It was pouring rain today. Cataclysmic, apocalyptic rain. My little pink umbrella was no match for the downpour. It had already been a little broken, but by the time it got to 4:00, it was flapping and flipping around and was less useful at keeping me dry than a net curtain would be.
I threw it away. I used my wetness as an excuse not to go to boxing. The Trinity College Boxing Club started up again today after the summer break. I was really enjoying it by the end of the year last year. I’m not going to chicken out again next week, I promise.
I looked in a few shops around Grafton Street. All of the umbrellas for sale were black. I don’t want a black umbrella. Black umbrellas are for other people. And for robots.
I met a colleague of mine. He’s not someone I know well. We’ve only worked together for a few weeks, and most of that time we’ve been based in different buildings. I explained my umbrella dilemma. He said that a black umbrella would be fine. “Black is classic,” he said. I shook my head and said, “No. I want to be a princess.” He smiled and said “OK.”
I had a moment.
This relative stranger accepts me (a hippo-like monstrosity of a man) saying that I’m going to be a princess. I knew this evening was THE evening.
I got home. I washed and moisturised my face. I trimmed my moustache, beard and nose hairs.
I turned on all the lights in my bedroom and sat down in front of the mirror. I waited ten minutes after moisturising, just like the internet had told me. I had laid out my purchases on the table beside me.
Over the past two months, I’ve been buying bits and pieces of make-up. Foundation. Powder. Blusher. Eye shadow. Lipstick. Brushes. Bought one by one. I always made sure to bring them to a foreign cashier, reasoning that they’d be less judgmental than an Irish person. They’ve been lying hidden in a drawer for quite a while now.
I’d watched the videos on YouTube, explaining how to apply all these different products. I was ready.
I took the foundation, my heart pounding, my innards tight, my hands shaking. Over the course of about fifteen minutes, I applied the make up. It’s hard. I didn’t pick a great colour of foundation and there was a biege stripe across the middle of my forehead. I put on far too much lipstick, looking vaguely like a prostitute clown, and I couldn’t decide on one shade of eye shadow, meaning that I had three different shades of glittery green in an undefined patch above each eye.
But I felt such a rush. This was illicit. But this also felt right. Very, very right.
I bounced up and down a bit. And then, in paralysing fear that someone would call to the door,
I rushed to the bathroom and scrubbed my face. I scrubbed it raw. No more
make-up, and a few layers of skin gone too.
I’ve been putting this day off for ages now. For months I’ve been questioning who I am. I’ve been questioning my manhood. And when I got very drunk, this all burst out of me. I’ve recounted two of these occasions here, once when I broke down at a wedding in Poland and once when I met my Boys in August.
As regular readers will know, I’m feeling an awful lot better about myself now than I was during the summer. And now was the time. Now the question isn’t vexing me. I just want to explore.
I don’t think I’m a woman, but I’m certainly a princess.
I know playing around with make-up is something gay teenage boys (and for that matter goths and rugby players) play around with all the time. Maybe I’m just living the gay adolescence I’ve never had. Or maybe I’m testing the boundaries of people around me, checking to see if people really love me, or if they’ll run away from me. Or maybe, now that I’ve come out, I’m looking for another deep, dark secret to replace the one I’ve lost. Or maybe, I’ve been studying gender for too long and it’s no wonder I’m questioning my own.
Whatever it is, my princess impulse comes from my gut. It’s inside and it’s gotta come out at some stage.
My awfully big adventure continues. There are worse things you could be than a princess.