Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ready for Induction

Just to offset the serious post a little piece of the funny side of T life during the Vietnam war.

I never registered for Selective Service but my grandmother made sure I was on the draft rolls somehow. Between college at a young age, then grad school, and finally work in Houston for the US Government I was always exempt from the draft for Vietnam. I am not sure what the status was but it wasn’t 4F but probably exempt.  I should have just gone to the draft board and they would have taken one look and I would have been 4F.

Don’t ask don’t tell was not a policy in my day,  It was simply don't bother but they had no clue about transsexuals so if I showed up they wouldn’t have asked and I wouldn’t have had to tell because by 17 the most difficult thing in my life was boy unless I gave it maximum effort. Many times I had been accused by fly-boys in Houston of being a girl pretending to be a boy so I could work there. They recruited me knowing what I was but I confused more than a few.When I left Houston after 3+ years my government employer reported to Selective Service that I was now eligible for the draft in August of 1969.I had the money now and I needed to complete the long trip towards the real me I had started in my early teens.

I could not change paperwork without surgery in those days but my Uncle’s Company, I worked for him in NYC, gave me a  Corporate Credit Card in my new name and I managed to open a checking account using Elizabeth and at the same time Selective Service began the search for me. In general I was a happy little girl in NYC and mom would send me a mail package from home once in a while and I would just throw out the draft stuff. A girl doesn’t need to worry about the draft.

1969 turned into 1970 and Selective Service began threatening me through my mother by telling her they would arrest me and do all kinds of nasty things to me.  I would have been very popular in a military prison although I might not have enjoyed the popularity. My surgery was completed in January of 1971 and two Military Police appeared at my old home looking for me. Mom tried to explain to them I was now a girl but that excuse was not working with Military Intelligence despite reams of documentation.

It turned out that they probably wanted my Engineering expertise for the war machine and I was never in danger of seeing action and besides olive green is not my best color. They were in reality not ever going to find me because now the name change was in effect, my social security was  about to reference that change along with the necessary letters from Harry and the Surgeon verifying me as female and I didn't look much like a boy. I filed my taxes through my old name at my original home which was smart but brought them to mom.

My mom called me in a panic one day and told me they would issue an arrest warrant for me unless I showed up for induction on a specific date which coincided exactly with my meeting with Social Security. I actually had induction paperwork in my hand and my mom wanted the harassment stopped she felt was not her responsibility so I decided to report. Mom was an anchor but not someone I wanted mad at me.

I flew to Boston and I had a very pleasant meeting with Social Security and went to my mom’s house and changed for my induction. I decided to wear the Adolpho outfit my dear friend Oscar had given me which was a mauve silk blouse with a plunging neckline which showed cleavage and matching mini skirt that reeked of elegance and was sexy. Matching heels and a very sexy bra visible through the top and an elegant winter coat because it was actually winter.

My mom was home and her first words were, ‘you cannot wear that to the draft board’, and I wondered aloud 'what would they do arrest me or induct me'. Oscar always liked me with my hair up so up it went and some nice jewelry finished the look along with appropriate makeup and a pair of large sunglasses.  I was going for mysterious elegance which was probably more trashy elegance but it would work. A girl should try and look good when facing induction into military service.

I am not going to try and tell you I wasn’t nervous because I was. I have never been comfortable when people know what I once was and after my entrance and my offer to be inducted I would be noticed. My driver’s license was from Texas and needed to be changed so even driving over to Selective Service was a possible issue if stopped.

It was very warm when I entered the building so I took my coat off and made my way to the Selective Service Induction Center and calmed myself and walked in. It was noisy with a table on the back wall and groups of young men on the right with shirts off that were getting just a cursory physical and when the click, click, click of my heels was heard every face seemed to turn in unison as I took off my sun glasses to see where I had to go.

I distinctly remember thinking those poor boys could end up fighting this senseless war and dying and I felt sad but I was jolted back to reality by whistles and some remarks from both the inductees, the inducted, and the military guys. It went something like this.

‘What the fuck is she doing here?’

‘Fuck, I want her in my platoon.’

‘Now that ass is worth fighting for.’

‘Shit, you can see her tits.’

Under certain circumstances a girl might be flattered by said comments and I probably was a little. There were four lines of boys waiting processing and I went to the end of my letter appropriate line and stood.

Guy with stripes: ‘Hey honey what are you doing in line?’

Me: ‘I came to be inducted as ordered.’

Guy with stripes: ‘Step up front honey and you morons step aside and let this pretty young thing talk with me.’

Second guy with stripes: ‘OK sweetie what is this about again?’

Me: ‘Here are my induction orders. I was drafted.’

Third guy with more stripes: ‘These are for <insert my old name> and that isn’t you sweet thing.’

Me: ‘Well that was once me.’

You could have heard a gnat fart at 200 yards after that comment.

Another guy with no stripes who seemed important: ‘This is another fucking joke by that fucking asshole in Boston. He gets this girl to come in here and fuck with us after our prank last week.’

I am now a little lost myself. What prank was he talking about?

Me (pissed I have to do this): ‘Sir, that was my name and was me.’

They will not believe me and everyone is laughing because they all think it is a joke.

First guy with stripes. ‘Charley put you up to this didn’t he?’

Me (very nervous): ‘No sir. I was once a boy.  Not much of one but I was one.’

Third guy with lots of stripes. ‘There is no way that is true honey. Who put you up to this? Are you one of the hookers Charley is kidding me about?’

I finally gain a little composure because I have never ever tried to convince someone I was once a boy and wasn’t sure whether being called a hooker was complimentary.

Me (desperate to get it over): ‘Please believe me. Here is my paperwork.’

I hand them everything I have from my doctors and all the men with stripes and the important guy are shuffling papers between each other and looking at me and muttering to themselves in disbelief and it is again Library quiet and I hear the murmurings.

Second guy with stripes: ‘I never saw anything like this in Waco!!’

Third guy with all the stripes: ‘Give her I mean him a 4F.’

Me (defiant):  ‘I am a girl. I am not a him.’

That upset me and they hand me all my paperwork.

Guy who seemed important: ‘You can leave now.’

Me:  ‘Thank you.’

Guy with lots of stripes: ‘Fuck me.’

Me (very defiant): ‘Sorry you are not my type.’

As I turn to walk out I replaced the sunglasses because I was nearly in tears and nervous and there were murmurings in the inductees.

‘No way that is a guy.’

‘Used to be a guy you dumb fuck.’

‘No freaking way that is not a girl.’

‘Holy shit.’

Then from near the front of the building this one rugged looking guy stares at me as he pulls his shirt on and yells.

‘Fuck that. I’d do her right here and now cause she is fine.’

Some other guy yells.

‘Give him a 4F.’

As I was walking out I here a few more I’d do her comments I am sure hoping they could get a 4F.

I was shaking so bad I had to sit on a nearby bench outside the door to calm down and then I needed the ladies room.  I’m thinking I should have had my mom drive me because I was parallel parked and there was no way I could get out of the space in this condition.

As I exit the Ladies Room I crash into the rugged guy and he has to hold me to keep me from falling to the floor. It was like running into a wall.

Rugged Guy: ‘Sorry. You OK? Damn, you smell good!’

Me (trying to be cool because he was really cute): ‘ I’m Liz. Nice try with the comment.  Looking for a 4F?’

Rugged Guy: ‘I’m Brian.  Hey I meant it you look amazing and if it got me 4F that would have been nice also.’

We are still very close together and I see two of the guys with stripes exiting the induction office.

Me (whisper): ‘This might help.’

I kissed him gently on the lips. He never flinched.

Me (whisper): ‘Look behind you. It is up to you now.’

The rugged kid glances and grabs me and gives me a really passionate kiss which in all honesty took my breath away.

Guy with lots of stripes: ‘Boy you get your fucking ass back in this office! Right now soldier!!’

He winks at me and before he heads back in I scribble my phone number in NYC on a piece of paper and hand it to him.

Me (loudly): ‘Please call if you ever get to NYC.  I promise I’ll show you a really good time.’

Guy with all the stripes: ‘Get back in that room soldier.  No fag is getting inducted on my watch.’

I always wondered if I might have saved a life with a  kiss because they  marked me as gay on my papers so in their minds it was a guy kissing a guy. He never did call. Too bad he was really cute.


Anonymous said...

WOW.....Let me tell you something...There should be a movie made about you. Tula aint got nothing on you honey!!!! You have lived such an awesome life. You may have saved that boys life.

Elane said...

Well done! Nice job of blogging, too.

Am very much in the woodwork, a lesson well-learned in the 70s...

Good luck to you!2626