|Suzana Tratnik from Ljubljana, Slovenia is a writer, translator, publicist and a Lesbian and Gay Film Festival organizer. She published six collections of short stories, two novels, the children’s picture book, as well as a monodrama and two expertises on the lesbian movement in Slovenia, and another on lesbian literature. She received the national “Prešeren Foundation Award” for Literature in 2007. http://suzanatratnik.si/|
TRANSVESTITES ON THE BUS
By Suzana Tratnik
Natasha and I are sitting on the village bus. It is a late evening in fall 1987. We’re hitchhiking from Berlin, and somebody has dropped us off in the small town of Ptuj. Natasha suggests that we sleep over at her grandmother’s in the village nearby.
On the bus, a bunch of noisy local boys, hungry for entertainment, spot us and take the back seats, surrounding us. Natasha and I stare at the floor. Remarks are thrown at us.
“Check out those two weirdos!”
“Wow, look at her shoes!”
“And those huge backpacks!”
“I bet they speak the Ljubljana slang!”
“Yeah, they’re probably studying in Ljubljana, and now they think they’re better than us peasants, right?”
“Hey, we provincials can show them up!”
They light cigarettes. The bus is full of people but no one turns around. Nobody seems to be bothered by the smoke nor by the loud talk and jokes; they are all happy not to be in our place. I’m thinking about the American movie, The Incident, with two bullies in the New York subway at night. They torment the passengers one by one: a young married couple with a daughter, a black couple, an elderly Jewish couple, a soldier with a broken arm, a homosexual, a bum … Everybody is glad that he or she is not the victim, but everybody’s turn is bound to come.
“Now, shut up!” demands a guy next to me. Natasha and I see that he’s the capo banda––the ringleader. He offers me a cigarette. I shake my head.
“Why not?” the capo banda demands. “Aren’t these good enough for you?”
“It’s not that,” I say. “I don’t smoke on the bus.”
“Who cares?” he replies impatiently. “Here we do smoke on the bus.”
“But we don’t,” I say, trying not to sound too offensive.
“Oh yeah? Is that so–you don’t? And who are you? Women or men?”
Remarks are again thrown all over the bus.
“Hey, look what they’re wearing!”
“Black jackets and torn jeans!”
“Yeah, and how about those haircuts!”
“Think they’ve got mustaches and hairy tits?”
“Nah, I don’t think so . . .”
“Are they dudes or two weird chicks?”
“It’s transvestites, you moron!”
“Right, they’re in drag!”
“It’s show time, folks!”
“Cut it out,” Natasha tells them, “that’s enough!”
We want to be civilized. We can’t shoot back. Because we have nothing to shoot with. We’ve just been at the Lesbian Festival week in Berlin. We’ve just left the metropolitan world of lesbian bars, discussions about postcolonialism, Indian food, anarchists’ gatherings, and gender-bender subculture. We want to be civilized at least, if we cannot shoot.
“You know what …” says the leader to Natasha, whispering in her ear. I can’t hear what he’s saying.
“Stop bothering us–what the hell do you want?” says Natasha.
“Absolutely nothing from crazy chicks like you,” says the leader with his mean laugh.
“You’re goddamn lucky–this is our stop,” says another boy. “But you can come with us to have some real fun!” They leave the bus one stop before we do–ours is the last one–still inviting us to join them.
“You know what he said to me?” says Natasha. “He said he knew what we really are.”
“And what are we? Transtites?” I dare to joke about it since the drunken clowns have left the bus.
“No.” Natasha is alarmed. “Lezzies.”
Yeah, it’s quite true: the province is not a province anymore and the world is becoming a global village.
English translation edited by Elena Harap and Natasha Saje