These days, I seem to be a bit of a victim of my own success. After fighting the knowledge of who I was for most of my life, I just couldn’t do it anymore and in 2012 I finally came out as a Transgender woman.
From there, things started moving right along – I began living as a woman everywhere but work, I began taking female hormones in January of 2013, I started getting my beard removed through facial electrolysis and on April 11th of 2013 I began living full time as a woman. My legal name and gender were corrected in September of that year. I point these things out only to emphasize that this isn’t something I’m confused about or taking lightly. It is the most significant thing I have done strictly for me – ever.
My career in broadcasting has taken me all over the country, hence my family and friends are scattered to the four winds. It has taken quite some time to get in touch with everyone personally and because I have lived such a public life, word often passes to others via rumor or word of mouth. A Google search of my birth name shows a slew of results, the first of which is an article about me coming out in the Huffington Post!
Still, the most common reaction to my gender swap isn’t shock, that’s #2. The most common is disbelief. Pure, raw, belly laugh, “where’s the punch line” certainty that they are being pranked by me…….again.
See, that’s where my reputation has come back and bitten me in my now cute little ass. I was a prankster. I would go to elaborate lengths for my pranks. They were often a bit of improv and I took great joy in selling them. Because I was so honest most of the time and I guess I was just plain believable, I was able to sell the most outlandish pranks and get away with it.
I also wasn’t worried about rubbing the “mark’s” face in it either. I never cared if they knew it was me doing it – or instigating it. Was it funny? Was nobody harmed? Then good!
One of my favorites involved a high school friend years ago. He lived in a wealthy area with gates and a guard. I lived in a tract house in the middle class neighborhood a few miles away. I used to come see him a lot so the guard usually just waved me through instead of calling his house each time.
“Jack” had been given a new car for his birthday. A Toyota Celica. This was his baby. He kept a diary of everything he did with this car. When he filled up, he kept a detailed diary of how many gallons and calculated his mileage. It was lovingly serviced every 3,000 miles. I had no car, I rode the bus. Jack offered to drive me in his car and I eagerly accepted. It took half the time to get there and had a lot more cache than the city (shitty) bus! But the cache was lessened because when we arrived at the student parking lot at school, Jack would pop the trunk and pull out a canvas car cover and I would help him cover his car. Kinda nerdy.
Jack would never let me help with gas. I tried on several occasions but for whatever reason he always declined. I felt a little like a freeloader. So on one of my evening visits to his house driving my mom’s car, I brought a gas can (this was before locking gas caps) and put a gallon of gas in his Celica and then went in to hang out. I did this about once a week.
Well, Jack stopped at the gas station and as usual, logged his gas purchase in his diary and calculated his mileage. Lo & behold, he was getting closer to 30 MPG than his usual 23 or 24. He was ecstatic! I stifled a laugh because I knew why. Instead, I kept quiet and began slowly upping my secret fueling…watching over the weeks as his mileage started creeping into the mid 30’s to near 40. I was curious to see how high I could get it without being caught by a neighbor or arousing suspicion. In the meantime, Jack was telling the whole school about his amazing Celica gas mileage! It was a miracle. Jack was altering his driving to maximize mileage and I’m upping my fueling carefully so as not to show on the gas gauge when he got in the car in the morning. I believe he was at around 50 MPG, which was unheard of in the mid 70’s, when Jack told me he was taking his baby in for service on Saturday.
THAT was the core of the prank –because after Saturday, I quit adding gas to his tank. Cold Turkey. The next time Jack filled up and did the math in his diary his mileage had returned to 24 MPG. All I know is that his first call was the service manager at the Toyota dealer asking him what he did to his poor car to cut the gas mileage in HALF!
To this day –I have never told him.
This was just one of a 30+ year history of pranking my friends and now when they hear that the “guy” who loaded his own ammunition, carried a 214 bowling average, loved golf and cigars, built a muscle car on the radio and “hot-fueled” helicopters for law enforcement Marijuana raids is now a girl – well, that’s just another of “his” pranks.
Nope. It’s not. I just spoke to the latest friend to find out the real deal this past weekend. I worked with Larry in the early 2000’s in Houston when I was doing the morning show on the BUZZ. Larry said he had heard word from a few places but until right now had considered it just another prank that the others had been suckered in to. He had logged on to my Facebook page and compared my pictures there with ones from before – he’s a believer now…I think.
(Leslie (left) and room mate Katie)
I should find the whole thing amusing – after all, I surely deserve a little payback, but trying to convince wary friends of just how meaningful and serious this is for me has become a challenge and results in some really long conversations.
I guess I had it coming.