By Pink Fluid for Cake:
What you see or, what language does not tell.
To the man who sits on the bus and smiles patronizingly, what do you see? I curl up, into myself a little more, hoping what you perceive isn’t too bad. I mean, as far as a generic boy would look, not too shabby? Right? I mean, yeah so my lips are red and my eyes are a little darker, but what the heck. An odd little boy, yes? At a certain age, when these things pass. You experiment, it happens.
No. Not really. I’m a girl.
What a joke.
To the conductor who looks at me when you think I do not notice, what do you feel? Curiosity? Fear? Amusement? A mixture of these and more?
To the people who stare as I walk by, are you wondering what the hell I’m doing? What my life is like? Because I wonder about you, all of you. All of your lives. What you’ve been told.
What your mother told you, what your father told you.
What your language told you.
What your science told you.
What common sense told you.
What ‘felt’ right.
What you see is what you get is what you see is what you get is what you always, always see.
No escaping the manual.
To the woman who I met one evening, down a dark side alley, when I was lost. I had asked you for directions and you had been afraid, so very afraid. You had frantically waved your hand in a random direction and walked quickly on. I had felt sadness catch at my throat. I realized you were afraid, how could you not be? You saw a man, whereas I was hopeful of a fellow being. I realized almost instantly after I had hailed you, but forever too late by then, of what you see. A random male coming to you asking for directions in the dark is trouble. Of course.
In my sadness I had walked where you had pointed, simply to make something of the attempt you had made to aid me as best you can and protect yourself. I do not resent you. I am sad for the situation is far too familiar to me. Yet not one I had ever in my dreams imagined I would cause.
I would’ve fallen into your arms, crying, begging you to believe me that I was afraid too, just as much as you.
I feel so big. So stupid and over-sized. Cumbersome. My hands, my feet, my head, my nose, my face. So out of place. I wonder what you’d expect in a woman and I know it isn’t this. I know it’s something else. Something that is the not-me, the not-I.
I mean, sure you’ll say you’re not judging by body type, but isn’t the phallus hanging from between my legs a little bit too much of an inconvenience? Isn’t that stretching it a bit too far? Isn’t there a line your parents told you that you just cannot possibly cross?
To my dearest, loving friends. What do you see? Each day at campus, you hail me. You respect me. You do me the just service of listening to who I am and attempt in your own ways to adhere to it, this identity. Or you do not, perhaps, do any of the above, but only smile and wave.
But I wish you’d look at me.
No, I mean, really take a look at me.
I have heard of the gaze of those who I desire, who I do the infinite disservice of the generalization simply, of men. And I have seen you, who for simplicity’s sake call yourselves men drive my compatriots into a frustrated frenzy, with your gaze. Yet I have never seen the heated look of one of you directed at me. There are those who are sickened by your constant expectant eyes, that range forever in search of the Other, the other shoe of the pair that fits.
Beside me, away from me, behind me, in all possible directions your eyes rove, but never do they fall on me.When I was younger, I would go around telling those whose curiosity would be aroused, that I once had a lover one beautiful summer, that it was short-lived, that he left me come summer’s end. Tragic, the perfect nauseating tale we see as something to be impressed by, or so I thought. Stupid, pathetic, indulgent me.
In truth, I did what many of us do, in order to cope, to make do. I lied.
Judge me, it is inevitable to do so, a human condition that you cannot really help. But moderate that judgment in the knowledge that I too am a human being like you, yet one who has never, ever been approached by any one, ever, who would have come up to me to let me know that they were moved by my presence. That their body burned by my side.
I live, I breathe, I desire.
Yet I stand erased. There is no looking there where you can find nothing. Nothing of note, of interest.
Oh, I have been looked at, of course, you cannot escape being looked at, of course not. Scorn, ridicule, confusion. Even the eyes of the molester who wishes to smother my body under his hands.
I wonder. Is a woman all that exists between her legs? On her bosom? Is her body all that you ever see? Is her lilting voice all that serenades you? Is there no varying this constant pattern that somehow is now inscribed in the very core? I do not know. I do not expect you to know.
What I do know is I will probably stand here till the very end, as all things must end. And I will marvel at life, at your efforts, your struggles and your stories.
And you will not see me.