It was 6:45 PM, when I finally pulled into the driveway of the free clinic this evening. Late again I thought, since the pot luck supper for my support group starts at 6:30, but when I got behind the clinic, there were scant few cars in the parking lot. Hmmm........was everyone on vacation? After parking, I gathered up my shoulder bag, and the tossed salad that I had made, along with a bag containing bottles of Italian and Ranch dressing, Gorgonzola, and a pair of salad tongs, and exited the Dakota. Down into the bowels of the building I descended, making sure to hold onto the handrail of the steel staircase. No..........I wasn't perched on a pair of four inch heels and afraid of tripping, quite the contrary. Holding onto handrails was a habit I picked up, from 37 years of obeying safety rules at the chemical plant I used to work at. Actually, I was wearing a pair of white and baby blue New Balance trainers. Since our meetings are generally pretty casual affairs, they seemed to be the right thing to wear with a pair of white Buster Brown anklets, khaki capris, and an emerald green ruffle front blouse.
There were no more than 8 or 10 people in the room when I entered. I said hello and proceeded to put my tossed salad, and container of Gorgonzola, and dressing on the kitchenette counter, along with the other offerings. The pickings were rather slim at this point, with some fried chicken fillets, a couple of small lasagnas, one of which was all but eaten, and a large white sheet cake, with red and blue dots interspersed, to mark our nation's independence from all of you horrible Brits!(Please note that my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek!) At this point, I regretted not also bringing a chicken Alfredo casserole I had in the freezer, but I thought there would probably be at least a couple of casseroles brought by others, since their usually was.
Mulling over the available fair, I selected a chicken fillet, and small portion of one of the lasagnas, and some of the tossed salad, and joined a wonderful girl, who's name starts with a C, and ends with an E at one of the tables. I remembered her from the last meeting, and she turned out to be a delightful dinner companion, with a wonderful sense of humor. She asked me if I had been to see a particular therapist at the clinic upstairs, and I said no, I hadn't. She then said she had an appointment with her, and that they were going to fit her for a straight jacket! Guffaw! I knew right away that I was going to like this girl! Turns out that we are both Army Vietnam veterans. We actually have quite a few military vets in our group, including our own Blogger girl, Sophie. And to think that while I was in uniform, I had this deep dark secret, that no other soldier could possibly ever understand!
By then, other members began to slowly file in, leaving their edible contributions on the counter, and soon we had a full house. Our lovely President, now two months post-op presided over the meeting, and apparently she is making a remarkable recovery. She showed no signs of stress, even though she was on her feet leading the meeting, for the better part of three hours. But then, she showed no signs of stress last month either, when she was just one month post-op! Truly a remarkable woman!......Could she be Wonder Woman in disguise?
She had us form our normal horseshoe of chairs in the center of the room after supper, and we all got a chance to share our insecurities and/or concerns about different aspects of our self image. Mine of course was my size. I said that I was fairly confident when standing away from people, because my presentation is pretty good, and at a distance people lack perspective, but when in close proximity to others, I feel like a giant! I related the story I posted here, about one of my trips to the dump, where I went unnoticed while over at the recycling dumpsters alone, but when I was returning to my truck after putting my bagged trash into the compactor, two guys in a truck pulled up and the passenger just started staring at me. I thought I looked pretty good that day, so didn't know if he was freaking out because he read me as a male, or was simply ogling the attractive amazon. The collective advice, was not to care what he was thinking, since as a complete stranger, his opinion really didn't matter one way or the other. As I recall, on the way home I kind of laughed about it, but when I got home I took another look in the mirror, just to be sure I didn't look like some kind of a freak, and I didn't! In fact I looked pretty damned good that day! Could it be that this poor ogle eyed redneck fellow in the black pickup truck, may actually have been smitten by me! That is so hard for someone as insecure as me to imagine, but it was postulated tonight, that sometimes that is actually what is on the minds of those we find staring at us. Maybe that's the tact I should take from now on. They are staring at me, because they love me! Yes! I shall now become a diva!
And speaking of egos, what should both Sophie and I receive tonight, but the best kind of validation any of us could ever want! While cleaning up in the kitchenette after the meeting, a spouse of one of our members said, that we both looked like women to her! WHAT? Well.......I don't have to tell you, that I was initially elated at her remark, and thanked her, but the elation was short lived, when she followed up her compliment, by saying, she could never see her spouse as a woman. Now, I know her spouse, and she is one of the sweetest women in our group, but god lover her, she is not blessed with naturally delicate looks, and she has a husky masculine voice. Suddenly I felt vain, and guilty for feeling great about the compliment she gave us. I like to look pretty, and I especially love it when a genetic woman validates my femininity, but not at the expense of one of my girlfriends. I don't hold it against her spouse. I perfectly understand the way she feels. She went on to say, that when J initially came out of the closet, she wanted to go back into it, and that she feared being seen as a lesbian. She said that if J had transitioned early in their marriage, she probably would have left, but now at their age, and several years after J being out, she just doesn't care what people think anymore. I sympathized with her, and said that many marriages end, because the wives can't adjust to being seen as lesbians. I told her that, that was perfectly understandable. Yet still, she has stayed with J, so there must be something there between them, that transcends all of her fears. She has been to every single meeting with J, since I joined the group, one month short of a year ago. As far as I'm concerned, that is golden!