October 17, 2006
Here I am in Sydney. The trip here was simple enough, despite flying on United. But once I arrived....
After I had already bought my ticket, Steve/Sylviane started sending me emails with information about hotels and short-term apartments and asking me what part of Sydney I thought would be good to stay in. And I started getting rather depressed, and even considered just canceling the trip. She did say that I could have a key to her flat and hang out there during the day when she was at work and use her computer and such. She was sure I'd get along with her flatmate (male), since "Everybody always likes you."
Well, there are some people I know who dislike me almost to the point of an intense hatred. But the main thing was that it was starting to sound like I had committed myself to two months in a city I find boring and now would be seeing Steve/Sylviane only occasionally. So I finally told him (her) there were only two important things about where I stay. First, I wanted some place reasonably close to him, and, at my age, I definitely need my own bathroom.
I arrived here on Monday, October 3 (which fortunately turned out to be a bank holiday) and arrived at Steve's flat with no arrangement yet settled on, except that a friend had given him a bed (he normally slept on a mattress on the floor) for me, so for the time being I could share his small bedroom. The fact that we both snore, rather loudly in my case, was something we'd have to find a way to deal with.
Okay, as usual I am providing you with much too much detail. Anyway, somehow between the last email I got in San Francisco from her and the moment I arrived, the plan had become that she [beginning of prounoun slippage here] was now looking for a new flat and in the meantime we were sleeping almost side by side horizontally, but about half a meter apart vertically. Earplugs and anti-snoring pills proved less than completely successful, but the snoring was not as completely disturbing as we had feared.
Her flatmate seemed reasonably friendly in the way that people are friendly toward those they have just met and haven't yet learned to hate, but mostly he was gone or locked in his own room. Steve's seven-year-old daughter (Cassiopée) had her own room.
It seemed to me that this was the only possible arrangement that made any sense, and I wondered why we had even considered anything else. It certainly gave us the opportunity for lots of sex. Lots. And I started wondering where the hell those other seven lovers that Steve had talked about were.
It turned out that those seven were not around on what one would call a regular basis. (The flatmate was not one of them.) At least one, in fact, was in France. The only one who she saw frequently was her ex-husband, and she had sex with him only occasionally. But they got along extremely well together and fortunately he was not at all jealous of me.
Well, how could he be jealous of a 67-year-old man? And how could a woman like Steve, who certainly had no shortage of opportunities for sex, be so eager to be in bed with a man my age?
"You have such soft hands," she said. She also said that she likes my belly. Well, I'm glad somebody does. My doctors are not enthusiastic about it, and I can't say that I'm that keen on it myself.
And damn! I'm screwing up the pronouns now, something I try very hard (but not always successfully) not to do when talking in Steve's presence.
Incidentally, he just recently got his Australian citizenship and was able to have his new name on his passport, thus avoiding going to court for a name change. (In France, to change the old passport, this would have cost him several hundred dollars.)
Okay, so the pronoun thing is an aspect of the major issue. Certainly for me it is (although I didn't anticipate how many other issues there would be).
There's a strange mixture of male and female in my lover now, something which s/he acknowledges and says doesn't really matter. But she does definitely want to be called by her^H^H^H his male name and by the male pronoun, although not all his old friends manage to do this.
The body, especially naked, from the front at least is that of a very muscular woman, a female bodybuilder, even. (The back view is pretty masculine.) And I find it quite astonishing that now such a woman should be available for me and even rather insistent about demanding sexual contact. In this way, for me it's like a sexual fantasy come true. It almost seems like for this alone the fourteen-hour flight might have been worthwhile.
Below the waist, s/he is fortunately quite female, although with perhaps unusually muscular legs. He is not planning on having surgery on the sexual organs. The breasts are so far still intact, although he is planning an eventual mastectomy and he did say at first that he didn't like having them touched, which I found quite unwelcome news. I wanted to complain, "I spent fourteen hours on an airliner to get here, and now you tell me I can't fondle your breasts?" But it turns out that when really aroused (which, for the first few days, seemed to be almost constantly) he is more receptive to being touched there.
The face, one the other hand, is more ambiguous. Sometimes looking like a young gay guy in his twenties (twenty years younger than Steve in fact is), and sometimes looking like a rather butch dyke. (But not a bull dyke, not by any means).
And at times, especially at first, there were a lot of gay-male mannerisms --- gestures and ways of talking --- which I found rather offputting.
But after a couple of days, it became clear that whatever name and pronoun she may prefer, I was still dealing with my old lover Sylviane.
Except that some times when he was with his gay friend Chris (a very nice guy of obvious Irish descent, not a lover) I discovered myself suddenly in the presence of two confirmed fags, dishing the dirt. Which was a bit of a new experience for me, despite the fact that I've been casual friends with a number of gay males before.
And they both commented on the fact that this whole pronoun thing is all the more confusing, since gay males often refer to each other as "she." (I wanted to point out that this is already recorded in Proust. Steve of course, being French, knows Proust. But Chris is essentially uneducated, and not a bit embarrassed by the fact.)
I also got a to spend quite a bit of time with another of Steve's friends, Tom, who, like Steve, is a F2M transsexual. A very convincing male, although with a bit of softness, and an extremely nice guy. No difficulty using the correct pronoun in his case. He's been on hormone treatment for eight years now, and just now is going into the hospital to have the ovaries removed, which in Australia is a necessary step to being legally recognized as a male.
But I'm not yet getting to the biggest part of the soap opera I've fallen into the middle of. But this is a long enough article for one posting.
October 17, 2006