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  • Today I made a new friend, or rather he made a new friend out of me. He was one of those "characters" that can be found only on college campuses--- the sort that will populate anecdotes for years to come. The star of this anecdote was named Vinny and who that he was Italian. He added, with a friendly chuckle that it should have been obvious from his stereotypically Italian name. He asked me if I was one of the people listed on our school theatre club's awards show ballot, and he pointed to my name. He asked me what the name meant, and I told him. Then he asked me who'd picked that name and I explained that my parents had, because it worked in both Thai and English.

    He asked one of my theatre club friends if he was allowed to change his vote so that he might vote for me. Vinny had a set of lungs! And then he suggested that they change all of the ballots so that I won and tried to remember the name of the film he'd seen in which the votes for prom queen were rigged while my patient theatre club friend (fortunately a close friend of mine) agreed quietly with him that she would change the ballots in my favour if it wasn't against the rules.

    I smiled unhappily and told Vinny, flustered, in a jumble of poorly strung words that I didn't know why they'd nominated me as there were so many other actors more deserving of nominations, and I was not being modest. But, he sat there and declared again in a perfect stage shout that he was changing his vote from one of the other nominees to me. Red-faced and laughing uncomfortably I begged him not to, though I thought it was a sweet gesture.

    I'm not used to receiving compliments and don't know how to respond when they are handed to me--- I don't know how to respond to most social situations!--- and Vinny was drawing unwanted attention with his auctioneer's voice and towering stature. I thought I might combust from the emotional exertion. I hoped desperately that nobody thought that I'd bribed this stranger to sing my praises (almost literally). I was trying to think of an excuse to leave when Vinny smiled and told me that he liked the way I had my hair done "like a boy" and how I dressed and acted like one too. And again I thanked him awkwardly, though this compliment was more palatable than the others. He asked me if I'd purposely made myself "boyish" for the play he'd seen me in. I lied and told him yes, because I'd spent my daily supply of courage and was in no condition to explain Transgenderism to a stranger. (Especially with half of the theatre department within earshot.)

    But then, Vinny said something remarkable: "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but you could easily pass for a boy."

    "Thanks!" I exclaimed, my voice climbing two octaves in surprise. My tiny heart hammered in my sparrow-sized chest. "That's kind of what I'm going for." I added, beaming up at Vinny. Most of my embarrassment had dissipated in my excitement. I nearly asked him if he really thought I could pass, but feared he might back-track and amend his compliment with some thing like 'at least you could pass from a distance, but up close you're unquestionably female'.

    He seemed puzzled by my enthusiasm, but did not probe me further. I shook his hand before I left for rehearsal, and I told him sincerely that I was glad that we'd met.
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