CHEAP EATS It’s hard to talk to yourself. You don’t have anything to say, and you’re afraid you might be boring. But the trans man in the bar said if I wanted my voice to change, I was going to have to practice into a tape recorder. He sounded effortlessly like a man saying this, because one of the lucky things about taking testosterone is that your vocal chords automatically thicken and your voice gets deep.
Estrogen, on the other hand, doesn’t do a damn thing to your vocal chords.
Ah, between me and you, I never could stand the sound of my voice anyway, which is just one reason why I’m a writer and now an instrumentalist. However, every now and again some kind stranger with either a big heart or bad eyes will ma’am me, and then when I open my mouth to speak, they become flustered or worse: apologetic. I would like to give people the option of actually believing I am female, if they want, or at least getting it: that I am trans and trying — you know, intentionally — to look like I do.
So, OK, according to experts (a guy in a bar), I have to talk into tape recorders and listen back and practice. Great — I have a tape recorder in my car. I already do this: I whistle melodies, make up songs, ideas for what to write, and so on. Only instead of playing them back, because I can’t stand the sound of my own voice, I immediately erase these cassetteloads o’ brilliantness or tear them apart or burn them.
Lately I listen, and this is bad for one’s mental health. Seriously, I think psychological damage happens every time I hear myself talking from outside of my own head. The upside is that eventually, if this keeps up, I will be completely crazy, instead of just most-of-the-way, and we all know that crazy people are very good at talking to themselves.
So then I’ll be able to do this thing and get better at it and live happily ever after except when I’m sad and miserable. I love how life twists, turns, circles, and shoots off, just like atoms and sentences.
I was in the kitchen — or the “kitchen” end of my one-room shack — categorizing onions, when the phone rang. “Save me from myself,” I muttered, pouncing on it with enough suddenness to weird Weirdo-the-Cat right out of her skin.
It was my friend Last Straw. Could I cat-sit her three cats?
“Yes!” I screamed and then hung up.
Weirdo-the-Cat was staring at me, shuddering.
“Chicken-sit the chickens,” I told her, threw my toothbrush and makeup and baseball glove in the pickup truck, and went. I had city bidness to tend to anyway, such as one last meal with the Cookie Diva before she headed home to Cackalacky.
“Where do you eat breakfast around here?” I asked Last Straw while she was showing me where all the cat food goes.
“Café Floor,” she said.
“Not the cats,” I said. “Where do people eat breakfast?”
“Café Flore,” she said.
The trouble with cookie divas and chicken farmers having breakfast together is that they can never agree on a time. Divas sleep until noon, everybody knows, and chicken farmers wake up at the crack of dawn. I tried to get her to compromise, but Café Flore isn’t even open yet at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. So she won. We didn’t meet until nine.
I’d already had breakfast once by then, and coffee, and more coffee. So I just ordered coffee, and a frittata. A great one — with chile peppers, salsa, and pecorino cheese. It came with toast and potatoes, but I couldn’t finish them because I wasn’t really hungry.
The Diva had a bowl of oatmeal and remarked that it was much better than the bowls of oatmeal one typically gets in the South. I’m sure it cost at least three times as much too, because before coffees our meal came to 14 bucks, and I think mine wasn’t more than $8, $8.50 tops. But anyway it was delicious. And you gotta love Café Flore, atmospherically, with its great sidewalk patio, wood, greenery, and windows onto the colorful Castro world out there.
We talked and talked and the Diva, being a classically trained pianist, gave me a much-needed musical pep talk.
I offered her some of my potatoes. SFBG
Sun.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–11 p.m.;
Fri.–Sat., 7 a.m.–midnight
2298 Market, SF