“If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?” —Tyler Durden, Fight Club
It’s morning. Something warm and impossibly fluffy is licking my face. I tell myself I’m dreaming of my cat Doo, who passed away four years ago. It’s then I realize Doo would never demean herself by stooping to such a gratuitous display of affection. My eyes crack open; I’m covered in Lhasa Apsos. As I brush these gorgeous doggies away from my face, wondering where they came from, I Instinctively reach down to my crotch with the intention of greeting the new day with a traditional guy “good-morning:” a nice, vigorous, rousing ball-scratch. To my horror and surprise, they (my balls) are gone.
I have no balls.
What my slender fingers find instead of a generous portion of testes is soft and moist and adroitly manicured. Now fully awake, I sit up with a start and examine my surroundings. Where the hell am I? Who the hell am I?
Save the lovely doggies molesting me I’m alone in a gigantic king-sized bed. There are a truly ridiculous and unnecessary amount of pillows, although I can’t complain about the quality of the sheets; they’re the finest my skin’s ever touched. My man-paws have been replaced with something far more delicate, which I (again) use to check for my junk–gone! Before I can mourn the loss of my goodies I make a discovery which serves as no small consolation for my apparent emasculation:
I have titties. Titties!
Shock and confusion give way to amusement and a strange sense of arousal, as I’m overcome with the desire to play with myself, when it all sinks in: I’m having an out of body experience. Or to be more precise, I’m inhabiting my best friend Morgan’s body.
I’m a woman.
My mind races to recount the previous evening’s conversation. Morgan and I were having a heated discussion (as we are wont to do) about gender: the inherent advantages and disadvantages of being either male or female. Despite professing both great affection and occasional disdain for the opposite sex, ultimately we both agree that neither of us would ever really want to be the other.
Apparently some sadistic eavesdropping deity with a Disney fetish has decided to play a trick on us, placing us in each other’s bodies. At least I assume she’s in my body. True to form she’s not answering my (her) goddamned phone, so I’ve no way of confirming my suspicions. I can only hope she’s scratched my balls.
I’m not entirely sure if I can attribute my state of confusion to the utter bizarreness of the situation, or if I should just blame it on estrogen, as I’ve no idea what hormones feel like. Still, I’ve been presented with a unique opportunity. I’ve seen this movie, I know how this goes: I’ve got one day to see the world as my best friend Morgan sees it, to experience life as a woman.
It is not lost on me that the phrase “best case scenario” has never been more apt in my entire life than at this moment in time. Women have been the most oppressed group of people in the history of… well, history. They’ve been denied opportunities for education, fiscal advancement, equal representation under law. They’ve been beaten, raped, sold, objectified. Even in this so-called modern age they’re still considered a minority, although they occupy fully 51% of the world’s population. If I’m going to be a woman for the day, this is definitely the way to go.
I’m beautiful. I’m rich. I’m white.
And I’m starving.
Before I do anything else I check the calendar: my best friend is married and her hunky husband is notoriously “amorous.” I’m more than mildly mortified at the thought of having sex with him; after all he’s a good friend of mine. Although I have the mental recognition that technically it wouldn’t be “me” per se, I’m repulsed by the idea. Despite my beautiful vagina, amazing ass and perfectly perky breasts, inside my head I’m still heterosexually male. The thought occurs to me: concepts of gender are clearly not defined by merely possessing a particular set of genitalia.
I’m relieved to discover the hubby is away on business for the day, and my wonderful son (nephew?) is with his grandparents. Removed of the responsibilities of being both a wife and mother, I can only experience a shadow of what it must really be like to be Morgan, but I’ll take it.
I marvel at how amazing my body is. I’m light as a feather; fully a hundred pounds less than I’m used to hauling around. I’m lithe and flexible and surprisingly strong for my size. My body is responsive in ways I’d never imagined; every inch of my taut, tanned skin is sending waves of sensation to my brain. I’m reminded of something a lover once said to me about who sex feels better for: a man or a woman. “If you wiggle your pinky finger in your ear to satisfy an itch” she said “what feels better: your ear or your finger?” The tingling in my nipples as I caress them between my fingertips sends shivers throughout my entire body. I’m slightly unstrung by the realization that I’m leaking.
My fingers slide between my thighs. I am the softest thing I’ve ever touched. I’m trying to decide what’s better: the actual sensation of exploring how wonderful my body is, or just being able to play with my girly-parts as much as I want. The thought occurs to me: I’m not a man in a woman’s body, I’m a fourteen year old boy in a woman’s body.
And goddamn it, it’s a wonderful thing.
I feel an awkward twinge of guilt as the hair (omg I have HAIR) on the back of my neck rises: this is my best friend’s body. We’re platonic; is it wrong to play with my(her)self? I assuage any lingering doubts under the veil of “research.” I may not want to have sex as a woman but I am definitely going to masturbate.
Lord only knows what she’s doing with my penis.
I’m just starting to explore the marvels of a clitoris from the first person perspective when the doggies remind me of why they woke me: it’s time to “go tinkee.” Reluctantly I don clothes (I can’t seem to stop touching and staring at my ass and tits) and take them out to the lawn to relieve themselves. After rolling around in the grass and some belly tickles I realize I have to pee too. I find my way to her bathroom and realize this is no longer a “point and shoot” situation. I sit, release, and for the first time, the words “front to back” have genuine meaning for me, as I start to think about how I want to spend my day.
“Ass maintenance” I say to myself. Morgan works hard to keep herself looking amazing, I owe it to her to treat her body responsibly.
Her walk-in closet is the size of my entire apartment; you could park a Hummer in here. There is simply too much to choose from, how she ever decides what to wear is God’s own private mystery. I decide to go braless; if I only have one day with boobs I don’t want them constricted, and squelch any thoughts of how perverted it feels to be looking through my best friend’s underwear drawer; I simply can’t run the risk of “leakage.” Her lingerie collection is astounding, but how anyone could find a thong comfortable is beyond mortal comprehension.
My hands slide over the flatness of my stomach and I’m amazed this body has given birth. I’m supremely appreciative the day I happen to be spending in her body is not the day she spent in labor, squeezing out a watermelon. I distinctly recall being grateful for the 3,0000 miles that separate L.A. and New York City the day an eight-month pregnant Morgan bemoaned the loss of her spectacular abs. “Stop being so had on yourself” I comforted her. “You are in shape; round is a shape.”
I slip into a white sleeveless thing and consider a shoe collection that would embarrass Imelda Marcos. How anyone can stand, much less walk in these monstrosities is baffling. I may be able to put on her shoes but I doubt I can walk a mile in them.
My ass however, looks amazing. I grab the keys to the Porsche, click the remote for the gate and make my way through the serpentine roads of Hollywood Hills.
I’m crawling down the 4-oh-5 at a glacier’s pace, cursing AT&T pathetic excuse for service; I still can’t get a call through to Morgan. If waking up as a white woman in Los Angeles was shocking I can’t begin to think what it must have been like for her to wake and discover she’s a bald black man in Brooklyn.
The grumbling in my stomach reminds me that I’m still starving; I decide to treat myself to a frappuccino. “Fuck that” I tell myself. What I really want isn’t Starbucks, it’s a bagel. A crusty salt bagel, lightly toasted and smeared with creamery butter. The last time Morgan had one of those was probably the last time she was in New York. I’m wondering if there’s a decent bagel in all The City of Angels when I recall just how much Morgan actually hates working out. I call her (my? our?) trainer, who is conveniently on speed dial, and cancel. One day off surely can’t destroy years of olympic level training.
I’m going to treat myself to a hearty breakfast. Something greasy. And then, I’m going shopping.
The most interesting part about the next few hours isn’t the sudden adjustment to being unimpeded by budgetary constraints. The most interesting part is the difference of how men and women respond to me. Doors open. Bags are held. Hilariously bad attempts are made at flirting with me. I am catered to so obviously it makes me distrustful of the attention of men. The fact that I can sense their fear makes me that much more inaccessible. It’s clear they think I’m a trophy wife; they’ve no desire to know me as a person. They feign kindness but really, all they want is to stick things in me.
The men stare. The women glare. They are superficially courteous. There’s an air of resentment, as if I’ve done something against them personally. I know this is my only day as a woman but I now understand this experience is not only not representative of what it means to be Morgan, it’s not representative of what it means to be any woman. I could never really understand what it means to be Morgan in one day, or a woman in a lifetime. Given the diversity of what it means to be a woman, racially, economically, geographically, socially, sexually, historically, there may be no definitive experience.
Maybe being a woman means being unique, and embracing that uniqueness.
I hop back in my Porsche, really wanting to get back to my doggies; they’re the only ones who understand me. I’m flying down the highway when I hear sirens and see flashing red and blue lights; I’m being pulled over. My mind races back to a decade previous when a car ran a stop sign and totaled my beautiful ’72 Buick Skylark. The NYPD ran a basic ID check and informed me that, due to an unpaid ticket, I’d been unknowingly driving with a suspended license. It was a first time misdemeanor offense; they had a choice between a warning, accompanied by a $75 fine, and five days at Rikers Island. They opted for the latter; I spent five of the scariest days of my life in a maximum security prison. Engine off and sitting on the shoulder of the road, my blood freezes as the LAPD approaches my vehicle.
“Ma’am” the chiseled face behind the mirrored sunglasses says “do you realize you were speeding?”
He’s smiling. I smile back, cross my legs and slowly close and open my eyes.
“I’m sorry officer,” I purr,” I’m just not myself today.”
—Photo slightly everything/Flickr