Hi Girls! I’m back. I’m in the middle of telling you the story my friend Sally told me about her friend Melissa and Melissa’s ‘Road Not Taken’. You know the Robert Frost poem where he walks in the woods and comes to a point where the path splits in two and he chooses to take the path less travelled and that ‘made all the difference’.
Sally had asked her support group if any had stories of their road not taken. After some others told their tales, Melissa had taken over.
As she started it was clear that Melissa wanted to go way back down the road to the genesis of Melissa. No one minded. It was a riveting story that you can find by going four weeks back in the TGForum archives. Some people kept wondering what detail the fork in the road would be. Melissa left them hanging through the timed meeting coffee break when the wives and others re-joined the meeting.
“Sure, I’d love them to hear this!” Melissa exclaimed as she was asked if she minded the ‘other ladies’ sitting in on her story.
It was one of the shorter coffee breaks the group ever had. It seems everyone wanted to get back to Melissa’s story.
“Well, it wasn’t so much that I chose the fork in the road,” Melissa re-started, “the fork chose me. I was young, careless and a bit greedy. It was as big deal for me to make a few dollars by offering myself to men who wanted to ‘take a walk on the wild side’. As I told you earlier that had been a weekend thing as I was taking courses at State for my M.Ed. degree. I would only go into the city on weekends.
“But my friend, Stephanie, who was full-time into the escort business kept urging me to go up on Thursdays. She kept telling me that the escort trade and streetwalkers were particularly busy on Thursdays. She thought it was because many businessmen were sending their wives and children to the cottage on Thursdays ‘so that they could beat the traffic’ and hubby could take the train or bus up the next day.
She said there were also a lot of businessmen in town for the week who concluded their meetings on Thursday and were looking for a little action before heading home. She was right. I was doing very well on Thursdays. “That is, I was doing well until apparently some citizens complained about the immorality on their streets and the police were pressured into a crackdown. I got caught in a sting. I was taken into custody and made the appearance in the city’s night court. I pled guilty to soliciting, paid the fine and was gone. But that wasn’t going to be it, was it? As part of the process, I had to show identification. Luckily, I had my university card with me and it had an address where I was staying in that town. As you might guess the police were keen to show evidence of this crackdown on crime. Everyone rounded up that night had their names and addresses released to the press. I thought I was going to lose my job and my family but for some reason no one in my hometown picked up on me being the same john doe living in that college town. That plus the fact all the male names were presumed to be customers and to be a working girl you would have a female name. Then the sting had rounded up a big name in town, a noted surgeon, so most of the press focus was on him. I slipped under the radar.
“That’s where I was able to stay off the ‘road not taken’,” continued Melissa. “If it had become known around town that I had been arrested in a prostitution sweep I surely would have lost my job. In our first two years of teaching, we were on a probationary contract and could be fired for very little cause. Moral turpitude was a big cause.”
Melissa was on a roll. She continued, “Where would that other road have taken me? I am certain I know the answer to that because my friend and lover was on the same road.
“I took my Masters degree and went home, resumed teaching, welcomed a second child, got married, gave up Melissa for a while, started working on my doctorate, went through a broken marriage when my wife confessed she wanted to move in with her lover and the real father of our second child. The road through life was not so smooth for my friend Stephanie.”
Melissa continued in a serious tone. “Had that prostitution conviction, which by the way was not a criminal charge, resulted in me losing my job I’m pretty sure I would have lost my wife and family such as it was, at the same time. I would have stayed with Stephanie and we would have embarked on a life where sex, money and drugs were easy to get and easy to give. I could have probably parlayed my degree into another teaching job in another state or another country but my state of mind at that time was that I wanted to make it as Melissa. That wasn’t my legal name, so any Melissa activities had to be outside the world of registered employment with income tax deductions, medical plans and 401K’s.”
Sally said a lot of the group shuddered as they thought of not having the ‘social safety net’ that everyone takes for granted. “Here,” Sally said, “While others were talking Melissa had been writing notes about her imaginary trip down her Road Not Taken. Afterwards I asked her for a copy and she gave it to me. Here, you take it but be careful. It comes with an Adult rating.” The weathered paper read: (and thank you Microsoft for the ‘Dictate’ function in MS Word.)
It started out being a ‘summer love’
I didn’t choose crossdressing. It chose me.
I didn’t choose to sleep with Stephanie. She chose me.
I didn’t choose to go out as a girl. Stephanie took me.
I didn’t choose to go back to the club. Stephanie took me.
I didn’t ask that man for drinks. He gave them to me.
I didn’t offer to have sex with him. He asked me.
I didn’t ask him for money. He gave it to me.
I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t feel guilty. I loved the thrill. I loved being desired.
Being a boring young man who was suddenly sexually desired for his femme image was like a tonic, no, like a drug.
I craved it more, and more and more.
I liked the money I earned, too.
Did selling myself for sex hurt my self-esteem?
Quite the opposite. I loved being desired.
And at the end of the summer, I could always put it away and go back to the classroom and family, coach soccer, too.
I returned for a second summer. All was going great,
Then it happened. My secret was exposed for all to see.
I didn’t know the city leaders had told the police to crack down on the street girls.
‘How much for a blow job,’ the cute young guy with a good build asked.
‘Twenty dollars’, I replied.
‘Come with me,’ He led me into the parking lot. I expected to service him in the back of his car.
‘Put your hands behind your back,’ he said while producing some handcuffs. Suddenly a uniformed officer and another girl were there.
I had never been in a jail cell before, never been booked, never been to Court. It went quickly. We were asked for Identification. We were booked and put in a holding cell. I was segregated from the other girls and from the johns, too.
Night court, some quick legal advice, I pled guilty and was assessed a fine. Good thing they took American Express. The whole experience took less than four hours but the repercussions lasted a lifetime.
Back to the street? No back to the apartment, a quick purge and back to the university. I left a note for Stephanie.
The crap started to hit the fan the next Tuesday. A sharp reporter in hometown had noticed my name and address on a press release out of Big Town. Arrested in a prostitution sting operation. The story was big news back home.
Called in to School district offices. A teachers’ union rep was there.
Fired. I was without rights. Moral turpitude clause. Apparently being a male, dressed as a female and offering sex for money to other males was against the moral standards of the time. Who knew?
What would I tell my wife when I got home? No worry there. She told me: Get out.
Where could I go? My parents said no.
I called Stephanie. She took me in. “I’d been expecting your call,” she said.
I languished in ‘Purgatory’ for most of the next year. I would apply for and get offered jobs subject to a background check. The check turned up you know what and the job offers were rescinded. I didn’t have a criminal record but being convicted of communicating for the purpose of prostitution was as good as.
Stephanie and I were covering our living expenses on the escort work we could do. We were popular on the stag party circuit. Let’s say a few brides may have found their new husband’s sexual energy a bit depleted after a session with us.
That is where Melissa’s prepared notes ended. I guess at that time she was called to the front and had to ‘wing it’ for her conclusion.
Apparently, she and Stephanie would have moved to New York then Las Vegas and San Francisco, looking for the best market for she male (as they were often called then) services. In San Fran there was lots of interest in she males. There were also lots of she males.
They worked hard for the little money they could hustle. Using drugs to boost performance was inevitable.
They got blindsided. Hearing about this ‘gay cancer’, gay men were getting AIDS. As we know now, having AIDS was preceded by a period of being HIV positive. When you were HIV+, even if you didn’t know it, you could spread the virus to others. Anal sex was a common way of spreading the virus.
Both Stephanie and Melissa were having anal sex with different partners several times a week. She told the group that while on this fantasy road they rarely used protection. They decided to get themselves tested. They both tested positive for HIV. They were advised to no have sex without protection but preferably not at all. Melissa said she was okay with requiring her partners to use protection but some said no and who was she to insist? The customer is always right, as they say.
Some of the customers were sailors off freighters and container ships in port for a few days. They were the worst for refusing to use protection. Melissa said she probably helped spread AIDS to other countries.
You know how the rest of the story will go. Soon Stephanie and Melissa both developed full-blown AIDS. Melissa concluded her tale of the road not taken, “as we withered away, we were lucky enough to move into a charity hospice. We died within a week of each other. There was no one to order a funeral service. We were each other’s next of kin. The city cremated and buried us in unmarked graves. Eventually memorial services were organized by the Bay Area gay community for the thousands of victims blindsided by AIDS. Our photos appeared in anti-AIDS advertising but it was as Steven and Mel, not Stephanie and Melissa. We would not have liked that but we were not around to complain.”
Suddenly, Melissa’s ‘road not taken’ story was over. She left the podium and sat down. There was a hush over the room. Sally told me she thought everyone in the room believed Melissa’s story was real. It took some time before anyone applauded. Then everyone did. They stood and applauded, even the wives.
Postscript: This account is dedicated to the many thousands of men and women, including my former high school classmates, Peter and Steven, who contracted AIDS before they knew AIDS was a thing.
Category: Transgender Body & Soul