Friday, August 10, 2018

Friend's Friday - Those Were The Days

One of my long-term girlfriends is Lauren from Tampa. She provided the photo of April (My First Movie Escape). Lauren and I became friends through the Tampa woman’s club, BJ’s. During the 80's I had several clients/software customers in the Tampa Florida area and traveled over to the west coast many times. I was there enough to start the local support group “Starburst” and appear on a local TV station talk show. Reckless, but fulfilling, escapes without consideration for the consequences.

The best way to describe this time period is to say it was Rhonda's adolescent years; exploring the land of femininity and learning. There were a lot of missteps, sheer terror punctuated with moment of exhilaration. We have all been there.   

It was on one of my evenings at BJ’s that I noticed something happening. I was not aware of anything unusual during the evening or going to my car. However, I did notice another car leaving behind me and turning in the same direction. This was one of Tampa’s main streets so even at about 9:30 pm there were still many cars on the street. So it would not be unusual for a car going in the same direction. It was at the next turn that I noticed that the car was still there, but again a major Tampa street. It was when we both turned into my motel that I became worried and knew that the driver was following. 

This close-to-everything, business-traveler, motel was the old style where you would park in front of your room and have only a few steps to your door. No lobby to traverse or elevators; a crossdresser’s ideal situation. 

Tampa - Hawaiian Village Motel
After several diversionary turns around the rows of rooms, the car was not there, so I parked quickly and ran to my door. I was in; the door closed, locked and, chained - Safe. At this point I was considering putting the dresser in front of the door when I hear the knock.  

I got very still and quiet although not saying anything was pointless. My heart was making so much noise you probably could hear it beating three rooms down. “Please, can I talk to you?” was the request after what seemed like an hour of knocking (likely only two knocks). I did not move or say anything and the knocking stopped. The car drove away.  

Just a few minutes later the room phone rang.  This was before cell phones and this could be a family member needing me, so I answered. My new “Follow me home friend" had gone to the front desk and used the house phone to call the room. Again, “Please can I talk to you?” but then he added, “I am like you.”, which I assumed  meant that he was transgender as well.  

I said NO for safety and security reasons, but did confess that I would likely be at BJ’s again the next night and I would be happy to meet and talk. That seemed to provide closure for the evening. 

Lauren and I did not meet that next evening but did connect on another evening. Lauren became a super friend and with April, Edie, Wendy and other Tampa girls, we had some wonderful evenings out. Over the years, Lauren was one of my best ever transgender friends. We had much in common, shared many stories and she "knew everything". She is a responsible person; so cute and has super, wonderful taste in dressing. A shoe collection that rivalled mine.  

My last trip to Tampa was about three years ago and we had a long dinner and laughed/talked about being young, stupid and exploring being transgender. Lauren, I love you and count you as a special girlfriend. Sorry, we don’t see each other as often now. Our almost hour long phone conversation this week triggered many great memories.  

She is not in good health and does not get out any longer as Lauren. Godspeed girlfriend - such a wonderful, intelligent, beautiful and super person of either gender.  

I am happy you made the effort to make contact in a rather non-conventional manner.  A lasting friendship. 


  1. Rhonda,

    Congratulations and Thanks on behalf of Lauren. BTW Know the Hawaian stayed there a few times on business trips. While there came across an advertisement for a women who would help with CD and Make Overs, Called but was too scared to follow through. No real regrets. It was not the proper time for me It took another eight years before Marie came alive. Again you are to be congratulations for your homage to Lauren.... Marie Anne

  2. Your link to your blog for 31 Oct. 2015 was a delight to read. Yes Halloween day is 'National Drag Day'. If you do not wish to dress 'en-femme', then go out and 'RACE YOUR CAR!'. P.S your photo of you in all white was great. Velma

  3. What a wonderful story. It's sad in a way that you couldn't meet up with Lauren these days and get her out for a bit of a hurrah.

    You clearly have been a wonderful friend.