Here is a big secret about me: I am a fantastic date.
I know, I know. I don’t look like I would be a good date. I’m smart and challenging, big and intense and queer as hell. I’m not the person you would pick out of an app to go out with, whoever you are.
But when I focus on you, drawing you out, really seeing you, offering entertaining anecdotes that directly address your interests, paying attention and being present in a really wonderful way, you soon get the point. I know how to partner people well, how to setup their jokes and make them look great, playing “straight” in a way that showcases and highlights what they value. Providing ballast and context, I am a fabulous “stable pony,” ready to smooth out any dips while also reinforcing any highs.
I learned early how to take care of other people, whatever that means. I can be the gal who looks up to you while holding your arm, the guy who makes the faux pas that lets you do a power take, looking great. I know my role, even my breeches role, and I do it well. I have no need to fill up the space with me, but if required, I can take the hit.
I once went out with a gal from a dating site. She was in it for the game, a meal and half to take home, all for playing to the ego of some guy. Her ad was not really true, but she knew how to get that first date and that was all she was in for.
The oddest part, though, was when she was surprised that I wasn’t one of the nebbish guys she usually ended up with. Realizing that, she started to encourage me to play the same game as she did, seeing that I knew the tricks she knew and had at least as good a face. It was odd to get that, but then again, I am a very good date.
I often remember the time when a co-worker was stuck with me for a trade show, on the same plane, her in my car, hotel rooms next to each other. She expected me to be what the people in sales thought I was, an anti-social nerd who didn’t play the small talk game, but instead she found me considerate and fun, with lots of attention and wit under that curmudgeon exterior I cultivated to look more Bogart butch.
I know how to enter people’s world. A chemist who tested flour for ADM perked up when I suggested that they were always looking for the perfect sponge. “How did you know that?” they asked, not at all used to anyone understanding their art.
One of the reasons I am so good on a date is because I know how to respect people’s bubble. We all walk around in our own world because being raw and open to the bigger world is just too damn tough to do all the time. Sure, being receptive is part of being vulnerable and openhearted, but each of us needs to balance that exposure with imposition, the ability to assert our own worldview in the face of challenge.
I have been there for those who needed me to conceal my trans nature so they could feel that their own nature was invisible, not having to see themselves in the mirror of me and how their friends saw me.
The secret to my being good at dates, even if I don’t have the package to look inviting, is that I am a femme. I do caretaking, do consideration and even do stimulation. I know how to fight with people in a way that makes them feel seen and cared for, present, exposed and valued.
The trade-off, though, is that I don’t have the expectation or tools to get dates where someone is there to see and value me. I know how to respect the bubbles of other people, even to the point of helping to reshape them, creating a bit more exposure and growth, but getting people to respect my bubble isn’t easy for me,
I’ve had a few rum and cokes, feeling the loneliness that so many of us share, says ShamanGal who spent her Saturday with hundreds of young transpeople from across California’s universities. I’m feeling the desire for a date, not just one where I play the role that others need from me, entering and respecting their bubble, but one where someone enters mine, smiling at me in a way that makes me melt, if only just a little bit.
My own bubble has never really been so respected, as exposed as it is. I learned early to live in the space between monk and mommy, not ever even letting myself dream that anyone could ever see the cute and sultry in me.
I am a great date because I know how to respect the bubble that other people carry, how to enhance and extend it in a way that makes them feel great.
But I don’t date often at all because most are scared of trusting their bubble to me, and even more scared of ever entering my bubble, of being there for me.
And I have learned, over the years, there is very little rum can actually do to fix that.