From the moment she walks in, I know she is a “she”.
I was at my friend’s birthday party, having arrived a little early with a bottle of Vielle Ferme rosé that I promptly drank half of. She came about an hour later. Six feet tall, shaggy haired, with bright blue eyes. Outwardly she presents as a male, but I have an eye for others like me (T-Dar, one might call it), and something about her spoke to me.
She’s shy, it’s her first party since she started college, so I set about talking to her, trying to draw her from her shell. I pour her a gin and sparkling water. I learn she loves Geography, that she’s of eclectic tastes in music and art, and like me is bad at texting- in short, practically perfect.
A little later, outside, while I smoke a cigarette, she confesses what I already know- that she is a girl, and she’s scared to transition.
“I know, khroshka, I know,” I reply.
“What does ‘khroshka‘ mean?” she asks.
“It means ‘good little one’, using your name-”
“-feels wrong?” she finishes with a laugh and a small smile.
When we go back inside, my friend Christine asks, “are you going to get drunk enough to Russian dance?”
“Only if I speed up,” I remark with a laugh.
She immediately presents me with another strong drink.
I do as told, and go with Khroshka into the living room, empty save for a sleeping drunk, and I commandeer the speaker.
“Do you dance a lot?” my thin, bright-eyed companion asks me.
“Only when I’m drunk,” I say, offering my hand as the Russian Sailor’s Dance I selected begins to play.
“Oh, I don’t know how!” she protests.
“Neither do I!” I laugh, taking her into my arms. We begin to dance, kicking to one side then the other, whirling around and stamping our feet to the claps of the dance and the strum of the balalaika. It has been months since I dance with someone, and though I tire quickly I persist, enjoying the unmistakably feminine gasp of delight from my partner, the laughter, the warm throb of alcohol-laden blood through my veins.
After two songs I smile and say,
“Basta! Enough!” and I pick her up, smiling at her delight and surprise.