It had been two weeks since the drag show, the night we first got to know each other outside the community center. I wore skinny jeans, my favorite flowery crop top and, pretty daringly, black high heals. I wanted to make sure Sam knew my gender is versatile. That like water it slides from liquid into solid, from vapor into absolutely nothing, depending on my weather. Mostly though, it was a way to make sure I didn’t forget I am still, and always, a body of water.
That night Sam looked like a handsome caballero. Casual jeans, a perfectly-ironed white shirt and a sparkling gray waistcoat on top. “I didn’t plan to go this fancy,” he said, “but I had to level up didn’t I?” he winked at me with a huge smile that revealed all of his teeth and made his eyes sparkle.
When the shower was over and the queens, kings and other royalty left the stage half-naked with tuttoos, capes and wigs in their arms, we danced the night away. Even as our bodies touched; his hands on my waist, my fingers on his broad shoulders, it never got sensual. Instead we busted one silly move after another poking fun at ourselves and each other, our chests expanding and contracting like accordions from all the cackle. A joke, a game, a play. Isn’t that what drag queens do? Show us life is a just dramatic performance to the point of laughter and absurdity?
We never kissed, or made any gesture in that direction. We only looked into each other’s eyes long and often enough to build an electric wire between the two. Constantly connected and energized by one another.
He came home with me that night but I was nervous and unsure whether all this electricity meant friendship or shipwreck so after a series of mental monologues, directed him to the guest room for safety. He left early the next morning. No kisses, no sex, barely a hug.
Two weeks later I decided to see him again, after his dance class. We sat in a park, sharing a carton box of white wine, cut open on the side; for $3.20 it was the cheapest grape in the store. I felt too old for this, so naturally I had to exalt my maturity and give a sermon about the garbage we put in our bodies. He nodded indifferently while he inhaled from a pipe, smoke swirling from his lips and nostrils. “No, thanks,” I said my hand on my heart.
He drank, smoked, then drank again. Told me about his father. The abuse. His mother, the neglect. His eyes turned watery red, and I wasnt sure whether from sadness or cannabis, or both. We were riding on different wavelengths at this point. Things felt heavy and serious. The drag show from two weeks ago had turned into a drama nonfiction I wasn’t sure I wanted to experience.
This is why I took it slow, I said affirming myself proudly, pre-emptive measures.
Inhale deeply, exhale out, til your last breath.
TO BE CONTINUED