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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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10.24.02, wednesday afternoon

This year, Iím gonna be a Big Bad Wolf. Since I have the attention span of a 14-year-old boy, my costumes for the last few years have been last-minute witchy affairs, culled from a wardrobe of black and tight delectables. This year, I want to be warm and (faux) furry, not sexy but cold in the Castro.

Not that wearing a costume on Halloween is a big deal; except when I sleep (naked), Iím in drag everyday. Girlie in high heels and scandalous hems; sullen cowboy in muddy boots; androgynous in military-cut jacket, rakish hat pulled low over manicured brow: this is all costume to me, whether or not the deception is successful.

Often it is not. Often I am mistaken for a librarian. Like by the bouncer at the Arrow Bar. Or by a gang of bears who try to kidnap you, cajoling, You must be a librarian witch! Or at parties, by people who hiss into your ear in the dark, Come here, I want to tell you something.

Now watching people in drag, thatís a big deal. ĎTil the day I die, the city will always be a masquerade ball that is free to the public, stinky, noisy, dangerous.

Ö

After I board the 9 and sit down, a man studies me carefully, before pronouncing in a voice like scorpion legs scrabbling across desert sand, You must be a librarian!

But you ainít, Ďcuz you had to ask for directions, so you must be a stewardess. . . . Stewardess, get me a drink.

Then he proceeds to conduct a conversation with me, switching between one voice to another, falsetto one, ordering lobster legs and okra fried Tennessee-style, like my momma used to make, before telling stories, of how he was born of dust and how he will return to dust, of how he had, once upon a time, been strong and beautiful, among the flowers that bloomed in a field somewhere in Tennessee.






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