Once when you were thirteen in his mother's basement you took off your shirt and wrapped a blanket around yourself like a strapless gown, held it together in the back with a clip from a bag of pretzels, and made him slow dance with you to "You're Still The One" by Shania Twain. You had split three Mike's Hard Lemonades between the both of you and at the end of the song you kissed him, leaned in and pressed your open lips against his closed ones, and then fell back onto the couch and let the blanket slip off one of your shoulders. He didn't say anything, just sat on the other couch and turned the TV on and flipped until he found a movie, pausing for a while at a commercial for Girls Gone Wild on the way. Two weeks later, in the parking lot of a Burger King at one in the morning, he kissed you back, mouth open, hands clasped cold around your arms. He pulled away after a minute, said, "No. I tried, I wanted to try, but, no," and sat on the curb, pressing his thumbs into his eyes. "I'm sorry."
And now he's on stage in a dress he borrowed from his girlfriend, tight and floral and hitting just above his knees, playing bass for a punk band that he hates for stealing other people's gimmicks, although, they get booked, so he shouldn't really complain. But he does complain, and you let him, Saturday afternoons spent getting high on your couch and moaning about having to get up in drag to make anyone pay attention. Some days he asks for your confirmation that it's not offensive, a bunch of straight guys in dresses, and other days he demands you tell him that it is, and both times you'll agree, nodding your head and folding yourself into ever-tighter knots.
His girlfriend's name is Heather and your boyfriend's name is Kyle and they have never met each other until. Once, almost, but you told Kyle you felt nauseated before the party and made him stay home. When you picture them meeting it does make you nauseated, like blowing out a candle and watching the wax harden. But one day they do meet. They had to. It's outside the club where you give your second-ever performance as pop starlet Hit-me Queers, which means you have to stand there in a blonde wig and tacky heels in the January cold as they talk, anxious and smiling.
Kyle says, "It's weird this is the first time I've ever seen you."
Heather says, "I know! So weird. I hear about you, like, all the time."
"You'll have to come see one of his shows, now, you know."
"Totally. Totally! I'd love to, I hear the band is amazing."
"They are amazing. And you'll get to see my boyfriend in drag."
"Isn't it great, to see our boyfriends in dresses?"
They laugh, and you look at him, and he looks at you, and you see the ground shift under his feet. Just an inch. Just enough to let him go.
About the Author: Rob H. Dawson is a writer and professional internet person from the Midwest who now lives in New York. His writing has also been featured on The Rumpusand not really anywhere else, yet. He tweets about Oprah and nonsense at @robhdawson.
Story Song: "You're Still The One" by Shania Twain
Photo Credit: Leesa Cross-Smith