I was not even aware of my first ever encounter with Carl, Mrs. Greenwood's "nephew." Carl was two years ahead of me at Harvard and wasn't in any of my classes. Neither did we run around in the same social circles. Our family backgrounds couldn't be more different. Little did I know that we had so much in common.
It was a sunny, cold and windy Friday afternoon when I jumped on the "T" and made my way to downtown Boston from Harvard Square. My destination was an adult bookstore in Boston's "Combat Zone." The Combat Zone was the city's officially designated adult entertainment district, apparently an attempt to rein in the number of these establishments and prevent them from making their way to other neighborhoods.
I only frequented one particular shop, a place where I could usually find a copy of Virginia Prince's "Transvestia" magazine and other publications or newspapers dealing with crossdressing. I wouldn't buy much since my funds were extremely limited. I was also scared to go into any of the store's back rooms.
On this particular Friday afternoon I didn't stay in the store very long. A copy of Transvestia was available and I hurriedly picked it up and made my way to the cash where a big, burly older gentleman sat on a stool smoking a cigar. He eyed me curiously but said nothing. I avoided eye contact with anyone at the store as much as possible. It was both shame and fear. Neither of those emotions were strong enough however to prevent me from going into the store and making a purchase. He handed me my change and slipped the book into a brown paper bag about the size of a magazine. I left quickly.
I had no idea that Carl was in the store also.
I had one more stop to make - Boston's most famous shopping landmark, Jordan Marsh. My first ever trip to the prominent department store had taken place nearly a decade earlier when my i boarded a bus along with my Mom and a girl cousin of mine to visit the store's famous "Enchanted Village" a large and lavish Christmas display that drew crowds from all over the world.
As I made the walk down Washington street towards the store on this cold Friday afternoon, I thought about that trip and how fascinated I was with that Christmas village. Today's trip to Jordan Marsh was for a different reason.
I would enter the store and make my way through the lingerie section, trying to feign disinterest in the beautiful panties, bras, foundations garments, nightgowns and other feminine things, as if on my way to the men's section or other part of the store. I would repeat the walk on my way out.
Even if I had the money, I doubted I would have the guts to buy what I really wanted. Maybe some day.
When I got back on the subway, I had no idea that Carl was on the same train.