By Karen Singer
Chapter 26 Part 2 of 3
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! And scared. That’s how Roger felt as he rode in the car toward the church Janice seemed to be so fond of. “The Free Spirit Nondenominational Church.” He had heard that such open-minded churches existed, but he never expected to actually go to one. And today wouldn’t be his first time going there either. But it would be his first time attending in a dress! Ugh! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! He was just glad that it was such an open-minded church. Heck, even the cross-dressers he had already met – sort of – had told him to feel free to wear a dress to church if he wanted. Well, he may not exactly want to, but he was wearing one now. And no doubt, he would be wearing more of them in the future. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
The butterflies in his stomach grew worse as they exited off of the interstate highway. But surprisingly, they were almost nonexistent as they pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall where the church was located. He didn’t feel ill… not exactly. But he wasn’t feeling all that anxious to get out of the car either. Especially since the parking lot was already somewhat full. Not nearly as bad as Easter Sunday, the last time he had been here, but there were still all too many people around.
Janice parked the car, but Roger didn’t even open his car door until after both Janice and Carol had gotten out of the car. Then, blowing out a forced breath to steady himself, he too got out of the protective safety of the black SUV.
“Come along… Candy,” Janice said as she turned toward the church. She and Carol barely glanced back at Roger as they began walking toward the people ahead of them.
Feeling embarrassed, stupid, defeated, and resigned, Roger put one high-heeled foot in front of each other and followed Janice and Carol toward the door of the church – never once looking up from the parking lot pavement below his feet.
“Oh my goodness!” he heard a “queer” voice loudly proclaim. Roger figured that was his sentiments exactly – oh my goodness! He still didn’t look up. He simply couldn’t. He did hear Janice let out a bit of a chuckle. Well, he supposed he was a somewhat funny joke. Strangely, he didn’t feel like laughing himself.
“Oh my goodness!” the voice rang again… far closer this time than it should have sounded from the short distance he had walked since the first time. This time he did chance to glance up… and wasn’t sure if he should have kept his eyes back down at the pavement instead. One of the cross-dressers he had met here before was practically running right toward him! Now the butterflies in his stomach were back – full force!
“Oh my goodness!” the voice called again as the… person… went right around Janice and Carol and pulled to a stop right next to Roger… who stopped moving himself.
“You did it!” the person said excitedly as he looked Roger over very carefully. “You actually did it!”
Roger tried to grin, but it wasn’t working very well. “Yeah,” he admitted sheepishly. “I guess I did.”
“Well, honey, you look fabulous! Trust me, absolutely fabulous!”
Fabulous? Roger had no doubt that was a lie if he ever heard one! All he really looked was ridiculous! “Uh… thanks,” he managed to get out.
The “person” linked his arm though Roger’s, which somewhat scared Roger, and started walking him toward the door. “Why don’t you sit with us today?” the “person” asked.
“Uh…” Roger didn’t quite know how to answer that.
Janice had heard the question though and stopped to look back at the two men – dressed as women… sort of. “I think that’s a wonderful idea,” she said to Roger. “That was so nice of you to offer,” she said to the… person.
Roger wasn’t all that happy about the idea, but he managed to reply, “Sounds good.”
“Oh wonderful!” the “person” replied. “I can’t wait till the others get to see you!”
He couldn’t wait? Roger wasn’t all that sure he wanted anyone else to see him.
“My name is Bethany, the “person” said. “How about you?”
Realizing that the game was going to be played with female names only, Roger replied, “Candy.” Ugh!
“Candy! Oh… I love it!” Bethany replied fairly breathlessly. “It’s just… adorable!”
Yeah right! Adorable! Just like me. Roger could almost throw up!
With his arm still linked through Roger’s, Bethany led Roger through the crowd of people in front of the door – all of whom turned to get an all too careful look at him. Roger’s embarrassment grew over that – by a lot. Once inside, Bethany took him over toward the side at the back of the room, where Roger now saw two of the other transvestites he had seen before – both of whom looked over at him and suddenly looked all too excited.
“Look at you!” one of them practically screamed as Roger and Bethany approached.
“Honey, you look great!” the other one said as Roger stopped in front of them.
Roger shook his head. “Trust me, I don’t feel great!”
“Don’t worry about it one little bit,” the person replied with a wave of his hand. “Just the fact that you’re here and dressing as you want, makes you look great!”
“It’s a little hard for me to look at it that way,” Roger replied.
“I know honey. We all do. We’ve all been there – done that! And I for one and very excited for you.”
“Me too!” the other “person” replied.
“Ladies,” Bethany said, “This is Candy. Don’t you think that’s simply an exquisite name?”
Exquisite? Roger could just barf over it!
“Oh it is indeed!” one of the two in front of him replied. “And my name is Cass… Cassandra to be accurate.”
“Hi,” Roger replied.
“And I’m Tracy,” the third one said.
“Hi,” Roger said again. He didn’t have to say anything else as Bethany suddenly grabbed him in a tight bear hug.
“Oh, I’m so excited for you!” Bethany exclaimed before finally releasing Roger.
It wasn’t exactly the way that Roger would have put it.
The woman preacher was just as good as ever, but Roger didn’t really pay that much attention to her. What occupied his mind instead, was that he suddenly had three new friends. Strange friends indeed, but they were without a doubt – friends. And they had all gone out of their way to make him feel as comfortable and at ease with the situation as they possibly could – for which Roger found he was actually very grateful.
He was grateful enough that after the service, as they all got to their feet, he tried to get their attention. “Uh… guys… I mean, ladies,” he corrected himself, trying to play the game right.
“Whatever you’re comfortable with,” Cassandra told him as they all turned to pay attention to whatever it was that he wanted.
“Uh… thanks,” Roger replied quickly. “Um… I need to thank you all for not making fun of me today, when I’m obviously in need of more help than any of you can imagine.”
“Make fun of you?” Tracy replied, “Candy, we’ve all been there! Trust me, nobody here is going to make fun of you. And as to needing more help than we can imagine? Trust me on that one too, we’ve all been there. And if there’s anything any of us can help you with, believe me, none of us would hesitate a second to do our best to be there for you.”
Roger shook his head, but he couldn’t explain anything about why he was really dressing as he was. “I… appreciate that… a lot,” he replied.
“So what is it?” Cassandra asked. “Family, friends, your own personal feelings? Or do you just need a good psychologist? Honey, we can help with all that! Trust me.”
“Um… none of that, I’m afraid,” Roger replied somewhat sheepishly. “At least, not yet. What I really need help with is…” He paused to take a breath to steady himself. “Looking better!” he finally blurted out. “I look awful!”
“No you don’t!” Bethany told him.
“Yes I do!” Roger insisted. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to do my makeup better, but after looking at about a thousand videos last night, all I discovered was how little I really know about it. And do you know how many products are out there for women to use?”
“Millions!” Tracy replied offhandedly.
Roger nodded. “I’m afraid all I got was more confused and frustrated.”
“Welcome to the club!” Cassandra laughed. “Don’t you think real women get just as frustrated over the same thing?”
“Real women don’t have to work as hard at it,” Roger replied. “Most of them don’t even need makeup. They just think they do.”
“Huh!” Bethany grunted. “Just try convincing any of them of that!”
Roger looked at … him… and nodded. He knew exactly what he had meant. “I think what I really need is someone to show me… in person… just what I need and how to use the stuff. I simply have no idea in the world!”
Tracy reached out and put her hand on Roger’s arm… and looked him straight in the eye. “Honey, admitting you need that kind of help is the first step in getting exactly the help you need.”
Roger shook his head. “Any ideas for it though?”
“Lots!” Bethany replied. “You need to go to the same place that most women go for the same reason – to the experts! Well, somewhat experts I guess.”
“You can go to the malls… to the makeup counters and ask for their help,” Cassandra told him. “That’s what I do. And honey, I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I have doing it!” He leaned a little closer and whispered. “I go a lot!” Then he added in a more normal voice. “Just don’t worry about if anyone is going to make fun of you or not. Just go do it! The girls there all just want to sell something. And if they don’t want to help you, then just go somewhere else. Most of them though are going to absolutely jump at the chance to do anything and everything to you! Trust me on that honey. That’s why I think I have so much fun with it!”
Roger smiled while the other two “ladies” chuckled.
“Another thing you can do,” Tracy said, “is to go into one of those makeup stores… any one you want, it really doesn’t matter. “Just go in and tell them what you need. Personally, I find them to be at least a little more private, and I get really good advice there.”
“But they’re not nearly as much fun!” Cassandra noted.
“Maybe not,” Tracy admitted, “but I learn more there than I do in the malls.”
“Who cares?” Cassandra asked. For which the other two “women” laughed.
“Uh… thanks,” Roger replied. “That’s probably good advice. I’ll have to see what I can do.” But in reality, he couldn’t see himself doing anything of the sort. But then, he also had trouble picturing himself wearing a dress to church… yet here he was.
Happy… and VERY relieved! That’s how Roger felt as Janice pulled out of the parking lot and headed toward home. He had done it. He had gotten through it. And thank God that everyone there had been so understanding and kind towards him. None of them could really help with his true situation, yet everyone there had acted nothing but totally accepting toward him. Relieved! That is, until Janice pulled the car off of the highway again and declared, “Candy, you’re buying us all lunch out again. I think Carol and I both have worked hard enough for you all week to have earned it.”
Roger could have cried.
The restaurant was the very same one that Janice had taken them to once before. One he noted that she seemed to particularly like. And also one that always seemed to be very crowded on Sundays after church – unfortunately. Once the car had been parked, Roger again grabbed his purse and got out of the car. This time, there would be no “friends” around to make him feel more at ease. This time, everyone in sight would no doubt laugh at him.
Feeling totally foolish, he followed Janice and Carol to the door – and inside. He waited while Janice gave the hostess her name, and then they all waited – a long time – in direct sight of an awful lot of people. People that Roger could easily see never stopped staring at him. And Roger could just as easily see that none of them were happy to see him there – dressed the way he was. And he couldn’t blame any of them one little bit! If he could have, he would have gladly left and just waited in the car. As it was, he was so grateful when the hostess finally led them to their booth… where he felt at least a little more hidden.
It wasn’t until they had all sat down together that Janice decided to get friendly and really speak with him again. “So did you enjoy church this morning?” she asked.
The question nearly sent Roger’s poor head spinning. Enjoy church? Dressed the way he was? She had to be kidding! He quickly searched for a polite way to answer. “I still think the preacher is very good,” he replied.
“Oh, she is marvelous!” Janice agreed. “Absolutely… marvelous.”
Roger was only surprised that she didn’t say “inspirational” as well. That was how she usually characterized her. “The church is… very accommodating, I noticed.”
“Indeed, it is, Mr. Brin… I mean, Candy. Indeed it is! I seriously doubt you would have found so much acceptance in any other place. At least, not around here.”
“I have no doubt about that at all,” Roger agreed.
“So… how are you getting along with your new friends?”
Roger thought about that for a moment. “Better than I expected. They did everything they could to put me at ease… from the moment I arrived… sort of.”
“Well, I could have used a little less of Bethany running at me and yelling as excitedly as he did.”
Janice chuckled. “That was a bit of a sight, I’m afraid.”
“But otherwise, they were all nothing but nice. And they did their best to be helpful.”
“Helpful? In what way?”
“Well, after the service, I told them about my makeup woes. They had several suggestions for going places to get advice directly.”
Janice nodded. She was somewhat surprised at that, but she realized she shouldn’t have been. They were the kind of… men… who would most likely know things like that. “What kind of advice did they offer?”
“One of them suggested I go to the makeup counters at the malls.”
“Sounds like good advice to me,” Janice replied. “That’s where I usually go. Most women I know do that.”
“One of the other ones suggested I go to a store that specializes just in makeup and ask them there. He said I’d probably get better advice in a place like that.”
Janice considered that. “No doubt you would… Candy. No doubt. So what are you going to do?”
Roger sighed a bit as he considered that. “I think I’ll try one of the specialty stores. I need all the help I can get!”
Carol giggled slightly. “I definitely want to be there to see that!”
Yeah right! She would!