Monday, August 20, 2012

How You Dress It Up: A Matter of Perspective (Erik's Story), Part 5

Hello all! Here is the next part of the continuing story! I don't know far into the story I am actually going to get, but it is much easier to write in bits, so its possible that I may continue this series even if I have to leave...enjoy!

How You Dress It Up: A Matter of Perspective (Erik's Story), Part 5

It was strange getting up almost an hour earlier than normal to get ready for school, but considering the extensive work it would take to perfect our looks, I was totally okay with it. I had selected a simple blue dress with straps and a pair of matching flats (Dad said it would have been nearly impossible in heels our first day); Frank had gone with a pushup bra, a navy tube top, and matching skirt and sandals; and Mark was surprisingly non-conservative with a strapless, black and white striped dress that cut off way before his knees, as well as some flats. After securing our wigs with bobby pins, Dad set to work with our makeup, one at a time, and did a fantastic job. Frank was so pleased that he didn't even question where Dad acquired his talent, much to our father's relief.
     "Okay, boys...oh should I say girls?" said my father, smiling at his new 'daughters'. "Get together - I want to take a picture to commemorate your courageous stand." We all stood together, posing for the camera, and let Dad take the shot. "Thanks, you three," he said, then turned away. I could see that he had tears in his eyes.
     Afterwards, we all piled into our car, as usual, but in very unusual circumstances. Dad dropped us out front of the building, and Frank leaped out of the car joyfully, bounding into school with his usual exuberance. Mark, after seeing that there was no pandemonium caused by the appearance of some strange new girl on campus, slowly exited the car next. I was about to leave too, when Dad grabbed me. "Hang on one sec, Erik." I stopped, and turned to my father, who had that same glistening look in his eyes. "There's a lot of things I want to say to you right now," he said tearfully. "What you're doing both scares me and makes me extremely proud. But whatever the result, don't let this experience corrupt you. I'm worried that you're doing what you're doing because of me and who I am, but I don't want you to put your head on the line for something that I've tried to give up for years. Its an enchanting thing in our family, and I don't want you to be a part of the cycle that I've gone through."
     I was baffled by the sudden outburst of emotion. I had almost completely forgot about how personal this struggle was for my father, to see us doing the exact thing that he gave up. But how could something like this corrupt us? "Dad," I answered gently. "I was aware of how personal this issue was to our family. But this is about Judy more than anything else. Bullying of transgender, gay, crossdressing, or other alternative kids is unacceptable, and the best way I can see to stopping this abuse is by making the alternative a natural expectation. I hope that people can step into other people's heels for a minute and realize that there is nothing wrong, nothing corrupting about crossdressing. Besides," I said, smiling as I got out of the car. "I could never dream of being you, because I could never have been as fabulous as I remember seeing you long ago!"
     With that, I left for class, leaving my father with a small smile on his face that seemed to be equal parts pleasure and sadness.

I managed to slip into my usual desk without flashing anyone just before the bell, and attendance was called out by my first period teacher, Mrs. Paul.
     "Susan?"               "Here!"
     "Jackson?"            "Present!"
     "Owen?"               "Here!"
     "Here!" I called out, raising my hand. "But call me Erika, please." There were some snickers from the crowd. "You look a little different today, Erika," Mrs. Paul said, peering over her glasses at me. "New outfit," I replied to a ripple of laughter. Mrs. Paul smiled slightly, and went on recording attendance. The rest of the period ran rather smoothly - sure, there were plenty of whispers, but nothing that I didn't expect. I even had a girl complement me on my dress when I walked out of class. In the halls, I passed by Matt, who strode by without even a second glance. I rode my wave of success all the way through to lunch, were I regrouped with my 'sisters' to talk about the day.
     "How's it been going?" I asked, well aware of the plethora of disgusted, amused, and curious stares from kids around me.
     Mark shrugged. "Fine, I guess. Didn't really know what to expect. I didn't get a lot of attention - I don't normally talk in class - but I definitely heard some guys talking about me in class. Brett and his friends...they didn't take to kindly to my attire. But no physical harm..."
     "Wow, we've been lucky then!" Frank said happily. "Judy was kind of shocked when I showed up like this, and I had a couple people come up to us and ask if we were gay, but they haven't laid a finger on us all day! Must think we have cooties or something..."
     "...or something..." said an angry voice behind me. I turned, and saw Matt towering over me. "What the hell, Erik?" he seethed, visibly angry. "I knew you weren't against this kind of freakish display when Judy moved in, but I NEVER thought I would see the day when you were in a goddamn dress!"
     "Is there a problem, Matt?" I asked innocently. "And please, call me Erika," I continued, fluttering my eyelashes at him. That really set him off. "ERIKA?" he practically screamed. "WHERE THE HELL IS MY BEST FRIEND?"
     "I'm right here, Matt," I replied bravely. "Always have been. What I have been wanting to know is how the hell my friend could have given Judy so much flack. She's a genuinely good person...just with a different perspective on dressing than you and I. Now me and my brothers are trying out this perspective to show you and everyone else that normal people crossdress. Why don't you try it with us?"
     "Are you kidding me?" he shrieked, his eyes suddenly fearful. "If you thing that I'm going to even touch a dress like some sissy queer, then you've gone crazier than you look right now."
     "Really? Because I'm pretty sure you walked by me today without even noticing me..."
     He blushed angrily at that statement. "Oh, I noticed...I just couldn't believe that my macho best friend would be caught dead in a dress."
     "It's just a dress...what's the big deal? I'm still me. It's just like we're trying to prove - it's nothing to make a fuss about..."
     "Oh, it is definitely something to make a fuss about," Matt glowered, staring daggers into my madeup eyes. "A fuss that I will continue to make, as long as you continue to put up this charade and try to corrupt other normal boys. So I'm only going to ask you once: are you Erik my friend, or Erika the crossdressing nancy boy?"
     "You know who I really am," I said, trying not to show any emotion. "But until I prove this point, I'm Erika."
     "Then Erik is dead to me. As are his 'brothers'," he said, tossing a glance over at Mark and Frank. With that, my best friend of 17 years stalked off, and it took all of my willpower not to cry in frustration and sadness. Frank immediately embraced me in a hug. "You were so brave standing up to Matt," he said consolingly. "Wait until I tell Judy!"
     "Thanks, Francine," I whispered. At that moment, my resolve to validate my point grew stronger than ever, because I realized that I had just experienced a fraction of the pain that Judy suffered each day, and wanted no one to ever feel like that again.

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