CHEAP EATS Wish I could take the two parties I went to on Saturday and superimpose them onto each other, so that the Rockridge moms and dads could mix with the young trans men, drag kings, and queer burlesque performers.
When I mentioned this seemingly surreal idea to Alice Shaw after our soccer game Sunday, she said, simply, "Do it. You can!" And she teaches photography, so I decided to believe her.
Not only that, but since my own training is technically as a fiction writer, I think I'll bring my buddy Earl Butter with me to both parties, even though in real life I only ate lunch with him and then dropped him off at his house.
Earl Butter deserves a bigger piece of pie. Don't you think?
"My whole life has been a series of disappointments," Earl Butter really did say, at lunch. "One after the other after the other, and eventually you reach the point where one more thing ... well, it might just be the one that breaks you."
We were both looking at his piece of pie, and it was, in fact, astonishingly small. Small enough to put inside a teacup. Small enough to break anyone's spirit.
I gave him half my piece. To be honest, I didn't miss it. If I go back to Mission Pie, it will be for a cup of coffee.
Now, to show you what a great friend and altruistic farmer I really really am, after lunch I took Earl Butter with me to this Kentucky Derby party in Oakland. Of course you heard that a 50:1 long-shot won, by a mile, and that gives me more hope than Susan Boyle gave everyone else.
But I already had more hope than is good for me, anyway.
Anyway, so I met this big fat queer stripper chick stage-named Kentucky Fried Woman at a burlesque show. "I've heard all about you," I said, because I had. I'd heard that she has a Derby party every year and makes buttloads of the Best Fried Chicken Ever.
Praise the Lard ... it's true!
And there were biscuits, and corn bread, and mac 'n' cheese, and every possible shade of white and yellow things to eat, but I have a confession to make: I went to two shows in one week and didn't get the burlesque thing. I mean, song and dance and comedy I understand, but the part that ends in swirling pasties? ... Nothing. I'm sorry.
This probably seems like sour grapes coming from an uncurvaceous woman with sour grape-sized tits, so it probably is sour grapes. And/or to me, life itself is almost unbearably sexy as it is, with it's fried chicken and red umbrellas, its beautiful people, licking their lips.
A friend had to explain it to me. But I still didn't get it. Maybe the striptease, like fried chicken itself, is simply not for everyone. That was how I decided to leave it.
Then I went to this party. Then, later that night, I went to this other party. I was on the dance floor talking to my two new favorite people: the woman whose children I watch, and the mom next door, our hostess, who was wearing a wig, false eyelashes, it being her birthday.
Perhaps giddy at having found sitters, one or two other people were wearing wigs. That was it. Oh, and one guy was wearing a cowboy hat. I was wearing what I always wear: a skirt, a shirt, and a little mascara.
"I've been watching you," Cowboy Hat blurted, as soon as we'd been introduced. He seemed unable to contain himself. "And I have to say," he spilled, "that you have really impressed me with your outfit!" I think he was a doctor. He had to notice the life leaving me as he went on and on, congratuutf8g me on my get-up, my costume, how well I'd done!
Worst of all, he meant all this as a kindness, so vodka and tonic in his face was not an option.
The only way to shut him up, which didn't hit me soon enough, sadly, was to unbutton my shirt, swing it over my head, and let it fly. I undid my bra, my skirt, the music erasing the rest as I danced down to my exact body, the song, finally getting it. *
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L.E. Leone's new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.