-I’ve never talked to a lesbian before.
-Yes you have, there are a lot of us about. Just not known about it.
My sink was blocked, and the pipes were leaking, so I called the letting agent who called the plumber who interrogated me about my sex life. So it goes. He started by asking if he could ask me a question. Yes, but I may not answer. He took an age, not seeming to find the words- I wanted to say, “spit it out, man” but left him to it. Then he told me he had seen my wigs- did I have cancer?
Odd, that, second time in five days. No, I explained, I was bald before I was thirty. It was something genetic, but not life-threatening. Doctors could not do anything about it.
-Have you ever been married?
He is a nosey bugger, complaining about the tea I made for him- worst tea ever, he takes two sugars and having thrown out the last sugar I possessed, as its sell-by date was ten years past, I have none. So I said, because it’s only been legal two years. He understood eventually.
-Why are you not attracted to men?
-Well, why are you not?
Honestly, this basic failure of empathy irritates me, even as I am considering my voice and wondering if he has really not read me as trans. I just- never have been. You can’t control your dreams, can you? When you were a teenager, you dreamed of women-
he looks embarrassed
-and so did I.
He started asking me about sex. What do you do? He kept badgering me. How do you do it? Do you wear a strap-on thing? No, I said. Yuck. So I told him about scissoring, and mimed with my fingers. He’s slow on the uptake: he did not realise my fingers were supposed to reference legs. Then I mentioned 69. I will not let you embarrass me.
He has been married since 1984, when he was 26. They have had their ups and downs- nearly split last year- but have stayed together. He also wanted to know what work I did and why I was renting. He bought his house for £90,000, but now his son and daughter need a deposit they cannot afford: £34,000 is the average deposit. He has a flagpole in his garden: the council did not like it, and told him he could not advertise, so he put a Tottenham flag on it. “When you see Spurs play, think of me.”
He has seven wigs.
-What are they like?
-Rod Stewart, Tina Turner.
-Oh, quite extrovert, then?
A Tina Turner wig. He is a cross-dresser. I don’t want to quiz him about that, and while he may have read me as trans I won’t refer to it if he won’t. Also, he has never read a book. He likes watching TV documentaries. His wife reads books. He wants to see me without my wig, and I refuse. Really, yuck. He’ll leave me alone if I put on my blonde wig for him, which he says really suits me- then he goes.