and best of all, they called me Rhonda.
Kay and I continued our girls night outs, and on one of these occasions I did go home with somebody. Roger was tall, good looking, wealthy and an ex football player. Of course I fully explained my transgender status which only seemed to increase his attraction to me. I discovered later that he was bisexual himself. Ultimately, we moved in together and I had several happy years with Roger. But he had a flaw. He couldn’t drink without getting combative. One night he came home drunker than usual and looking for a fight.
The first blow caught me on the side of my head, sending me spinning across the bed and onto the floor. Dazed, I didn’t resist being pulled out of the corner where I had crawled. He straddled my torso pinning my arms down so he could use both fists to attack my face.
“Bitch” he screamed, “I’m sick of the sight of you.”
His fist exploded into my eye, took away its vision and I felt the next blow loosen my teeth.
“Please, please stop Roger,” I gasped between screams, but he continued his relentless attack.
I could no longer breathe and I could only choke out the warm blood that was filling my mouth. There was no place to turn, no way to hide. Again his fist drove into me with all his 250 lbs of weight. My last conscious thought was that this night I would die. Eventually and mercifully I blacked out.
I woke in the darken bedroom to the sound of his heavy breathing. A thin sliver of moonlight revealed his still handsome figure curled up on the bed. I always
thought he was the most handsome man I ever knew. His coal black curly hair framed chiseled features that would have looked natural on a Grecian bust.
This could have been predicted. The relationship had been broken for several years and I was constantly subject to his belittling and verbal abuse, often in the company of others. There was no intimacy and he was quite open about his relations with other men and women in our small town. The first time he slapped me I promptly reported it to the local constable, and when nothing happened, to the chief of Police. But Roger was the only son of the industrial scion of our community and could therefore do no wrong. My complaints to the official force only exacerbated the abuse.
I don’t know why I stayed. There was no reason I couldn’t work at a decent job. We had a rich social life and sufficient money to afford anything we wished. I had grown comfortable with this ease and I lacked the self-confidence to make it on my own. Always in the back of my head was his declaration that I was nothing until he came along. After a while I believed it.
My left eye was sightless and I clawed away crusted blood from the other. I spat out a large blood clot from my mouth and I could no longer breathe through my nose. Everything hurt and I was sick to my stomach. Unsteady, I pulled myself to my feet. But I knew that now I must leave for good. I gathered my overnight bag- packed and ready after years of traveling on the spur of the moment. To the bag, I added my jewelry, carefully separating out what he had given me. I added some of my legal papers, my passport and our joint bankbook. Inexplicably I added my new silver Prada evening sandals.
One more quick sweep of the closet and I was ready.
But my eye caught on something gleaming silver in the corner. It was Rodger’s new aluminum baseball bat that he had bought and never used. I had never noticed it before, but now it seemed like it was the only thing in the closet.
It will be used tonight, I thought, as my bloody hands squished over its slim neck. I returned to the bed and stood over his sleeping form. I choked back tears and the urge to cry as I raised the bat full over my head. I brought it down as hard as I could on his head making a sound like fracturing a melon. He gasped once and his eyes flew open, but I was ready to deliver another blow. The whole long course of our humiliating relationship came back to me. For each of his slaps, insults, belittling comments, outside girlfriends, there was now payback. I was in charge now and I hit him over and over until he ceased to make any sound. I was sure I’d killed him- maybe that was my intention.
My survival instincts quickly replaced my rage as I gathered my bags and loaded the car. There was no plan about where to go or what to do except put miles between me and that awful carnage in the bedroom. Exhaustion eventually overtook me and I stopped at a small motel by the interstate. When I walked into the reception area the young man clerk actually gasped. I had no idea of how I looked but now regarding my broken and bloodied features in his mirror, I completely understood his alarm. There would be no need for those Prada sandals for a very long time. I murmured something about an accident on the road and needing a room, but he would have none of that. He insisted on driving me to an all night walk-in medical clinic.
Two hours later the 4” laceration on my brow and my split lip were stitched back together. My broken nose was packed and bandaged back into place and the whole left side of my face was heavily bandaged. My new young friend, Alex, tenderly helped me back into the car.
“So you’re going to stick with that fairy tale about a car accident?” he said.
“Believe it please Alex, I just want to put this behind me.”
“There’s no damage to your car. I know you have been beaten up.”
I spent a fitful night, waking every few hours to take more painkillers. I still had no plan other that to drive to JFK and go somewhere.
The next morning I found a local bank and walked up to the counter with my bank book in hand. Again, I drew horrified stares from the clerks. I might have had a lobster perching on my head. I withdrew a substantial amount- enough to last until I was stabilized. I felt like I was in some sort of a horrible dream with nowhere to turn. I desperately wanted to reach out to Kay, and get some comfort from her. But if in fact, I did kill Rodger, I didn’t want to get her involved. By the next morning, I felt well enough to travel.
At JFK, I abandoned the car in the parking lot, thinking it will eventually find its way home, but in any
case, I didn’t care. At the Delta counter, I inquired which overseas flights leaving today could be booked now. Luckily there was one seat remaining on a flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, leaving in two hours. I booked it. If it was going to Zanzibar, I would have booked it.
It was on the airplane that I had a chance to take stock. I had just ended a 5 year torment that I would never endure again. It had escalated from belittling comments, then slaps and arm twisting and finally into a life-threatening beating that would take cosmetic surgery to repair. Authorities had been no help. It was myself alone who had to deal with it. And finally, it was NOT my fault. I did everything a good woman could do to hold us together. He had turned cruel and mean and I finally defended myself. If he was dead, he got only got what was deserved.
Having thrown off this mantle of guilt, I was now free to re-invent myself in a new place. I would finish my university studies under a student visa, and perhaps take a part-time job to integrate myself into the community. That’s exactly what I did. I rented a two room apartment over a pub and even managed to talk myself into an afternoon bartender job. There is a footnote to this story. I eventually contacted our lawyer. He reported that Roger had indeed survived after a lengthy hospital stay.. Surprisingly Roger reported that he was assaulted by two home intruders. I was about to credit him as a gentleman under all that meanness, when it occurred to me that he was not being noble at all. He just couldn’t admit to the world that he'd taken a beating from a mere woman.
It happened that every afternoon this tall distinguished gentleman in his early 80’s would stop in for his customary whiskey after leaving the office. He was well over 6’ tall, solidly built, and his arresting shock of silver grey hair gave him the appearance of an aging lion. Mac was in the real estate investment business and when he understood that I was an American, he plied me with all sorts of questions about US land values. What I didn’t know, I made up. We became friends and I looked forward to his silver pennant sailing through our doors in mid afternoon.
Eventually I did graduate. But before I could make further plans, Mac offered me a job as his North American agent. I’d live and work on the east coast returning to Scotland several times a year for instruction and planning. I settled in New York city and happily started this new phase of my life .I felt genuine affection for him as I would for a father.
Mac would make occasional trips to the US, and I’d usually meet him in New York City. Naturally it
was not all work and we frequently found ourselves as
dinner companions with occasional visits to the opera or symphony which we both enjoyed. I grew to enjoy his company as the reality of our status as employer and employee faded.
By the time I reached 50 years old, I thought I had the world and my place in it all figured out. Now, as I sat across the table from Mac, 30 years my senior, I realized how much I didn’t know. My life experience, sheltered and a little impoverished, seemed a poor comparison to the richly embroidered fabric of his. As a boy, he had helped his father rescue British troops from that terrible debacle at Dunkirk. As a young man, he became a local Laird, building roads and schools for his tenants. He founded and ran several businesses including a whiskey distillery. He rose above the tragedy of loosing two wives and now seemed at peace with the world. He was such a contrast with the men in my age bracket that I had known. These men were fixated on the latest pill, what the government owed them, the ingratitude of
their children and their latest pain. Mac was dynamic. He talked about his latest business plan, the charity that he was supporting, the upcoming symphony, the accomplishments of his 3 adult children and even his latest fly fishing victory. I was falling for this man’s charms and it was going much farther that filial piety.
I noticed that habit and tradition play a big part in a man of this vintage. He always wore a tie, sometimes carried a stick and gloves, and he had a
vast collection of hats. On his first trip to New York City, we spent half a day going to every liquor store in midtown to find the exact same single malt whiskey that he drank back home.
“Its nae ‘at Ah hae th’ taste fur the whiskey Lass,
but th’ bottle looks sae braw oan th’ table”, he said in his thick brogue.
Once at the symphony as the lights went low, he slipped his hand over mine in my lap. We held hands and he caressed my leg. When the lights came up, I was astonished to see my hose in tatters. It seems his
rhinestone cuff links that he always wore had lost a stone, and the setting had snagged and torn my hose. Rhinestone cufflinks-the only flaw I saw in this man.
He was a gallant in the old world sense. When he was with me I felt like a queen. Opening doors and taking my arm came naturally to him. On one occasion we were walking down a city street at night past a group of young toughs in a doorway.
“Hey girl, I got somethin for ya that ole dude don’t have”. Mac sprang at their leader like a
tiger. His huge gnarled fist smashed down on the man’s head and literally floored him. Mac took my arm and we strolled off down the street.
“Them ‘at dornt respect their elders will
damn well respect their betters” was his only response. I was ashamed to have been frightened, but to see this 80 Year-old guy spring to my defense without a moment’s hesitation. I had turned the corner. I loved this man.
Naturally intimacy eventually entered our relationship. I had felt like a spinster for so long I hardly recognized the feelings. But it was different now. The old athletic lust to satisfy ourselves was
gone, replaced by the desire to pleasure our partner. Pleasure was pleasure and the young had no exclusive hold on it. I did learn however, to start early in the evening.
I arrived in Edinburgh for his birthday a day
early and spent my time getting my hair styled into the usual layered bob, my nails done and even a trip to the spa for exfoliation. I selected a long red plaid skirt, black turtleneck sweater, and elegant black leather boots- just the thing for a daytime affair at a Scottish manor house in the country. Mac picked me up at the little B & B where I usually stay, and we were off to the countryside. The house at the end of a little country lane overlooking the Firth of Forth was at least 200 years old. Its grey stone walls
and tiny crenellated windows gave no clue that little children once played in its shadows, and I was about to meet them.
We swept into a baronial entrance hall to meet the children before a cracking fire that made the stone walls dance a lively jig. The young man was tall and craggy like his father, excepting that his arresting shock of hair was coal black. The elder daughter was tall, slim and elegant, and wore a royal
blue velvet skirt that added to her regal appearance .Surprisingly, the younger daughter was a petite blond who wore a hacking jacket and riding breeches. After the usual paternal greetings, Mac put his arm around my waist to introduce me.
Nothing could have prepared me for the icy reception I received. They offered their hand without an embrace. Their eyes were cold and penetrating and
they made no effort to engage me in conversation. Dinner was more of the same. I had overstepped
some boundary and my mind raced to identify the problem. I excused myself as early as I possibly could and Mac drove me back home. He was silent and clearly as troubled and bewildered as I.
I guess I figured it out on the plane returning to the US. The children viewed me as an adventuress
out to get the old man’s money. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Marriage would have been
so obvious an attempt to enrich myself that I never could have followed through with it. I would have been content to have Mac for the few times a year that we could be together and from all he said, that was his intention as well.
Still the children were troubled and I know this weighed on his heart. I felt I had no right to come between this man and his children at this stage in his life. We would have to end our affair- and that’s exactly what we did.
Some will argue that love should triumph, that the children were selfish, and an old man’s happiness should be paramount. But society judges differently. This man and his family by blood were the most important. I had the good sense to realize that- or perhaps I loved him enough to give him up.