Remembering a Weekend I Spent in New York City As a Woman… with a Man
Then… the room’s doorbell rang.
My heart fluttered.
But I didn’t hesitate. I walked to answer the bell.
I stepped back and he stepped in, letting the door close behind him.
Right there by the door, he did and said… just about the perfect things. He took my hands in his and spread his arms, standing back a bit, making a circle of our arms, and looked at me… looked at me!
“You look great,” he said. “First, do come down the hall. I thought we’d have drinks in my suite before we go to dinner.”
Our rooms were in an all-suite hotel: bedroom, small living room, galley kitchen.
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll bring my jacket and we won’t have to come back here.”
“Great,” he said.
I felt his eyes on my back, my skirt hem shifting at my knee, as I walked away from him to where my jacket and bag lay on a chair. He put his hand on the small of my back, guiding me to his door.
A small plate of cheese and grapes was on the coffee table, as were an open bottle of wine and two glasses. A half-dozen large shrimp on another plate surrounded a saucer of cocktail sauce.
I sat on the couch, first crossed my legs, then uncrossed them, keeping my knees together, as he came over towards me. But soon after we started our wine, Edward looked at his watch and said, “We should get going to make our reservations at the restaurant.”
I swallowed down my nerves, thinking to myself, “Here we go. I guess I look okay. At least he doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about being seen with me!”
We walked out into the hotel hallway toward the elevators. He jabbered away, totally casual. I was nervous. As we approached the elevators, I saw the worse thing imaginable—teenage girls. Three of them waiting for the elevator. They were talking and giggling with one another. Teenage girls in a group are the hardest audience. They see everything. And they have no graciousness.
This worse potential audience, waiting to get on the elevator with Edward and me. I couldn’t help but focus intently on them as their eyes flicked over us as we approached. Edward talked on without a care.
Nothing. The girls gave us just a second of attention and went on with their business. They let us pass and enter the elevator first, standing in front of us facing forward, talking away, never once looking back at us, at me.
I loved it. Only a nervous tg-woman can know how good it can feel to be invisible, to be so unremarkably normal as to be barely noticed, to be a middle-aged woman, on the arm of a middle-aged man, on her way out to dinner with him.
After that, the crowded lobby and the doorman holding the door open for us were easy.
I walked easily in the comfortable heels I’d worn many times before. My shoulders and back were straight, remembering that old tg trick: walk like you’re proud of your breasts; it will help keep your posture right. Walk from your hips, not your shoulders. I held the strap of my bag in my left fingertips. My right hand swung forward with my left foot. I was a woman in a skirt and heels walking down a New York City street with a man. It was so unremarkable. It was so REMARKABLE!
Edward held open the door of the taxicab. I slid in, butt first, smoothing my skirt under me, keeping my knees together as I swung my legs in. I slid over to make room for Edward. We were so close! My skirt had ridden up a bit from the angle of the seat. Edward gave the taxicab driver the address. Without a word, he leaned back, turned toward me, and smiled. He settled back into his seat and, so naturally, rested his left hand gently on my right knee as he said, “This is nice. We’re going to have a good time.”
That’s how we rode to the restaurant.
The cab stopped at a safe place several doors past the restaurant in which Edward had made reservations. Edward took my hand to help me out of the cab. But he didn’t let go, holding my hand as we walked to the restaurant. He had kept my hand in his, and, by that simple act, he announced to the surrounding world he was happy, proud to be with this woman standing next to him. I felt quite wonderful… valued… and… validated. His simple and casual act made me feel more comfortable, more whole, more a woman than anything else had in years.
As it nourished that lifelong craving for that feeling of just being the female me, just being a woman in the world, the feelings became so intense, so important that for the first time that weekend, but for what would not be the last time, it was a matter of sheer willpower that prevented my emotions from driving tears from my eyes.
With Edward close behind me, I followed the maître d’ to our table through the crowded dining room. I walked so pleased with myself that I was having trouble keeping my smile contained to something reasonable.
As the maître d’ held my chair, I smoothed my skirt and pictured what the other diners were seeing, what Edward was seeing as he sat across from me smiling.
We ordered a bottle of wine, settling on the salmon for our entrée. Our conversation kept us engrossed during dinner that I “settled” into being a woman so profoundly, so completely. It would have been more startling not to have, not to sense being inside my woman’s body.
And the evening was still young. And it was only the first evening of our planned weekend together.
By the time we made our way out of the restaurant onto a sidewalk crowded with people making their way to the big cineplex next door, I realized again at how incredibly comfortable I felt, how much I had settled into my role as a woman out with a man on a Friday night.
Edward suggested we walk down the block to get away from the movie crowd before trying to hail a taxi. I slipped my left hand through Edward’s arm, resting my fingers over his bicep, our gait together naturally comfortable.
Edward looked down at me and smiled. I asked, “This is so nice walking with you like this. And I’m flushed after that warm restaurant and the wine. Can we walk for a block or so before we jump in a cab?”
“Of course,” he replied. “It’s still early… and the jazz clubs stay open very late. We have all night.”
We walked. I clung to Edward’s arm. My heels clicked on the sidewalk and my skirt swayed back and forth at my knees… And I was in seventh heaven.
And the evening was still young.
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Cheryl Ann (Cassie) Sanders
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