Travelling is an interesting exercise for a writer. It's not like I hope something interesting will happen; it just does.
As usual, I always have my note pad and pen tucked away for easy access. Much like a photographer would I assume.
"You just never know, eh Maurice?"
"I do," sighs my partner (who never wants to be a part of any story, but who invariably somehow gets drawn in whether he likes it or not). His sunglasses and conservative dress can only protect him so much. He is with me after all!
As we packed for this particular trip to Sault St. Marie, I promised Maurice, "I'm going to wear that golf outfit my friend gave me. You're safe until we get to the Sault. Then the orange pants are coming out!"
"Oh brother," moaned Maurice.
Well, the golf outfit worked. I was invisible at the London airport and on the early morning flight to Toronto.
We didn't have much time between flights so Maurice suggested, "Go ahead to the second floor restaurant. I'll catch up. You know what I want."
So I walked quickly ahead, singing a Nat King Cole song to myself, "Invisible. That's what you are!"
The restaurant was packed. When I spoke for the first time, telling the waitress I was ordering for two, I felt daggers from two cyborgs sitting beside me, a couple in fact.
Busted, again! Hey, it's not my fault that although I look like a guy my voice is several degrees, timbers, levels -- whatever you call it -- higher than the average bloke.
When I lower it intentionally my gay sister says I'm impersonating a lesbian. I can't win.
People used to point out my voice all the time. The second biggest yawn of my life. The first being: I can tell you're gay. That's about as interesting as telling someone with freckles, "Oh you have freckles." Doh! I don't get the voice yawn anymore -- probably because my voice has gone down .000002 levels. Thank God for that!
I have worked this voice to my advantage for years, though. I have done my mother's banking since I was 15. She never had to leave the house. It's only when I did my own banking that I got into trouble. One time I called our bank and the teller said, "There is no way you are you." After five minutes of explaining "the voice," I had to drive down to prove it. Luckily it was only a 5-minute drive.
But as you may gather "the voice" can still be an issue.
When Maurice arrived, he noticed immediately the laser beams focused on me. He put his bag down, sat making sure his cane was visible, and stared the husband down, not flinching until he and his wife gave up.
I never yielded to that attention. Of course, in my mind I was bitch-slapping them to Kingdom Come but I never acknowledge such reactions to my being. Learned that from Quentin Quisp when I watched The Naked Civil Servant almost 30 years ago. I recall as if it were yesterday, "Never look at anyone unless they demand I look. Never speak to anyone unless spoken to."
So it never matters if I was me, in drag head-to-toe, whether positive or negative, I have never acknowledged reactions. It has served me well.
I think what underlined the reaction to my voice this time is what happened next.
We caught our next plane without a moment to lose. A gay steward checked our tickets. After almost knocking myself out hitting the storage bin (the advantages of being tall on a small plane), we got settled in.
The steward began his spiel about safety using an even, quiet masculine voice. All of a sudden, he broke his patter and yelled in full voice to someone just out of our third row view outside the door on the ground, "Did I tell you you could close the door?!! Well, did I? Don't ever close that door again before I tell you to!" Without missing a beat, he continued where he'd left off in the same monotone voice.
"Oy vey," I whispered. "Don't want to piss him off." No one else reacted. It was as if it never happened. "I guess gays with normal voices, Maurice, can get away with murder."
Unfortunately...sorry, I'll be nice...fortunately there were no more outbursts the rest of the fight but he didn't seem to believe Maurice had his seat belt on at one point and wanted him to prove it.
"Probably thought you were cute, Maurice!"
Perhaps I should take Quisp's advice to "never speak to anyone unless spoken to," one step further. Since I always have my notebook handy, maybe I'll just jot down my order and hand it to the next server.
I'll just make sure I'm wearing my orange pair of pants.