It all started as an effort to avoid fast food. I was hungry and had about 45 minutes before I had to begin the afternoon round of kid transportation. As I left the office, I decided to grab lunch but really did not want to face another in-car meal of whatever was fast and cheap. Fortunately, my office is near several tasty sit-down options. So today, I decided Chinese sounded good.
The restaurant was nearly empty, as it was after 1pm. The waitress invited me to seat myself as she was talking to another customer. Though her back was to me, I noticed this lady's voice was kind of deep and her frame seemed a bit large.
I picked a small table and waited to place my order. I could see the other customer's face and it seemed to have a masculine quality to it, but I didn't stare or dwell on it. Instead, I looked over the menu. I really had a taste for General Tso's chicken (so much for healthy), but my usual hot & sour soup sounded too much for a summer day with temperatures in the upper 80s. I decided to go with the wonton soup.
So when the waitress came to take my order, I told her: "Diet Coke, wonton soup, General Tso's chicken with white rice, please."
She said, "That's exactly what she ordered," nodding to the lady who I'd notice earlier. The customer looked up and I could tell for sure that "she" might not always have been so feminine. I smiled, nodded and said "Great minds think alike."
"Guess so," she said. "You might as well join me then."
I gave a little friendly haha and looked back to my phone. But then I thought "what if she thinks I don't want to have lunch with her because she's a he?" I didn't want her to think that I was rude or snobby or afraid. Plus, it was just the two of us in the restaurant and Siri aside, human company is almost always preferable to iPhone company.
So I picked up my purse and phone, crossed the restaurant and said, "I'm not sure if that was a real offer, but I'll take you up on it. My name is Amy."
And that's how I met Emma.
I was nervous at first because despite her long hair and frilly blouse, I knew she was (or at least used to be) a guy. And she knew that she was (or at least used to be) a guy. We small talked about the neighborhood. She told me she used to be a deputy sheriff, but retired and is mostly a painter now.
As if the deputy sheriff info wasn't enough of a clue -- yes, I know women can be sheriffs -- she said something about the sheriff asking why she retired. She said she told him "Because I grew boobs."
Ahhh...ok. Now that was out of the way. From there on out I wasn't nervous. Emma was clearly at ease with who she is, which put me at ease. We talked about her family and their reaction to her decision to live as a woman. (Her wife was shocked. Her kids were a little freaked at first. "I was a man's man -- and a really good actor," she told me.)
We talked about Indianapolis and her painting. She has a show coming up. We talked about law enforcement and her time in the military. It was really an enjoyable -- and normal -- conversation.
It was certainly a situation that this suburban wife, mother and blogger doesn't encounter every day. I'm glad that the waitress referred to Emma as a "she" so I didn't get all distracted by trying to figure out the right pronouns. And I'm glad that I decided to order the wonton soup.