Last night my wife and I joined a couple of friends for a meal at an Italian restaurant in a nearby town. Four friends out on a weekday evening. Why was this worthy of a blog post? The evening was arranged at my wife's instigation, and I was there not as my usual scruffy bloke but as my best shot at a stylish-yet-casual Jenny in LTS jeans and a Desigual top under my grey LTS trench coat.
That's right, my wife was extending her comfort zone by arranging an outing with me as Jenny. Previously any such outings have been in the company of our local support group and she has not always been at ease even then. That she voluntarily made such an effort I find to be demonstration enough of why she is worth whatever efforts I can make to hang in there for her.
All things considered, the evening went very well. I was severely spooked though when on drawing to a halt in the car park a slightly dodgy looking bloke appeared at the car window. It turned out he was completely harmless, he merely wished to share his frustration at the ticket machine being out of order.
So for the first time I was out in public in Jenny mode, almost solo. Just the two of us meeting our friends, no support group for protection. Passing through a familiar space, past other couples, even a group of teenagers. No darkness to hide in, it was about twenty minutes before sunset. The big surprise was that I didn't notice anyone spot me. Not even the bloke in the car park. Were they suddenly smitten with blindness or something? I flatter myself I don't do a bad job, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't still have something of the bloke about me. And with my size I'm certainly difficult to miss.
I think I managed it not through a feat of passing but one of not standing out. My efforts not to deliver any unexpected cues had paid off, and for those passers-by engrossed in their own concerns I simply didn't feature on their radar. My outfit passed the "Could I imagine my sister or my cousin wearing this?" test so I succeeded in looking just enough like a tall natal girl as they are that nobody made the effort to look any further.
Yes, we had plenty of nerves. I've been ready for this for a long time, waiting for my wife to feel strong enough to be comfortable with it. However ready you might be for this moment, it's always going to be a challenge. But as is the only way to proceed with these things we just went for it and had an enjoyable evening. I am hugely indebted to my wife for feeling able to come this far, and to our two friends for their company and support.
It is going to be increasingly difficult to keep this in the box, but I know the alternative of not doing so would have eventually been far worse.