Last Wednesday, I went to the plastic surgeon for my pre-surgery consultation, hoping to have facial feminization surgery in April. The appointment was fun all by itself, but an extra-fun situation came at the end.
One of the gals took several “before” pictures of my face. “Look straight at me. Don’t smile. Chin down” Snap, snap, snap. “Okay, do a quarter turn.” Snap, snap, snap. “Now, all the way to your right.” Snap, snap, snap. Then the same on the left.
All that was missing was my holding the placard for one of those notorious arrest photos.
“I need to load these onto the computer to check them out. Have a seat in the waiting room. I’ll be right back.”
Taking a seat, the woman sitting across from me looked at me. She asked, “Have you been in my salon?” “Um, do you work at French Pharmacie? (That’s where Danelle and Sebastian worked their magic for the photo shoot for my magazine article.) That’s the only salon I’ve been to.”
“No, that’s not my salon. But you look familiar. Where do I know you from?”
I was smiling inside. “Do you read any magazines?” She was pondering. “Do you read Indianapolis Monthly?” I’m pretty sure I sniffed that smell that you get from a too-hot engine, so hard was her mind working.
“You were in the magazine! The transgender article!” I laughed hard. I’m sure my head grew two sizes. It was fun being recognized.
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I did not want to go jogging on Saturday. It was cool and the sun was having trouble establishing itself. I had gotten spoiled with running in warmer air, but my previous two runs were in much cooler weather, lots of cloud cover, and very windy. I was tired of the gloominess.
But, Julie and I were going out to dinner with a favorite couple in the evening, and I knew I would want to eat heartily, so I really wanted to burn the 800 calories that five miles on the road would net me. So, out I went, and was not happy about it.
I have to cross busy roads at least twice and as many as six times on any given run. I prefer to cross at quiet side streets where I can scan the traffic and pick safe spots. Sometimes, I can’t avoid a corner with a stoplight. On Saturday, as I was nearing the end of my run, I found myself at the busy corner of 46th and Emerson, a quarter-mile from home.
I was heading west on 46th, on the south side of the road, so I would be crossing Emerson’s northbound traffic. The light for 46th was green but growing stale, so I knew I had to hoof it to cross before I lost the light.
There were cars in both northbound lanes, the right lane occupied by a minivan. Burgundy. A popular model from the early 2000s. Why is that impressed on my memory? Here’s why.
I entered the roadway. One stride. Two strides. Three. The minivan began to move, to make a right turn onto 46th.
And right into me.
Thankfully, the driver did not gun it, but began slowly. If he or she would have pulled out quickly I would have been toast. Pavement pudding. An asphalt anchovy.
Four strides. Five strides. Six. I was not going to clear the van. At stride seven, I swivelled my hips to the right to avoid the bumper. In that split second that I was successfully maneuvering around the van, I was at the far corner of it and this flashed in my mind: Bang on the hood with your hand to let the driver know you are here.
S M A C K !
I was so close to that van that my left hand was able to reach far enough onto the hood, away from the edge, to reach flimsy metal. I hit it as hard as I could with my open palm. It was loud! (When I stopped running to walk the last two blocks home, I had visions of the driver hunting me down to complain that I had dented the hood. Wouldn’t that have been a fun conversation?)
Not missing a stride, I kept running. My hand throbbing, I kept running. My heart racing, I kept running. Wondering if the other drivers at the busy intersection saw this almost-mishap and were impressed by my hip-swivel and hood-slap, I kept running.
I tried to be angry. This is my thirty-seventh year as a jogger. I’ve never before had a close call. In that moment, minding my business, I could have been down and out and dead.
Ah, but while trying to be angry, I recalled the many times I was not watchful enough on the road. Why, only a couple of weeks ago I lost a car in a hard-to-see-the-traffic spot where I often turn left. Thankfully, I noticed just in time and screeched to a halt. I’m sure I scared the snot out of the other driver.
I recall the commercials in the 1970s that reminded us to watch out for the other guy and be defensive drivers. I always say that runners are the most watchful people on the streets, not wanting to get hurt. For fans of sitcom, “The Office,” my watchfulness now stands at Threat Level Midnight.