Portrait

Waiting for the 59. 10.30am.

I think that this person was a transvestite and not in the process of changing gender, but I realise that sometimes it is difficult to know without asking. There was something… static about him. He was dressed conventionally: cream-coloured blouse and pale blue skirt (hemline just below the knee); beige coat and practical square heels, also cream. He wore plain black spectacles and lipstick in a breezy pink which was an odd choice given his Afro-Caribbean complexion but not garish. His hair was relaxed and tied back in a sensible ponytail. He carried a well-maintained leather handbag. His jaw was masculine, and his arms were a man’s arms though slender. He looked about fifty years old. His facial expression was one of extreme but silent fussiness, which made me think, instantly, of a (female) school teacher I had known. He arrived at the stop at a brisk pace, then stood completely still, scowling faintly, until his bus appeared.

The whole episode lasted about a minute and a half. I was left with a feeling of having experienced Beauty. How to explain… the ‘masculine’ (i.e. perceived by society as masculine) and ‘feminine’ aspects of his appearance did not blend together at all – they stood out from each other markedly – and yet the total effect was one of a harmonious whole human, put together in precisely the correct way. He was a jumble but he was perfect. The fact that he was slightly tetchy and distracted was somehow part of this perfection.

Oh I don’t know, I guess you had to be there! Anyway then my bus arrived.

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