We were running a bit early so the Grönberg's weren't quite ready – well Roni wasn't, Angela ‘insisted' that we have kaffee und kuchen while we waited. Of course you can't say no, it's not polite, especially when it's home made lemon torte!
Roni had been giving me some odd looks ever since we arrived.
“What?” I demanded as I caught her eyeing me again.
“Oh come on Ron, you've been giving me funny looks ever since we arrived.”
“You have, now spill.”
She looked a bit flustered, embarrassed even.
“Don't take this the wrong way Drew but you look like a girl, one of my girl friends has that same top, you are wearing a haarband and um full makeup. With the nagel no one would mistake you for a boy.”
Sugar! I'd completely forgotten how I'm dressed, if we'd gone home I woulda changed and got rid of the makeup, instead, well instead I'm in girl mode down to the bag slung on my shoulder. At least she didn't mention my booblets.
“The girls bet him he wouldn't go out with them dressed as a girl.” Bern chipped in. I didn't even know she was nearby.
“I forgot how I look,” I stammered, “I'd best get this makeup and stuff off.”
“Come on you three, no time for cloud counting, we need to get off. Frau Grönberg instructed.
Bern did that eyebrow shrug thing.
It's not too far up to Hannover from Mettmann, under 300km but the hotel was actually at Celle where the race is based so we had a further hours drive to our destination. We had a toilet stop a bit before Hannover by which time I'd long forgotten my appearance. We pulled into the hotel car park a little after nine; the Luchow's car was already there along with quite a few other cars here for the race.
“Dave!” Dieter Luchow greeted the old man.
“Dieter, you made it okay then?”
“We only arrived half an hour ago, the girls are unpacking.”
The rest of us clambered out of the car.
“Hi Dieter.” Angela smiled.
“Good to see you Angela, hi girls. No Drew?” he looked a trifle confused.
“Erm.” I raised my hand, “here.”
“The girls try to make you a madchen eh, well you had me fooled. I've got a table booked for dinner in,” he checked his watch, “fifteen minutes so we'd best get you checked in and unloaded.”
“Tali's here?” Dad queried.
“Yes she was already here when we arrived, she managed to find her own way from the Bahnhof.”
We had four rooms, me and Dad, the Grönberg's; the senior Luchow's with Bern, Tali and Greta sharing a triple. Bern found one of those trolley things and Roni and I loaded all our bags on to take them up to our rooms leaving Herr Luchow and Dad to stow the bikes in the room the hotel had put aside for that purpose.
“Something you're not telling us Drew?” Tali asked when we found the girls room.
“Leave him alone, I think he looks nice.” Roni mentioned.
“We got time to change?” Bern enquired, her eyes taking in the summer frocks both Tali and Gret were wearing.
“Not for a shower but just to change to a Kleid.” Tali suggested.
“Bum, I'll have to stay like this, I forgot to pack my Gautier.” I joked.
“Oh no you don't fraulein Bond!” Gret dragged me into their room.
The five of us caused a bit of a stir when we walked through to the restaurant. You remember those strappy sandals I bought as cover earlier? Well I was wearing them along with one of Tali's cami tops and a silk skirt that was a mini on its owner, Greta, but just above the knee on me.
Of course, the revelation of my chest adornments had caused a bit of a stir but only encouraged their efforts; my bra and panties did nothing to lessen their opinion that I was actually a girl pretending to be a boy.
“Here they come.” Angela announced.
“Where've you been, we've been waiting to order.” Sonja Luchow mentioned.
“We had to get Drew gussied up, she only had jeans.”
“Dave was telling us about the incident and change of plans.” Sonja agreed.
“You look very nice Drew.” Dieter noted.
“I can see we all need a chat, in private.” Dad sighed, “lets eat for now, I don't know about you lot but I'm famished.”
The meal was okay, a bit of a protein and carbo load for the riders by way of steak and noodles, the rest of the party taking a variety of alternatives which mostly looked more appealing than the Radrennen platter. After eating Dad had a word with reception and we reconvened with coffee in a small meeting room.
I wasn't looking forward to this, not one bit.
“Hmm,” Dad started once everyone was seated, “I guess it was inevitable that we'd be having this chat, we just weren't planning on it being so soon. If you've got any questions we'll try to answer them but after I've explained things please, ok?”
The girls nodded, the senior's grunted agreement.
“I'll start at the beginning, fifteen years ago my wife gave birth to our second child, a boy we named Andrew, Drew for short. We were pleased when he started racing, delighted when it was clear he had some talent like his mother, we encouraged him and his dreams of riding the Tour some day.”
His audience were all playing close attention, I know the details and he had me hooked.
“He was a bit small for his age, in fact almost a twin to his cousin Maddy.”
“Too right!” Bern agreed in the gap.
“Then a couple of years ago he started having some medical issues, I won't go into the details but it started a long period of worry for his parents. Things got a bit muddied when, with some encouragement from his friends,” he gave Bern a look, “he appeared in drag.”
He took a sip of coffee.
“We like to think that as parents we are quite progressive so, whilst not specifically encouraging this we didn't make it an issue. It wasn't affecting his schooling or cycling so we took it at face value, a bit of fun. It could be a bit confusing as parents, not knowing whether you had a son and daughter or two daughters!
Increasingly though he was being mistaken for a girl even when he wasn't supposed to be, we hadn't noticed but others clearly had spotted his growing chest. When we moved to Germany last year things really started coming to a head, everyone, well nearly everyone thought he was a girl. I'm sure Drew will fill the girls in on some of that stuff but really things have come to a head just a few weeks ago.”
This is it, my greatest secret, laid bare to these comparative strangers.
“The latest batch of tests to try to solve his health options turned up something new, something that took us all by surprise and which is still keeping us in flux. Without going into all the technical names, Drew has been found to be transgendered, in other words whilst in some respects he is male he also has many female characteristics including, we now know, internal organs.
Knowing this, they have been able to treat his other problems better and they have improved greatly. In the future there are decisions to be made but for now that's where things stand.”
He let out a breath, “so there you have it, you must all have questions.”
“Oh Drew, you poor love!” Angela announced, she was sat next to me and pulled me into a hug.
“I knew there had to be more to it when I saw your nails last week.” Roni noted.
“We did wonder a bit when we saw him dressed the other week.” Dieter stated. “Where do we go from here Dave, the team and so on?”
“Well Apollinaris are aware and I've been keeping the cycling authorities in the loop, you know that Drew is on British Cycling's development squad. For now things stay the same, I'll let you all know if there are any changes. Rest assured, Apollinaris will not be closing the team, it will continue its support regardless of how things go.”
“Thanks for being so frank Dave.”
“So you go to school as a girl?” Tali enquired.
“Oh come on Gabs! You do so.” Bern put in, “oops.”
“Who is Gabs?” Gret's jaw dropped as she made the connection, “oh my god, here we are calling you Drew when you prefer this other name.”
“I don't, I mean I do.” I was a bit confused on that myself.
“He goes by Gaby when he's presenting as a girl, it's a nickname he got after a fancy dress event a couple of years ago.” Dad filled for me.
“At school just about everyone calls him Gab's.” Bern pointed out.
Sonja addressed me, “what do you prefer?”
“I prefer Drew, I tend to use Gaby when I'm trying to be a girl to save confusion.”
“You don't need to try too hard.” Roni stated.
“I never thought,” Angela started, “would you be more comfortable sleeping with the girls?”
“Mu-um.” Roni moaned.
Talk about embarrassing.
“I'm okay with Dad, I'm still a boy even if I don't look like one right now.”
“Look it's getting late, we should adjourn this for tonight, the girls need to get some sleep after all.” Dad suggested.
“I think we all do.” Dieter agreed.
We tidied up the coffee stuff and filed out of the room.
“Breakfast at eight.” Dad reminded everyone.
“G'night er Gaby.” Tali offered.
“I answer to either.” I mentioned.
“See you in the morning.” Roni played safe.
“Well that went quite well.” Dad allowed when we were safely in our room.
“You know we had to come clean with them.”
“I know, I just wasn't expecting it to be quite so soon.”
“So just how did you end up wearing a skirt this evening? Not that you don't look nice in it.”
“The girls kinda thought they'd have some fun, you know because I was like already wearing makeup and stuff from earlier like.”
“Hmm. I think we might have to look at the accommodations in future.”
“Not you too Dad.”
“Look I'm not saying they will but some people might object to you sharing with me, remember that first trip to Germany?”
How could I forget it?
“Yeah, I guess you're right. Oh shitza, your birthday prezzie, I forgot all about it.”
“I get a present too, I thought Dad's just got cards.”
I dug out my camera and flipped through to the latest pictures.
“Here, I was going to give it to you before we left, you can see the pictures at least.”
Dad took the camera and flicked through the pictures while I went to the bathroom to change. He had a tear in his eye when I returned.
“Come here kiddo, thank you.” He pulled me into a hug and we had a bit of a father er daughter crying jag.
to be continued....
Maddy Bell 12.10.09 © 2009