SLCC is going to be my big RL debut, but as I've been telling people in-world recently (though I hadn't gotten around to mentioning it here) I was planning to do a couple of shorter outings to get used to the idea of dressing as Shirley. Tonight was TraniWreck, so I figured that would be a good place to try dressing; it's a queer-friendly drag show where some of the audience dresses, so a friendly crowd and one where it wouldn't matter whether I got everything right. But then Anastasios Aurotharius decided that tonight would be a good evening for an RL meeting of Boston-area SL people. The timing wasn't incompatible (the meetup was at 7 and TraniWreck didn't start until 10:30), but did I want to do TWO things in one night?
Well, I decided to jump in with both feet and do it. I spent the afternoon preparing; there was still some more body hair to remove (it has taken a LONG time to get it all... I'm just hoping that maintaining it won't be as time-consuming as removing the hair was in the first place) and I also wanted to dye my hair to cover the gray. Then I stuffed my bra, put on some new thigh-high stockings and my sensible Shirley shoes (I had also packed the heels for possibly wearing at TraniWreck but never got around to changing into them), got into a pretty silk dress, and put on Shirley's necklace and earrings. (I got them last month in London, Ontario, while I was at a morris ale.)
The first moment of doubt came just after I got out the door and hit my neighborhood street. I hadn't thought about the fact that going out earlier to catch the meetup meant that I would be walking in broad daylight and possibly running into neighbors. But that went fine, nobody paid any particular attention to me, and I got to the subway and on the way to Cambridge without event. Nor was there any unusual attention on the train. I got to Au Bon Pain and it took a little while to connect with the other SL people, as we hadn't met in RL before, but eventually we all got together. There were six of us: Anastasios, Ivy Lane and Phil, Karina and Alex, and me. People didn't feel like eating at ABP, so we came up with the plan to go over to the food court at the Cambridgeside Galleria -- but on the way there, we passed the new Za on Third Street and decided to cut our walk short and go there instead. We shared a pleasant meal and conversation. While we were inside, the sky opened up and there was a brief period of pouring rain and fierce wind; fortunately that subsided by the time we left, and what remained were pleasant breezes (especially in my silk dress) and occasional drizzle. Meeting Ivy, who I have chatted with in-world and on Skype, was especially fun.
The evening was so nice that I decided to push the envelope a bit farther and walk from Kendall to Harvard Square. That meant going through a busy Central Square on a Friday night (and again possibly running into people I know, though I didn't); some people did look but I really don't know whether they were staring at the oddity of me or just admiring the dress. In any case, it was a nice walk and I got to Oberon just as they were starting to let people in -- good timing. I met two people, Elizabeth and Rob, and we ended up sitting together at the show; a fourth, Harriet, joined us at the table. (A special thank you to Elizabeth is in order; she treated me as a charming woman, and if she was aware of my being a man underneath -- which seems likely, I don't think I'm close to passing yet -- she didn't show it at all.) Sadly I only got to see the first half (otherwise I wouldn't have been able to catch the train home and I'd still be in Cambridge right now!) but I enjoyed the part that I saw.
So, was the evening a success? You bet your sweet life it was!! I had a GREAT time being out, being pretty, and being Shirley. A few days ago, when I was dealing with the long process of shaving body hair and the pain (I mean actual pain here, not merely nuisance value) of shaving my face for the first time in many years, I was feeling some serious doubts about whether I could do this. Now I have done it, and I know that I can. Sure I was anxious and afraid at times, but I never let it stop me. If I could just learn to do eye makeup I'd really be set! (I tried today and had to wash it off and give it up as a lost cause. I'm just fine at the face makeup though, which isn't really surprising since I've done it for stage when I was in Iolanthe, and I've done face painting for morris.)
Oops, I just let out some more RL details that would let some people figure out my RL identity. But I've pretty much stopped worrying about that; my cover will be totally blown in a month anyway!