A Terrified Brunette Reaches Out Nevertheless, Part 6

It took the brunette several hours to feel physically better, after hydrating, eating and taking a shower. She decided to take an evening stroll. She used to walk with an intense pace, but this time she ambled, enjoying the scents of the flowers that she passed along the way. She felt calm, and intensely alive. She pondered her life. She thought of what she valued, and what she craved. She thought of the benefits of being with the blonde – and the costs, especially the social costs.

On impulse, she texted the blonde. “Hi, I have a question. Before you came out as a trans girl, you had a lot of social respectability, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” came the reply after only a few seconds.

“If I’m interrupting, I’m sorry, and I’m fine with waiting a long time for your replies.”

The blonde texted back a smiley-face icon.

The brunette continued: “Would you please describe to me everything you stood to lose and how you felt about that? I know that adding you to my life will have huge consequences. I know you have never urged me to end any of my existing professional or personal relationships but I can’t imagine any of them surviving the general indignation that’s likely to hit me like a tidal wave as soon as I focus on you in a more-than-friends capacity.”

“Okay. Kudos for thinking this through.”

“Wait I have more to say first”

“Okay”

“It’s ironic how this is happening at a time when LGBT pride festivals are so prevalent. This is my own little festival of sorts but if I want to go home after the festival I might not have much left to go home to, unless it’s your place and that is not what I am focused on right now”

“I like the analogy”

“I am just trying to think this through. It feels to me as if it comes down to having to choose between you and everyone else. It’s tempting to choose you and I might well, but I don’t simply feel good about that. There’s probably a reason why and I want to really think this through. I wanted to simply feel good about choosing you, and I do not”

“I am proud of you. This is a commendable approach. Is it OK to reply verbally?”

“Sure.”

“Call me, please.”

The brunette found privacy, called and then her mellifluous voice said, “Hello.”

“Hello again. I plan to respond to your question but there’s an important point I’d like to emphasize first, as to your values. You have your own set of values. I’d like you to focus on them, and cherish them – all of them.”

“Yes?” the brunette was puzzled.

“Even so, I suggest you give special focus to the neglected values, those you’ve been hiding, the values you could not celebrate or enjoy while keeping them a secret. So even though I’m a catalyst, I’m not the primary person in current developments — you are.“

“I see.”

“Whatever changes you make … let’s say that for example three months from now, you find yourself aroused and delighted on stiletto heels in a sex club as my protégé, with rainbow ribbons in your hair, at a wild lesbian sex party. I would only want you there if that’s a big picture consistent with who you are, and your values. In other words, I could not change you into a lesbian or a bi girl, and I would not want to make you a wild girl — just provide a way for you to openly live based on your nature and your values. I would provide to you some situations where, either with just you and I in the dynamic, or with other people too, or just other people, you get to celebrate — and as part of that, explore — what your values are. It’s fundamentally about you, and it should be.”

“I didn’t think of it like that. And as to the club, I wouldn’t want it to be with just other people. Your involvement would be essential for me.”

“Okay,” the blonde responded. “It’s time that you get to live your life, joyously and fully. The adjectives of ‘bored’ and ‘lonely’ should become ever less applicable to you, as time goes by.”

“Well, it might be, as soon as we’re together.”

“It will help, but emotions do have a certain momentum.”

“That’s true.”

“Let’s think of primary activities and derivative works. If someone paints a picture of a couple kissing, then first there should BE a couple kissing, as the basis for that. Ironically, if the painter then later ends up as part of a couple doing the actual kissing, then perhaps she’ll spend more time kissing and less time painting, until there’s an optimal balance for her. From then on, she doesn’t create art to describe her own longing — as in, focus on what she doesn’t have — but she can create art to celebrate her life — as in, what she does have. I’m not saying ‘be happy with what you have’ … I’m saying ‘go achieve your values and thus experience happiness.’”

The brunette was quiet. She thought about the implications to her own life. After a few seconds, the blonde continued:

“I know that art can also be a great coping mechanism but if you’d be better off experiencing things more in person, in real life, then let’s get more of that going. Superficially, it sounds like ‘let’s go have some fun’ but it’s not just about fun. It’s more targeted, more optimized.”

“Wow. Okay. Something about what you said jarred me, though. I’m sorry, I’m preoccupied with that.”

“The ‘go’ word?”

“Yes… I’m too intimidated to ‘go’ do this. I wouldn’t know how to start, nor would I have the courage. I’d just let the remaining days of my life scroll by, and feel frustrated, with my wild visions remaining wistful fantasies. I need someone to be a so-called bad influence, someone who takes me with her, to interesting places and who inspires me, and who brings out … okay, now I see how this fits … brings out the wild girl in me. I mean, not that I primarily care what we do. Just being with that person … with you … is key. However, you tend to do things I’d consider fun and exciting so that’d be part of the picture anyway.”

“I’m sorry. I should be more precise. I used that as a figure of speech. A more-precise version would be ‘Come with me and achieve your values and thus experience happiness.’ “

“That’s much better,” the complex voice said, with a smile.

“So the wild girl is indeed in there somewhere, yes?”

“Very much so, and always hidden.” The brunette thought for a while, then added: “I used to be so excited to meet famous people. Much of what I respected about them, I then went and did myself, even if on a slightly smaller scale, and the reality ended up being a lot less glamorous. Not that it hasn’t been a wonderful experience, in many ways, but … now what?”

“I see your point,” said the blonde gently. Both girls were quiet, and pensive.

Then, the blonde said: “Depression is a complex issue and I don’t want to oversimplify it, but someone truly being sad with her life situation can be a strong contributing factor, as I understand things. I mean this respectfully, but if your life is depressing then that’s not always just a figure of speech.”

“It IS a complex issue and yes, you do have a point. How I evaluate my own life is certainly a huge factor.”

“So an at-heart wild girl who feels she’s been missing out … that sounds like a basis for sadness.”

“It IS.”

“Can you see how it’s not me turning you into a wild girl, but just removing barriers so that you get to live as the wild girl you are, deep inside?”

“I like how you put that.”

The blonde smiled.

The brunette added: “That sounds like a lot of work, for you.”

“I would enjoy it, seeing you thrive as such.”

The brunette smiled.

The blonde continued: “The way my work situation is, and much in my life, my schedule is super-busy compared to, and I mean this nicely, how busy yours might be right now. If I’m correct, then this sets things up to where you could presumably become my traveling companion and sidekick on my peculiar adventures. I suspect we will have a great many intense conversations even if we are just driving through the Nevada desert. In so doing, we can learn from each other, about each other and about ourselves, because we are so like-minded, albeit with different historical paths. I do see tremendous value in conversation, reflection and introspection but I also would want us to experience fun things along the way. It wouldn’t all just be focused on the ‘wild-girl’ theme, either. That’s just an example. ”

“Okay,” said the brunette with a smile in her voice. “Wow, I feel young again, strangely. But you make it sound part-time, like just when you travel.”

“No, it doesn’t have to be. The idea of you here full-time — I like it.”

“Me too. I can’t believe I’m saying this. I feel like a teenager moving away from home to go live with a bad-influence wild person.”

The blonde smiled, and then pensively added: “Movies, songs, books and stories are great but let’s live the sort of life that inspires these works of art. Let’s be inspiring examples for others.”

“Wow.”

“Let’s go places, experience adventures and excitement, struggle with issues, make mistakes and overcome them to experience victories. I do so anyway but it’d be more fun for me with you along. That’s not to say I can focus on adventure 24×7 …”

“Well, what you consider to be normal life might well be what I consider an adventure.”

“I hope so. Also, during all this, I would never want you to violate your sense of self. Instead, I’d like to see you celebrate it fully. So as to the negative effects: I would not want you to choose being with me at the expense of your career, family harmony and marital harmony. I would, however, be delighted to enable and empower you as you explore who and what you are, and who and what you value, with special emphasis on the values you’ve been subjugating. The whole thing about how you feel about your own feelings … that’s a concern for you, isn’t it?”

“Yes…”

“So instead of being frustrated, ashamed and guilty, hiding the part of you that craves to be celebrated, you would make a point of no longer hiding it.”

“That sounds great, but very much not easy.”

“I’m sure it wouldn’t be. You’re highly sensitive and you have made a polished image consistent with what people expect of you. It’s worked better for the you-and-them dynamic than it’s worked for you, personally, as to your own view of yourself, yes?”

The brunette was quiet, absorbing all this. Then: “Yes …”

“You’re a complex diamond with hidden facets that could shine brightly in the sunlight but that glare would bother some people.”

“Good analogy.”

“As to who should like you the most, shouldn’t that person be you? If you alienate someone by being true to yourself, is that perhaps a person you indeed should be alienating?”

“Well, we do have to get along with other people too. It’s not as simple as you make it sound.”

“I agree, it’s a balancing act. Even so, of all the people to whom you are kind, nice, sweet, accommodating and thoughtful … shouldn’t you be supreme on the list of beneficiaries?”

“I don’t know … I guess so.”

“Let’s analyze some people who have benefited from you professionally. Pick someone.”

The brunette said a name.

“Okay. So have you, all in all, enriched this person’s life? Made it happier?”

“Well, we’ve had our ups and downs, but all in all I’d say she’s better off for having had me in her life, yes.”

“Okay, and the next person?”

She said another name.

“And how would you rate the effects of your behavior?”

“A net positive. Not all positive … some times were hard, but … good, all in all.”

“Next person?”

“Some people … I’m omitting from the list. I’m not sure they’re better of for having met me. I don’t like saying that … but it’s probably true.”

“Due to things you did to wrong them?”

“Oh, no! But they ended up being hurt even so.”

“Was that your responsibility?”

“Well … “

The blonde waited.

“Well, no … but I FEEL responsible.”

“I understand. That’s a lousy feeling, feeling responsible for someone else’s pain.”

“Yes! I hate it SO MUCH!!”

“But logically, are you responsible? As in, were you out of bounds, and as a result, you, specifically you, hurt them?”

“No, definitely not. But they did get hurt.”

“I see.”

The brunette was quiet for a while and then said; “now I feel ridiculous.”

“Because you took responsibility for people being hurt even though you didn’t hurt them?”

“Yes!!”

“That means to me that you’re caring, benevolent, and responsible.”

“I can think of another adjective, too.”

“Aren’t those good traits, though, that you showed? If anything, you were overly caring?”

“Well ….”

“If everyone thought like you, less people would be hurt, yes?”

“I don’t know …” she thought hard. “Actually, yes. Certainly. Yes.”

“So, you’re a good person as such, yes?”

“Well … yes.”

“Okay, so now imagine girl A is entrusted with managing someone else’s life, girl B.”

“Okay …”

“ … and then the life path of girl B is like yours and she ends up in the same situation you are now. How well did girl A do?”

The brunette felt a shock of sadness. She thought hard to see if she was missing something but the answer was already clear to her. She didn’t want to reply. Tears blurred her eyesight.

“Not well” she texted and added “crying”

“I’m sorry you’re having a hard time with this, nice person.”

A minute went by. “Say something nice” the brunette texted.

”Seems to me that in your balance of beneficiaries you didn’t rank yourself high enough. When you shaped your emphasis, you focused more on what others wanted you to be and less on how you, in your heart of hearts, wanted to be. So you were sweet, thoughtful and accommodating but perhaps to a fault.”

“Evidently” the brunette texted.

“So let’s agree you need to also get along with people, and it’s a hard balance to find, but if there’s an optimal balance point, then you haven’t so far chosen that.”

“No, I was WAY off!” said the intense voice.

“Do you think you’ve given this mode enough time to provide it a fair opportunity?”

“Too long. FAR too long.”

“So perhaps by now you’re eminently justified in a course correction, as in moving the emphasis more toward you being happier even if others are less comfortable as a result?”

Silence. Then “Yes,” the voice said. “Does this have to be so hard?”

“I don’t know any other way … “ the blonde said, gently. “I wish I could give you a hug right now.”

“Me too…”

“Let’s analyze your values using a political analogy. Current US culture is a blend based in part on both Democrat and Republican influences, yes?”

“Okay … Yes ….”

“And at some point the Democrats are in power, and other times the Republicans are, and things change, but there’s still a lot of cultural momentum, so to speak, for each side, yes?”

“Yes.”

“You’re similar. You have a set of values that you live by openly that fit well with one cultural paradigm, but your hidden values would offend the cultural mainstream of that paradigm, yet many people in the opposing paradigm, not at all, true?”

The brunette thought hard. “Well, yes. True.”

“So, let’s explore that. Let’s say you decide to be sexually wild and come out as bi or gay, and you come move in with me and you become my sidekick. I’m ready for you as such. You could start today. But I haven’t heard YOU say you’re ready. So, let’s get you ready. Let’s think this through and see whom you’d offend, since that’s a major hurdle, yes?”

“Yes. And, oh, my gawd.”

“Your mom is open-minded, isn’t she?”

“Well, yes.”

“Your dad too?”

“Yes …”

“Did you raise your children to be judgmental, conservative homophobes?”

“No.”

“But even so, are they?”

“No!”

“So even though many adult children struggle with a parent’s sexual identity, they’d basically be OK, yes?”

“Well, yes.”

“And it’s not like they’re small and are going to be bullied in school because their mom comes out as a rainbow girl.”

“No, and not that a school bully should prevent me from living as who I am.”

“I agree. Who should, then?”

The brunette was quiet. “Nobody should,” she admitted, quietly.

“So, as to your career: What’s your profession again, exactly?”

The brunette blushed. “I feel ridiculous again.”

The blonde texted her a smiley face.

The brunette said the name of her profession in general. The blonde pressed her to be specific. She reluctantly was.

“So, that’s a subculture in which wild-girl behavior isn’t all that bad a thing really, is it?”

“No, it’s not. Of all the professions on the planet, it’s pretty much the best one as to accommodating wild-girl behavior. Wow, I feel even more ridiculous now. I’ve just always felt I need to cool it and not … well, anyway.”

“Not what?”

“Not be totally open or I’d offend some people.” She paused. “And perhaps thirty years ago that might have mattered but even then maybe not. Dammit! I wasted so much time.” She thought about what might have been. “But, I was also shy.”

“That means you felt like a social misfit but in the right social situation, if someone else had taken the initiative as I’m proposing to take in the you-and-I dynamic, you’d have been fine with openly being a wild girl, yes?”

“Yes!”

“Seems to me your underground river is ready to break through and be visible above the surface, and become fountains and waterfalls, and to sparkle in the sunlight.”

“Yes! I like how you said that. The underground river of my repressed values?”

“Yes.”

“Two problems, though.”

“You’re married and you feel ancient?”

“Yes.”

“Well, go talk to the man. Be open. Work out a mutual ‘win.’ Worst case he tells you to get lost and then that ironically solves the problem, as you phrased it, yes?”

“You make it sound so simple.”

“Well, isn’t it?”

“No. It’s complicated.”

They talked about it some more. Then, the brunette said, “this openness does make things simple but it’s hard to do.” The blonde agreed, and then asked her to say her age out loud.

“I don’t like you very much right now,” the brunette said, but she said the number.

“And your profession is … “

The brunette laughed, and said it.

“And you’re not too old for that, right?”

“No!”

“Well, then applying those standards ….”

“Am I too old to come out and be a wild girl? No. I see your point. Wow.”

“The people in your life might react strongly because they will probably be surprised, and might feel that they have been misled, due to the abrupt change of direction you’re announcing. However, a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance is hard enough without having to worry about how regularly you send news updates to everyone else in your life. So to me the important thing is that you figure out who you are, as the priority, and then manage the announcements of that as a secondary priority. That’s not to say that the opinions of other people don’t matter, but if objectively there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing and yet it offends someone, perhaps that’s the problem of that person — not your problem.”

“You’re making a lot of sense.”

“So now, do you still need to me to answer the original question — or has that been superseded?”

”It has been superseded, though as a matter of curiosity I still want to hear that story one day. But, you’ve resolved what was bothering me, and that’s what my intent was.”

“I’m glad.”

“I’m going to hang up now, and go think about what we discussed, and then go drink some more water. Then, I’d like to call you again.”

“Please do.”

The girls said good-bye, each with a happy smile.

* * *

Half an hour later, the brunette was lounging about on her bed, feeling cheerful. She was lying on her back with her one leg in the air, drawing imaginary patterns on the ceiling with her big toe. She called the blonde again. “Hello, I’m hydrated and I feel like I’m eighteen again, but it’s the new, improved version of that. Better than the original.”

“I’m glad. Hello.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m sitting by the pool, working on my laptop PC, or I was — until an interesting 18-year-old called me.”

“I hope you mean, me.”

“I do,” the blonde smiled.

“You’re sitting in the dark?”

“There are some lights here but they’re not dazzlingly bright.”

“What are you wearing?”

“A small yellow bikini.”

”Would you text me a picture?”

“Yes.”

A minute later the brunette had a picture.

“I like it… I like how you look. I wish I was younger, much younger.”

“Younger even than 18?”

The brunette laughed her breathless laugh. “I FEEL eighteen but I know I’m not.”

“I understand, “ the blonde said, with a smile in her voice. Then: “What are your evening plans?”

“I have none.”

“I’d like to task you with something.”

“Yes?” The brunette found the choice of wording intriguing.

“I’m in the Marina area. You’re not ready to meet me and I understand that, but I’d like you to start thinking of becoming comfortable with that idea. Part of the hurdle is emotional, and doing something tends to be a good antidote for feeling intimidated. So, the task is for you to get ready to come here, and then to get in your car and reset the trip meter to zero, and drive toward the Marina, where I am — until you start to feel too intimidated or overwhelmed. Then, you turn around and go back. There’s no failure mode. The idea isn’t to have you make any particular amount of progress but to allow yourself to feel however you feel, as you’re preparing and driving.”

“Okay …”

“If you can’t even finish doing your make-up and then you are overwhelmed already, that is okay too. If you finish your make-up but you don’t make it out the front door, or out the driveway, or out the neighborhood, that’s okay. I want to show you that it’s OK to fail in such things and that it doesn’t damage the you-and-I dynamic.

“Wow. Okay. That sounds almost fun.”

“Text me how your journey went, when you’re done and you feel OK again. On good days you will come closer, and on bad days perhaps you don’t even finish doing your makeup. The key point here is that either is fine.”

“I can’t imagine how you can have the patience for this.”

“I like you but I’m happy even without you. You being here would not make me happy, since I already am. It would just make things nicer yet for me. It’s not an emotional roller coaster for me. Also, I think the you-and-I story will prevail, setbacks and all. So, I’m not worried.”

“My actions and issues, such as me being conflicted and unreliable, even falling apart – they don’t seem to make you sad. It seems almost like you have an emotional firewall against that. Yet you deeply care, too, I can tell. It’s a type of one-way mechanism that you have. Now that I think about it, I really love the dynamic. You can and do bring me up, but I cannot bring you down.”

“That sums it up beautifully.”

“I love it so much, because part of why don’t want to interact with you is that I don’t want to poison your spirits on days when I’m depressed. It’s bad enough for me to feel like that but then when I have to worry about the effects on other people too, it just makes everything worse yet for me. Much as I value the idea of you in my life on an ongoing basis, some days might still be difficult for me and I might still get depressed. My emotional troubles are not going to vanish overnight, if ever. Even so, knowing you’re basically okay is such a relief to me, because I don’t have to carry the responsibility of your unhappiness along with mine. I know this sounds stupid but with you, I could have the relief of being depressed guilt-free, for once. Somehow, I think you understand what I mean.”

“I do,” smiled the blonde.

“Did you spend a lot of time in the company of depressed people?”

“Enough to learn a few things.”

“There are some superficial plus some intensely deep reasons why I like you, but also — it’s almost like you’ve been training to be a really good mate for me.”

The blonde smiled. “New subject: Perhaps this is a good time to mention that when I came out as a trans girl, I thought it best to preemptively start ending relationships because there was no way that person X or organization Y would ever accept me. I’d already packed some of my things and had started moving them to a new city. Then, I decided to give people a chance, and to explain things nicely to those I cared about – but informing them, not asking their permission to live as who I am. To my delight, many did like the “new me” enough, as much or even more. Other people, who I thought would be negative … they ended up being completely open-minded and accepting, whereas other people, who I thought to be open-minded, were completely not OK. You never know how people might react until you give them a chance. They might respond in odd ways for reasons that you don’t understand. So, I suggest you also give the individual people in your life a chance. Explain nicely that this is who you are, and that you have decided to live accordingly. They also don’t need to know how wild you plan to go be. A basic announcement should be good enough. So, if everyone in your life tells you that you’re now dead to them, then okay, then it is indeed the worst-case scenario you described — but if that happens, let it happen by itself. Don’t bring it on yourself. ”

“Okay.”

“You can have both me and people from all over your past in your life. You preserving the ties to your past doesn’t mean that you have to sell me to other people in your life, and get their buy-in. It means they continue to love you. It doesn’t involve me, primarily if at all. If you compartmentalize, it’s OK.”

“Wow. I’d sort of mentally prepared to go into exile and it seemed tempting in some ways and yet too much. So, I don’t have to.”

“You don’t have to. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re saying you realize now that you like girls and you want to spend time with one particular girl. That’s actually commendably forthright.”

“Wow, I agree.” Then: “You have a knack for sounding wise without coming across as old, whereas I feel the exact opposite. So, there’s a compliment for you — but this doesn’t make me feel very good about myself.”

“You have had a hard life …”

“No, I haven’t, by objective standards.”

“… emotionally. It’s not just about what happens but how you feel about it. You’re a good person. You have made reasonable decisions, benevolent ones — and you have given the implications ample opportunity to run their course. If these were optimal, including the effects on you — as in, now you are thriving and happy — then you wouldn’t need to make a change to your lifestyle. So I sympathize with you not feeling good about yourself, but you have been in a bad situation, for years.”

“Yeah. And, since we’re bouncing from subject to subject, part of what terrifies me is that you will stop liking me. So, I’d rather not even start.”

“What I know about you, long-distance — would you say that my conclusions about you have been valid? Would you say that I understand you fairly well?”

“Extremely well.”

“Would you say that you have a deep darkness that I have not yet glimpsed, of which I am completely unaware?”

The brunette admitted, “how deep my darkness gets, you probably don’t know — but you are at least aware of that darkness in me.”

“All right. And even so, would you say I expressed enthusiasm for you based on a reasonable amount of insight?”

“Yes, though I find it perplexing that you would want me. You seem so self-sufficient and happy.”

“I don’t need you in my life to change it from unhappiness to happiness or to make me complete.”

“Okay, wait, sorry to interrupt but I just realized something. If you needed me, as in depended on me, for your happiness … then on days when I fell apart then you’d be unhappy. So it’s better this way, actually. You value me but you don’t require me as an essential part of your own happiness. That’s actually a relief to me.”

“I’m glad. Even so, you resonate with me deeply. That’s why I’m so focused on you. Your presence would add much value. I thrive — and survive — based on my values. So in that sense, I need you but it’s a positive need, in the good one-way-mechanism-sense as you explained previously.”

“I like that. And, some days, I’m not too sure I would add value — I might be depressed.”

“Let’s assume so, but you would not be depressing, just depressed.”

“I know. I have been reminding myself of that. I love that. Is this all too weird?”

“It’s fine. Some days you will add value and some days you won’t. I’m not asking you to sign up to be a guaranteed-positive bundle of daily joy. There will be good days and bad days. But I do enjoy who you are, and how you think.”

“That’s reassuring.”

“The values for which I chose you, are they transient or part of you?”

“I can’t imagine changing as such, so part of me.”

“So if my fondness for you grows into love, then there’s your unconditional love, yes?”

This hit the brunette hard. “Wow. Yes.”

“As to my weird life and your potential place in it, sometimes I will want to be alone and sometimes I will want to focus on someone else without you being right there. Even so, the point is that I would like you to be an ongoing long-range part of my life.”

“Even when I’m 80 years old?”

“I don’t see why not. Also, by then, I’ll be almost 80 years old as well. There is value to having shared historical culture and insight. I’m not saying I’m committing to forever but I like the idea of saying ‘indefinitely.’ Even so, if you start pulling wings off butterflies or start robbing banks, then maybe I won’t want you in my life anymore. Do you think that’s likely to happen?”

“No,” the brunette smiled.

“I think love should be based on the fundamentals of a person, regardless of how she currently happens to look in a bathing suit — present company included. That way, the love and acceptance are deep and fundamental, so when she has bad days, or bad years, it doesn’t really register in the grand scheme of things.”

“That’s really a good approach to unconditional love.”

“As to age issues, let’s turn the perspectives around. I understand you like my look but one day I will looked ancient so would you still want me?”

“I see your point. That’s reassuring. And yes, of course.”

“So the same applies to you, yes?”

The brunette was silent for a long time, and then said: “Yes. Wow, that’s so reassuring.”

“I’m glad.” Then: “As to the approach I’d prefer to take with you, as part of me running my little business empire, let’s say I’m analyzing an Audi transmission for hours on end. It would be a lot more fun for me if you were right there, doing something you enjoy too, rather than me calling you and saying I plan to be home by 10 p.m. but wow this thing is really complicated so it might be midnight. I’d much rather have you be right there, and enjoying music or making music, or art, or whatever you enjoy. Maybe we also have a nice conversation, while I work. Maybe you run your fingers up the back of my thighs. Maybe you get a late-night strip show, or maybe I do. My point is that I do work a lot but I work on my own time, and mostly where I like, and it be fun to have you there. I hope that’s something you would be okay with. That’s not to say this flexible mode will be forever. Life has a way of throwing curve balls, including to me. But for the last thirteen years or so, this is how it’s been and for the foreseeable future too.”

“It would be vastly more than okay. I would love for you to take me along.”

“I’m glad. This doesn’t mean all day every day but days when you’re not with me are temporary exceptions. You don’t get put on the shelf or deserted. You remain part of my life and my focus.“

“If I have that much companionship time with you, then when I have some alone time in that mode, I might welcome it and not feel either bored or lonely. That’s perfect. You really do understand me well.”

“I had help,” smiled the blonde. Then: “as to your task, do your make-up to your intended benefit, not mine, so that you feel as pretty as you’re likely to be able to feel. I hope to see you in bed without makeup on anyway, at night and in the mornings, so your make-up doesn’t matter to me. I know what you look like already.”

“Um, okay.”

“Also, every ten minutes, pull over to a safe place and send me a status report, such as, I still haven’t worked up the courage to leave the house, or I got up to Lincoln Blvd and then turned around.”

“Okay. You make it sound almost fun. The last time this sort of thing happened it was utterly miserable for me. Yet you can take something that was dramatic and miserable for me, and turn it into something I’m actually looking forward to doing.”

“I’m glad!”

“If you are this positive in real life, I can hardly wait to be with you.”

“I’m glad. Next, let’s imagine varying degrees of success as to your journey toward the Marina. If your trips out here were an Olympic event, what would the bronze medal be?”

“Well, probably making it all the way to your hotel. And then, why wouldn’t I get out? But, indeed, I might not. Also, now I feel ridiculous again, but that is your answer.”

“That’s fine. It doesn’t matter to me how typical people would answer that question. If I wanted someone typical I wouldn’t be focused on you.”

“It’s going to take me a long time to understand that you don’t just accept my weirdness but you actually value it.”

The blonde smiled. “It might. And so, what would be the silver medal?”

“Me parking and getting out of the car, and texting you that I’m there, and meeting you in the lobby. No, wait. I’ll upgrade my silver medal to… where you leave me a hotel room key in my name at the front desk, so that I can grab it and get into the pool area and meet you there. Is anybody else there right now?”

“No, I’m alone here. I like how you are thinking this through.”

“I would access the pool area and go there and see you in your yellow bikini as you look right now. I’d approach you and in private, for a very long time, you would give me a nice, warm hug. The gold medal would be where intimacy overwhelms us both, and you sit in your pool chair and I sit curled up in your lap with you holding me tightly, the two of us there, under the stars. I would so love that.”

“Do you feel up to trying your first trip tonight?”

“Yes! I’ll go get ready. What time does the pool area close?”

“Midnight.”

“That gives me enough time. Here I go. Bye!” The brunette hung up and decisively put her phone in her purse, and started to get ready.

“Bye,” the blonde said, with a happy smile.

More: Part 7

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A Terrified Brunette Reaches Out Nevertheless, Part 5

While the brunette was struggling with her internal conflict, the blonde was making plans intended to enable her to be around, if and when the brunette was ready to meet in person.

These plans included Joe, a gentleman who had tried to pick her up while she was having breakfast at a café near the beach. He had remained intrigued even after he learned that she was only interested in girls romantically. They had had a candid interaction that had established a sort of primally candid connection. Joe wasn’t quite sure how it had happened. It was very intense, and by his standards, very unusual.

He tried to comment on that, sitting across the breakfast table from the blonde. “It’s funny …” he said, searching for the right words, “I have just met you and yet I already feel a weird sort of deep connection with you, such as I haven’t felt in years. The last time was with a girlfriend with whom I had intense arguments much of the time. Great sex though, especially right after we made up,” he mused.

The blonde smiled.

“Now you’re back to being demure and mysterious again, but there’s something you about the you-and-I interaction that is forever different now,” he said, good-naturedly. Suddenly, he realized that normally he wouldn’t be thinking out loud in the presence of a girl who interested him. He said that out loud, too, and then also confessed that hiding his thoughts was usually his approach.

“It’s much better this way, isn’t it?” the blonde smiled.

“I don’t know,” he mused out loud. “It was sort of comforting to have the illusion that you were demure, bland and clueless, and that I had a chance of ending up in bed with you.”

“You still have a chance of ending up in bed with me but not with me pretending to be demure, bland and clueless. I’m just not potential girlfriend or romance material for you. I’d use you for sex, essentially. I’m not saying it’s going to happen but you seem to be ruling that out 100%, whereas I’m not,” she explained.

“Wait… I thought you are a lesbian?”

“I am but to me there’s still something primal and hot about sex with a guy. You just could never break my heart or make my tummy have butterflies.”

“So you’re bisexual then?”

“By your standards, perhaps, but not by mine. The emotional connection is a huge part of the package, for me. The sex I might be having with you would at best be emotionally superficial, for me. I wouldn’t fall in love with you, and I wouldn’t be attracted to you. I’d just like you as a person – enough to have sex with you.”

“You’re not exactly ruining it for me. In fact, you’ve just described perfection, by the standards of so many guys,” he admitted.

“I understand.”

“Isn’t it a little odd that you are considering having sex with me while you’re waiting for this other girl to come around? What is this — your last chance before your stuck in a monogamous relationship with a girlfriend?”

“That’s not at all how I function,” the blonde explained. “I already have a girlfriend. I’m polyamorous. If this local girl also signs up then I would have two girlfriends.”

“Gawd, how could you ever keep them a secret from each other?”

“I wouldn’t. I would keep each girl generally apprised of the developments concerning the other girl. They might even one day meet and become friends. They have certainly gone through the same selection process, and they have much in common. There is a certain type of mindset that I find attractive. My current girlfriend and the new potential girlfriend both have that mindset.”

“Mindset? That’s what you focus on?”

The blonde nodded.

“How about what they look like?”

“That takes care of itself. It’s hard to be objective about that, once I am so focused on her mindset. She tends to become more and more pretty to me even if she might not be pretty to you or to anybody else.” She thought about it for a few seconds, and then added: “Yet ironically, over the years, almost every girl who signed up did end up being exceptionally pretty even by your standards — because perhaps that goes with the mindset on which I’m focused. Now that I think about it… it indeed does.”

“Why?”

The blonde thought about it some more, then replied: “I think it’s because we try to overcompensate. We realize that our way of thinking is atypical compared to social norms. And, we have so much benevolence as part of our mental makeup, that we refuse to presume that we are fine and the rest of the people are problematic. So we benevolently give others the benefit of the doubt. We assume that we are problematic, and that typical people are fine — just because there are so many of them, and because at the time we make this decision we’re young and not nearly cynical enough. And so for many of us, that’s the rut in which we get stuck. Girls like us tend to resent ourselves for thinking the way we do, and we try to compensate for that, including by looking extra pretty. Even so, even if we succeed by general aesthetic standards, we never feel as pretty as we look to, for example, you.”

“You make girls like that sound like quite the catch.”

“We are. However, a girl with this mindset would probably drive you crazy. You would consider her complex, neurotic, overthinking everything, overly preoccupied with her emotions, moody, and generally incomprehensible.”

“Oh Gawd, the sex life with somebody like that would be horrible,” Joe exclaimed.

“With you, it probably would be, because the girl would feel misunderstood, underappreciated, inferior and frustrated… hardly situations that inspire openness.”

“And with you it’s different?”

“Not with me, specifically. I’m not unique in that sense. When two girls like that meet, we realize that we are with a like-minded being, and that we have an amazing mental connection. Then, we open up intellectually, emotionally and sexually more and more, as we realize and celebrate being with a kindred spirit. It’s wonderful.”

“It sounds like a horribly cheesy chick flick.”

“By your standards, it would.”

“Even so, you don’t seem neurotic or … I don’t recall everything you said … or moody,” Joe pointed out.

“I’ve made peace with who I am. Most girls like me have not. Until she accepts herself, a girl like that tries to live by the standards of typical people, by which she’s a social misfit. She tries harder and harder, yet is always unable to reach. She thinks that she’s trying to reach higher than she can, but really she’s trying to stoop lower than she can,” the blonde explained, and added: “no offense intended.”

“So what makes this mindset supposedly better?”

“It’s fundamentally serious, sincere and benevolent, seeing the world initially as full of promise and wonder – which, if everyone thought like that, it would be.”

Joe was quiet for a few long seconds, nodding pensively.

“There was a question I wanted to ask earlier on: what if a girl isn’t okay with you having another girlfriend?”

“Then we’d discuss her interests and concerns and find ways to meet them while also meeting mine.”

“And if, after all that, you don’t?”

“Then she shouldn’t be my girlfriend, right then.”

“How do you mean, right then?”

“That’s often what happens, initially. So, then we agree to just be friends, and after a while most girls have thought about it some more and resolved the concerns.”

“So how come you don’t have several girlfriends by now?”

“People come, people go. Their situations change. My situation changes. I aim for being with someone indefinitely but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

“So you have several ex-girlfriends by now?”

“Yes.”

“Wow, you probably should join the Federal witness protection program to hide from them all.”

“No breakup is pleasant but mostly afterwards, we are friends,” the blonde explained, and added with emphasis, “mostly. Also, rarely is it immediately afterward. Some initial distance is good, at first – sometimes a year or two, sometimes more. In one case, ten.”

“Wow, that must have been quite the break-up.”

“It was. But then we became good friends again, and then we reunited as girlfriends yet again too.”

“That sounds like a nightmare.”

“No, it was wonderful. Eight additional intense years together, with the vast majority of the time being super-happy.”

“And then you broke up again?”

“Yes.”

“And now you’re friends again?”

“Yes.”

“You must be from a different planet,” Joe opined, implying a compliment.

“No, it makes sense. With each girl, we loved each other for good reasons, and we had many shared values, and those probably continue to be in effect – hence, a good basis for a friendship.”

Joe shook his head. “I can’t imagine that. With me, it’s simply that I think the girl is hot. Really, she probably isn’t even all that hot but I rationalize that she is because she’s someone who is willing to have sex with me more than once. I then pretty much say and do whatever works though early on, she really is interesting to me. Soon thereafter, she’s not. Then the pendulum swings more yet, to where she’s downright boring. Then, it gets worse, to where I feel irritated. The first thing that irritates me is typically that she talks too much. Even so, I still pretend that she’s interesting to me, so that I get laid as often as I can but really by then I’d rather she leave so I can find someone new. So while saying that I value her, I treat her like sh … dirt more and more, until she finally objects to it and then we have a big fight and ideally we break up. The irony is that at that point she’ll still be trying to make it work whereas my only agenda is to get her angry enough to leave. You’d be amazed at how hard it can be to reach that point. Somehow it never feels right to me to tell the girl that it’s over, so I always arrange things so that she’s the one who breaks it up and that way I don’t feel guilty. I don’t really know why. The girl and I never had any shared values aside from liking sex, early on. I mean, wow, I have more of a rapport with you than most of the girls … actually, than with any girl I’ve slept with.”

His words hung in the air for a few seconds. He felt awkward. Jokingly, he peeked into his coffee cup and said, “what’s in this stuff, truth serum?”

To his amazement, the blonde had a calm smile, implying understanding.

“You’re not offended? Or surprised? Are you going to slap my face?”

“No. I understand guys’ mindset better than most girls probably do. I grew up in guy culture, and I studied guy culture, trying to emulate them though of course, having a female brain and female way of thinking, I couldn’t. In the process, I learned a lot. Not all guys are like you but a great many are. I don’t like it at all, but whether I do or don’t, I do appreciate your candor.”

“Thank you,” Joe said quietly, feeling deeply awkward. After a few long seconds, he cautiously asked, “what do you mean by growing up in guy culture and trying to emulate them?”

“I’m a trans girl,” she replied.

“Oh, wow! That explains the square jaw-line, how tall you are, and the nuance in your voice. I thought it’s maybe just your accent but … evidently not.”

The blonde being a trans girl then became the central focus of a long conversation. Joe seemed relieved to have been able to change the subject. He asked many questions, and she was open with her answers.

The food arrived and the blonde managed to steer the conversation back to light subjects, including making chitchat about the city they were in. Joe was surprised at how knowledgeable the blonde was about the place until she explained that she used to live there. They built a good informal rapport, over breakfast.

* * *

The blonde inquired whether Joe had anything scheduled for the next couple of hours. He hurriedly said that he didn’t. She asked him if he’d be willing to chauffeur her. He agreed enthusiastically. She explained that her first stop would be to buy a used laptop computer. There was one for sale in a very elegant neighborhood not too far from where they were.

Joe pointed out to her that she probably could get a much better deal in a more humble neighborhood. The blonde agreed, and then pointed out that she liked to decrease the likelihood that the computer being sold had been stolen. Joe smiled sheepishly and complimented her on her ethics.

He paid for the breakfast and they left. He led them to his car. As they approached it, he started apologizing that it wasn’t newer or more elegant, but she assured him that she liked that model. It was a BMW 740iL, perhaps twenty years old.

“Yeah, it’s not much and it’s ancient,” Joe said, “but it gets me around.” The blonde pointed out that that particular engine and transmission were high-quality, and legendary. Joe was a little perplexed but he asked more details, and listened with interest as she explained. He asked her how she knew that. She explained that she’s into classic cars, and that she owned a car just like that — that very-same model, and perhaps even the exact same model year.

“Wait, you drive a car like this?” Joe asked, amazed.

“I don’t drive it. I own it. I bought it for $360.”

“Oh. So it doesn’t run.”

“It does run, but I don’t drive every car I own. I bought this car to analyze it. I take parts off it, wash them, look up the part numbers, inspect the parts, take pictures, enter the data in my database and then put the parts back on the car if they’re in good condition.”

He laughed incredulously. “Why would you do that?”

“I enjoy it, and it’s also part of the business model for my used-car-parts company.”

“Wait… You run a junkyard?”

“It’s not a junkyard. I buy used parts and I sell them. Buy low, sell high,” she explained.

“Where do you get them from?”

“Junkyards.”

“You — in a junkyard? That’s hard to imagine.”

The blonde smiled in reply.

“There’s good money in it?”

“There can be, but I mainly earn a living by developing custom business database software for paying clients.”

Joe was silent for a few seconds, processing all this. Then, he asked:

“So, tell me some more about my car, since you seem to know more about it than I do.”

“Well, the 5-speed transmission in this particular model is wonderful but after 15 to 20 years the pressure regulator gets worn out, to the point where it allows a pressure spike, that destroys the forward clutch drum and then the car has only fifth gear for going forward.”

Joe’s jaw dropped. “Losing the first four forward gears is exactly what happened five years ago. It cost me four grand to have it rebuilt.“

The blonde smiled. “Now you know why.”

Joe shot her an odd look and continued to drive.

Forty-five minutes and $200 later, the blonde owned a nice used Windows laptop. She asked Joe to next take her to her bank, and while he drove, she reset the computer back to its factory-original settings, then started setting it up, the way she liked it. Joe at some point asked her what she was doing, and when she explained, he shook his head some more.

After she’d withdrawn some money from the bank, Joe asked: “Where next, your Majesty?”

The blonde smiled. “I like the title and the implied dynamic,” she replied. “Next, we go buy a car.”

“Wait, what? How long are you planning to stay here?”

“I’m not sure yet. It depends on more factors than I can synthesize into a simple answer. Bottom line, I haven’t bought a plane ticket back either, so I might just drive the car back to Nevada.”

Joe laughed. “You sure go about things in an unusual way,” he said, shaking his head.

“It’s logical though, isn’t it?” the blonde asked, more as a statement than a question.

Joe had to agree with her. “So, what kind of car are you buying?”

“An Audi A6 Quattro.”

“Wow. So you are just going to drop 65 grand on a car while you happen to be here?” He shook his head, laughing, then added: “Well, you’re in luck. Since we are in this nice neighborhood, there’s an Audi dealership not far away.”

“I don’t pay that much. I get a discount,” the blonde explained.

“Somehow, I’m not surprised,” Joe said. “How much discount?”

“99%. I’m paying $650 for this one.”

“Oh my Gawd, you’re buying a old, used Audi? You’re either brave or you’re crazy. Do you know how vastly complicated those cars are? And, what model year is that car anyway?”

“It’s a 2000.”

“Wow, I thought you were smart. You know … there’s a reason why people prefer new cars, or slightly-used cars,” Joe said, condescendingly.

“Let me put this in girlfriend terms, for you. What would be the perfect-age girlfriend for you?”

“Honestly?”

“That seems to be the underlying premise in our conversation, so let’s stick to that, yes.”

“An 18-year-old — don’t hate me,” Joe said, hesitantly.

“So a girl of that age would be the equivalent of a brand-new Audi, for you, yes?”

Joe looked surprised, laughed and then agreed — somewhat sheepishly.

The blonde continued: “So, an Audi that’s four or five years old — how old would that be, in girlfriend terms?”

“That’s just about pushing the limit,” Joe admitted. He looked at her warily. “You’re okay with all this honesty, right?”

The blonde nodded and smiled. “I’m not implying that I agree with your values. I don’t. But it’s an interesting-to-me conversation. So what does that translate to, in girlfriend years?”

Joe brightened up. “I see where you’re going with this. Well … probably in her late 20s. Like I said … pushing the limit.”

The blonde continued: “So applying the principle, an Audi that’s 10 years old might be…?”

Joe thought hard. “Well, that’s beyond what I’d really want to deal with,” he mused, “but maybe, still barely okay in exceptional conditions. So … maybe she’d be in her mid-30s?”

“So what if an Audi is 17 years old?”

Joe laughed derisively. “That’s like somebody who is way too old to be girlfriend material.”

“… for you,” the blonde gently added.

“Wait, you would actually choose an older chick?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I like experience, and predictability. I like a proven track record. That’s true with an older girl and with an Audi like this — because I am likely to better understand what I’m dealing with.”

Joe laughed again, not kindly. “Now you sound like a friend of mine who can’t pick up hot chicks and he rationalizes settling for ugly women.”

The blonde looked at him coolly. Many seconds went by.

“You’re offended, yes?” Joe asked, cautiously.

“I don’t agree with your implied premise, but for you to offend me, several conditions would need to be met, and most of them have not been.”

“Wow, do you always sound so mathematical?”

“No.”

“So you could get a young hot chick but you chose to have an older chick?” Joe asked, sincerely trying to make sense of it all.

“It doesn’t work like that. I like this girl. She just happens to not be young any more. I understand that, by your mindset, that’s a negative — but by my standards, it’s not. It’s actually a positive, at least potentially.”

“But would you still take her, if she were 18, or in her 20s?” Joe asked.

“In my experience, 25 and up is a good age for potential girlfriend material,” the blonde replied, gently.

“Something tells me your current girlfriend is 25.”

The blonde smiled. “She’s not. By your standards, she’s too old too.”

“You’re just settling, and rationalizing it,” Joe accused her. The blonde shook her head calmly, not caring what he thought. She gave him an address and asked him to drive there. He offered to type it into his GPS but right then, her phone announced that he should make a right turn in half a mile.

“Okay, you’re ahead of me,” he admitted.

“You have no idea,” her quiet smile said.

“So this new potential girlfriend of yours, she has this weird complex mindset that you like dealing with, right?”

The blonde nodded.

“So it’s kind of like … if she were a car she would be an Audi. Tremendously complicated. Yes?”

“Yes, but I prefer the adjective of ‘interesting.’ The analogy applies in other ways too: with the right attention, able to thrive and add lots of value in a high-quality experience.”

“Both aspects sound terrifying to me, whether Audi or girl,” Joe admitted. “It’s a good thing that there are girls like you, who can appreciate this kind of … thing.”

The blonde nodded, feeling mellow and enjoying the urban scenery she knew so well.

“So she used to be hot, this girl?” Joe asked.

“She used to be, yes — and she still is. By my standards, not yours. Until you see her, that is. Then, your standards will probably get revised hurriedly.”

“Okay, I’ll grant you that some chicks can be hot even in their late 30s but that’s rare,” Joe admitted. “I trust she’s not older than that.”

The blonde laughed, shaking her head. “Joe, you’re missing out.”

“So prove me wrong.”

“No. You’re stating opinions, not facts, and you’re welcome to your opinions. When you say a girl is hot, it simply means: by your standards. You’re not able to claim that objectively, universally, the girl is hot, or not.”

Joe shook his head again, laughing. “Are you always this logical?”

“No, but I try to be,” the blonde smiled.

“Did you have a picture of this girl?” Joe asked.

“Yes.”

“May I see it?”

“No.”

Joe sulked for a while. Then, seeing the blonde look calmly happy, he admitted defeat: “The silent treatment doesn’t work very well with you, does it?” he said.

The blonde shook her head, smiling. Soon, they were at the seller’s driveway, in a very elegant neighborhood.

“Wow, said Joe, “this car looks really good.”

“Even though by your standards, it’s old?”

“Point taken,” Joe laughed.

“Also, for your consideration, I’m not young either, by your standards … very much not.”

“That’s a good point,” Joe conceded. “The dynamic with you is just so intense I didn’t think of that until now.”

Joe didn’t pick up on the irony, that this implied he understood the blonde’s approach — of focusing on the mental connection and not the girl’s age — so much that he was using it himself, in this case. He asked: “How old are you, anyway?”

“As if I would tell you?” she smiled. She focused on the car, and he followed her example.

“It’s hard to imagine that the guy advertised the car for 650 bucks and it’s still here,” Joe said.

“He didn’t. He advertised it for $600. I offered him $650.”

“You what?!”

“Not a decision that I feel like explaining right now, or perhaps ever. Okay, I’m going in. Please stay in your car. Guy macho dynamics tend to complicate my negotiations.”

“Yeah, I was about to say, I could probably argue him down another hundred bucks or so on your behalf, but since you’re paying more than he asked for — I wouldn’t even know what to say,” Joe admitted. That earned him another smile.

The blonde unplugged the laptop computer from the car charger, and closed the computer, then plugged in a white cable that she had removed from her purse.

“What’s that?”

“The reason why people like you don’t appreciate a complex girl, is because you don’t listen to her. She might have a lot to tell you. The analogy applies to this Audi. I’m going to ask some questions and really care about the answers, and pay attention, and analyze them. You see the analogy, yes?”

Joe grinned sheepishly. “You seem to know what you’re doing, obviously,” he admitted. “With Audis, anyway. Good luck. I’ll be here. Maybe you need to jumpstart it, and then I can help.”

“That would be like injecting adrenaline directly into a girl’s heart. If the battery does need charging, we will gently and properly charge it, taking all the time we need.” The blonde walked off, sending the Audi owner a text message to announce her arrival.

Joe tried to discern what was happening. He saw her plug her laptop cable into the Audi, and then she was in an intense and positive conversation with the gentleman. She opened the hood of the Audi and pointed. He laughed and seemed delighted at their conversation. He produced a document that she read carefully. Then, she held out a straight arm towards the man in a gesture inviting, in an elegant and feminine way, a formal handshake. He shook her hand vigorously. She handed him some cash, and he handed over a document. Next, the man opened the passenger side door, and pointed inside, then said a few more things, then did the same as to the trunk.

Smiling happily, the blonde returned to Joe, who commented wryly: “well, the guy looks like he’s in love with you. I hope you told him that you only like girls. Except for sex, that is,“ he added dryly.

“My dear Joe, do you feel jealous?” the blonde asked.

He was about to utter an angry denial but the calm brown eyes resting on his made him slow down, and stop, and think. “I guess I am,” he admitted.

“Thank you,” she said. “Anyway, the deal is done. He has the money and I have the signed, clear title. The Audi used to be a source of frustration to him because he didn’t understand it. Now, he’s happy to see it going to someone who appreciates it, who will take good care of it, and with whom it will thrive.”

“I really hope that the girl you’re planning to meet isn’t married and that this isn’t another analogy for your plan,” Joe said, sardonically.

The blonde chose to not respond.

“So, does it start?”

“I assume so. He said it would. And based on the computer read-out, it should.”

“Oh Gawd, you spent $650 on a car without starting it?”

“No, I decided to give him $700 because it’s so nice.”

Joe laughed for lack of knowing what else to say. “So, now what?”

“Now I add it to my insurance, while the seller installs on it a $300 ski rack that he’d planned to sell separately. He’ll also load into the trunk the original BOSE stereo unit and a car cover that he’d also planned to sell separately, plus some special rims that he’s already advertising for $600 and has gotten several calls on, yet now is donating to me. Also, front seat sheepskin covers, albeit not new,“ the blonde said gently.

“Wow, so you did grind him after all.”

“No, I just gave him the $700 and he volunteered all of that.”

“Oh, you manipulated him?”

“Joe, sometimes the simplest and correct answer might just be that people are nice.”

Joe started to argue, then stopped, and thought about it, then said “yeah, maybe” and sat there, looking guilty and pensive. He tried to change the subject.

“So what did you learn from your computer?”

“The car is fine but has a major vacuum leak plus a blown coolant fan fuse. These caused a chain reaction of intimidating issues, including that someone had quoted him a price of $2,000 to get the car to pass a smog test. Ironically, these are easy-to-fix issues. Some minor repairs and it’ll be purring like a kitten again.”

“I really hope that’s not yet another analogy to your fantasy girl.”

The blonde thought about it, laughed, and said, “she’s very real, but the analogy does actually fit. I’d love to see her as happy and relaxed as a purring kitten.”

She called her insurance company and extended the coverage to include that car. The license tags were still current, and so based on a liberal interpretation of the law, it was minimally legal for her to drive it for thirty more days before needing to take it to Nevada, and then title and register it there. She figured that this was good enough. She called in an order for the parts, and by then the Audi was ready to go. She hugged the selller, and promised to bring the Audi by after she’d fixed the issues, so he could get the satisfaction of seeing it in better shape.

“You make this all look so easy,” Joe complimented her.

“It is, with the right principles,” she replied. “Follow me back to the beach area. I’m buying you a nice lunch as a thank-you.”

He brightened up.

“You have my number, so call me if you fall behind,” she added.

“As if,” he said.

She made a point of not losing him, and she led the way to a nice little restaurant she knew. Before getting out of the car, she removed her bra and left it on the front seat. Joe had been surreptitiously glancing at her boobs all day, and she decided that he might as well get an eyeful, as a reward for being so helpful. She walked toward him and watched his eyes go wide, then told him that he was welcome to stare as much as he liked.

It took him a while to regain his composure and make eye contact again. Then, during lunch, Joe inquired as to how she knew so much about cars. She replied that her dad had been an engineer and had worked on his own cars, and had taught her. Also, being a trans girl, she had early-on been told to behave like a boy, and initially she had bought into that. Excelling at automotive mechanics had seemed to be a good way of coming across as macho enough to survive socially.

After lunch, Joe told her that he’d learned a lot, and had had a most enjoyable day. He admitted that he had a lot to go think about. He also admitted that he wanted to see her again soon, and he asked her out to dinner. She declined, but agreed tentatively to a dinner date the following evening.

Joe asked one more question. “Do you normally fly around carrying an Audi diagnostics cable?”

“No,” the blonde admitted. “I had just considered the sequence of events to be a reasonable possibility, and I prepared accordingly.”

Joe shook his head incredulously. “You’re now officially the weirdest person I’ve ever met,” he said.

“You seem to mean it as a compliment.”

“Amazingly… it is,” he admitted. She gave him a good-bye hug, which he returned awkwardly. She walked cheerfully back to her new-to-her Audi, then drove back to her hotel.

She changed into a swimsuit and sat in the shade by the pool, working on her new-to-her laptop computer, to get half a day’s worth of billable productive software development work fitted into her afternoon schedule. Now and then, she checked her incoming messages to see if the brunette was showing signs of life.

* * *

When the brunette finally woke up, it was dusk. Her throat was parched. She felt miserable. She dragged herself to the bathroom. She knew that she was deeply dehydrated.

She went to the kitchen and drank some water, and made some coffee, with barely enough energy to do that. She sat at the kitchen table, slumped forward. Her mind was focused on the blonde. What would she say, if she were there now? Probably very little. She would probably have stood behind the brunette, gently massaging her shoulders and her back, while saying comforting things.

“I wish you were here,” the brunette thought, and then felt ridiculous because all it would take was one phone call.

She noticed that she’d carried her phone with her to the bathroom and the kitchen. She picked it up and turned it on. She resisted the temptation to read any of the messages that had come in.

She focused on one social media site, and saw that the blonde had posted a picture earlier that morning, of herself standing by the ocean, and announcing that she was staying in the city for a few days. The hidden message to the brunette was: “I’m still here, I’m patient and you are worth waiting for.”

The brunette shook her head, thinking, “I don’t deserve it.” How would the blonde have responded? “By the standards of typical people, you don’t,” she would probably have said. “But, those standards are flawed.”

The brunette smiled wryly. What would the blonde have wanted her to do? Arrange a meeting?

With a shock, the brunette realized that the blonde would not have wanted her to arrange a meeting until she was ready. And, she wasn’t ready. She was still conflicted. Had she shown up in person physically yet mentally reticent, it would indeed have been counterproductive. So, she was actually doing exactly what the blonde would have wanted: process her thoughts, and work through her resistance. She felt proud when she realized that by the standards of the blonde, she was doing the right thing.

She imagined hearing the blonde’s voice saying: “good girl.” The brunette was about to shake her head “no,” but that was the one phrase she dared not deny herself, even in her imagination. The phrase hung in her mind: outshining everything else.

On impulse, and completely out of context, against her every expectation, without reading any of the messages that the blonde had sent her, and yet with certainty that it was the right thing to do, she picked up her phone and texted the blonde: “Am I still your good girl?”

“You’re still my good girl,” came the reply, less than a minute later. Then, another message: “Take care of my good girl. She’s precious to me. Make sure she gets enough water, and enough healthy food. Her mind is so intense that she might forget those things and neglect the slender body that I look forward to holding in my arms… but not before she’s ready.”

The brunette’s eyes burned. Had she not been severely dehydrated, tears would have pooled up in her eyes. She typed: “I’ll take good care of her for you. I don’t know when she’ll be ready for you. It might take a long time, but I promise to keep her healthy for you.”

“Thank you. Good girl. Please check in once a day. The question you asked is the perfect way to start the conversation, for each day. Good night. :-)”

“Good night,” the brunette texted with burning eyes.

She carefully drank some more water, and opened the refrigerator door, actively analyzing the contents, to find the healthiest food that she could reasonably eat, to keep her promise to the blonde with the utmost enthusiasm.

More: Part 6

A Terrified Brunette Reaches Out Nevertheless, Part 4

The brunette knew that the events of that evening would set the course of her life. She felt a grave responsibility, mixed with happy excitement. She hated the idea of being late to anything, but especially to meet the soon-to-arrive blonde at the airport. The timing was bad: it was peak traffic time in that city, plus there had been a major accident on the freeway, causing major delays near the airport.

Ironically, there was a good chance that it would take the brunette longer to drive the couple of dozen miles to the airport than it would take the blonde to fly in from hundreds of miles away. Fortunately, the brunette had anticipated that possibility, so she had planned to start out early. She had gotten dressed quickly and had put on make-up quickly but well. She looked as lovely as she was likely to look without additional nuances added in by professional make-up artists and hair stylists.

Several hundred miles north of the brunette, the blonde passed through Reno airport security checkpoint without delay. She arrived at the departure gate with twenty minutes to spare. She smiled, paused, and texted to the brunette “I’m excited to see you! I’m at the gate” along with the flight number, terminal and estimated time of arrival.

When the text message from the blonde arrived, the brunette was already in her car, about to pull out of her driveway and begin her drive to the airport. The brunette glanced at her phone, saw the new message and smiled. She was about to phrase an encouraging reply, but somehow wasn’t sure quite what to say.

A few seconds went by. She tried harder to come up with something appropriate to say. Gradually, she felt more and more awkward. More time passed, slowly and excruciatingly. She stared at the phone, still not knowing what to say. “OK” would suffice at a minimum, she thought – but she wanted to say so much more. Instead, she said nothing. She felt paralyzed, and slowly became terrified at the idea that she might never come up with a response. She felt the terror become reality.

Tears welled up in her eyes. She put her phone down slowly, and sat in her car, silently crying, for a few minutes. Eventually, her crying got louder. A few minutes later, she was wailing like a very young girl with the sadness that so many young children can experience and show so easily. By contrast, the brunette hadn’t cried in this way in many years. Through her tears, she could barely make out the shape of her phone. She picked it up and stared at it, squeezing it hard. “I’m sorry,” she said silently to the phone, while still crying. She tried to verbalize, “I’m so sorry” though her crying made the words hard to articulate. Several minutes went by, each one excruciating. She felt overwhelmed with inadequacy and an immobilizing fear, and yet a rising tide of guilt soon drowned these out as she realized she could never make it to the airport in this state of mind, and the blonde was flying all this way to meet someone who would not appear.

She sat in her car, hating herself. A few more minutes went by.

* * *

Her husband was about to go run an errand, and he was about to close the front door behind him when he saw his wife’s car parked in the driveway, with her sitting inside. He stopped and stood still, observing. A long minute went by.

She seemed to just be sitting there, her head bowed.

He looked at her pensively. He somehow guessed that the trip to the airport, to meet her new blonde friend — or whatever she was to his wife — had been cancelled. As to the reason, he guessed that the blonde had changed her mind at the last minute and had just announced it, and that his wife was emotionally processing the disappointment.

He had a complex blend of mixed feelings about this, but even so, one of them was pity. He saw his wife slowly get out of the car, then swing the car door shut behind her without noticing that it didn’t latch completely. She slowly walked back toward the house, looking down as she walked. She eventually noticed him standing there but didn’t say anything.

“Change of heart?” he asked, as gently as he thought appropriate.

Ironically, she and her husband had mis-communicated even with those three words. He’d meant, “Your blonde friend had a change of heart, didn’t she?” whereas the brunette had interpreted it as “you had a change of heart, didn’t you?”

She barely nodded in reply. Looking broken-hearted, she slowly walked past him to her bedroom. She closed the door, dropped her purse and keys on the floor, and kicked off her shoes. She got into her bed and lay there for a long time, awake, feeling horrible.

Ninety minutes later, she heard the arrival of the text message she’d been dreading. As she’d feared, it was from the blonde, cheerfully announcing that her flight had landed, and announcing what she was wearing so that the brunette could easily recognize her when picking her up at the curb.

Lying in her bed, the brunette curled up into a fetal position She knew she wasn’t going to answer. She lay there, awaiting and dreading the next text message, announcing that the blonde was standing at the curb, ready to be picked up.

When she heard her phone announce the arrival of that next text message, she jolted as if by electrical shock. Guilt flowed warmly through her and drowned out everything else. She slowly turned and slid to the side of the bed, then down to the floor. She crawled to her purse, then rummaged for her phone, and turned it off. She considered climbing back on the bed, and decided not to. She pulled the sheet off the bed and over her, and lay on the floor, covered by that single sheet. Her mind filled with self-reproach, she lay there for another hour, then fell asleep and slept for twelve hours.

* * *

The blonde hadn’t expected an easy victory. She understood that the brunette sometimes felt overwhelmed and that today would be very stressful for the brunette, even though the arrival of the blonde was intended to herald a new, happier era for the brunette.

When the brunette didn’t respond to any of the text messages, the blonde guessed correctly as to what had happened. She also guessed correctly as to the mental anguish that the brunette was feeling, and she wished there was a way to comfort the brunette.

Nevertheless, in case another explanation such as a lost phone applied, the blonde stood by the curb and waited. She checked her messages and the relevant social media sites for alternate ways of messaging her. She saw nothing from the brunette. She sent the brunette a few follow-up messages using various avenues, yet she got no reply.

She made sure that she didn’t let her own discomfort affect her plans, so she made a point of standing by the curb for sixty minutes. She next slowly walked around in case there had been some confusion as to the terminal, though she was clear that the chances for that were slim.

Finally, she decided to go with plan B, and she booked a hotel not far from the airport nor far from the beach, yet in a nice-enough area. She put on comfortable shoes and went for a long sunset walk, reaching the beach after about an hour, just early enough to see the air above the horizon still have a light hint of orange in the light blue of the western sky. She walked along the beach, thinking about the events of the day.

She wished the brunette were next to her, so that she could put her arm around the brunette and hold her tightly as if to say, “You’re sad now but things will get better. Please don’t reproach yourself. You are weighed down by the negative effects of an emotionally difficult life, so it’s understandable to me that you’d often feel overwhelmed. I sympathize.”

Then, the brunette would ask, “you’re not upset that I didn’t meet you at the airport?” and the blonde would smile and shake her head, and would gently reply: “I understand that you’re doing the best you can. I didn’t expect our journey together – and before that, our journey toward each other – to be an easy one, for you.”

* * *

The blonde stood near a palm tree, watching the ocean and the twinkling lights of the buildings along the shoreline. She mentally analyzed several “what-if” scenarios as to what had most likely happened, and what would happen next, and how she could influence things for the best. She stood there for a long time, her long hair gently stirring in the warm evening breeze.

A small group of young, not-so-sober guys came ambling along the beach path, in her general direction. Barely within earshot, she could hear one of them mumble, “check that OUT” referring to her, and them some general mumbling and nervous laughter. The guys all became focused on her, as they slowly approached. Two of them started loudly mock-arguing that they knew her from somewhere, with their plan being to then ask her about it, thus having an icebreaker as to starting a conversation with the tall blonde whose figure they liked, as far as they could tell from some distance away.

When they were close by, she looked at them askew with the cynicism of a parent whose seven-year old was about to attempt a clumsy social manipulation ploy, doomed to fail from the outset. The mood of the guys ebbed into silence as they approached. They felt the “don’t even try it” vibe so strongly and negatively that they felt subdued, and slunk away. Once they were almost out of earshot, they mumbled self-justifying platitudes to each other to the general theme that they had just been friendly and there had been no need for this girl to treat them so icily.

Once the guys were some distance away, the brunette sighed and turned to walk in the opposite direction. She found a cute café, and ordered a light snack, noting which vegetarian and vegan dishes they had on the menu, for when she’d bring the brunette there one day. She viewed the events of the day as part of a journey that, eventually, would end up with the two of them being happily together. As long as she remained patient and accepting, the only variables were as to “how” and “when” — not “if.”

By the time the blonde had finished her supper, it was close to 10 p.m. She arranged for automotive transportation and was soon back at her hotel. Half an hour later, she was soaking happily in a warm bathtub, and not too long after, she was in bed. As she lay there, thinking about her day, she concluded that she was helping the brunette as much as she could, and wanting to do more yet was pointless. Soon, the blonde was peacefully asleep, concerned about her protégé yet hopeful for the future

* * *

Shortly before noon, the brunette awoke. She recoiled in horror when she recalled the events of the previous evening. Shame and guilt flooded her consciousness. She thought about where the blonde might be, and she wondered what the blonde was thinking.

The brunette felt aching muscles from having slept on the hard floor. She crawled slowly onto the bed, then turned onto her back and felt her tears well up again. She stared at the ceiling, watching its crisp sides where it adjoined the walls. She watched the sharp lines blur as her tears affected her vision.

The volume of tears was a new development. Previously her sadness had had a sort of acrid, dry bitterness. She thought of how the blonde would react to the new development, as to her crying more tears instead of being just quietly and bitterly sad. The blonde would probably think it an improvement, and probably would say something encouraging about it.

Somehow this brought forth more tears. She knew of only one person who would be interested in, and encouraging about, the nuances of her sadness, and how strange a bond she had with the blonde. She thought about whether the blonde was currently sad too. She thought hard, trying to envision it. She couldn’t really imagine that, mostly because she couldn’t imagine the blonde giving up on her.

By every typical standard she knew, the brunette’s behavior had been reprehensible. She thought it’d be a relief to her if the blonde would evaluate things that way, and then check out permanently. She wondered how the blonde would have announced it … perhaps with a parting message of “even by my exceptionally lenient standards and with extreme patience with your eccentricity, this went too far” and then some sort of final farewell. She lay there, imagining she saw such a message, and how she would feel knowing that all hope would be gone. She felt her tears drying up and the acrid bitterness returning.

She thought about how else the blonde might react. She considered the possibility that the blonde would be understanding and forgiving, ever patient. The brunette realized with a shock that this was indeed a possibility. She tried to dismiss that as outrageous but deep down, she knew that this was the most likely scenario. Somehow this brought forth new tears again, and the lines at the edges of the ceiling blurred again.

She noticed the difference. When she thought the blonde was probably still in her future, somehow, she was sad and she cried tears at not being able to reciprocate. When she thought the blonde was probably lost forever, she was sad in a very different way. Interesting… She realized that she was giving in to her emotions and simply feeling whatever she was feeling, being self-aware but without resisting. She knew full well that she’d learned this from the blonde.

She decided to verbalize how she felt. “I feel so sad,” she said, and more tears flowed. She gave in to the feeling, embracing it head-on. She collapsed into sadness, not resisting it. She repeated the words every now and then, saying out loud how she felt. She kept doing this until she became aware that she somehow felt … less sad. Wow.

This bothered her. She felt the need to be punished, in all fairness. She deserved to be miserable. Her feeling less sad somehow seemed unfair to her. She lay there, pondering her own thoughts. She felt ridiculous at all of this. Realizing it, she verbalized that, too. “I feel SO ridiculous,” she said aloud. She dwelled on it. She said it another few times. A minute or so later, she oddly felt less ridiculous too. She was shocked at how well this approach was working.

She slowly cycled through several more negative emotions, spending a minute or two on each one. She felt awkward knowing that she’d learned this technique from the blonde. As a sort of homage to the blonde, she made a point of using these techniques.

She felt as if she were in exile. She said that aloud too, several seconds apart. Somehow that changed nothing. She pondered that. Being in exile, she decided, wasn’t really a feeling. Probably that’s why processing it as a feeling didn’t work. What, then, was the feeling underneath being in exile? Loneliness?

“I feel lonely,” she said, several times. She wondered why this didn’t change how she felt either. She pondered that. With a shock, she realized that she didn’t feel lonely. She felt the opposite. She tried to think why this was the case, and she realized that she still considered the blonde to be part of her life. She tried to convince herself that her own behavior last night had been the final straw and that the blonde had given up and left, permanently. Somehow, deep down, the brunette knew that this wasn’t the most likely scenario. She took a deep breath and slowly released it. She didn’t know why she felt so sure about the blonde’s mindset, and yet she was. She couldn’t convince herself that the blonde was truly gone. Against every typical social standard she knew, she felt hopeful.

She pondered that and then realized that the two of them didn’t fit typical social standards. That was the entire premise behind their mutual attraction, deep down, intellectually. They were each atypical and yet they fundamentally thought the same about the basic principles of life. The two girls’ personal styles were so different — yet that intellectual foundation, they shared. She smiled and loved how hopeful she felt.

She realized with bad foreboding that feeling hopeful was an emotion too, and that naming and accepting her negative feelings had somehow made them each diminish or vanish, over the last half hour. Would the same happen with positive feelings? If so, would this stop her feeling hopeful? Would this new technique doom her to be an emotionless robot? She was aghast at the thought. She decided to find out. “I feel hopeful,” she said aloud, basking in the feeling and the premise that she and the blonde remained close and that the blonde understood her well enough to be forgiving. In spite of her best intentions for self-flagellation, she smiled. She caught herself doing so, and immediately felt ridiculous about that.

“Okay, then, let’s go down that rabbit hole too,” she thought and said, “I feel ridiculous” and really dwelled on it. The feeling of ridiculousness slowly evaporated.

She went back to focusing on how hopeful she felt as to the blonde. She dwelled on that emotion too – and realized that it became gradually stronger. Wow! She was amazed. This technique was SO useful. It enabled her to diminish negative emotions yet increase positive ones. She felt empowered and delighted.

She pondered the basis of her hope. The events of last night were the true test of the depth of her dynamic with the blonde, she realized. She hadn’t intended it to be a test but if the blonde understood and forgave that the brunette had been overwhelmed … they certainly belonged together, the brunette decided. Actually, regardless of whether or not they were physically together, if she and the blonde were still in a dynamic, then they were already together intellectually and emotionally anyway, the brunette realized. She felt a warm glow.

She felt strangely cheated. She’d wanted to punish herself in the best way she knew how – emotionally – but instead, she was feeling better by the minute. She tried to find a negative emotion that would punish her because, at some level, that’s what she thought she deserved.

“I feel ashamed,” she said aloud and she applied the standards of typical people to her behavior, chastising herself. That was indeed effective. She did feel shame – deep shame. She repeated, “I feel ashamed” and felt the emotion deeply. She imagined every typical person she cared about, hearing what she’d done and then commenting negatively on her behavior. As she imagined that, she felt more and more shame. She let the feeling wash over her. “I feel SO ashamed,” she said aloud, and dwelled on it. After a couple of minutes of doing this, she lost interest in dwelling on the reactions of typical people. To her amazement, she realized that she felt slightly bored at dwelling on being ashamed mostly because, aside from perhaps a slight twinge, she didn’t feel ashamed any more, either.

She imagined how the blonde would have commented on her behavior. She tried to guess what the blonde was doing, right then. She imagined the blonde had checked into a nice hotel near the airport – not too close to it, and perhaps in a nicer neighborhood, perhaps in the area where the blonde used to live, in that same city. She thought hard, envisioning the likely events. The blonde was probably having breakfast. She guessed at the blonde’s state of mind, and imagined her having a leisurely breakfast. She imagined the blonde having a conversation with a stranger about the brunette’s behavior.

* * *

Not so coincidentally, just such a conversation was about to happen. Well-rested, calm and fundamentally happy even though she was concerned about the brunette, the blonde sat in a café near the beach and had just ordered breakfast. A single guy at a nearby table was trying to chat her up:

“Lovely morning, isn’t it?” he started out.

The blonde smiled and nodded. The guy felt encouraged, and looked at her appraisingly. He liked what he saw.

“With so many movies having been made, and so many actors in each movie, even with overlap, there must be tens of thousands of actors and actresses around, and sooner or later the odds are I’ll run into one,” he said, pausing to see the effect.

The blonde smiled, enjoying the irony.

“You remind me of a tall blonde who was in a movie about an Olympic athlete … what was her name?” he paused.

The blonde just smiled.

“That wasn’t you, in that movie, was it? You look too young, but you’re also kinda tall, seems like. How tall are you?”

“Five twelve,” the blonde replied. The guy was startled and laughed. “Wow, six feet tall. That does sound tall but ‘five twelve’ sounds more feminine somehow. Very cute,” he smiled. “Clever of you to come up with that,” he added.

“I didn’t. I got that from the actress you’re referencing. She and I are the same height so I use her phrase.”

“Oh, so you know exactly whom I’m talking about. What was the name of the movie? And the actress.?” He waited and the seconds ticked by, as the blonde just smiled at him.

“Mysterious, are you? Well, your accent makes you more mysterious. What IS that accent? Swedish?”

“It’s a blend of things, mostly German.”

“Gooten Tahk”, I’m Joe.”

“Hi Joe, I’m into girls, not guys but I appreciate that you’re friendly.”

He sat quietly, processing this. He decided to be open with her.

“You’re still more friendly to me than most straight girls are, hereabouts. I’m amazed anyone in this city meets anyone socially. Girls are so aloof..”

The blonde smiled again, and pointed to the open seat at her table, as in “join me.”

Joe scurried over, far too quickly and eagerly to be cool about it.

“So I understand I have no chance with you, but you intrigue me. I like your … air.”

Another smile.

“Maybe you just haven’t met the right guy,” he said hopefully.

“Are you straight?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am, 100% American red-blooded male, 100% straight.”

“Maybe you just haven’t met the right guy,” she said mischievously. He was shocked, and then laughed out loud. “Okay, wow, I deserved that,” he smiled, shaking his head. “Now I like you even more,” he added. A waitress appeared and took his order. “Separate checks?” she asked. “Nope,” he announced. “Breakfast is on me.” The blonde thanked him.

“You’re not from here, are you?”

The blonde shook her head.

“So what brings you to our lovely city?”

“I met a girl online, and we connected there so I came to meet her in person.”

“Figures,” Joe mumbled. “Just my luck. I find my dream girl and she’s a lesbian. Anyway, I wish you both eternal happiness. When do you meet her?”

“Perhaps I don’t.”

“How do you mean?”

“We were supposed to meet last night, but she didn’t show up.”

Joe laid it on thickly, seeing also a potential “in” for his gamesmanship. He expressed his deepest sympathy and then said several bad things about the other girl. “You need cheering up,” he added clumsily and then realized he was overdoing it. “Did she at least tell you why?”

The blonde shook her head. This triggered another barrage of insults aimed at the other girl. Joe assured her that he’d also been stood up many times, and how much he hated that. “Ghosting,” he called it. He went on and on.

“So now what?” he asked the blonde.

“Now I buy a used laptop computer, so that I can work remotely, so that I can viably stay here another few days, waiting for her to come around.”

“Wait, you’re still hopeful?”

The blonde nodded.

“You’re degrading herself. I would never give someone like that another chance.”

The blonde smiled.

“So you’re staying at a local hotel, extending your stay until, if ever, she comes around?” he asked incredulously.

“Not forever, no,” the blonde corrected him.

“Look, a nice hotel hereabouts isn’t cheap, and I have a nice place so you’re totally welcome to come crash at my place and save yourself two, three hundred bucks a night…”

“You’re sweet but for now I’m saying ‘no thank you.’”

“I’m not that sweet, I’m totally planning to seduce you. You need cheering up. You need to be appreciated.”

“Do I not seem cheerful?”

He paused and stared. “You actually do,” he conceded. “You shouldn’t be. You should feel indignant, and mad, and hurt,” he added, and then realized how ridiculous he was sounding. He waited several long seconds for for her reply.

“And yet, I don’t.”

“That’s SO messed up.”

“I understand you think so, but that’s not how I feel.”

“Well, you should be appreciated. You’re high-quality.” He almost said, “merchandise” and caught himself in time.

“I AM appreciated. That would explain why she didn’t meet me.”

“Wait, what?!”

“She probably felt overwhelmed. If she cared less about me, she might have shown up.”

He stared at her, aghast. “You actually think she likes you, still?”

The blonde smiled and nodded, calmly.

He laughed derisively. “Oh, you are so delusional. She’s probably laughing her ass off and telling all her friends about how stupid you must have looked, sitting there at your little table in a romantic café, a rose on the table in front of you, waiting. all night.”

She smiled, amused at how vastly different their mental paradigms were.

Joe looked at her again, quizzically. Something about her demeanor had bothered him, and he finally realized what it was. “Nothing I’m saying is making any difference, is it?”

Until then, the blonde had just glanced at him. This time, she looked him in the eye, smiled at him gently, and shook her head. He felt the primal, candid connection almost like a physical blow. “Wow, you have an intensity about you,” he mumbled.

He sat there for another minute. The blonde could perform some alchemy and salvage the dynamic if she wanted to, or she could let the dynamic die. She thought about it. She decided that Joe could be useful. “You feel not-so-nice right now, true?” she asked, looking him in the eye again.

He looked down and mumbled, “yeah. God, you have a direct way of looking at people. It’s kinda disturbing.”

“You making no difference in how I feel or think, that’s kinda invalidating to you, isn’t it?”

Joe looked at her, re-engaging. “Yes it is,” he replied with emphasis.

“Can you see the point I’m trying to make?”

He shook his head in reply, curious

She explained how he’d heaped insults onto the other girl, sympathized with the blonde, told the blonde how she should feel, and generally rushed ahead, all on his own premises, without checking in to see if their premises and values were in synch, or even remotely similar. Indeed, they weren’t. By the standards of the blonde, the other girl cared about the blonde very much. She was known to sometimes be overwhelmed, and the anticipation of meeting the blonde had probably overwhelmed her, and this showed that she cared a lot, not that she didn’t care. Her behavior could not be faulted, the blonde explained, to a perplexed-looking Joe.

* * *

Lying in her bed, the brunette had guessed a quite-accurate rendition of this same conversation, in essence. Somehow, deep down, she suspected that the blonde knew her so well that she understood how the brunette was feeling.

The brunette’s hand moved toward her phone. She wanted to simply contact the blonde and go meet her as if nothing bad had happened. It would be so clean and benevolent. They’d meet and then hug for a long time. The brunette would apologize for not showing up at the airport, and the blonde would assure her that no apology was needed and she’d guessed the brunette had simply been utterly overwhelmed. She imagined the conversation.

“That’s no excuse,” the brunette would have replied.

“Could you have called me on a phone whose battery had a meltdown?” the blonde would perhaps have asked, and after the brunette had said “no” then the blonde would have explained that the brunette going into emotional overload was like her phone battery going into meltdown, and that willpower couldn’t be expected to overpower such extreme problems, short-term. She’d have explained that she took the brunette’s absence as a symbol of how much she cared, and that no excuse was needed.

That’s exactly the sort of thing the blonde would say, the brunette mused, smiling. She realized how their standards were so opposite to that of typical people that it was almost as if they were alien beings. That’s certainly how the brunette had felt, for much of her life.

With the blonde in her life, feeling like an alien being was no longer a source of loneliness. Oddly, it had become a source of pride – that she and the blonde had a subculture all their own, in which they understood each other in ways that typical people could not.

She lay in bed, thinking how special their dynamic was. Then, she contrasted that with how everyone she knew would evaluate things. Gradually, her buoyant mood ebbed again. She felt caught in the web of evaluating herself and her actions by typical standards. By those standards, she should feel guilty about how she’d behaved.

She was tempted to use the approach the blonde had taught her, and to say “I feel so guilty’ and to work through it, but she stopped herself consciously. She deserved to be punished, she felt. Some girls cut themselves, some abused their bodies in various ways … the brunette’s way was to feel guilt. That was her punishment, and she had always felt a peculiar comfort in its pain, the comfort of justice, of familiarity. Fragments of thoughts flew through her consciousness, like shards of glass, and no less painful … un-integrated insults such as she’d heard ever since she was a teenager. She didn’t belong, she was naive, she was a social misfit, she was weird, she was awkward … she hated herself, by those standards.

She heard the calm voice of the blonde gently saying, “but those standards are mistaken … by objective standards, you’re wonderful and you always have been. Typical people are a misfit relative to you, not the other way around.”

The brunette envisioned a scene that dramatized the conflict. She imagined herself standing on a steep slope, barely able to maintain her footing. Less than a yard above her, the blonde was standing on a sunlit ledge, her hair faintly stirring in the breeze. She looked calm and confident, and was holding out her hand, encouragingly, to help the brunette prevent sliding down that slope into an abyss. The brunette needed only to hold out her own arm and she’d be able to reach the blonde, and then she’d get pulled up to safety and security, to acceptance, and to a happiness that would sometimes be calm and sometimes overwhelmingly joyous.

In her fantasy, she turned and looked down, into the abyss. Far below she could see teeming masses of people, living in the near-darkness, hunched and unhappy. She looked up at the blonde again. The contrast was so stark. Where did she belong?

She imagined her eyes locking onto those of the blonde as she kept her arms by her sides. “I’m not coming up to you. I don’t deserve to be happy,” she told the blonde, in her fantasy. “By typical standards, indeed you don’t.” replied the blonde, “but let’s reject those standards.” The brunette felt the conflict boil inside her. “I can’t. Those standards rule the world. These people rule the world. They run the companies. They run the government. They make the decisions. We have to fit in,” she called up to the blonde.

“We can interact with them without granting them a moral high ground that they don’t deserve. We deserve it, you and I, and the few like us. Come to me. You deserve to be happy.”

“Not by their standards. They are too powerful, too many. I can’t resist them. They have always ruled things and I’ve always tried to fit in. I know of no other way.”

“I do, and I’m teaching you that other way,” the blonde replied, calmly, still holding out her hand. Her smooth skin gleamed in the sun. The brunette looked up at her powerful legs, at her muscular torso, her toned arms, her strong facial features. She had never felt so emotionally close to the blonde as at that moment.

“No,” she replied, and closed her eyes, and intentionally fell backward into the abyss, tumbling down the slope, and landing at the bottom, hurt but alive. The teeming masses were glad to see her, and they carried her away. She felt their dirty hands on her bruised skin. “This is where I belong,” she thought. “I don’t deserve better.” Even so, a nagging sense of doubt, deep down, told her that she did. She had a sense of dread that she was betraying justice instead of serving it. But by then, it didn’t matter. It was too late anyway. She’d made her decision, and she would stay with these people, and live by their rules.

She was able to look up at the blonde one more time before she vanished from her line of sight. She’d expected the blonde to look exasperated or to look away in frustration. Instead she found the blonde looking down at her, with understanding and compassion. She writhed in the hands of those carrying her along. With all her might, she called up to the blonde: “No! Go away! It’s over! I’m giving up!” She could tell that the blonde had heard her. The blonde’s expression softened more yet, and as she looked at the brunette, she calmly shook her head in disagreement.

The fantasy ended. It had been the strangest thing; part-dream and part-fantasy. part-conscious and part-subconscious.

* * *

Her intense thinking had exhausted her. She knew she needed to go to the bathroom and that she was thirsty. She thought that she should probably also be hungry but somehow she wasn’t.

She lay back and felt the familiar bitter loneliness again, and a peculiar satisfaction. She valued justice and if she deserved punishment, here she was being punished by the only person who, ultimately, could punish her: she, herself.

By the standards of the world around her, she didn’t deserve happiness, and those standards are what mattered. She couldn’t build an entire life out of sharing freakish values with one other girl, who was just as crazy as she was. She had responsibilities. She couldn’t check out of polite society and just go be happy.

She mulled on those thoughts, over and over. They drained her energy and enthusiasm, until, mentally exhausted, she fell asleep again, and slept for seven more hours.

More: Part 5

The Wild-Girl Rocket-Ship Ride

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I have had intense fantasies, sexual and otherwise, and have diligently brought many of them into reality. Many more remain to be realized.

This evening, I discussed this “go and do it approach” with one of my favorite traveling companions on the journey of life, who has experienced the effects at close range. She’s a wonderful friend, and starting in 2012 she has also been my girlfriend (one of them, technically; we’re both polyamorous). She pointed out to me that the satisfaction in our wild adventures (many of which were wild in a non-sexual way) wasn’t just in experiencing interesting and exciting things at the time, but also in being able to sit back and proudly think “I DID that.” There’s also some joy in having a conversation, on quiet evenings, and saying to each other “do you remember that time when we …” and the other girl says “yes, wow” and we both smile.

It reminds me of a scene in the movie “True Lies” where the heroine starts out as a legal secretary and then decides to enter the field of counterterrorism. She is captured and asked why she did it, and she gives the sort of speech that is worth the price of admission to the movie, whether you saw it in a movie theater or go buy or rent the movie now. Essentially she wasn’t content with seeing the days of her life tick by without them being more meaningful.

By reasonable standards, she had a good life already. She had a steady job, safety, security, a comfortable life, and she was a wife and a mother. That describes my life too when I was in that mode. I had a steady job, safety, security, a comfortable life, and I was a wife [in a girl-girl dynamic] and a mother [as in step-mom a.k.a. assistant mom]. Now, I realize how I’d gone into psychological autopilot at the time. I had a wonderful partner but I was holding myself back, and it made my life disappointing for me, and no doubt it also made me less fun to be with. At the time, I thought I was being proper and responsible but somewhere along the way, I lost the fire in my eyes. Professionally and in many ways personally, I was achieving great things, but sexually I had checked out, mainly as to myself. I was still basically functional in bed and probably by average standards things were very good, but I was not doing well compared to how intense I can be, and had been long ago, and subsequently was again.

Not just was I uninspired but also uninspiring. I couldn’t imagine how to persuade my partner to come along on the wild journeys I wanted to experience. Instead of trying harder to make it work, I just gave up on her and I going together. Nor did I go alone. Things settled into the sort of routine that superficially looks fine and has many good things to say about it by the standards of being a responsible adult and parent, but not by the standards of how I’d planned my life to be, when I was 17.

In my senior year in high school, we were supposed to write an essay on whatever we liked, for once. I wrote about my vision for my own future. I was inspired. I was, in fact, so inspired that the teacher asked me to read my essay aloud to the class. And thus, the quiet, nerdy, “A” student, shy trans girl got outed as being quite possibly the wildest and most ambitious girl in the entire group of 300 students graduating that year. Initially, the course of my life matched my essay. It was like a Saturn V rocket taking off.

By age 22, I had graduated high school with high enough grades to have my picture in the top center of the front page of the newspaper when the grades were announced; a city approximately the size of Reno. I’d gotten my university degree in accounting and auditing. I’d started a business teaching math to high school students. I’d started an automotive business empire that bought and sold cars, rented them, did paint and body work, sold used parts, and fixed them up, with me personally doing the work — intense things like totally rewiring an entire car electrically, or converting an automatic car to stick shift. I’d worked as a cost analyst in an automobile assembly plant and I’d automated the workflow to the point where the reports that were my boss’s main focus could be delivered to the factory managers daily instead of weekly. I’d learned to windsurf well, had learned how to swim competitively, had gone on multiple-day hikes in the wilderness of Africa, and had earned a blue belt in Judo. I’d moved to West LA, gotten a job as an office manager in an automobile speed shop, had flagged at vintage races, had driven and navigated in automobile rallies, and a year later I would be promoted to general manager of the speed shop. I’d lived in South Africa, the UK, France and Germany. I was fluent in four languages. I liked reading about, and discussing, philosophy. I was told that I looked like I was fifteen at the time. I was a slender bundle of energy and I felt unstoppable. Arguably, I was … except by myself.

Complacency had sneaked up on me. If I was Supergirl before, giving up on my dreams was my Kryptonite. It was only when I chose to settle for less, that things slowed down. I only had myself to blame, and I’m ashamed for that. I wasted close to a decade in this autopilot mode. After she and I had become empty-nesters, I became re-energized as to restarting my intense mode again. My partner at the time made it clear that she was not planning to come along. We broke up amicably and we went our separate ways. Just today, many years after we parted ways, I met her outside the grocery store, and we hugged, complimented each other and chatted, including about the “kids” — so-called even though they were all adults by the time we split up.  She has moved on and so have I. We still love each other, and we tell each other so now and then, but my path is more intense than she wants to experience, and that’s OK. She and I each found new traveling companions and life went on.

In contrast with mine, I see the life of someone who’s also been one of my favorite traveling companions on the journey of life. She shakes her head at some of the stories I tell her but she wishes me well. She looks forward to my visits perhaps as a prairie might look forward to a thunderstorm. I visit, we talk, we do something fun and then I leave. Problem is, I’m a reminder to her of how different our lives are. She’s eighty years of age, and she still has so much she’d like to do – but it’s started to shift into wistful mode, where she considers these things futile. I can tell that it’s depressing to her. She wishes she were twenty years younger and then she might have done all sorts of wild and wonderful things. I tell her that when she’s a hundred, she might well say she wishes she were twenty years younger and then she might have done all sorts of wild and wonderful things. She smiles but I don’t inspire much more than that smile. Yes, she’s my mom and I love her dearly, and we are as different as night and day. I wish I could rub off on her and be a bad influence, the sort of girl that a mom would warn her daughter to not be friends with because she’s too wild. Oh, the irony …

Meanwhile, I’m living life full throttle. I’m still responsible too — but only as much as is viable without having the sort of life I’d regret. Am I cutting things too fine as such? Generally, no. So far, anyway. I seem to be right by the edge. That’s how I like it.

A Terrified Brunette Reaches Out Nevertheless, Part 3

The blonde was driving through the rural desert countryside, toward Reno, when her phone rang. She already had her headphones in, and she tapped the “answer” button, recognizing the number of the brunette.

“Hello again,” the blonde smiled.

The brunette returned the greeting, and loved how comfortable she felt, starting this, their second conversation — so different than how she felt when she initiated the first conversation. She realized how much intimacy they’d already built up together.

“I was about to go have a conversation with my husband but really I’d like to base it on our letter. I told him I’d like to send him an email and then be there while he read it, and if he’d have time for that about fifteen minutes from now. He said he did. Problem is, I don’t have a copy of the letter. Would you please email it to me? My email address is …”

“Give me a minute, first,” the blonde asked, and pulled over to the side of the road. Her smart phone enabled her to connect to her business network, so she attached the document to a new email window, and prompted the brunette for her email address. She clicked and typed for a few seconds, and thereby sent the document via email.

The brunette’s phone notified her of the incoming email. She saw there was an attached document, and she verified that it was the correct one. She thanked the blonde, who replied with “I love how empowering technology can be.” The brunette had a less glowing feeling about technology, and said so. “I look forward to teaching you what you need to know, so that you feel empowered too,” the blonde smiled. The brunette was about to say something dismissive and witty, disparaging her ability to ever understand technology.

Then, she reminded herself how humor can destroy intimacy. She instead seriously pondered what the blonde had offered. It would indeed be wonderful to feel in charge of the technology at her disposal. And, with the blonde teaching her, it was by no means out of the question that she would learn, and learn well. She was aghast at how she’d become accustomed to saying disparaging and dismissive things about herself. She was pensive for another few seconds, and then she quietly thanked the blonde.

“That seemed to require a lot of thinking,” the blonde gently observed.

“It did. I look forward to explaining it, later. Right now, I’m in a time crunch. Do I simply forward this to my husband?” she asked.

“That’s an option, but then he’ll have my direct email address. I’m not dead set against it, but make sure that this is what you want.”

“Perhaps this isn’t the best time for that. Explain to me how to forward the document in another way, please?”

The blonde guided the brunette, and she was ready to send the email, but the letter had been written on the premise that the brunette had decided to throw in her lot with the blonde in a dramatic and life-changing way for which the letter was a proper announcement. Both girls were clear that many questions and concerns remained to be addressed before the tipping point would be reached – assuming it would ever be reached. Even so, neither girl wanted the brunette’s husband to have an incomplete and inaccurate picture of the situation, so the blonde and brunette together crafted some highly polished wording as a preface in the email. They hoped that it would accurately clarify the context.

With that work completed, the brunette sent off the email, and almost in unison, the girls each said, “I should go.” They smiled and bade each other good-bye. The blonde continued toward Reno airport, and the brunette walked to her husband’s study, then walked over to his desk and stood near him, as he slowly read the emailed document.

They discussed it. He asked many questions. She thought about each one carefully, and the more complex ones, she wrote down and explained she intended to get back to him with a well-pondered reply.

It perplexed him that the announcement was so conditional, and that perhaps none of this might ever go beyond the status quo. What the two girls had currently, as in: an intense intellectual and emotional intimacy, most of which had until that day been based on conjecture and reading between the lines – it all seemed so lightweight and so inconsequential to him. He said so.

The brunette conceded that maybe it would all fizzle out when they met in person, or maybe it would end up being a fling, maybe an affair, maybe a mid-life crisis, or maybe the most serious dynamic of her entire life. She didn’t know which of these was most likely.

Her husband mused that, typically, when a guy has a mid-life crisis then he ends up driving some or other flashy exotic-yet-practical car such as an Audi, and he has a busty blonde former model as his arm candy and in his bed. So, he was curious as to what form the brunette’s mid-life crisis would take.

She found his observation so ironic that she looked away, trying to not laugh out loud as to how accurately he’d just described what her future might soon be like. Then, she remembered that she would no longer suppress her emotions. He’d said something that she considered funny. She was going to just indulge in however she felt. She felt like laughing and so she was going to simply give in. She was barely able to utter, “That’s really funny” and then she burst out laughing, laughing in release of tension, laughing at how ironic the events of today were. She laughed for a long time, in a way that seemed to include him benevolently as opposed to shutting him out or laughing at him or at his expense.

He noticed that her mirth far exceeded how witty he’d thought his comment was, and he looked at her quizzically. She decided to be open with him and explained that he’d just described the other girl, and that she owned multiple Audis, and would be making one available to the brunette to drive if she moved in with the blonde, and that she found it all very ironic. Her husband had been spending the last half hour browsing social media and he hadn’t found any likely candidate that the brunette had openly been chatting with, or friended or followed, but there was a blonde who had been focused on the brunette and so perhaps this was the girl arriving at the airport that evening. He clicked a few buttons, and a picture appeared. He pointed questioningly, and the brunette took a deep breath and said “yes.” She felt oddly proud upon saying that.

He pointed out how peculiar it was that she’d consider the dynamic with the blonde to be that she was having an affair when their only connection was intellectual and emotional, and that they hadn’t directly interacted before that day, and that they’d never met in person but would meet each other for the first time that evening, when the brunette would pick up the blonde at the airport. He had considered his wife’s thinking to be unusual, but this was surprising even to him – in several respects, including how calm she was, and how precisely she phrased things. As such, he could see the blonde’s influence in the demeanor of the brunette. He said so. She smiled simply and happily.

He studied her. He realized that it was far too late to object on a meaningful basis. Whatever she would decide to do, she would do. She seemed to personify the concept of “irresistible force” as to this subject even though what she was doing, and planning to do, was outrageous by typical standards.

He slowly nodded and shrugged. So did she, in turn. There seemed to be an odd sort of benevolence in their interaction. “I plan to keep you apprised of developments, at a high level,” she said gently. She smiled, nodded again, and left the room.

He sat at his desk, thinking about his life. He was tempted to read some more about the blonde, but he realized that it felt like the duty of unfinished business. Really, that was all pointless now. He closed the relevant window on his screen, and sat back, pondering his past, his present and his future.

* * *

The brunette called the blonde. “I am SO glad we wrote this letter,” she said as soon as the blonde picked up.

“Elaborate?”

The brunette did.

“Good girl,” the blonde said. “This could have been very messy and you handled it very well.”

The brunette was yet again about to say something dismissive and witty, but then she caught herself. She instead pondered the blonde’s point. This indeed had been a crucially important conversation – and indeed, she had handled it well. It deserved to be recognized, even celebrated. She realized how her dismissive quip would have deprived her of her well-deserved recognition.

“Yes, I did,” the brunette mused. “All three of us did. I’d have expected this sort of situation to be disastrous but somehow it seems to be working out for the best.”

“Somehow?”

“I mean, we’re managing them so that they are working out for the best.”

“I can agree with that,” the blonde smiled.

“It’s vastly important to me that the you-and-I dynamic ends up with us living in blissful harmony ever after, but even if we don’t, I feel so empowered by what I’ve learned, and what I’ve done.”

“I’m glad. So far, so good,” the blonde smiled, and then gently pointed out: “I expect us to have deep intimacy, but that doesn’t equate to blissful harmony. We’ll be open with each other but sometimes we’ll strongly disagree on some issues, perhaps vitally important ones. I expect we’ll have primally candid conversations in which we try to resolve our disagreements or find ways to make things work in spite of them. Those conversations are likely to offer the benefits of the sort of primal candor that you’ve been craving, but they won’t all be easy or pleasant. Bottom line, intimacy will help us work toward harmony, but – it will be hard work.”

“I didn’t think of it like that. Now I feel foolish and naïve.”

“I sympathize.”

There was a pause.

“Aren’t you going to tell me not to feel foolish or naïve, or to argue with the conclusions that most likely have me feeling this way?” asked the brunette, a smile in her voice.

“You get to feel however you feel. As to possible causes, I’m happy to help but it’s best if you figure that out for yourself,” the blonde smiled. The brunette laughed.

“Right now, it seems like there isn’t anything we won’t be able to work through. Our conversations seem to have a sense of allegiance and benevolence — as in, we are on the same basic side, even if we disagree. Regardless of the particulars we discuss, the foundation of our dynamic feels so solid already. The tacit premise is that we’re making the basis of our relationship ever better with each such conversation.”

“I agree, and we’ll establish some ground rules before we need them. Here are some examples of what I intend to include: we have the most-unpleasant conversations only in person, not via text or email or phone. Also, we say what we feel, as opposed to conveying that nonverbally, such as: if I feel tempted to roll my eyes when you say something that I intensely dislike, then I’ll resist that temptation and I’ll instead candidly verbalize my disagreement. Also, we don’t ever say something combative and then walk away. After saying something intense, we stand there and await the response, ready to continue the dialog, however difficult.”

“Wow, this gets complicated.”

“It does, but it’s well worth it.”

“I didn’t think I’d like that you’ve been in so many relationships but I can see one benefit: you seem to have refined how to interact with whomever you’re in a romantic dynamic.”

“I have indeed. I have made a great many mistakes, and learned how to avoid repeating some of them quite so badly,” the blonde smiled. Then: “I’m just turning onto Highway 80 now. You’re on speakerphone but even so; give me half a minute so I can concentrate … okay.”

* * *

The blonde continued: “I recall there was a conceptual hurdle for you as to sexual intimacy, so we might benefit from discussing that. As to emotional intimacy, we resolved your concerns well, didn’t we?”

“Amazingly so, yes,” beamed the brunette.

“As to sexual intimacy, I have a guess as to what your concerns might be. These are probably awkward subjects for you. If I bring them up, it might be easier for you — so would you like me to lead the way again?”

“Please do.”

“Okay. You are generally most candid when you write about how you feel, and what you have written has enabled me to understand you much better than if I just had to observe you or go with things you said in a context where ‘keep it light’ was the basic theme.”

“I’d agree with that.”

“In your early 30s, you wrote about your assessment of your own aesthetics. It’s fair to say they were less complementary than my opinion of them would have been at the time.”

“I think I know what piece you’re referring to. And, also, you’re indeed zooming in on a point central to my concern, as to sexual intimacy.”

“By now, the passage of time has probably not improved your evaluation of your aesthetics.“

“That’s true.”

“As I recall, you felt less-than-pretty right before driving somewhere to meet a guy for your first date with him.”

“Yes.”

“Ironically, last week I was driving to meet a guy for a first date with him. I’m mostly focused on girls and I can’t fall in love with a guy or get butterflies in my tummy about a guy, but guys nevertheless have a place somewhere in my hierarchy of values. To whoever wants to meet me, I make it clear how my brain is wired to like girls, and typically the guy wants to meet me even so. Most such dates end up being asexual but then the guy and I become acquaintances and might be mutually useful, and perhaps might one day become friends.”

“I understand,” the brunette prompted her.

The blonde continued: “While driving there, I had an attack of self-doubt as to my looks. It was probably safe to say that I wasn’t hideous by typical standards but it took every bit of self-control I had to keep my car pointed in the right direction and not turn around and call him to say that I had changed my mind at ultra-short notice. I just felt overwhelmingly unattractive, and even that, I’m phrasing mildly. I later took some pictures of how I looked, that same evening. In retrospect, I now think I looked okay. I posted one of them online and got some compliments so I seem to not be the only person who thinks so.”

The brunette was quiet, processing all this. Then, she said: “Your mind is what makes you the most attractive to me, but you would not get a failing grade as to aesthetics, in my book. I’m surprised you felt that way. You come across as very confident, including as to how you look.” She was quiet as she thought about things some more. “I can see where you’re going with this,” she said.

“Even though, by typical standards I probably looked good enough, I just felt excruciatingly hideous and it killed off any enthusiasm I had for the social event ahead. I didn’t want to be seen at all by anyone. Ironically, the date might have included some sexually themed festivities, and I initially looked forward to that, but then how I felt about my looks reduced my enthusiasm for anything sexual to vastly below zero.”

“Evidently, you understand one of my concerns as to sexual intimacy,” the brunette said.

“Please elaborate.”

“I’m often showered in compliments as to how I look, and they go in one ear and out the other. I suppose it’s nice that people think I look good but if someone is commenting on a picture that was taken when I was in my 20s, and tells me I’m lovely, that’s not relevant to how I feel today. Even if they are current, the pictures on which people comment tend to be how I look when I have — or a professional make-up artist has — put make-up on me, and then I look much better than I’d look up close and personal.”

“I understand,” the blonde said, gently.

“That’s part of why I’m so wary. I love the idea of sexual intensity as much as the next girl but I have a confidence problem, exacerbated by the fear that whomever I meet will expect me to look like I did, when I was at my aesthetic prime, and/or wearing professional-grade make-up, whereas instead now I look … well … not like that. This, incidentally, also very much describes part of my concerns about meeting you. I can’t imagine that I would, in person, inspire sexual intensity. Perhaps I would, perhaps I do look good enough, but to say that I don’t feel pretty enough – that would be an understatement.”

The blonde empathized, as to how unpleasant a feeling that was.

The brunette continued: “So, I’m trying to approach the you-and-I dynamic with realism, so that I don’t get my hopes up only to be smashed down. I expect that the only intimacy between us would be intellectual and emotional intimacy. If we categorically dispense with sexual intimacy that would solve the problem. I’d still be with someone so like-minded and who understands me so well, and with whom I can be so primally candid, that I’d still be delighted. “

The blonde saw some problems in the reasoning but she planned to bring them up later. For the time being, she kept quiet and let the brunette continue: “Ironically, without sexual intimacy, the you-and-I dynamic might be socially a lot more acceptable. People would see it simply as a quirky friendship when really it’d nevertheless be so much more. Sexual intimacy, or sexual dynamics even without intimacy – that’s what typical people would fixate on.”

The blonde smiled, and the brunette continued: “Part of me wants to vanish and start a new life but I’m not confident enough to just wake up and do it, one fine day. I’d need impetus. Choosing something that I value more than the social disgrace that it would bring – that would be impetus. For example, if I’d be half of a hot lesbian couple who have wild and wonderful sexual intimacy — I would value that more than the social disgrace that it would bring. Problem is, I’d never be half of a hot lesbian couple because by now it’s too late for me to be hot. I hate it, but honestly, that’s how I feel.”

“I understand …”

“You must be the only person I’ve mentioned this to, in a very long time, who hasn’t then argued with me, dismissing my concerns, and telling me that I look gorgeous and that I’m ridiculous for feeling concerns about my aesthetics.”

“I understand that what matters is how you feel. …”

“Exactly. After those so-called reassurances, I just feel worse yet.”

“Ironic,” the blonde said, sympathizing.

“Initially I hated the idea of you being polyamorous but by now it’s a relief to me. I know I wouldn’t have to worry that lack of sexual intimacy with me would mean a complete lack of sexual intimacy for you in general, with me then being concerned that you would miss out as such, and then it might be like a pressure cooker that can’t release steam and eventually blows up, ending the relationship. You seem so sexually intense that I wouldn’t want to deprive you of that, or expect you to do so for my intended benefit. It’s also tremendously reassuring for me to know that if you meet someone new and gorgeous then she wouldn’t replace me in your life; that you have room for me in your life regardless of whatever else happens. I know it’s impossible for you to promise ‘forever’ but if I end up being with you, my hope is that the time frame would be indefinite. If I felt I had to be the hottest or most interesting girl in your life so as to keep your interest, it’d be vastly intimidating for me, and I wouldn’t even want to try.”

“That’s very logical of you.”

“For example, if you‘ve just found out that some or other former Miss Nevada is into girls and has a crush on you, and you’re going to go have a hot night with her, then I’d sincerely say ‘have fun’ and I’d look forward to seeing you when you get back, and I’d enjoy you telling me whatever would be appropriate to share, so that I can enjoy your sexual energy at least vicariously, so to speak.”

The blonde smiled, since she had a very different dynamic in mind that she was looking forward to explaining. Even so, it was important to guide the brunette toward that carefully, so the blonde said: “If you’d like to dispense with sexual intimacy in the you-and-I dynamic, I would want you in my life even so. We can sleep together in each other’s arms, wearing as much or as little as you like, and there would nevertheless be much mutual value in intellectual and emotional intimacy.”

“Thank you. I feel relieved,” the brunette said, and yet instead, she felt, and sounded, very sad.

“You don’t sound very happy saying so,” the blonde observed, gently.

“No, I’m fine … I … well,” the brunette reminded herself that it was okay to feel whatever she felt, and be open to the blonde about it. “I mean, I should feel relieved but instead I suddenly feel so sad …”

“I don’t think you should feel anything different than what you’re feeling. If you feel sad, you feel sad and that’s okay.”

“I really have a hard time getting used to that. But yes, I agree. And yes, I do feel sad. I also feel ridiculous about it because whatever I’ve just tried to convince you to accept, you accepted, and instead of being happy and relieved, now I feel sad.”

“I understand, “ the blonde said, gently.

There were a few seconds of silence.

“I don’t know what to say,” the brunette lamented.

“I have some thoughts on the subject. Okay if I elaborate?” the blonde asked.

“I’d love to hear them.”

“Thank you. The issue here, as I understand it, is that you are far from disinterested in sexual intensity, and I’m choosing the word carefully as in ‘intensity’, which is not the same as sexual intimacy. Fair statement?”

The brunette was shocked. She was tempted to deny it but then made a face … and then realized it would be better to verbalize that. “Wow, this open-relationship stuff is hard. I just made a wry face. And I feel very tempted to deny what you just said. But actually, yes, you’re accurate. Please continue, even though it might be excruciatingly embarrassing for me to hear.”

“Until today’s set of conversations, you craved sexual intensity without feeling the need to bundle sexual intimacy along with it, nor would you have felt the need to include emotional intimacy and intellectual intimacy.”

“How would you know that? I mean … you’re accurate but I’m surprised that you know this.”

“I didn’t know. It’s conjecture based on many subtle hints that you’ve been dropping over many years, the gist of which is an intense focus on sexuality, and significantly outside the mainstream of bland-and-pleasant stuff.”

“This conversation is embarrassing to me beyond any level that I can emotionally process right now. I’ll just consider myself in total overload as to this subject, so — please continue.”

The blonde smiled. “I used to be a professional dominatrix, so I understand the concept of obsession. In its simplest form, the perfect recipe for creating obsession requires only the ingredients of guilt and a focus on sexual intensity. Those feed on each other’s energy in an infinite loop of sorts. Does that describe your mindset?”

“You probably know the answer since you have figured out this much already.”

“Yes, but we are still candid and open with each other, right? I’d rather not have a monologue.”

“Yes, and so yes to your embarrassing question, too.”

“Thank you. So here you are, highly focused on sexually intense things, and you feel guilty about it for several reasons, yes?”

“Yes! — and this is sooo excruciatingly embarrassing.”

“I sympathize.”

“In your current personal, social and professional context, you being the wild girl wouldn’t reconcile very well to that, would it?”

“Totally not. And I don’t just mean, with you. If I were to have a one-night-stand involving straight sex with a straight single guy of non-controversial age and social standing and looks, even that might deeply damage my current personal, social and professional situation if word got out.”

“I understand. And yet what you fantasize about includes much more controversial activities, yes?”

After several seconds of silence, the brunette managed to say a strained “yes.”

“If you sign up to be my girlfriend – or more controversially yet, one of my girlfriends since I have one already — even though she doesn’t live with me or near me — then if word gets out, you will have been much downgraded in others’ opinion of you. You could hardly sink any lower anyway, so you might as well then make the most of your downgraded social reputation and go and enjoy wild sexuality, yes?”

“Well, yes. It’d be a nothing-to-lose-anyway mindset. That would be sort of a relief, in a way.”

“In such a situation, it’d be very ironic if you were so close to being able to experience what you’ve been craving, and then you still chose not to.”

“Exactly!”

“You would choose not to, because you would not want to imagine a wild, sexually intense event that’s marred by the presence of one unusually unattractive person, that person being you – yes? I’m not saying you would be unattractive but you feel unattractive.”

“Can I hang up now? I didn’t realize embarrassment could be almost physically painful.”

“Stay with me. It gets better, I promise,” the blonde reassured her. “But first, it gets worse. Ready?”

The brunette threw up a hand in a gesture of futility and despair. “Sure, why not, pile it on. I’m experiencing something similar to what you said, though in a different context, as in things are now so bad that I might as well try and see if anything good comes of it since I’m already paying the price and things are about as bad as I can imagine they can be. In your analogy it was to my social reputation; in this context it’s how embarrassed I feel but it’s the same principle.”

“Good girl.”

“So, how can this possibly get worse yet?”

“You crave intensity but you’re still shy. So, you require somebody else to be the icebreaker and to take the lead, and then you would be delighted to follow. Yes?”

“Yes …”

“Okay. Ready to start dissolving the problems?“

“I can hardly wait.”

“Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I’d be happy to take you along to many sexually intense events, assuming we can get your other concerns addressed. So for now imagine yourself looking as hot as you think you need to look so as to feel hot, and that you will be guilt-free, and that we will have sexual intensity as well as sexual intimacy. Good?”

“Wow, that’s quite the vision I have to adjust to. Wait …” a few seconds went by. “Okay, wow. Now I’m enjoying this. Fun fantasy. And, please continue.”

“In the Dominance/submission context of BDSM, the submissive person is the one who prefers to let the Dominant person take the lead, be the ice-breaker, provide the inspiration, and so on.”

“So where do the whips and chains come in?”

“They essentially don’t.”

“Oh.”

“They can sometimes make things more interesting if added in, and they can often make things worse if added in, so for now let’s focus on the essence of things: the dynamic.”

“So, you’d lead the way and I’d be happy to follow you, so we’d be in a D/s dynamic with you being Dominant and me being submissive, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Wow, being a BDSM submissive … sounds hot.”

“It can be. It mostly reduces your stress level, and makes events more enjoyable to you because you and I will be clear on what we each do and don’t like, and in that context, we’d show up at an event and you would not have to wonder what to do. I’d guide you. In a high-protocol event, the submissive could be on speech restriction, so you wouldn’t have to wonder what to say because by prior arrangement, you wouldn’t say anything as part of that event’s dynamic – unless I specifically ask you. Also, in a fairly-high-protocol event, the other people would not speak to you. Since you’re my submissive under my protection and control, if they wanted to know anything about you, they’d ask me. If someone did violate the rule, you’d simply look at me and point to me.”

“That sounds … very right for me, somehow. Wow, so there might be sexually intense things happening and yet the structure you described would immensely reduce my stress level. It actually sounds really nice. I always thought BDSM meant some really dark stuff.”

“As I approach it, BDSM provides a set of structures that enhance interpersonal dynamics.”

“I like that. I’m learning a lot. Wait …” the brunette had a sudden thought. Several seconds went by. She felt the strangest sort of exhilaration rising within her. She hadn’t felt that in many years. She decided to not suppress it but to just enjoy it. “I just had the most delicious feeling …” she said and then squealed in delight. “Wow.” A few more seconds went by. She shivered with delight. “I just realized that in the conversations we’ve been having, you’re essentially guiding me, comforting me, being protective, and generally making things as nice, low-stress and safe for me as you can even while being primally candid, yes?”

The blonde smiled. “Clever girl.”

“So aren’t we already in a D/s dynamic then?”

“Yes, we are.”

“Well, don’t we officially announce it or do I wear some sort of … “ she didn’t want to say the word … she searched for a synonym … “symbol, showing I’m under your protection?”

“Yes, but all in good time. What matters is the essence of it — and I agree, that’s already in effect.”

“Wow. So, as I sit here, I’m someone’s BDSM submissive.” She shivered with delight.

“That’s quite the mood change,” the blonde observed.

“I’m a happy girl,” the brunette admitted.

“Let’s move on to the next hurdle,” the blonde suggested. “As to the guilt, once you experience what you’ve been obsessing about, the obsession falls away and the guilt doesn’t have anything to sustain it, so it slowly evaporates. When I was working as a Dominatrix, clients were obsessed with the idea of finally spending in-person time with someone like me, and they could hardly wait. They conveyed enthusiasm to book sessions with me every week from then on, for weeks or months on end, or stretching into the indefinite future – yet once they experienced what they’d obsessed about, they stopped obsessing. Initially I thought that I must be the world’s most disappointing person, but eventually I learned that this wasn’t the only possible explanation nor the most likely one.”

“So by me going to wild sexual events, and experiencing what I obsessed about, I’ll stop feeling obsessed and guilty?”

“Yes. Or, to be precise, at least the obsession-based portion of the guilt would eventually cease.”

“Well, would I still then enjoy going to such events?”

“Yes, but for more-balanced reasons.”

“Wow.” A few seconds went by. “I can imagine that happening. Wow.”

“As to another source of guilt, perhaps based on you craving wild activities that are inappropriate to the context you’re currently in, if you should find yourself out of that context ….” the blonde said gently.

The brunette continued her sentence: “… by being ostracized by everyone in that context…”

“… then you’d be in a new context where sexual intensity is just fine …”

“ …specifically, living with you. Hence, starting a new life as to both location and mindset.”

“Yes.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

The brunette mused: “Its funny how it’s one thing to state a blue-sky desire for some or other dramatic life change, and then when it’s suddenly close to becoming reality, that path forward seems terrifying due to its uncertainty.”

The blonde agreed. More silence.

The brunette struggled with the conflict. “Part of me abhors everything about this and part of me wants to embrace it fully. As to the former, I can envision it vividly. I could still bail out. I’d just tell you I’m not meeting you at the airport, and I’d hang up.”

“That’s true.”

“I don’t know that I could live with myself after that, in more ways than one, but even so, I can envision that path forward. I’d tell you I never want to talk to you again, and I’d block you on all social media and my email service and my phone service. I’d go announce this to my husband and most likely, things would largely then continue as they were before. If word of this leaked out, I’d explain it with the perfect measure of what-was-I-thinking self-reproach while hinting you’d manipulated me. I might actually end up with this being a boost to my general popularity. Guys would rush to sympathize with me, and some of them would show how much they liked me by making your life miserable.”

“Yes.”

“Then, on my eightieth birthday I’ll remember this conversation and would not be able to stop crying. So next I’m exploring the alternative consciously,” the brunette announced. She mused. “It’d really be like starting over … a brand new start, and without pride based on the past. My name would then more be a liability than not.” She thought for a while, then asked: “Is it hard to get a legal name change in Nevada?”

The blonde smiled. “No, it’s easy.”

“I mean, first name, last name, everything.”

“I understand. And yes, it’s easy.”

“Would my old name be announced in the paper?”

“Normally yes but there are legal ways around that, too.”

“Wow. A brand-new start, with a new name, new place and new mindset.”

More silence. Then, the brunette asked: “Help me envision things, day to day. So every day could contain a wild sexually intense event, at home or elsewhere?”

“It could.”

The brunette pondered this for a few seconds. “What does your place look like?”

“From the outside, intentionally nondescript. Inside, it’s very … what’s the word … Bohemian. For example, it’s a combination of things that are almost as practical as the inside of an automotive engine, and then there are specific elements that celebrate my personal values.”

“That sounds interesting. Such as?”

“My bathroom looks like the bathroom in a commercial airplane. Everything that needs to be there is there, and nothing more or less. My living room has a bank of eight commercial-grade computer servers, black and orderly, with a row of mice and keyboards, backup units, and external drives, so at night there’s utter darkness in that area yet with dozens of green, blue, red or orange lights blinking. I store my items in numbered banker’s boxes whose number, content and position I log in some customized database software I made, so in various practical locations, you might see a tower of banker’s boxes. So, if I need to find something, I’d look it up in the computer and it might say box number 1152, front room, south wall, near the door, 2nd column from the left. I grew up with a dad who was an engineer so even though I could just crank up the air conditioning or heating and pay a higher utility bill, I like to be thermally efficient so my place uses a lot of insulation that also doubles as internal décor.”

“Wow. That sounds very efficient. But, that doesn’t sound very Bohemian.”

“In the living room, there’s an acoustic guitar on its stand. There’s a flag of my favorite country and my favorite state, and a huge print of Las Vegas at night. The kitchen, living room and bedroom have sexy framed pictures.”

“Such as?”

“Above my computer workstation is a sexy picture of a girl wearing a stripper outfit that I like and now own, and sometimes wear.”

“Wow. Speaking of dress code, what DO you typically wear?”

“A thong, and sometimes some 6” stilettos.”

“No, I mean over that?”

“Nothing.”

“Wow. But what if you have visitors?”

“That doesn’t change my at-home long-term dress code. I mean, if they’re coming over for dinner and then they leave, I’ll put on a nice dress or skirt-and-top, but long-term I wear what I like, at home.”

“Wow. So I’d get a topless-blonde show every day.”

“All day, every day.”

“Would I have to follow your dress code example?” the brunette asked, suddenly feeling breathless.

“Only if I had the slightest inkling that this is what you’d want but needed me to take the lead as to initiating that.”

The brunette’s throat felt suddenly dry. She gulped. A few seconds went by. “You seem to somehow understand me, or my mindset, very well,” she admitted. “Wait, I want to savor how I’m feeling.”

Half a minute went by, with the brunette envisioning how things might be in the context she was considering. It seemed visceral and intense, enticing and exciting — and yet somehow unobtainable too … but not totally unobtainable.

“I almost wish you’d make the decision for me,” she mused out loud.

“Tempting,” the blonde admitted.

Then, the brunette’s mood fell. “I still have the same basic hurdle, though, as we’d discussed initially. Believe me, if I looked like a former Miss Nevada then I’d probably ask you to take me with you, when you leave to go back home. We’d be a hot lesbian couple, I’d experience the sexual intensity I’ve been craving, and in the context with you there would also be sexual intimacy on top of emotional intimacy and intellectual intimacy, and it’d be protected by primally candid conversations with someone like-minded, and it would all be so wonderful.”

“So, really, the only remaining problem is that you don’t look like a former Miss Nevada. Or, to be really precise, if you looked like her and didn’t feel pretty it’d still be a problem, so the key issue here is that you don’t feel pretty, regardless of how pretty you actually are, yes?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to be delusional to where I feel hot when really I’m hideous. And, I know how old I am and there’s no getting around that. I’m not young any more. Anything wild that I do would somehow feel age-inappropriate and I’d feel embarrassed about that. It’d be like an 80-year old entering a wet white t-shirt contest in which the next-oldest contestant is nineteen. Not that I’m eighty years old, but you get the idea.”

“I understand.”

“So unless you have a time machine, this is really all a pointless conversation,” the brunette said, a hard and cold edge to her voice for the first time in a long time.

“Imagine you WERE eighty years old and by that time you still hadn’t experienced anything with the wild intensity you’ve been craving.”

“Oh gawd, what a nightmare scenario.”

“Well, isn’t that your future unless you do something about it, or allow someone else to do something about it?”

The brunette was silent, then said: “Sometimes I hate how you say things — especially when you’re making sense on so painful a subject. I can’t embrace such a future vision of myself. I’m willing to live life one day at a time and let things gradually drift to where that becomes reality, but as a package deal, I can’t accept that this is, without any hope, what my future holds.”

“That’s very candid.”

“I can now understand better than ever why some people who thrived in their youth despaired of the idea of growing old, and then died before growing old.”

The blonde agreed. They were both quiet, thinking of several examples. Then, the blonde continued: “anyway, back to my point. Imagine you do nothing and the years go by, until you’re eighty, and by then you still haven’t had the wild sexual intensity you’ve been craving, and one morning you wake up and to you and to the rest of the world, you look like a former Miss Nevada. What would you do?”

“Oh gawd, I’d go live it up. I’d find you and contact you, and … “ she paused. Dare she say it? “Actually, no offense intended but I’d find a hot, young version of you and then go and experience with her the sort of dynamic that I am today considering having with you — but that am ruling out because I’m already too old and I don’t look nice enough. Or, as you’d put it, I feel too old and I feel that I don’t look nice enough. I feel the need to defend myself since I feel awkwardly superficial about this. As to these issues, I’m specifically focused on the sexual aspect. I know that you and I have an amazing intellectual and emotional connection, and I greatly value that. But as to sexual intensity and sexual intimacy, how I feel about my own looks does then matter.”

“But you’d be fine with such a dynamic even when you’re much older. So it’s not about how old you are. If you were doing age-inappropriate things but you didn’t look old, that would solve the problem, yes?”

The brunette thought hard. Suddenly she felt better. “Talking to you sure is an emotional roller coaster.”

“So what if you were eighty years old, looked and felt young and hot yet your personal, social and professional situation didn’t reconcile to you being the wild girl?”

“Are you kidding? At that age, I wouldn’t care. I’d have one last shot at experiencing what I’d be craving, and I’d take it.”

The blonde smiled.

The brunette was pensive for a few seconds. “Really, all of that applies to me, today, too. There’s no reason for me to waste all those interim years. So if the good witch were going to make me look young and hot, then I’d fervently hope that she would cast her magic spell today, not when I’m eighty. Gawd, I don’t wanna waste my life away,” the brunette exclaimed, shivering suddenly in revulsion at the thought. She was pensive for a few seconds. “So, yes, how I look – actually, how I feel about that but also how others see me and treat me and how I feel about how I look based on their reactions – that really is the only problem.”

“Okay. So to summarize, the only problem is: how you feel you look, and we are both clear that you refuse to be deluded into feeling pretty when objectively you’re not. Can we agree on that?”

The brunette thought hard. “Yes.”

“The use of ‘objectively’ in such a context is not a great choice of words but my point is that if the general consensus is that you could be a twin sister of Mother Teresa, then it’s safe to say you’re not all that pretty in the aesthetic sense we’ve been discussing.”

The brunette agreed, and then pensively added, after a few seconds: “I’m still troubled by the premise that unless you or I solve this problem, I get to be eighty years old and have the same desires — and I’d feel much worse yet about things. So, much as I see this as hopeless, if you can solve this problem, I’m your girl.”

* * *

A few seconds went by, as the blonde collected her thoughts. Then: “I have a confession,” the brunette said.

“Yes?”

“This is going to sound so superficial I really don’t even want to say it. But … the intellectual and emotional intimacy casts a welcoming warm glow, almost like light shining from the windows of a cozy country cottage at dusk. It’s really great to have that sort of mental connection with somebody so like-minded. And, if I move in with you I can have that 24×7 and that’d be even better than having it long-distance. For my emotional health, really I should move in with you for that reason alone. The problem is… “ she hesitated.

There was silence for a few seconds.

She continued: “… that doesn’t energize and inspire me enough to make the break. I’d prefer to then stay where I am and enjoy whatever we have long-distance, without throwing the rest of my relationships away. You and I would have long-distance, wonderful intellectual and emotional intimacy, yet without a sexual element, and the rest of the world would just see it as a quirky friendship.”

“I understand.”

“You’re not upset?”

“No.”

“Basically part of the draw was the lure of possible sexual intensity, since you exude it. But now that we’ve worked through the issues and found an insurmountable hurdle, it’s really all pointless now. To be explicit, I’d hate to be taken to a wild sex club or sex party and feel like an out-of-place freak. I’m not all that keen on you seeing me in the nude or without make-up, either, day to day. And, every day will be worse, as I age. It’s simply too late. I wish I’d met you when I was younger.”

“If I’d met you when you were in your early 20s, would you have appreciated me?”

The brunette laughed in spite of herself. “Perhaps but I was not ready to be out as a lesbian way back then.”

“Your mid and late 20s?”

“Still not plus I’d have chosen my career over you.”

“Your early 30s?”

“Still not. I’d still have chosen my career over you. And I wasn’t ready to be out as a lesbian, hot or otherwise. I also craved to somehow regain the mainstream life path of being married to a nice guy and raising a family. I would not have chosen you over that.”

“How about after you got married?”

“I was busy being a mom, and a wife, and being respectable. I would have chosen that over you.”

“So when did you stop being busy with that?”

There was a long pause.

“Very recently,” the brunette conceded.

“So really, this is the perfect time, yes? Sooner would have been too soon.”

“Oh gawd, you’re right and yet I’m too old. I hate this,” the brunette lamented.

The blonde was silent.

“I feel to miserable to even cry about it, somehow,” the brunette said. “How bitter I feel now, about it all, is probably adding years to my face.”

“The timing does suck,” the blonde admitted.

A long pause.

“This would be a really good time for you to come up with something positive,” the brunette said, not happily.

“Okay. I anticipated this concern and I’ve worked through it.”

“….and?”

“… and you’ve announced we found an insurmountable hurdle. We haven’t. We found a hurdle that YOU consider insurmountable.”

“You mean, you have a logically substantiable solution to this mess?”

“I do, though it’s possible you might find flaws in the logic.”

“I’m sure I will.”

“Challenge accepted,” the blonde smiled.

The brunette felt suddenly irritated at the blonde. “I’m having an intense up-and-down emotional whiplash roller coaster ride, and you’re just always bland and pleasant. Somehow that irritates me.”

“I understand. I am feeling perhaps the same highs you’re feeling, just not the lows.”

“Somehow, hearing that made me feel worse.”

The blonde smiled. “Come join me in this mindset, then.”

“I’m trying, dammit! But I see an insurmountable hurdle and you’ve already figured it out, so tell me!”

“Okay. It’s a creative solution that will require your help, but the basic principle seems workable.”

“I’m listening.”

“I’m looking at it like an engineer trying to figure out how to solve a problem, and you might look at it like a painter trying to figure out how to capture the spirit of something that she sees but would be daunting to represent on canvas. With my engineering mindset and your artist’s mindset, I think we might just be able to pull this off.”

“I’m intrigued …  wait, you’re going to build me a suit like in the Iron Man movie, and I’m going to paint it to make it look hot, so that I look and then feel like Miss Nevada and then I feel comfortable being a wild girl. Yes?” she joked. Then: “I’m sorry. I know what you said about humor destroying intimacy. I guess I just needed some comic relief. Anyway, please tell me your idea.”

“Well, that’s it.”

“What’s what?”

“What you said. That’s it.”

“Oh, gawd,” the brunette wailed. “Why did I even talk to you, ever?” she exclaimed in despair. “I thought you were smart. Can I hang up now? I need to go sit in a dark room and scream insults at your picture for a few hours, and I’d like to get started right away.”

The blonde smiled. “Not quite yet. Hear me out.”

“This is your last chance, and you’re on micron-thin ice. I mean, how would I not feel utterly hideous and like a fraud when I show up as Iron Girl?”

“In the movie, is Tony Stark hideous?”

“Well, no, he’s kinda handsome,” the brunette conceded. “But …”

“Sorry to interrupt. I’m cutting you off intentionally. There are a thousand ways in which this doesn’t make sense. There’s one way in which it does. Will you let me guide you along that path?”

“If you can pull this off, and convince me, I’ll have your name tattooed on my forehead with the announcement that you’re the smartest girl who ever lived. Heck, if I even talk to you, or send you a somewhat friendly message every ten years or so, after this conversation, it would still be a major achievement on your part. Right now it’s only morbid curiosity that is keeping me on the phone. I have no hope as to you solving this problem, not least since you’ve lost all credibility. You might have been able to conversationally manipulate me into it one step at a time like someone gets manipulated into something they’re initially opposed to, but you totally spilled the beans and now we both know what you’re proposing and I hate it, and I think you’re being ridiculous. But go ahead.” She sighed, expressing her annoyance, and then added “And yes, I sighed and I’m annoyed.”

“I understand.”

“It would almost be a relief to see you get upset, even if just once.”

“I understand. Anyway, as to the issue at hand: Are you aware of the aesthetic aid that some girls call chicken cutlets?”

“Oh, the things we stuff into our bras to make our boobs look bigger?”

“Yes”

“Well, yes.”

“How do you think a girl feels with her boobs artificially enlarged as such?”

“Will be ever have a conversation that’s not embarrassing to me? Perhaps one, day, on my birthday, as a special gift from you to me? Perhaps my eightieth birthday?”

The blonde smiled. “Please answer the question.”

“I suppose she feels strangely hotter than she otherwise would have.”

The blonde let that sink in.

“I see where you’re going with this. I hate it but I can see the logic,” the brunette conceded, now even more annoyed. “And make-up is essentially more of the same, and so is hairspray or the effects of straightening irons, so really it’s all a slippery slope and I’ve already bought into the premise that the times when I looked my best, it wasn’t me looking like that but a technologically enhanced version of me, so I’m already being ridiculous and I may as well run with it and do a head-to-toe immersion in this stupidity?”

“Well, not quite,” the blonde cautioned. “Do you have any features you don’t hate?”

The brunette paused. “What, we’re going to have holes in the Iron Girl for my few good-looking parts to be seen?”

“A good defense lawyer or good district attorney can phrase things to make anything sound ridiculous, and that could be done with many things that you’ve accepted as part of life. But, described differently, they might make sense. Ultimately two plus two add up to four, but it takes longer to get there with a highly resistant audience.”

“So you’re asking me to be more receptive?”

“Yes.”

The brunette was silent. Part of her wanted to refuse, and part of her wanted to apologize. She suddenly felt ashamed of her attitude.

“I’m sorry. I’ll be nicer. Please continue. You are onto something valid but you have a long way to go.”

“Thank you. Would you please answer the question?”

“As to any of my features I don’t hate?”

“Yes.

The brunette thought.

“My legs are my best feature, visually.”

A pause …

“Well, would you agree?” the brunette prompted, a little indignantly.

“You and I have such a vast disagreement as to your aesthetics that I don’t even want to get into that,” the blonde smiled. “It’d derail the conversation.”

“I would like to insist. Just give me a quick overview. Do YOU think I’m pretty? … and I can’t believe I’m asking you this.”

“Yes, I do, in a way that doesn’t use old pictures and that discounts the effect of make-up.”

There was a long pause.

“Wow, now I feel strange,” the brunette continued. There was another pause. “Now it’s almost like …. how I feel about my own looks, and how strangers at a sex club feel about my looks … somehow that matters a lot less to me, now that I know YOU think I’m pretty.”

“I’m glad.”

“And even as I age, and you think I look less pretty over time, it’ll be so gradual that maybe I could accept that. At least we’d have a good starting point.”

“Also, we’re almost the same age, and I don’t look like a former Miss Nevada either. I just take many pictures and throw away 95% of them. With that technique, I could make anyone look hot, in pictures — including myself.”

The brunette laughed, and said: “Somehow that bit of humor, and what you said, makes me feel closer to you,” she conceded

“I’m very glad, and it’s very much mutual,” the blonde said gently. Then: “I agree, your legs are lovely. What else?”

“Would you like to tell me?”

“No. It’s about how YOU feel. If it were up to me I’d put you in a revealing stripper dress and a pair of high heels, and enjoy the view at home and take you to sexy parties with you looking like that.”

Something about that appealed to the brunette. She said so.

“I’m very glad, and it might come to that.”

“Oddly, if you think I’m hot that’s almost all that matters. Almost, but not quite.”

“I do think you’re hot.”

“It’s funny, if you’d said it earlier, it would have damaged the dynamic, perhaps irreparably.”

“I figured.”

“I love how much you understand me.”

“Yay!” said the blonde. “Now, as to your next-best feature?”

“My hair …”

“Is lovely. Agreed.”

The brunette beamed. She felt like she was a teenager again, and was tempted to feel ridiculous again but then she announced how she felt, and somehow she didn’t feel ridiculous then.

They both smiled.

“More?” The blonde pushed. “Most girls don’t like their middle or their tummy. Where do you rate on that?”

And so, the girls analyzed the brunette’s features, from head to toe. What she had concerns about ended up being a very short list, mainly two aspects. She wished her face looked younger and nicer, and that she was curvier.

“Story time,” the blonde announced. “This is based on someone I know and love …”

“A girlfriend? A former girlfriend?”

“A former girlfriend.”

“Okay. Sorry for the interruption.”

“So, I’m going to speak only in the broadest of terms so as not to divulge anything she wouldn’t smile about, were she reading this. Hence, the lack of specificity.”

“I like that,” the brunette opined.

“This particular girl is, and was, very lovely in my opinion and the opinion of others who met her and offered their compliments. I could tell they were sincere and that they also lusted after her.”

“That’s a very sincere compliment indeed,” the brunette chimed in. “And lovely girls seem to feature in your selection of girlfriend material.”

“Yes, you do,” the blonde smiled.

“I didn’t mean to include myself.” the brunette protested.

“I understand,” the blonde assured her.

“Now I feel awkward,” the brunette complained.

The blonde sympathized, and continued her story. “A friend of mine has high standards. He saw her and he was impressed. He liked what he saw, but he preferred to see more and more of her, as in less and less clothing. This ended up being the case. He loved what he saw, understandably. Even though he and I, and many others, thoughts she was lovely, she felt lovely only because she was obscuring one part of her body that she didn’t like. With that out of the way, she felt confident.”

“Which part?”

“Her waist area. So, she wore a corset, and felt fine.”

“Was how she looked really all that problematic?”

“No. Later on, the corset came off. She was initially very nervous about that, and she had a hard time believing how she looked wasn’t a turn-off.”

“And it wasn’t?”

“No, it wasn’t. The one item that bothered her a lot did detract on the scale of sheer perfection, but it wasn’t problematic for me, or my friend. But, she felt very non-sexy at the club, with the corset off, even though she was utterly gorgeous, corset or no corset. What mattered was how she felt.”

“I can understand that.”

“When she and I were alone, she didn’t wear a corset and she felt very sexy. It was only at the club where she wanted to come across as extra-pretty. So from then on, in such situations, she wore a corset and was happy and very sexy, and sexual.”

“I like the story.”

“I have two similar stories. In each case, for different reasons, each girl felt very hot while wearing a corset that obscured the one part of her that she was self-conscious about. With that problem out of the way, each girl enjoyed the experience greatly and was very sexually intense.”

“I can relate.”

“With her corset on, each of the three girls was wildly uninhibited.”

“Wow.”

“A fourth girl had a different problem. What she was self-conscious about would not be obscured by a corset.”

“What was it?”

“It’s too specific to say. Anyway, she was excruciatingly embarrassed about her perceived flaw. It brought her a step away from sheer perfection in that respect, and would have cost her points off in a swimsuit beauty contest, but with or without this issue, she was lovely. She craved sexual intensity but had always held back due to this aspect of her being, in her opinion, so hideous that she would never dare be seen naked anywhere as such.”

“Awww,” the brunette sympathized.

“So, we came up with a weird sort of carnival-show booth thing, a wooden structure, almost like a crate, that would hide part of her body and allow the rest to be seen, and, um, accessed.”

“That’s amazing.”

“More intense than the Iron Girl suit, yes?”

“Wow, yes.”

“Even so, that changed everything for her. From being totally resistant yet intrigued, she became 100% green-light and totally enthused. You might think she’d feel ridiculous but if she was I couldn’t tell, and she was super-enthused and sexually gung ho — and a lovely girl with or without the crate.”

“Wow, this reminds me of a movie ….”

“European Gigolo?”

“Yes!”

“There’s a valid premise in there. Many girls are focused on one or two issues, and with those addressed, we’re happier and more confident, and much more wild.”

“We? As in you have similar confidence issues?”

“Yes. They’re less severe but … yes.”

“I’m surprised. What are they?”

“I’d rather not focus on that now because I’m trying to help you beyond that one last hurdle,” the blonde persisted.

The brunette tried to make light of the situation, and said, “perhaps, if we stuff some things into my underwear and put a bag over my head, we’re good to go.”

The blonde smiled. “Anyway, on a serious note, can we agree that the way many people are wired, then if their one or two aesthetic concerns about themselves are addressed, they seem to feel basically fine?”

“Yes.”

“Would that include you?”

“How do you mean?”

“If you were as curvy as you wanted to be and had the facial features that you wanted, and you looked as young as you wanted to look, then would you feel hot at a sex club or sex party?”

“With those two issues having been addressed, totally, yeah.”

“With everything else about you still being as it’s now?”

“Actually — yes. I mean, there’s always room for improvement — but basically, yes.”

“Okay. So, did I give each corset girl the perfect waist, and give the crate girl a perfect physique, or did I just obscure what was bothering her?”

“Wow! Okay, I see. Now I’m surprised how well it worked.”

“Here is some additional information. Some not-yet-out trans girls buy complete latex or rubber bodysuits that obscure them from head to toe, including their faces. The body suits help them tuck and hide their bulges ‘down there’ and add some curves in the places where naturally they don’t have them, but would have had them had they gone through puberty with hormones that match their brain structures. Their skin is replaced with completely smooth skin courtesy of the latex or rubber texture. These suits are very expensive – thousands of dollars — and they are custom-made in the US. The few companies who build them can’t keep up with the demand. And the girls feel, when wearing this, hot in a way they would not feel otherwise. Sometimes someone dressed like that shows up at a sex club, and looks and feels sexually very hot. As a side comment, as to feeling hot, my impression is that the suit is temperature-wise very warm inside so it cannot be worn for long periods of time.”

“I’m learning a lot. So, maybe I can wear a top and bottom that’s sort of like that with-curves-added latex suit, if I wanted extreme curves?”

“Yes.”

“And I wouldn’t be the weirdest person there?”

“Very much not. One of the things that will surprise you is how young, nice and normal you look compared to some of the people at some of these clubs — and I mean this with no disrespect to these good people intended.”

“Wow. Wow! I could get into this. Part of me feels almost duty-bound to feel ridiculous but really it makes sense and if it works, great – and it’s at a sex club so it’s not like everyday life.”

“I agree — though … well, I had a medical condition called ‘young person’s cataracts’ and I got surgery for that, so I now have plastic lenses in my eyes. Also, some of my teeth have veneers. Even so, I don’t feel like Miss Cyborg. When my own boobs were still growing, I wore something like that every day including out and about. A funny thing happened. At some point it started feeling almost like these fake boobs were a natural part of me. They weren’t implants under the skin; I put them between my skin and the bra, but even so after a while somehow they started to feel like part of me psychologically. So, you could do that. Girls who’ve had mastectomies do that too. “

“Yeah … it seems odd, though.”

“In a culture where people actively hurt each other including with outright abuse and violence, it seems a far smaller concern if someone enhances her look with something like this. Not that it’s really any concern, but in the grand scheme of things humanity should be self-conscious about, this should rate ultra-low on the scale of questionable human behavior, assuming it should be there at all.”

“Okay.”

“So, as to your face …”

“Strangely, if I have curves, I’d be OK with my face showing. It doesn’t really look bad, I just wished it looked younger.”

“I’m glad. But, younger than what?”

“Younger than my chronological age.”

“Don’t you think it does?”

“Well … actually, yes.”

A few seconds ticked by.

“Now I feel happy and ridiculous, both,” the brunette smiled.

“Even so, wait, there’s more,” the blonde added. “Many people wear masks, such as carnival-style masks, at sex clubs. Being anonymous enables many too feel very uninhibited.”

“I can understand that.”

“In my opinion, putting a mask on you is like throwing a tarp over the Venus de Milo but it’s not about how I feel; it’s about how YOU feel. So if it’ll make you feel more wild yet by you wearing a mask, then we can try it and see how that works for you.”

“Really? That would be fun to try. And now that I know people do that, I wouldn’t feel ridiculous. Or not much, anyway. Probably not at all, though.”

“Yay!”

“So, at sex clubs and sex parties, problem solved. You can experience intense sexuality and feel confident about it. Yes?”

“Yes!! Wow! Thank you!”

“We might be at a wild party at most once or twice a week, and perhaps as little as once every few months. So, at home …” the blonde began.

“At home, I would feel so energized from memories from the party that it’d keep me afloat and confident. And how you think I look, without a mask or my curvy-suit, would be good enough for me. Plus we’d have sexual intensity, just the two of us, plus sexual intimacy, plus emotional intimacy, plus intellectual intimacy. Perfect.”

“So, the hurdle is gone, yes?”

“Yes! Wow! Yes, yes, yes!! … but wait, what if I have a bad day and feel hideous and I don’t want you to see me in the nude, in bed?”

“Then you could turn the light off. You’d be self-conscious about how you look more than how you would feel in a tactile sense, yes?”

“Yes but what if I wanted to see you, but I didn’t want you to see me?”

“For that session, you’d then blindfold me.”

“Wow. This could work – and be fun! But … is that fair?”

“Yes. It’s fair, albeit not symmetrical and very little of our dynamic is, anyway.”

“How do you mean?”

”As an example, I’m about to stop at Del Taco and get a chicken and avocado salad. In return I’m giving them money and that ends the transaction. I’m happy, they’re happy. It will have been to mutual benefit, and consensual, hence fair. It doesn’t mean that later I have to go make them a salad and then they pay me money, for it. Similarly our dynamic can be, and will be, and already is, far from symmetrical yet as long as it’s to mutual benefit and with mutual consent, it’s fair.”

“Wow, I think that many artificial barriers in the way of some of my thinking have just been blasted away.”

“Life could be very intense, and hot, and fun.”

“It could,” the blonde agreed. The brunette tried to find any other remaining concerns. She found one.

“What if we get bored with each other … wait, you’re polyamorous. Does that go for me too?”

“I don’t know. It’s a brain-wiring thing. If you can love multiple people romantically and simultaneously, then yes, you’re polyamorous.”

“No, I mean … you will continue to sometimes spend hot times with other people whether you love them or not — so can I, too?”

“Sure.”

“Yes, but … I’m so shy I wouldn’t meet anyone else anyway, or want to. So somehow that now bothers me. You might have wild times with others but I won’t.”

“I plan to take you along on many of my adventures. I’d enjoy being the best part of your sex life but not the only part. So for example, maybe instead of me going solo to have a hot night with the former Miss Nevada in your example, you would come along. Maybe she likes you more than she likes me. Maybe you wear your curvy suit and your mask; maybe not.”

“Wow! But, I wouldn’t know what to do.”

“My role is to guide you, yes?”

“Yes…”

“So I’d guide you.”

“Wow! This has possibilities. So, if you’re ever with a guy, could I watch?”

“Sure,” the blonde smiled.

“Wow!”

“Maybe you just watch, maybe you do more, maybe you are an active participant, maybe you are a passive participant. Maybe you’re an immobilized participant if that would be a hot fantasy for you.”

“Exciting! … But, wait, doesn’t all this fun imply unsafe behavior?”

“It depends. Each person chooses to use barrier protection, or not. Nevada brothels use barrier protection and it works very well even in the context of, um, high-turnover activity.”

“As in, plastic?”

“Yes,” the blonde smiled.

“But what if I’d rather not?”

“Then you’re taking a risk –- at best, a calculated risk.”

“Even with you?”

“Yes. Ultimately, each person’s sexual health is that person’s own responsibility. I think I’m 100% healthy as such but what if I’m mistaken?”

“What about tests?”

“I’ve passed every one, many times, but tests are not 100% either. “

“Okay, wow.”

“For example, two of my friends got, um, bugs from their not-supposed-to-be-having-sex-with-anyone-else husbands.”

“Wow. But aren’t you supposed to watch out for my safety?”

“Yes. By shattering your illusions here and now, on this subject, so that you’re no less careful than you should be, I am looking out for your safety.”

“Thank you. You’re sort of ruining the fun mood, but it was good to have a sobering reality check.”

“I’m glad. I’m all for wild times, but the best sort of fun doesn’t preempt future fun. For example, I really wanted to drive a nice car at an intensely high speed. So when I was in Britain, I bought an old Mercedes-Benz with a big V8 engine, took it to Germany, and drove it at close to 140 miles per hour on the Autobahn. That was fun, and risky, but it was a fairly well-calculated risk: legal context, dry road, daylight, light traffic, reliable car, good tires, careful and sober driver.”

“That’s seems to be a good analogy for how you live your life.”

“It is,” the blonde smiled.

“I like it,” the brunette announced, and added, “I’m looking forward to my future.”

“You seem to have made a decision.”

“I have indeed,” the brunette smiled.

“Yay!! I’m very glad!” the blonde replied.

The brunette was quiet for a few more seconds, and then asked: “moving in with you, as in when you leave, you take me with you … that sounds so great, but if I can somehow still also keep part of my old context alive and well, is that OK? Maybe everyone will ostracize me and tell me to get lost, but I don’t just want to assume that and burn my bridges preemptively.”

“I agree. At the very least, give the people in your life the opportunity to accept the real and newly-out version of you. Isn’t that why we carefully wrote that nice letter, on the premise that you care enough to try to preserve some key relationships? If you didn’t care about that, then you could simply have handled your coming-out announcement in ‘Sex Pistols’ style.”

The brunette smiled. “In other words, less graciously?”

“Much less. Anyway, I’d better focus on traffic. I’m finally approaching the Reno-Sparks area.”

“Yes! Drive carefully. You’re my only hope for an exciting life.”

“No, I’m not. You now understand the principle and you can go and apply it, and not just with me. If I’m your best option, I’m delighted but I’m certainly not your only option.

“I see your point. Wow. That’s encouraging. I love how you explain things to me.”

“Yay! “ the blonde said, and added: “I plan to text you when I’m at the gate.”

The two girls said good-bye, each smiling happily.

More: Part 4

A Terrified Brunette Reaches Out Nevertheless, Part 2

After the blonde had showered, she picked up her phone. It was still on the call with the brunette; neither of them had wanted to break the connection — even in that sense. The blonde said “Hello” and continued: “When this conversation began, you were very nervous, and I suspect that my conversational involvement made things less stressful for you — but during the last five minutes your stress level increased again, yes?”

Her phone displayed a text message reading: “yes cancel your flight this is all a big mistake. im sorry i wasted ur time.”

“I have to confess, I can see how this can easily look like a purely losing proposition for you.”

“it is”

“So, not to argue, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. We live in the same reality, yet we have different perspectives so being open as to what each of us is perceiving, including introspective observations — that’s how we come together. Remember the lyrics ‘don’t break up the connection?’ ”

The brunette winced, and typed: “y”

“When you were still emotionally checked in, if I then ran for the hills and vanished on you, you’d have hated it, yes?”

“y but now im the one running”

“Would vanishing now bring you emotional peace?”

Silence …

“Think it through … “ the blonde added.

“no, so now i feel trapped and i hate that too”

“I sympathize … let’s work through it so your emotional turmoil is truly resolved.”

“id really rather just vanish and never talk to u again”

“I can understand how tempting that must feel.”

“I wanna get into my bed and not come out until you have forgotten about me”

“You’re being unusually candid. I like that,” the blonde observed. “And, I understand this is supremely uncomfortable for you. If I knew how to make this pleasant for you, I would.”

Silence …

“I’m going to hope you remain checked in, and I’m going to try to resolve your concerns as soon as possible so you can feel better about things as soon as possible.”

“do you mean right now?”

“Yes,” the blonde replied.

“it could take forever.”

“Some mathematical formulas and engineering problems seem vastly complex and then they resolve to something very simple. I see the complexity that you might be struggling with but I also see a way to simplify it. Worst case it’ll be an interesting conversation.”

“optimist”

The blonde plunged into the main subject. “I’m covering some of the things we’ve established already but they’re central to my point, so if I’m repeating myself, that’s why. As I understand what you crave, the big improvement in life you might hope to enact would be improved intimacy., yes?”

“y”

“With two aspects, yes?”

“yes”

“Emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy, yes?

Silence …. then: “y and I hate this conversation”

“You could get that with many people on the planet, but you chose me. I’m delighted and that’s good for me but It has a high cost for you,” the blonde pointed out.

“its going to have a higher cost for u”

“Do you mean, you’re difficult to live with?”

“y”

“I understand you think so. I’m up for it. So the cost to you includes losing social standing personally and professionally, in the eyes of your friends and family. and frankly, pretty much everyone who knows you, or thinks they know you.” The blonde paused, while packing the last item of clothing, and then zipping shut her carry-on bag.

“interesting how you phrased that”

“Most people don’t know the deep-down you, true? And nor do I but perhaps better than the average observer.”

“most people see only what i want them to”

“So based on your official image, what you’re doing will make no sense to anyone observing it..”

“true”

“It might not make sense for you either, but that’s what we’re working through, here. If it doesn’t make sense then you should not proceed.”

“k”

“Personally and professionally, you’d be burning many bridges if you proceed.”

“y but thats not what bothers me most”

“I understand, but I’m working up to that.”

“you dont know what bothers me most”

“No, but I can guess. Let me finish this train of thought … even if it does make sense to you to proceed, you’d be stopping dead the momentum in personal and professional relationship dynamics you’ve built up since you were 20 or so. So in many ways it would be like starting your life over again as if you were a young adult who had just graduated from college. It would be 1980 all over again, for you.”

“wow that’s true”

“The exception is that you are much more self-aware and also aware of what you want and don’t want. So essentially you get a do-over as to a fresh start in life, because whatever personal and professional dynamics you are likely to have in your new life, so to speak, will be very new, as in: they will have to reconcile to a very different facet of you, that was largely hidden until now.”

“thats true but thats not what bothers me. ive fantasized about starting my life over and so this way i actually would but i wasted so much time it makes me angry with myself”

“That is indeed tragic.”

There was a long pause. Then:

“i thought u would say something positive like i can at least live the last few years like I want to so lets go do that and not waste more time yet”

“Better if you figure it out and say it yourself,” the blonde replied.

“i see how ur playing this now” the brunette replied, with a peculiar set of mixed feelings.

“Anyway, it’s still a big price to pay so as to gain intimacy”

“i guess but it would have been worth it”

“While I was in the shower, you have figured out you won’t have intimacy anyway, neither with me nor anyone else, yes?””

“omg how did you know that was what I figured out?”

“It’s logical. Which one of the two is more fundamental, emotional or sexual intimacy?”

“for me emotional”

“You crave it but you also don’t like people getting close to you because then they get to see how deeply messed-up you are as a person, and they’d run away, so when someone might get too close you sabotage the dynamic. Yes?”

Silence …

“i hate how you said that but yes exactly”

“Not that I think you’re deeply messed-up as a person, but YOU do.”

“I do and I am”

“That’s why you push people away.”

“y”

“That’s why, when you were single, you’d have been totally cool with skipping the emotional intimacy and going right to the sexual intimacy part.”

“y”

“You’d have been a super-wild girl cheerfully on that premise, yes?”

“y but i was also super shy. still am”

“I understand. So I’m coming much closer than most are, as to figuring you out, yes?”

“y!!!!!”

“That terrifies you because you know that I like you and you are dreading when we arrive at the tipping point when I’m see the real you and then I’ll be disgusted and I’ll leave, yes?”

A long silence …

“I hate how you said that too”

The blonde was silent, awaiting more.

“yes dammit yes!!!”

“You like how much I like you and if we can just somehow keep things perfectly at the level of emotional intimacy we have now, and no more, then you can stop worrying that we’ll reach that dreaded tipping point, yes?”

“yes that would be most comforting to just maintain what we have”

“Do you think that’s going to happen?”

“no u will keep pushing for more until you learn enough and then I lose u”

“And thus, emotional intimacy with me, or anyone else, is doomed.”

Silence. The blonde waited. She heard the sharp intake of breath that was an intense sob. She understood.

“So why are you wasting my time?!” the brunette verbalized in a very strained voice that she barely controlled though her angry tears. “If it’s all pointless and doomed then did you have to wake me up and drag me through my misery just to get right back to where I began, hopelessly alone?”

The blonde waited to make sure she had her thoughts in order well enough to reply.

“Because I disagree with your assessment of yourself, and that I would leave if I learn more, and so I think emotional intimacy is possible for that reason.” The blonde had been about to walk out her front door but instead she paused, to have no distractions from this supremely important conversation.

The brunette was seldom angry out loud but this time she was. “How would you know? How could you possibly know? You don’t know what you don’t know! You’re just guessing and now you expect me to let you get closer and closer and in the process I open my soul to someone crazy enough to claim she knows me better than I know myself!!”

The blonde let that sink in. As to mental effort. this was like the most difficult chess game she’d played in a long time.. She concentrated hard.

“Do you think it’s ever possible for someone to understand someone else better than that person knows herself?” she asked.

“I don’t know … “ the brunette retorted angrily, immediately. “I suppose,” she added grudgingly.

“What factors would make that more likely?”

The brunette didn’t feel like thinking. She hadn’t argued like this in a long time. At a strange, primal level, she had missed it – craved it. She suddenly realized that. She felt conflicted. “I don’t know. I just wanna argue with you and be mad at you, not analyze everything. You annoy me like I haven’t been annoyed in a long time. I’m so annoyed at you that I’m actually enjoying being mad at you. So let’s not get too scientific about it. The bottom line is you’re presumptuous and you’re gambling with my happiness.”

“You don’t have any happiness for me to gamble with,” the blonde said, cringing as soon as she said it but then realizing that this had probably been the right thing to say.

“Screw you!” the brunette replied angrily, on impulse. She relished lashing out like she hadn’t done in a long time.

* * *

Her husband walked past. He saw her sitting on the sofa, her body tense in a totally different way than before. She seemed confident in a way he hadn’t seen in a long time. It was so unusual that he genuinely felt concern he hadn’t thought he was still able to feel. He paused near her and made eye contact, and made a gesture as if asking, “are you okay?”

The brunette fumed: “Hang on, I have an interruption,” she told the blonde. She lowered the phone. The insult had barely sunk in when she also threw, “No, I’m NOT okay!” at her husband.

His old sense of needing to fix things for her flooded back, but somehow this was in a brand-new context. He disliked her disrespectful candor and yet somehow preferred this feisty being with dark, flashing eyes over the person who he’d thought he was married to. He felt off-balance conversationally. “You just seem very different than …” he searched for words. “I just haven’t seen you look so … “ He grasped for the word. When he found it, it hit him hard:

“… passionate,” he thought but didn’t say it. When last DID he see her like this? Had he ever? She’d shown when she’d been displeased before, but it was a calm, reasoned, irritation – not like this. He could read people well yet this new mode baffled him. It made him think of … the words flashed into his mind … “a lovers’ quarrel..” The implications stunned him. It seemed impossible for her to have an affair, much less to be arguing with her lover so openly, as he was walking by. The person he knew … thought he knew, he corrected himself … would never have done that – any of that. It made no sense to him but … he’d seen and heard something he couldn’t dismiss. He didn’t want to leave that moment. It felt painful and visceral and yet somehow he’d craved one element that was part of what he was feeling.

“What?!” the brunette demanded impatiently, and added a both-arms-gesturing emphasis and looked at him with a ferocity that demanded a reaction. She had the tone of an indignant sixteen-year old discussing things with a friend, when she sees an overly inquisitive dad hovering intentionally within eavesdropping earshot.

“I’m just … “ he was taken aback at her level of energy. Suddenly, he had a thought that seemed logically impossible and yet felt strangely right, to him. He also didn’t know why he asked her about it. It just somehow felt right to ask it, in that moment. And so he blurted out, pointing at the phone, not accusingly but just in bewilderment, as someone who desperately needed to regain a sense of living in a world where things made sense: “are you having an affair?”

The brunette was shocked at his insight. The blonde had heard this too. “Wow,” she thought. “Here’s your fork in the road,” she willed the brunette to understand.

The brunette calmed down instantly. She thought carefully for a few seconds. She felt a strange empowerment. She felt in control, invincible, fearless and brilliant. She sat up with a straight posture, squared her shoulders and looked him in the eye. She then said: “Yes, I’m having an affair. I’m also in the middle of an argument that …” dared she say it? Yes, she did: “… that I was enjoying and would like to resume. So, I need privacy. And no, I’m not having sex with her. It’s an emotional affair. If I ever do have sex with her I’ll let you know.”

Her words hung in the air. He blinked. Had he heard correctly? “Her?” Hence, a girl? His mind was reeling. He focused on that one word and repeated it: “Her?!” And who was this strange, proud, passionate, feisty woman before him? He felt overwhelmed.

“NOT now,” the brunette replied. “One argument at a time. She’s first, then you.” She looked at him with the perfect blend of impatience and condescension that he’d never expected to see in her. He shook his head almost as if to shake his thoughts into comprehensibility, and started to walk away.

“Hey!” she called after him, feistily, a command to stop. He stopped and turned, looking at her, warily, as if expecting a blow. She looked at him directly, her smile bestowing forgiveness and gratitude on him as if they were at a formal ceremony in his honor. “I was mistaken when I said I’m not OK. I am indeed OK. And you and I, we’re OK too. More than OK.” She nodded once, vigorously — as if to tell him, “and you are hereby dismissed from my presence; you may go.” He left, blinking in puzzlement. He walked to his study, and sat down, his mind racing.

* * *

“God, that felt good,” the brunette smiled into the phone, picking it up and talking to the blonde. “You’ve created a monster.”

“I freed a feisty princess from her frozen tower,” the blonde responded.

The brunette processed this, and then agreed. “Why did that feel so fornicating good?” though she used a synonym.

“You crave deep connection, and now you have it. Enjoy surfing the big wave, and don’t ever forget that this is the real you, the one with which you resonate emotionally.”

“This is NOT the real me,” she laughed. “This is a woman possessed.”

“… by? Seriously, by what?” the blonde insisted.

“I don’t wanna intellectualize it. You tell me, since you’re so analytical.”

“Wow, it’s like you were trapped in a block of ice and it shattered,” the blonde observed.

“Yeah, huh,” the brunette agreed.

“Now you know why make-up sex is the best sex, for so many people.”

“No, now you think I should know that. Explain?”

“When they’re arguing is when a couple is most likely to be candid, open and truthful. It’s something they crave and perhaps only then do they have it. They feel alive, exhilarated, confident and in control of the situation enough to speak out candidly, and it’s a deep human need. They crave it. Intense sex both extends that mindset and celebrates it.”

The brunette was about to shoot off a witty reply, and then paused and thought about it. “Yeah, you’re right. Wow, you are SO right.” She paused and focused on a sensation that was making its presence known, insistently. She realized what it was. She was very surprised, and announced: “The block of ice has shattered in yet another respect too,” she told the blonde.

“You feel aroused sexually?” the blonde guessed.

The brunette tried to explain it. “Not in a cat-on-a-fence sense, but …” She paused. “Actually, it IS in a cat-on-a-fence sense. It’s primal and visceral. Wow. It’s just not that intense.” She threw her head back against the sofa and looked up. “Gawd, I feel so alive.”

“I see you like your future mode,” the blonde observed.

“What, I get to be indiscreet and argue with you all the time, and feel turned on?” the brunette shot back.

“What if you did?” the blonde asked.

That surprised the brunette. “I like how I feel now. So, yes. It’s an improvement over how I felt when I called you – a massive improvement, wow.”

“The good news is that this intensity can come simply from being candid, open and truthful with yourself and your lover. That mode of feeling alive, exhilarated, confident and worthy of speaking out — you get to have that without having to argue. Positive dynamics, like two girls opening up to each other in conversation as to past experiences or deep emotions – it has the same good effect.”

“Including feeling sexually energized?”

“I like how you said that. Yes,” the blonde replied.

“I assume this is how you live your life all day, every day?” the brunette  asked, hoping to hear “yes.”

“I’m not constantly interacting with a lover all day, every day, but essentially, yes.”

“Wow,” the brunette replied. “I could get used to this. I have always felt so careful, so precise in how I managed what I did and said. Now I feel like I’ve collected a cabinet of fine china and I’m enjoying swinging a baseball bat at it. I should probably feel guilty and perhaps later I will but wow, I feel so free.”

“You are. And just to bring closure to our argument, you and I fundamentally think the same. That’s why I noticed you, like you, choose you. Since our teenage years our styles have diverged into near-opposites but we have the same core approach to life. That’s why what I say and write resonates with you, and vice versa. As for me, I like how I fundamentally am. So I’m not going to be negatively surprised by learning about how you fundamentally are. So, you don’t have to be worried about opening up. Not just am I likely to be fine, and more than fine, with what I’m likely to learn as you open up, but it’ll bring us much closer, and I’ll learn about myself while learning about you, and as you have just experienced, it’s exhilarating and enjoyable too.”

The brunette let that sink in. After several seconds: “I buy it,” her lovely voice said. “So you and I can and will have emotional intimacy, then.”

“Don’t you think we already do?”

This shocked the brunette. “I guess we do, yes.” She was searching for the right words: “It’s more intellectual than emotional though, perhaps …” she added.

“They’re intertwined,” the blonde explained. There are at least three levels to intimacy: intellectual, emotional and sexual – in that order, from most to least fundamental.”

The brunette was about to throw out a witty compliment as to the blonde’s intelligence, and then an unpleasant thought hit her. She let it come into her mind and she analyzed it, aghast. her buoyant mood ebbed away almost instantly.

“I just realized something,” she said, her voice despairing.

The blonde waited with gentle concern.

“I was about to make a cutesy quip to you as to wow, how did you get so smart … and then I fought the impulse because I sensed it’d reduce the emotional intimacy we had, that conversational connection. And then I realized how humor can destroy … ” she didn’t want to say it out loud. Her mind was still racing.

“Can destroy deep intimacy? Yes, it does,” the blonde replied. “I don’t know that it always does, but it certainly can.”

“It certainly can,” the brunette echoed back. She was connecting the dots as to the implications of what she’d just figured out.

The blonde understood.

“You see where I’m going with this, yes?” the brunette asked, feeling a little foolish for asking.

“Yes, I do,” the blonde replied gently. “Humor can be a coping mechanism for destroying intimacy.”

The brunette was quiet, pondering this.

The blonde continued: “Then again, if the humor is excruciatingly embarrassing, it can also provide the sort of primal candor that you experienced today, and had craved. Since so few people experience primal candor in everyday life, they probably crave it — and such humor sates the hunger. It’s a poor substitute for an emotionally intimate dynamic with one’s lover, though.”

“Wow!” exclaimed the brunette. “I have just figured out something else, too: That’s why some relationships seem strangely dispassionate right from the start, and why most are initially intimate but then grow cold, whereas others remain passionate for many, many years. It’s when that primal candor leaves … that’s when the emotional intimacy dies. Wow, I am figuring out SO much.”

Both girls were quiet, mulling over the implications.

“That’s really insightful and useful,” the blonde mused, still lost in thought.

“On that note, I’m by no means sure as yet that I’m going to end up building a new life with you, but part of my hesitation was due to my expectation that you will always lose interest and once I’m not the shiny new toy, our intimacy will die. But now, I can imagine us growing old together and always being intimate, as long as we keep that primal candor alive,” the brunette said, with the delighted enthusiasm of a scientist who has just made a discovery of enormous consequence.

The blonde was pensive with mixed feelings. “That makes me happy for the chances of you and I having a long and intense future together, but it makes me ashamed of my past. I have in the past had mutual primal candor amidst wonderful relationship dynamics, and I now realize that it was I who had shut down the intimacy unilaterally, thus dooming the relationship.”

The brunette said “I sympathize,” then was quiet for several seconds, then aghast, she said, “to be precise: I empathize. I did the same thing. I feel ashamed of that too.”

“Part of what bothers me so much is that as I try to remember the specifics as to whenever I made this mistake, I recall it invariably having some noble-seeming purpose to it — ironically — for the intended benefit of the relationship. Gawd, how ironic,” the blonde lamented.

“Me too, same mistake,” the brunette gently said.

Both girls sat commiserating in silence, except for occasionally saying an expletive or two, as they pondered and realized the magnitude of the mistakes they’d each made.

Finally, the blonde glanced at the clock, and was about to say, “I’d better get going or I am reducing my margin of safety too much, as to being on time for my flight” when the brunette beat her to it:

“All right. Sooner rather than later, I should go have the difficult conversation with my husband. Perhaps it’s good that I’m in a pensive and somber mood. I’ll call you back when done and when I’ve processed things,” the brunette said, shocked as to how calm she felt. She added: “Also, I’ve changed my mind. Please DO come here tonight though by now, you’ll have to take a later flight. I’m sorry. I’d love to see you, regardless of what happens in the next hour or so.”

“I’m all packed and about to walk out the front door,” the blonde assured her. “I’ll probably make my flight as originally planned — barely, but I’m going for it.”

“You never doubted that we’d work it out, I see. I still have massive concerns about sexual intimacy,” the brunette admitted, “but I love your enthusiasm.”

“Thank you. As to your concerns, we can talk about that too.”

“It seems crazy that you could resolve my concerns about emotional intimacy as magnificently as you did. It gives me hope that somehow your blonde-warrior-queen conversational magic might prevail yet again as to sexual intimacy.”

“I’m confident it will. Good luck with the difficult conversation.”

The brunette was about to make a dismissive quip and then stopped herself. “Thank you,” she said earnestly. “I’m living life with the intensity I’d craved. However it turns out, I’ll be OK, not least because I now have you in my life. That is so vastly reassuring to me. Thank you for that.”

The blonde smiled, and said: “I’m happy to be involved.”

The brunette was about to make yet another quip, denigrating their intimacy, when she caught herself. “Bye for now. I plan to call you in the next hour but if I don’t or if you’re airborne when I call, nevertheless do show up as planned, and I will call you and pick you up at the curb.”

“Okay. And I still owe you the post-shower photograph I’d promised. Somehow it didn’t seem to fit the conversational mood, right after the shower.”

“I’ll take a rain check or substitute the in-person view, tonight.”

“Good girl,” the blonde said. She smiled, suspecting that this had been the perfect thing to say.

Indeed, it had. The brunette smiled warmly, and the girls said good-bye to each other.

The brunette sat in the same position for almost a minute, as her cheerful mood slowly changed to a pensive one. Then, she squared her shoulders and got up. She stood erect, her posture proud, like somebody would stand to receive a Medal of Honor or to face a court-martial. The steps she took toward her husband’s study were slow and deliberate, and blended perfectly with the precision of her posture.

More: Part 3