chick like me- Part 2 (added more to it)
“Chick Like Me”: Part II
Beads covered the floor. Jewelry was randomly strewn all over the room, as were various scarves of posh fabric, dresses, skirts, and formfitting blouses. There were dangerously flared black pleather jeans and a Happy Bunny shirt reading “I’m princess. Deal with it.” Padded bras of various sizes and levels of sexiness hung from the door handles. There were several wigs on the chair, ranging from knee-length cascading light brown waves to short blue-black choppy ‘dos to medium brown straight long styles. The edges of the mirror were painted purple, and Shawn noticed the paint peeling- he threw a jazzy fuchsia belt over the mirror to hide it.
Shawn gazed at the reflection in the mirror. He was no longer Shawn Hunter. The sensitive-looking, vulnerable, angsty, poetically mysterious boy was gone. Now there was a drop-dead gorgeous woman, voluptuous in a dangerous red-flamed tank top and matching flame pants, a straight long dark brown wig and daring burnt lipstick and showy gold jewelry. The haunted eyes gazing up from beneath the layers of mascara and kohl, however, were still the same.
“Who should I be tonight?” he asked the mirror, admiring the effect of the wicked red lipstick on his sensual, womanly lips. He picked up a list off the floor and read down the twenty-some purple glittery gel-pen names. Stacey? Nah- he used that one last week. Demelza? Sexy, but it didn’t have exactly the ring to it he was looking for tonight. Ariel? Too soft and wispy. He shook his head. He would have to add more names to the list. But he was getting late- the club was about to open, and he had to come up with a name before then. Suddenly he came up with the perfect idea.
“Veronica,” he said, pronouncing the syllables caressingly, lasciviously. “Perfect.”
He had used Veronica the first time he ever dressed in drag, seven years ago when he was fifteen. He had done it to help Cory out with an article for the high school newspaper- the article was called “chick like me.” That day, he had told no one, but he had for the first time filled a void that had been in him since he was about five, when he saw the trailer park girls smearing lipstick on each other and lounging about on the midnight benches, batting their beaded eyelashes at the older boys in the gangs. He realized that he had wanted this all his life- to dress up beautifully and to delight in his feminine side. Now, though he was a struggling young writer in a rundown flat, he could do it once a week at the club three blocks away.
This was his favorite part, really, he thought as he sauntered down the street to go to the club, clutching his minibag and making eye contact with everyone. Girls glared at him jealously, and boys and men looked him up and down and nudged each other. He thought he saw one girl, dressed in a black shirt with an inverted pink triangle and menswear cargo pants, look at him the way many young men looked at him- full of innocent yearning that was quite different from everyone else’s glances. Pretty girl, really- he thought- maybe I could make a point to run into her at the coffee shop tomorrow morning. He slowly made his way into the club, and was met with many other similar curious glances. No one recognized him from the week before- last week he was Cassandra, light sandy-blond and frail and shy, who had to be coaxed onto the dance floor. So unlike the bold Veronica he was tonight. He wondered for a moment how he would characterize Shawn Hunter in a few catchwords, then shook his head to clear it and asked the leering barman for his usual order, pineapple juice, no ice.
Veronica downed her pineapple juice, lazily taking in the scene. The colored lights were making her dizzy, without any need for alcohol or drugs- the sugar from the pineapple juice and the techno music and the sight of so many beautiful young people dancing and lounging about was always enough to get Shawn Hunter high. Veronica was about to wiggle her way to the dance floor and start enchanting everyone with her newfound raving skills, when she- he- saw a familiar face about twenty feet away.
Shawn gasped. It was Topanga Lawrence Matthews. She strolled in, coolly surveying the scene.
Before he could decide what to do, he saw with a jolt another face- his buddy Cory’s older brother, Eric, the only man Shawn had ever known whose hair could compete with his own. Then he felt a spasm of shock- in came Cory, looking quite nervous and awkward, as usual.
The three hadn’t changed much- Topanga was as cool and confident as ever, only prettier, and Shawn felt a rush of jealousy when he saw Cory throw his arm around her, but suppressed it at once, as he had done all those years in school and college. Cory looked slightly older and slightly less goofy, but he still had the same friendly grin and the Brillo-pad hair which had always made Shawn wonder why Topanga liked him. Eric- Eric had finally found the perfect hairstyle, and was looking exceptionally debonair in a close-fitting black shiny dress shirt and matching pants. Cory and Topanga were, as usual, fine by themselves, but Eric kept restlessly looking around at the groups of girls clustered in corners. It was Eric who spotted Shawn- Veronica- first. As Shawn sat stock-still in shock, Eric glanced in appreciation at Veronica’s killer outfit and fine features, and began to swagger over nonchalantly and slick back his hair.
It was too late to hide. He had already been spotted. Shawn’s only recourse now was to pretend not to have seen Eric, to make sure Eric couldn’t look at his face too closely, and to pretend to be hostile and not interested. Maybe, if he was lucky, Eric would leave soon without recognizing him, and Shawn could make a quick exit. Shawn pretended to be absorbed in drinking the dregs in the pineapple juice glass, and took no notice at all as Eric noisily sat down beside him.
“Hey,” said Eric, in a deeper voice than Shawn remembered. “You look familiar. Have I seen you before?”
Shawn panicked- and then he realized that this was probably just a pickup line. Typical Eric. “I don’t think so,” said Shawn, being careful to keep his face turned away from Eric.
“Oh, sorry, I thought you were someone I knew,” said Eric, though it was plain that Eric knew he had never seen Veronica before. “I’m Eric, by the way. What’s your name?”
“Veronica,” said Shawn, his voice bored, but Eric did not notice this.
“Veronica,” said Eric, still in the same feigned deep voice. “Nice name.”
At this, Shawn said nothing but visibly altered his posture- if Eric got the hint that Veronica was not interested, maybe Eric would go away. But then again he had always had rather a thick skull. Shawn was looking across the room at a guy who appeared to be alone. He contemplated dashing over to him and giving him a big hug and calling him by some random name. He was sure the lonely guy would not object, or at least that he would not make a scene- then once Eric was out of earshot he could apologize to the man and make his escape. The guy was gazing vaguely into the dance floor.
Shawn was on the point of frostily saying “Excuse me” and leaving Eric when Cory and Topanga strolled over to the bar, smiling at the sight of Eric with a girl. Shawn rolled his kohled eyes in despair. It was too late to dash away now.
“So Eric, who’s your new friend?” beamed Topanga, sitting on another stool.
“Guys, this is Veronica. Veronica, this is my brother Cory and his wife Topanga.” Eric couldn’t keep the little edge of pride out of his voice.
“Hi,” said Topanga, grinning and shaking Veronica’s hand. Shawn felt a little jolt but made a huge effort to avoid Topanga’s eyes, which were sizing him up.
“Hell-o, Veronica,” said Cory, looking at him a little like Eric had looked at him from across the room. He held out his hand too, and Shawn shook it, staring vaguely at a point over Cory’s shoulder, wishing he had worn thicker makeup or a more unique wig. Cory held Veronica’s hand a little longer than necessary- Shawn was a truly accomplished drag queen- but Topanga stepped on his foot and he let go immediately. Shawn watched this scene, amused- and then Cory’s expression changed as he scrutinized Veronica’s face.
“Have I seen you somewhere?”
Now was his chance- to leave and to prevent the inevitable. He quickly scanned the crowd, but the lonely guy had gone- everyone was dancing. He had no choice but to stay there. “I don’t think so,” said Veronica, and then she gasped- Shawn had forgotten to disguise his voice.
Topanga realized it first. Her eyes widened in shock.
“Cory,” she hissed. “Cory, it’s Shawn!”
“Shawn who? What?” said Cory, confused. Then his eyes also expanded to colossal proportions.
“I think you’re making a mistake. I’m Veronica. I don’t believe we’ve met.” Shawn made sure to use the girlish voice this time. But it was too late.
“Yes, we have met, Ver-o-ni-ca,” said Topanga craftily. “As I recall, you even wore the same wig when you helped Cory write ‘Chick Like Me.’”
Shawn couldn’t handle the pressure of everybody’s eyes on him. There was absolutely no escape now. He had to meet the eyes of the three people now scrutinizing him from top to bottom. Wow, he thought- this will be interesting.
“So you actually LIKE doing this?” said Cory at last, fooling with the strap of the tank top, expression having trouble deciding between disgust, curiosity and simple amusement- eventually it settled on curious. “Interesting.”
But he continued to fool with the tank top strap. In a panic, Veronica looked to Topanga for support. Oddly, he found it easy to look into her eyes now, as though they were nothing more than old friends- as though he had never felt anything for her. Or maybe that was just because Topanga’s eyes had gone that weird unattractive blue that happened only when she was angry or calculating something, or both. She stepped between the two boys, snatched Cory’s hand away from Veronica’s shoulder, and pulled Cory close to her in an unconvincing masquerade of a caress. She cleared her throat and took a stab at normal conversation.
“So, ahem, Veronica… do you make appearances here often?”
“Well, sometimes,” said Shawn, thinking of all the other girls he had been, and all the girls he still had yet to be. “I mean, mostly I write during the week and just go out on Saturdays.” Veronica chuckled nervously- and very attractively, as Eric noticed. “What about you all? What’s been going on?” Cory went into a long schpiel about how he decided he wanted to open up a sporting goods store and was saving up money, and how Tippy was going to law school the following year, and how they were planning on having a baby soon, and how they wanted to travel the world, etc., etc. Veronica let him continue- she didn’t even care much that Cory was still ogling her faux chest, as long as it delayed the moment when she would have to address Eric again.
“And, uh, what about you Eric?” she asked at last, looking anywhere but his intense eyes- she found ample relief in staring at his sleek black shirt and contemplating the evidence of muscles rippling beneath the silky fabric.
“I am well on my way to becoming the Channel Five Weatherman,” said Eric, puffing up with pride (and thus accentuating the already evident muscles). “The current guy’s retiring soon and he said I had ‘real potential’.” Distracted by this bit of sweet news, Shawn glanced up at his eyes. “That’s awesome,” he said- and froze.
Without realizing it he had inched up to Eric and now they were far too close even for this club. Their eyes were millimeters apart.
Eric smirked. “Wanna dance, Veronica?” he said- he said it like a challenge. Before Shawn, Cory or Topanga could react, Eric had whisked Veronica onto the dance floor, and they were attracting stares from everyone in the vicinity.
Neither boy knew how many hours they spent on that dance floor. Girls and boys, gay and straight, watched hungrily as this beautiful boy and this most beautiful woman in killer outfits tore the dance floor apart. All they knew was, at some point the club was closing and everyone, including Cory and Topanga, had left. Shawn could not recall ever drinking anything after the pineapple juice, but Veronica was walking unsteadily and leaning heavily into Eric’s chest when they were told to leave.
“You’re drunk,” said Eric. “Maybe you would be safer if you stayed the night in my apartment.”
Veronica nodded tipsily, and Eric scooped her up in his arms and carried her out of the door and onto the street. Eric carried her for several blocks, while Veronica dizzily fiddled with the buttons on that rich dark smooth smooth shirt.