I should know better than to play with memes. I really should. However, this one seems relatively harmless, and there's something quirkily amusing to me in the act of being asked potentially intimate questions by someone I don't know well. It's kind of like a cross between Catholic confession and Craig Kilborn's Five Questions, with a dose of "Jeopardy Home Edition" thrown into the mix.

I prefer to think of it as Interviewing the Martian.

The rules of the game, as conveyed to me:

  1. Leave a comment saying you want to be interviewed.
  2. I'll reply and give you five questions to answer.
  3. You'll update your diary with the five questions answered.
  4. You'll include this explanation.
  5. You ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

You and I have met a handful of times and talked a bit more than that on IRC. What is something I wouldn't know about you, either from our conversations or those I've had with [Jessie]?

I have a secret passion for swing and gangster chic.

I can't even call it an interest in swing music. I mean the whole thing. From Big Band up to ska, I love the sound. I love the clothes. I miss the Rat Pack, even if I was never a fan of the movies. "Some Like It Hot" is still one of my favorite films. Long before my transition, I had a group of friends with whom I would regularly meet for martinis, coffee, cigars and poker. We would put on CDs, records, tapes, whatever media we had of the music of the day, loosen our ties from work, and kick back a few drinks and deal away the night.

At one time, we had plans to start the Gangster Swing Bowling Team. There would be five of us, in matching custom tailored zoots and clear acrylic bowling balls with our personal emblems inside. Mitch was The Knife, with a pair of shivs in his ball and a blood red zoot. Joe was The Dealer, with a bright purple zoot and the Ace and Jack of spades flashing blackjack on the lanes. Ben, in white, was The Crack and had a spare derringer in his bag as well as his ball. Bobby got green, and played The Fish, our resident
wiseguy. I, of course, was The Lug, with a leather sap and a black zoot as the enforcer.

We were even pricing out embroidered shirts at one point.

I look back at the antics of my youth now and I laugh. I can't fit that image into my head as "me" any more, but at the same time I quietly miss the character that I played at that time in my life. Trying to do now what I did then just feels alien, and yet I still miss the part. It feels a bit like I've lost the ability to play a favored role in a play, and I'll forever envy the person who's stepped in to fill the part, even though I can't or won't.

What has been the most unexpectedly rewarding part of your transition?

The first time I passed without effort, without dressing, without trying. The moment at which someone says "ma'am" while you're sporting three days' of facial growth and wearing a button-down shirt with a tie and a pair of ill-fitting jeans, because you're carrying a purse and you have the body language and mannerisms of a woman. The moment you realize you can Be Anything, if only you allow yourself to be.

There is no gender anywhere. We are all absolutely free.

How did you come to choose your current name?

My mother loves Winnie the Pooh.

She loves the stories so much, in fact, that when I was originally born she wanted to name me Christopher Robin. She sold my father on the Christopher part, but Robin he just couldn't handle.

His exact response was, according to Mom, "That's a fag's name."

When it came time for me to pick my new name, I went back to this. Robin makes a perfectly good female name as well as a male one, and so I used it. I consider it the same sort of nod that other trannies who use their mother's maiden names make.

Far more interesting than my first name, though, is my last. Davis wasn't the surname with which I came into the world, but I knew that I wanted to get rid of the one I got from my parents. Both of my parents have systematically broken every tie to their extended families that they could, and so in truth I really had no heritage on which to draw. I barely know any of my cousins or anyone else past my parents, and so there was no reason to keep my last name as proof of any sort of connection. For all of thirty seconds I considered the last name of Taggart before dismissing it out of hand. I didn't want to forever be known as someone trying to copy someone else.

At one point, I wrote a story as a sign of solidarity between myself and someone now somewhat estranged from me. When she transitioned, she took her middle name from the character in the story that represented her. A bit later, I wrote another story, not currently available, with a character named Theresa Davis, a wisecracking wannabe Objectivist and architecture student with a chip on her shoulder from being raised in an excessively Southern antebellum family, the sort of people who would make a public show of solidarity with their wayward daughter, then pack her off to the remotest end of the planet with a hefty stipend on the
condition that she not come home to embarrass them further.

Her last name became mine when I realized just how much of her was my own past, or what I felt my past had been. I can now only hope that her future is as bright as my present.

Where do you see yourself in seven years?

Gawrsh. I have a hard enough time seeing myself in a year. I'd like to think that by then Jessie will have made an honest woman of me, but only in the sense that I'll be writing kiss-and-tell columns for weekly tabloids. A house, a nicer car, a raise, out of credit card debt hell, a good start towards a retirement fund. The little things in life that make worrying about the future not such a whitefaced terror. 

You and [Jessie] run off like bandits into the night. Who takes care of your server(s)?

Positing that I could afford to run off like a bandit into the night suggests having enough money to afford a cellular modem or satellite uplink for the penguin, or else transferring it to a colo station and monitoring it from the open road via the same means. More practically, I'd need to find a good home for it, preferably with one person to handle server admin and another to do the actual schmoozing with the users, 'cause Crom knows I can't do it worth a damn. Joanne would make a passable stand-in for me, but Kelly would have to be Jessie's replacement. She has the right blend of apathy, sadism and optimistic innocence.

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