Sunday morning arrived early with the Tri the Illini, a sprint triathlon held on the University of Illinois campus. I have done this race a handful of times, previously because I had sons on campus (I also graduated from Illinois). With both sons now graduated, my motivation to do the race was to get a decent time–and to give me an excuse to have four Dee days.
My morning didn’t start the best with a bike tire issue, but with help from one of the race staff, I got it solved. Despite a pretty stiff wind at times (not much to block the wind on the flat prairies that comprise central Illinois), my time and placing were decent.
The swim for the triathlon was in a pool, and before the swim we lined up in bib order, based on our projected swim times, trying to have the faster swimmers go first and the slower swimmers later. Let’s just say out of the 350 or so participants my number was over 250 (i.e., I’m not a fast swimmer).
It’s 30 minutes in line, and I’m bare footed, following my pedicure four days earlier (by Michelle), and my toes have a gold polish. The gym has about 400 or 500 people; racers, volunteers, organizers, etc. I’m talking to the lady behind me in line about her job, races, etc.
Nobody to my knowledge sees my painted toes–and if they did, they didn’t say anything (or my shaved legs, or shaved arms). Now, the color is subtle, but if someone looks closely, they can see they are painted.
But nobody cared. I did notice a lot of the females had painted toes, but none of the other guys. We worry about every little clue, and in the end nobody is paying attention.
Post race, I had just enough time to return to my hotel to shower and dress to beat the noon checkout time. I managed the makeup part while driving the three hours to my GG friend Michelle’s house. I picked her up and we drove to Tower Grove Pride in St. Louis.
Our local group, St. Louis Gender Foundation, shared a booth with a LGBT project booth sponsored by Washington University (located in St. Louis). Pictured with me is our President, Essay. We had a number of visitors to our booth.
It was a nice day. Lots of booths, lots of people.
Michelle and I had a chance to wander around before I staffed our booth. We bought margaritas and the cute young bartender said she liked my dress and wondered where I got it. I had to disappoint her by telling her Australia, but I told her the website and helped her find it on her phone. That was nice.
Later when I was at our booth, another young lady walked up and said she loved my top. I thanked her for the compliment and explained I had bought it for $5 the day before at Akira in Chicago. I then told her there are Akira stores in St. Louis and she looked them up on her phone.
After Pride, Michelle and I went to a nearby Twin Peaks (Michelle’s choice) for dinner. As usual, we shared a plate of nachos. After we were done, our waitress told us we looked very cute, asked if we had been at Pride (yes), and said to come back any time and told us the days she worked. Before we left, I asked for a selfie of the three of us and she gladly agreed.
A good race for boy me, an afternoon spent with Michelle, and three compliments. Can’t get much better than that.
Some readers of this blog know me–and Kandi–from an internet board where both Kandi and I participate. Often, I share similar stories in threads there as I present here. On this occasion, regarding these days out, Kandi posted the following comment:
“So here’s the thing I hope others realize, you are rarely alone in the photos. Once one gets their sea legs and exudes confidence, people are attracted to that.
You exude confidence and see what happens? Well done as always!! They should name a day after you……“
The answer I wrote on the board I will repeat here.
“Over the four days I was in places to be seen by literally thousands of people:
* A college campus with something like 35,000 students
* Two different train stations and two Amtrak trains, plus public transit
* The streets and stores of downtown Chicago
* Attendance at a play
* Check ins at three different hotels
* Hundreds of vendors and thousands of guests at Pride
* Several restaurants
I had zero issues, had fun interactions with the Akira staff, and got three compliments.
Also, because I was bold enough five years ago, I have a bestie Michelle, and if you were to ask her, she would tell you that SHE benefits more from our friendship than I do.
It virtually ALL started because I read posts like this one and I asked myself, “Why not me?”
I hope if YOU are reluctant to do what I do, or what Kandi does, I hope YOU ask yourself the same question, and come up with the answers WE did.