– Why didn’t you tell me? – I asked Lasse the same question 17 years later in New York at an animation event where he was the star of the night presenting his films and I was the designated interviewer. The event took place at Gershwin Hotel and was organized by BeFilm festival directors Laurence Asseraf and Dimitris Athos. It was called “Crossing the Line: Animated Show and Tell”. I was going to tell my side of our love story and Lasse was going to tell his.
Lasse had arrived from Sweden two days before and straight from the airplane came to another event I was hosting. I was a bit nervous as I knew for sure how he’d be dressed, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it – I had never met Lasse the Woman. The elevator doors opened and Lasse walked into the lobby. He was wearing a knee length skirt, medium hight heel boots, modest top and a long, gorgeous wig.
– Hi, – he said. We kissed on cheeks.
– How was your trip? – I asked and observed, both him and my feelings.
– Without a hitch. I am so happy to be in New York!
It wasn’t that Lasse the Man had all of sudden disappeared, he was still there, poking up from under the make-up. Lasse wasn’t pretending to be a woman, he spoke in his normal, male voice and he was behaving without any constraint or falsehood, he just was who he was. Relaxed and composed. The gestures that seemed awkward or clumsy in him as a man now were working in the favor for him as a woman. I liked what I saw.
– It is Lisa T you are seeing, – Lasse explained.
– Why do you need a separate name?
– I don’t need it. People around me need it.
I felt at ease with Lisa T. She was unpretentious, easy going, confident and nice.
The next day at 10 AM Lasse came to my place to prepare for the “Crossing the Line” show. He came as a man and the slight irritation, a leftover from 17 year ago, slightly stirred inside me. I remembered things that used to drive me crazy when we lived together. As a man Lasse was less certain, his gestures unsure and clunky, and he was too well connected to his inner Ondatra Zibethicus. But, even as a man, Lasse was still nice.
We talked a lot about cross dressing which I had to understand in order to interview him at the show.
Cross dressing seemed a powerful mystery to me, available only to people with shamanic powers. Being born in a body of a man highjacked by the spirit of a woman definitely made the man free to see the superficiality of the gender division or, for that matter, any division and thus made him uncommonly wise. But how exactly the erasure or crossing the gender line worked was impossible for me to grasp.
For Lasse, though, it was simple. It was like this:
Soon after our break-up Lasse had sent me a few nicely illustrated books on cross dressing probably hoping to educate me on the matter but I had a more difficult task in front of me at that time – assembling a brand new identity for myself . I had been abruptly plucked from the meadow I grew in, then 6 months later swiftly returned but I was not the same daisy I was before: now I spoke English, I had seen and fallen in love with New York and had learned that it was OK to smile in public places. In other words, I was incorrigibly corrupted by the new things introduced to me and, although returned to the old place, I was not returning.
So, a colorful book on cross dressing couldn’t really get under my skin – my underskin was already full.
Then Lasse sent me a picture of himself dressed as a woman. I stared at the picture for hours. It was Lasse and it was not. He was wearing red stilettos, fishnet stockings, tight fitting short black dress and a blond wig. Only women who hope to make money for their services exaggerate their femininity like that. *(see below)
But there was something else in that picture. I spent a lot of time looking at it in hopes it would answer the question that burned my heart:
– Why did the marriage failed? Was it really my fault? Was it the fault of Lasse’s secret?
But the picture didn’t answer, instead, like a good old Snow White’s Magic Mirror, it showed me Lasse’s longing to connect, to explain, to be understood.
Lasse returned from Toronto to Sweden in August and promptly, like a good husband, filed for divorce. It wasn’t easy for him either – he had shown to the world that, just like me, he had failed to honor the vows “till death us do part”.
Unlike me, he started to go out again.
– It is all useless, – he reported his dating failures to me on the phone. – They all are boring and lame. No spark. There is no other women like you and if there is how will I find her? I am loosing faith.
– Oh, Lasse, – I said. – She is just around the corner. Be patient. The sparks will fly soon, you’ll see.
– All right. Whatever you say.
– But once you meet her, you must be open to her about your cross dressing. Give girl a choice.
I thought for a second. I was full of advise for Lasse.
– And never marry her, – I added.
– This is a ridiculous advise! – Lasse said. – I haven’t met anybody yet and you are telling me not to marry her.
– She is just around the corner. You might as well get ready.
He hung up and went to a movie. Next to him was sitting a very pretty redhead. They started to chat, they went for drinks after the film. Two hours later at the bar Lasse told the girl he likes to dress as a woman. The girl shrugged her round beautiful shoulders and they moved on to other, more important things.
17 years later they have two children and they are still happily not married.
As to me, well… I haven’t married either. I moved to New York as soon as I could scrape together $350 for the airplane ticket and $300 for the first 3 weeks expenses. In 15 years in New York I have made quite a few animated shorts and in my free time I host animated shows, like the one with Lasse.
Love never dies, it just changes faces.
* Lasse explained that he went though phases of discovering what female image was right for him. A lot of cross dressing beginners go for the flashy looks that over stress the femininity and sexuality. He later mellowed into an image that suited him the best – Lisa T.
Now, you will ask:
– How about the question “why didn’t you tell me”? How about Lasse’s side of the story?
Well. You are in for a treat. He’ll be a guest on this blog very soon. Stay tuned.