The following is the conclusion of Paula's account of a trip she took to Toronto in December 2010.
I am seated in the restaurant and after about five minutes an Asian man with a strong accent who was seated near me comes to my table and begins asking me something. At first I think he’s asking me if I am alone and would I like company. Becoming a little flustered I finally realize he is asking me if my name is Yvonne. I politely answered no, but then realized later when a female colleague (tall and blonde like me) joined him that he was waiting for someone he hadn’t met before.
Wow - he actually thought I was a woman! My office girl look was authentic enough for him to think that I was his colleague. It just floors me to think that I passed. I know we all say it’s not important, but it’s good to know you are being seen as a woman and not a caricature. I enjoyed my meal, had a couple glasses of wine and went back to my room and slept sweetly.
The next day, I was busy at work, it was very cold, and I was tired. I went out for a good Italian meal at Anna Fazolies and called it a night.
The next night I was still tired and almost didn’t get dressed up, but after I showered, I just had to get out. So I put on my favorite print skirt, my dark jacket, a nice pair of low heels, my new wool coat and off I went. I passed a man in the hallway and he smiled and said, "Hello." I drove to the mall and had to walk a long distance in the snow from the parking lot because of the Christmas shoppers.
I often wondered what it felt like to be out in the freezing cold with pantyhose. Years ago when I worked on Wall Street, I would watch and envy the women coming to work in their pantyhose and heels. When the weather became extremely cold, I would wonder how cold it must be for them. I remember thinking to myself that I would gladly endure such discomfort to be made a member of their sorority.
It was a melancholy thought because deep down I never thought that day would come. But here in the bitter cold of Canada, I felt a connection with those sisters of so many years ago as the Arctic winter winds drifted over my stocking-clad legs. One final note, my legs in pantyhose were no colder than pants.
Whenever I enter a mall for the first time, I’m always a bit apprehensive and wait for that moment of truth. How will everyone react? One step, two steps, 50 yards, 100 yards, and I am moving through the mall without a care and without drawing any attention.
I wanted to find Laura’s, a popular ladies store in Canada and buy a top to go with my new skirt. After wandering the mall and checking several directories, I finally stumbled into a Laura’s. The sales associate was about my age and very helpful. I told her I had just lost a lot of weight. We talked about how good that felt and how much fun it is to buy new clothes. I tried on several tops, but didn’t find anything I liked.
My next stop was MAC to find a lip pencil to match my lipstick. The store was very busy and a sales associate said she would be with me shortly. As I walked around the store, I kept checking the mirrors to see if any of the customers were reading me. Nobody seemed to notice a thing. It makes me feel good to be able to shop and blend in as a woman; it is something that never stops bringing me joy.
The sales associate came over and we tried several shades. She complemented me on a bracelet I was wearing. “Where did you get that --- it’s lovely,” she chimed.
Caught a bit off-guard, I wasn’t sure how to respond and came out with, “Oh thank you. It was a gift... from my husband.”
“HUSBAND,” I shouted in my mind. I couldn’t believe I said that; it sounded so odd, but it also evoked a whimsical reflection of what might have been.
When I went to pay, I fumbled with my purse and it nestled itself quite naturally on a shelf. I noticed for the first time that there was a little shelf on the counter to put your purse as you opened it. As a man, I never realized why that was there, but when paying as a woman, my purse naturally rested there --- just a cute observation seen from the other side of life.
I went out into the mall and slowly window-shopped appreciating my remaining time as a girl. I stop in front of a bridal shop and admired a gown in the window. Lost in thought, I then noticed a sales associate looking out at me. Our eyes met and we smiled at each other as women do.
I finally trudged back to the car through the snow and drove back to the hotel. Two businessmen rode the elevator with me and got off on the same floor, I got off the elevator first, smiled and said, "Thank you."
Back in the room, time had once again run out on this modern-day version of Cinderella. She quietly stepped out of her magic slippers, pulled off her mane of beautiful hair and heartbreakingly turned back into a pumpkin.
Actor Robert Caso femulating in the 1993 film The Naked Truth.
Wearing JB by Julie Brown.