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Authors: TJ Klune

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BOOK: Tell Me It's Real
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Am I worried about turning thirty? Nah. Maybe. Sort of. Okay, I’m freaking out. Because when I was sixteen, I’d sit in front of the mirror and sing “Some Day My Prince Will Come” while brushing my poodle curls, sure there was a big strong man out there for me, just waiting to whisk me away to his castle on a beach in Cabo San Lucas. One who would pick me up with his massive arms and cradle me against his chest and tell me, in varying accents (sometimes he was Cuban and other times Chinese—I didn’t use the Chinese one too often because I couldn’t stop giggling at the Chinese voice I’d hear in my head. Don’t ask me to do it. It’s way wrong.) all the things he just couldn’t wait to do to me once we got to my Dream Castle. We’d live there happily ever after and he would love me for the rest of my days while feeding me grapes and tickling my nipples.

Oh, by the way, I have very sensitive nipples.

I certainly did not expect to be almost thirty and working a dead-end job as a claims adjuster for an insurance company. I’m not going to tell you which one; suffice it to say you’ve probably seen our commercials on TV and chuckled once or twice until they played over and over and over again and you wanted to dropkick the stupid little animal spokesperson. You think the commercials are bad? Try working here. Sometimes, they have some idiot dress up in the animal mascot costume for human resource events. The person in the costume is always chipper and waving hysterically as if they’re under the impression that if they stop, their hands will be chopped off. I hate that damn costume. And, I’ll admit, it scares me a bit. I was the kid who never wanted to have birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese because I was sure the animatronic monsters that were Chuck and his friends were actually real and when my parents weren’t looking, they’d jump down off the stage and snatch me, taking me back to their dungeon where they would eat me slowly. I was the life of every party, let me tell you.

Sorry. I got distracted again.

Where were we? Oh, yeah. My job.

My soul is slowly being sucked dry in a cubicle that is smaller than a prison cell. Trust me, I measured it. But of course, management was not impressed when I brought this up. They tend not to like it when I speak at staff meetings. I understand why, though; what starts as a simple observation usually leads to another of one my “tirades.” Their word, not mine. I can’t help it. I get loud about things that matter to me (“We’re donating to the Salvation Army
for Christmas? They
gay people! Those bell ringers are nothing but homophobic ex-junkie fascists in disguise! Why are we even donating to a religious organization at Christmas!
Jesus was born in April!
”). So yeah, they prefer if I don’t speak in staff meetings.

I never expected to still be living in Tucson, Arizona, land of the Border Patrol (aka the Fascist Regime), home of 115 degree temperatures (
but at least it’s a dry heat,
we always say). I’m too pale to live in the desert. I don’t tan. Instead, I get pink, so much so that I look like one of those oddly disturbing hairless cats that nobody wants to own. I went to a spray-tan salon once, but the woman at the front desk was orange and I was convinced that I would get melanoma just by breathing the same air as her, so I left immediately, after accidentally telling her she looked like a perky blonde carrot. She didn’t think that was very funny. Either that or she normally looks like she’s perpetually pissed off.

When I was younger, I thought I was going to get a ten-picture deal from Paramount, where I’d be paired with all the handsomest leading men in Hollywood and travel all over the world in my yacht. After a hard day of filming a gay action adventure along the lines of
Romancing the Stone
Fluffing My Jewels
) we’d all retire to my yacht and have an orgy filled with riotous passion.

Instead, I live in a small adobe house right smack-dab in the center of a middle-class neighborhood. The neighbors to my left are a husband and wife, and they’re seventy-year-old nudist racists who like to have swinger parties in the hot tub of their backyard. They’ve invited me over for a couple of the parties, but I’ve seen the type of people that show up. When that much of your body has fallen because of gravity and you’re still wearing clothes, I can only imagine what your balls will look like hanging down by your ankles. I politely decline each invitation. Each time there is a party, though, I sit at my front door with a spray bottle filled with water, ready to spritz any randy old people who want to have a bone sesh in my driveway. So far it hasn’t happened, but I did wake up one morning, went outside to get the mail, and found an empty travel-size lube packet near my mailbox. I went back inside, got gloves and bleach, and scrubbed down the mailbox, trying hard not to gag at the images in my head of two old people wearing chaps boning against it.

After that guy told me I had a ghost who perioded (that’s a word I just made up; doesn’t it sound gross?) all over my house, I thought it best that I get a pet to protect me and keep me company since I decided to swear off men for at least seventeen years. I briefly considered getting a cat, but then decided against it because I didn’t want to be one of
people. You know what I mean. My grandmother, Gigi (Mom’s mom), was one of them. She’d make tuna fish and then sit in her old chair, which smelled like Bengay and broken dreams, and chew it, then open her mouth and let her cat eat it right then and there. She said it was because Mrs. Tingles was too old to chew her own food and she wanted to give her a treat. I told her I was the only person in the world who had a grandmother who made out with her cat and smelled like fish while doing so. My grandmother wondered aloud if that made her a lesbian.

When she died, I was kind of sad. The cat, not my grandmother. Gigi is still alive. She has a homophobic parrot now. His name is Johnny Depp. When I went over to her house to meet him for the first time, the first thing Johnny Depp did was squawk at me, “Pray the gay away!” while my grandma giggled from behind his cage. Gigi swears up and down he was like that when she got him, and I almost believe her, because she doesn’t have a hateful bone in her body. She likes everyone, for the most part. But it’s kind of hard to go to see her now, since Johnny Depp screams, “Here comes the rump ranger!” every time I walk into her house.

So instead of getting a cat to make out with or a parrot that is one step away from committing hate crimes, I went to get a dog. I told myself when I went to the shelter that I was going to get a big dog because big dogs make you manlier. No teacup Chihuahuas for
homo, no, sir! I stomped into the ASPCA and told them in my deepest voice that I was there to adopt a German shepherd! No, a Rottweiler! No, a
pit bull
! I told the lady I would take the manliest pit bull they had and that I would name him Snarl or Stab or Meat Eater and I’d get him a collar with spikes on it.

The lady at the front desk asked me calmly if I was part of a dog-fighting ring. I felt properly rebuked and apologized, telling her no, I just needed a dog to live with me and my menstrual ghost. She must have thought the phrase
menstrual ghost
was somehow referring to me because she asked if I was pre-op or post-op transgender. I almost reached over and plucked the two gross black hairs growing out of her chin. But she looked so pleased with herself that she was showing the world how open-minded she was that I couldn’t bear to rip out those gnarly hairs
break her heart, so I told her I was post-op and that my name used to be Chaz Bono and that I missed my menstrual cycle more than I thought I would. She reached over and rubbed my arm soothingly and told me she’d help me find an “animal companion” to help me forget all about the vaginal bleeding. “After all,” she said, laughing, “we women have to stick together, even if one of us has an artificially constructed penis now. Girl power!”

A golden retriever named Duke caught my eye almost right away. His coat was so bright and pretty under the lights, and he sat there and preened when I smiled. He chuffed a bit, obviously playing up his part. He knew he looked good and he knew I knew it. I almost said he was the one, but then I heard a squeaking noise coming from the next cage. Duke turned his head to the right and growled and then looked back at me with soulful eyes. The squeak came again and Duke all but snarled.

I was curious so looked into the next cage. Inside was a mutt of some kind, pretty small and scrawny-looking. He was almost all black except for random white spots of hair on his back and face. His front right leg was white, like he was wearing only one sock. But then I saw he didn’t have back legs and that the squeaking sound I’d heard were the wheels of a little contraption that hooked to the back of his body and allowed him to move. When he saw me looking in at him, he started wiggling his butt back and forth, causing the wheels to tilt every which way and clack on the cement floor. It was only then I saw he didn’t have a tail, either.

“What happened to him?” I asked the woman.

She smiled fondly down at Wheels (I’d already named him in my head—highly,
original, I know) and told me he’d been hit by a car months before and had to have his legs and tail amputated. No one had claimed him and the shelter couldn’t find anyone to take him. Since he’d been a survivor, they called him Lucky, which I thought was the stupidest name ever.

Duke, the golden boy in the next cage, was pissed he wasn’t getting more attention from me and growled at Wheels. It was then I understood that Duke was nothing but a big golden bully and Wheels was the little guy that no one wanted. I was just enough of a sentimentalist that I could relate, so of course I adopted him. And named him Wheels. No child of
would be named Lucky! We would make our

I was feeling pretty good about myself when I brought Wheels home. I turned my back for a minute, listening to his wheels squeak throughout the house as he explored while I set up his food bowl and water jug thing that the cute stock boy at Petco said I just
to have. I went looking for the new addition only to discover he’d pooped in the middle of the living room and then tracked it through the rest of the house after rolling through it with his wheels. I threw up in my mouth a little when I had to clean it up, but I figured it was still better than a homophobic Johnny Depp calling me a fudge packer.

So, yep. This is my life. Sorry about the info dump I just took on your chest. If you don’t want to keep going, I’ll totally understand, though that still gives me the right to call you a bitch behind your back.

And, of course, you’ll miss the rest of the story and won’t get to hear about Helena Handbasket, drag queen extraordinaire. You’ll miss out on meeting my parents (though, that might not be the best way to entice you—they are so damn weird). And you’ll totally miss out on the way I thought I’d gotten Freddie Prinze Juniored, only to discover that a sexy man named Vince was the best thing that ever happened to me and that maybe, just
, I’d get my happily ending after all.

But of course, a bunch of crap will happen before then. I can’t help it if I am a walking drama magnet. It just happens that way. So, one last chance for you to get the fuck out.

You still there? Cool. Wasn’t that person that left already such a
? Seriously. You could totally tell by the way they walked that they had a stick up their ass.

All Right. You ready? Sweet.

Let’s rock and roll.

Chapter 2

The Evils Of Whiskey And Twinks



you hand me that tape there so I can tuck my penis and testicles back to give the illusion that I’m a woman?” my best friend Sandy asked, just to fuck with me. He was already in full makeup, the fierce red eye shadow and blush spreading around his eyes, like a wild mask, that he always wore when he was doing his Lady Gaga numbers.

“I still don’t get how you can push all your junk back like that,” I said with a shudder, handing him the double-sided tape. “Balls weren’t meant to get squished like that.”

“They’re squishy by nature,” he pointed out, pulling off a piece of the tape and shoving his hands down his loose boxers. A grimace came over his face as he twisted his hands, and I had to look away before I felt sympathy pains.

We were sitting in the upstairs dressing room of Jack It, one of the few gay bars we have in Tucson. And out of the three or four bars we
have, Jack It is the only one with a dance floor, though I don’t really dance. There’s a major difference between dancing at home in your underwear, and then dancing at a gay bar with all the go-go boys in
underwear. It’s enough to make a man feel self-conscious. Trust me.

Sanford Stewart, the man doing evil things to his boy parts, is pretty much the best friend I have in the entire world. He’s a skinny thing, but tall, over six feet. One might look at him as a man and not see anything remarkable. His blonde hair is just yellow enough to be flat-looking. His brown eyes are chocolate left out in the sun. He’s cute, but in that almost immediately forgettable kind of way. He could stand to gain at least twenty pounds. I tell him all the time he needs to eat more and he says he will if I will. He thinks I look good just the way I am, even though my ego won’t let me believe it.

I think he’s beautiful no matter what he looks like, but most don’t, for whatever reason. As a man, he’s perfect in my eyes.

But when he’s in full-on drag as Helena Handbasket? Holy fireworks, Batman.

There’s no one in this entire fucking town that can hold a candle to her when she’s performing (notice the pronoun switch: when he’s Sandy, he’s a “he”; when she’s in full drag, she’s a “she.” Queens can get vicious if you don’t respect the pronouns). Helena Handbasket is an absolute legend in Arizona, with a reputation starting to grow around the country as well. She’s been asked to perform at a few pride events outside the state, and next year, she’s considering competing in Miss Gay USA.

BOOK: Tell Me It's Real
8.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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