Selling…Without Selling Out
Ok, so it’s time for memoirs again. After I dropped out of beauty school, my family and I were faced with a bit of a dilemma; that is, the bill. I had to pay the school back for the few months I was there and I think there was also a penalty fee of some sort for not completing the term and giving them even more money. Anyway, whatever, I’ve never been too gifted with finances, but luckily I have a mom who is, so she basically figured out everything that needed to get paid when it needed to get paid and told me she and my grandmother would help me, but I had to start looking for a job so that I could help out too.
My search brought me to the nearest mall where I instantly caught the eye of the HR lady at this very prestigious department store. She was a soft-spoken, fashionable, chain-smoking cougar who lived for young, foreign men. Unfortunately, as I would come to find out on many a cigarette break, these young, foreign men were seldom very good to her and usually ended by soaking all her money up like a sponge, beating her or a combination of both. But anyway, this memoir’s about me, so let’s get back to it 🙂 So, HR lady hired me and I began working at this department store in the children’s section as a part-time associate. Part of the dress code was having to wear a suit and tie. My grandmother bought me two suits to start out with (I’d acquire more later), one was a gray double-breasted one and the other was black. I’d always pair them with ties in a dazzling array of colors and patterns. As time went on, I was promoted during the summer to a Coach specialist (basically I just sold pricey purses). By then, I’d acquired many more suits and also had a habit of wearing satin-y shirts in very bold colors like royal blue, gold and scarlet. It was at this time, I remember missing my feminine ways…the eye make-up, the nail polish, the long hair (especially). It was more than “missing,” it was yearning. So, even though I knew I’d get flack for it, I began pushing the envelope little by little, day by day. I started wearing clear nail polish, though my nails were still kept at a reasonable length for a boy. I took up the black eyeliner I loved so much again, but used only a tiny bit on the lower lash line so no one would notice.
But people were noticing. I remember the week of July 4th that year, I was working and a little girl shouted up to her dad, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I hadn’t heard comments like those since my school days when I was first beginning to cross-dress. At that time, hearing those things was an everyday occurrence. This time though, instead of annoying me, it filled me with a feeling of wonder. Wonder at how easily I’d be able to pass if I did decide to go all the way with this. I mean, here I was in a suit and tie with the barest trace of make-up, short hair and nails and still people thought I was a girl. This little incident prompted me to do something more. One day, during inventory, I removed my tie. I was sick of wearing it by then, it was just another symbol of my slavery to this male body and everybody’s perception of me as male. So I tore it off right there and didn’t put it back on. There were a few raised eyebrows and one older lady I worked with told me I’d get in trouble if I kept breaking the dress code and I did. I remember breaking down one day because I just couldn’t take it anymore. The frustration of everyone around me being so close but having no idea what kind of thoughts were swirling around inside my head.
By the fall, my manager could see I needed to be shifted somewhere else. As luck would have it, a good friend of mine who worked at the nearby Lancome counter, decided she was going to leave to become a flight attendant, and she recommended me to her mananager. I had to interview with her even though I already worked for the store, and she seemed icy but pleasant enough. She hired me of course, and as I moved into my new position I was able to breathe easy in knowing the suit and tie dress code no longer applied to me, as I was a make-up artist and we basically just wore black anything. As a make-up artist, I learned so much that would help me out on my closely approaching transition, but I was also tempted on a daily basis being so close to all those cosmetics! Sometimes I’d take some lip gloss from a nearby juicy tube sample and just put some on with a q-tip and see if anybody noticed. Then lip gloss gave way to lip color…and soft eyeliner, to mascara and eyeshadow. My nails and hair were growing out and I knew something was happening, coming forth if you will, whether I wanted it to or not. Eventually my manager, who turned out to be a very nice lady and fairly tolerant of my antics, told me I had to “tone it down.” Such trite advice would be handed down to me over the years more times than I can count, but I didn’t want to “tone it down,” I wanted to “tone it up!” She tried to give me some excuse like make-up artists shouldn’t have long nails because they might poke someone in the eye while applying foundation, but I knew it was just her way of telling me, “You need to cut your nails because you are a boy and boys shouldn’t have long nails.” So, I refused. In my hotheaded youth, I saw it as a hindrance to my journey (although admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure what that journey was or where it was taking me). Despite this, though, I was happier doing make-up than I had been the whole year prior, peddling children’s clothes and then Coach bags. It was just something I enjoyed and enjoyed learning about. But my “education” was about to be cut short by an obstacle that was already at that point, very familiar to me, the schoolyard bully. Though that’s a topic for next time!
Posted on June 6, 2011, in Ongoing Memoirs and tagged bisexual, gay, gender identity, genderqueer, glbt, lesbian, lgbt, lgbtq, lgbtqc, queer, retail, trans, transgender, transgendered, transsexual. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.