The importance of inches

Lilly's BARBECUE
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I'm gettin' some. Don't worry. But a couple of months ago I was singing the blues to a trans woman friend who is a lesbian. I sang a verse about how no boys would go out with me, and she said, in effect, that she wouldn't go out with me either.

This was discouraging. Not that I had any idea in the world of dating this woman, or vice versa. And not that she meant to be mean. On the contrary, she was sincerely, simply trying to help me understand a thing.

"Look, I'm into women," she said, "and I don't know if I would date a trans woman." Why? "Because," she said, and she started to choose her words very carefully. I don't think she liked saying what she was saying any more than I liked hearing it. "What I love about women is ... they're soft. Delicate. Fragile ..."

Soft. Delicate. Fragile.

I'm those things! I swear! I'm soft. I'm delicate. I'm fragile. And I encourage you, dear reader, while those three words echo and retreat in the background — soft (soft soft), delicate (delicate delicate), fragile (fragile fragile) — to envision a montage of Your Chicken Farmer Truly holding a bird down on a stump and swinging the hatchet (soft), shoveling shit (delicate), flying through the air drenched in soccer sweat (fragile), skinning knees, muddying socks, playing tackle football, swinging from trees, chopping wood, climbing in and out of Dumpsters, slam-dancing to punk rock, hammering oil drums into musical instruments, and just generally kicking this world's ass.

Now ... there are two things I crave and have always craved even more than sucked-clean chicken bones or sex. In no particular order: athletic glory and to be female.

I never once wanted to be taller. I was the third-smallest boy in my class, and I envied the first-smallest. I was cut from my high school baseball team; reason given: "too short." But I never in my life, wanted to be taller than I was, ever. When I got my first female driver's license, I lied about my height, not weight. I said five-six instead of five-seven.

So I play on this Brazilian soccer team. I can't speak Portuguese, but I pass for Brazilian. I love playing with this team because they're good. The guys, the girls, they know how to pass the ball and where to be when. I am the weak link. Only three women showed up on Sunday, so I got to play the whole game. I got to play forward, which I never do.

We were playing the best team in the league, and I was open the whole first half, but they would not pass me the ball. We were winning 3–1 at halftime. In the second half we were losing 4-3, then tied, then down 5–4 with time running out.

We're Brazilian, but old. I'm 44, and I was not so open in the second half as in the first. However, in the final minute of the game, down by one, we had the ball and we had a shot. Our guy crossed it in front of their goal, and it sailed over the head of one of our best players, who was making a brilliant run up the center. I didn't realize until the last second that I was sneaking in, uncovered, behind the pass's likely intended target, toward the far post. I tried to time it just so, and I leaped for all I was worth, wishing for the first time that I was just one inch taller, as the ball skimmed the very top of my head, parted my hair down the middle, and is still rolling, as far as I know.

The whistle blew, and I clunked off the field with my head in my hands, knowing that any other player on the team would have made that goal. Hell, if I'd put five-seven on my driver's license, I'd have made it.

I once asked a straight male friend about a straight male friend of his. "Oh, he's single," I was told, "but there's no way he'd go out with a dude." I pointed out that I wasn't, technically speaking, a dude.

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