I watch myself in the bathroom mirror, body-length, as I toss one half of the satin strip over my shoulder, before moving to the tricky part of the ritual; the tuck and through, certain finger movements, the inevitable mistake in the first three attempts. This is a ceremony I enjoy: this tug of war between innate and learned ways of getting ready, the notion that pretending my slim hands were meant for this. I notice your reflection in the mirror. You’re standing next to the dresser, back to me, your briefs black and cotton, the Calvin Klein flipped upside down in the mirror, your ass stretching the fabric a little too thin. You button the last of your dress shirt, predictable with its pastel gingham, and yank up the khaki dress- pants before turning to face me.
I saunter towards you, and wrap my arms around your neck, peck the skin on your cheek, and grab the tie resting on the bed. I drape the patterned strip around your neck, forgetting to pop the collar before starting, I undo my progress and re-do the routine as it demands. The blue satin brings out the specks of blue in your right eye and the pink pattern accentuates the golden swirl in your left. I unpop the collar, run my hands flat down your chest, and we make eye contact. It’s our first formal together, but we’re used to this dance; the stealth sauntering, the affirmation of musculature, the head nod: soft acknowledgement then quick denial of breasts constricted, beneath, nipples just now visible.
Tonight I’m wearing a binder, as I do with enough frequency to for you to know how it tugs at my back three hours in. And you’ve layered three sports bra, all neon, nike, an additional one to your daily two, because your resistant to binding, certain there is a line between dyke and male, between dyke and trans, and that I might be crossing it. We’re sensitive about this, the disappearance of dykes and lesbians, the increase of queers, the way trans-masculinity establishes itself in our community, on this campus.
You glide your hand down my chest, run your fingers along the sweet space where my belt meets my dress shirt, back and forth. You dip a forefinger beneath the fabric, and nip your nail against my skin, the cold surprises me and I moan before stepping away, embarrassed. We’re already an hour late, spent the early part of the night showering and shaving each other. You, on your knees in the shower, reach between my legs and shave me clean, owning me. I follow suit, lathering your legs before dragging the razor up the curvature of your calf, then thigh, then higher- switching the direction of the blade, shaving up, to ensure the closest shave. We do this: ready each other for each other. A dance of symmetrical movements, of undeniable sameness.
You move your finger, relenting, agreeing and grab the desk-laid mascara tube, the bobby brown bronzer and brush: the finishing touches of getting ready. I squat down so that you’re leaning over my crouched body as you apply the wand to your lashes, the brush to cheeks. I drag the dark green liner along each lid before grabbing the tube from your extended hand. We’re like this for five minutes, but we’re each pleased by the results. Standing, you drop two diamond studs into my fist, before filled the piercings in your own ears with sizeable pearls.
We stand ready with straightened hair, shadow-darkened eyes, skin tanned and sparkling, nails cut. Buttons buttoned, shirt tucked, belt looped and locked, bowtie and tie knotted, Clarks and loafers on. I slide my hand into the back pocket of your pants, feel the curve of your ass melt into my hand, you open the door, and the night begins.