Checking email on my phone while I wait for a flight to Los Angeles to visit my sister, I find one from Quentin. It’s titled "Immaculate Infection."
So, it says, Remember how my doctor wanted to talk to me about the results of my sperm test? Well, I guess I have a high red blood cell count. And it means I either have a urinary tract infection or gonorrhea. But DON’T WORRY. I CAN’T HAVE gonorrhea. It’s just NOT POSSIBLE. It would be the Immaculate Infection! But I’m going to get tested! I don’t have insurance anymore, so I have to go to a free clinic. And I’m leaving town so I’ll have to find a clinic while I’m traveling. But DON”T WORRY. Because it’s NOT EVEN POSSIBLE for me to have gonorrhea.
Hmmmm. OK. I love when people tell me not to worry. Because guess what I hate more than anything? Worrying. So I decide not to. Surely Quentin, the most wholesome drag queen in the whole world, can’t have gonorrhea. Only dirty sluts get gonorrhea! Preposterous.
I go on with my life, and Quentin goes on with his. I get missives from his travels -- he’s at his parent’s house in upstate New York, sneaking away to the local Planned Parenthood. They couldn’t help him, but we were both thrilled with the Afterschool Specialness of Quentin sneaking of to PP like a pregnant teen!
“I didn’t even know Planned Parenthood treated men!” I gasped.
“Yeah, gurl.” Quentin’s next plan was to hit up an STD clinic in Philadelphia. Getting tested at the free clinic seems like a totally natural thing for a queer to do while bumming around the country on your vacay. I’m serious. It really does.
Meanwhile, I land in Los Angeles and allow Madeline to catch me up on all the weird pop culture gossip I’ve somehow missed -- even though all I do is ruin my brain with cheap magazines -- and she somehow knows all about, even though she is raising a three-year-old and has nary a spare moment.
“You didn’t know that Beyonce totally didn’t have her baby and that her fake belly folded over like a flimsy Frisbee when she was sitting down on some Australian TV show?”
Madeline shows me the video on the interweb and then we spend a half hour having her stand up and sit down, watching how her pragnant belly does not fold over like a flimsy Frisbee.
“You don’t know about Kreayshawn?” My sister asks, incredulous. “She, like, lives in Oakland!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” I gush, and we watch Gucci Gucci and then this really sad crazy video of her stoned in some tawdry bedroom with all her creepy gay friends. Madeline then turns her attention toward me and informs me that my boobs are bigger.
“Really?” I ask, looking down at them. My friend Melinda had also mentioned that my boobs were bigger, giving me a thumbs up. Melinda is a hooker, so big boobs mean only one thing to her -- cash.
I look down at them. They are more visible lately, what with how tight my clothes have gotten. “I guess they are,” I mumble, unimpressed. I don’t particularly care about my boobs getting bigger. I mean, it would be nice to be able to fill out certain garments the way the gay men who designed them intended; it would also be nice to find a BRA, as they don’t really make them for my size, presuming, I presume, that most ladies with such shamefully small cups would have augmented by now.
Once, at a more upscale lingerie boutique, the saleswoman actually brought me a CUPLESS BRA, because it was one of the three bras she had in stock for boobs like mine. Yes -- a CUPLESS BRA. Just a couple bits of curving under where your boobs go. Here is a bra that fits you -- it is literally NO BRA AT ALL!
OK sometimes I manage to find a wildly padded number that makes me look like I’m so ashamed of my petite melons I’ve wrapped them in foam bunting and hoping nobody notices. Or some stretchy haltery things meant for 12-year-old tomboys who hate their bodies. So, that could be a useful aspect of my boobs getting bigger, but they haven’t gotten THAT much bigger, and are still smaller than my belly. That’s the only thing that bums me out about my teeny boobs. That they can be smaller than my cheese-bloated belly seems wrong.
Oh speaking of bloated, my period is late. The five days of spotting that normally announce the onset of my menses like trumpeters announcing the court jester haven’t happened. I took a pregnancy test -- of course I did! -- and it was negative. But still -- no period.
“I got negative tests for a while with Olivia,” Madeline tells me.
My sister nods her head. We are strolling through the L.A. Zoo with Olivia, who is super into the elephants. On this visit I am really feeling the bear. Feeling bad for it, firstly -- some animals pain you more than others when you see them in their zoo confines, and the bear in his little diorama of fake bear habitat seems particularly heartbreaking. But I love the shape of him. I think of the Native American renderings of bears, how their butts are always so round, and it’s true, this bear has a big round bear butt and it makes me love it.
In between gawking at animals I dash into the bathroom, sure that I feel something in my underwear. "It’s your period," I sternly tell myself, trying to quash any rising hopes that I could be preggers. No hope allowed here. When you have hope you risk having DASHED HOPE. What a bummer! I’m aiming for a state of zero hope so that I can be PLEASANTLY SURPRISED. I’d choose pleasant surprise over dashed hope any day -- wouldn’t you?
But again and again there is no blood in my underwear. No watercolor smears on the toilet paper when I wipe. I AM having some discharge, which could make me worry seeing as my sperm donor has been alerted to a possible STD, but as I’ve been instructed not to worry, I decide not to.
And to be real, my vagine is a font of mystery. I think of it as a magical grotto, dark and earthy, where spring water leaches from the mossy walls, creating tinkly waterfalls. My vagine is the sort of enchanted cavern where a young maiden may have a vision of the Virgin Mary. I mean there is always some sort of wetness happening down there. Sometimes it’s gooey, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s pastey, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s white-ish. Usually it’s in my underwear but sometimes it just hangs like a vine from my vagine while I sit on the toilet, amazed, pondering all
I don’t understand about my body. I think -- is this normal? Then I think about all the writings geared towards young women who think their bodies are abnormal. The moral of these writings is always, Don’t worry, you’re normal! So I don’t worry. Like I said, given the opportunity to not worry, I won’t.
Sometimes I get slight yeast infection, which usually passes on its own before I even decide it was in fact a yeast infection. Occasionally BV rears its stinky head. Whenever I’m in Mexico, I stock up on these excellent suppositories at the Pharmacia, Trexen Duo. Pale pink eggs that look like candy bon bons, and they’re a sort of all-purpose vaginal mystery healer.
Not sure if it’s a yeast infection or BV or what? Don’t worry -- just pop a Trexen Duo up there and got to sleep! In the morning, your discharge is pink. Cute! And in a few days, no discharge at all. Just like the amazing Nestle cereal Extra Pasion, which comes with chunks of chocolate scattered among the flakes, there is no equivalent of Trexen Duo in the United States. Just another thing wrong with this country.
Wow, did I just take you on a tour of my vaginal discharge? One wonders what’s taken me so long! Anyway, the point of all that is -- I keep not having my period, and I’m sure I’m not having any gonorrhea, either.
In the car ride back from the Zoo, Madeline gently encourages me to allow myself to be a bit hopeful about my situation. Never mind hopeful -- she wants me to engage in such psychologically dangerous activity as EXCITEMENT. I’m trying to get pregnant. It’s going to happen. I’m allowed to get excited thinking about and talking about how cute the baby is going to be, how cute my family with Dashiell. Madeline makes it all sound so fun, I find myself flushing with anticipation. It feels reckless, but I do it. I conjure baby Theo, toddling around, learning to walk, clutching my fingers with their own stubby, chubby baby fingers. Dashiell in front of us, cheering us on with her big, dazzling Dashiell -- smile, her magical Anime eyes. We talk about baby fashion, baby décor, baby toys and baby books
Speaking of books, I don’t like to visit my niece Olivia empty-handed, and I usually like to bring a book. This time it’s "Ten Thousand Dresses" by my friend Marcus Ewert, with art by the legendary Rex Ray, who designed the culty High Risk book covers back in the 90s. "Ten Thousand Dresses" is the tale of a boy named Bailey who is really a girl, and dreams each night of all the fantastical dresses she isn’t allowed to wear. She gets bullied by her brother and handled harshly by his parents, but then makes friends with a girl down the street who totally gets that Bailey is a girl, and they make beautiful, avant-garde dresses together. It’s a fantastic book, and Olivia loves it.
Madeline had requested such a story, because Olivia had been talking about how boys don’t wear dresses, and Madeline wanted her to understand that boys can and do wear dresses, even if it doesn’t happen all that often. But Bailey isn’t presented as a boy who wants to wear dresses, but a boy who is actually a girl. We wonder if Olivia is getting it.
“Bailey is a boy,” I say to my niece, “But really, she’s more like a girl. She’s a boy who’s a girl. Like Dashiell! Remember Dashiell?”
How could Olivia forget Dashiell? We told her that Dashiell had flown a plane once, and now she thinks that Dashiell is an airline pilot.
“Well, Dashiell is a girl, right? But she’s more like a boy, isn’t she?”
Olivia nodded her head.
“Some girls are more like boys, and some boys are more like girls.” It’s complex, but it’s never too early to hip kids to the reality of gender, and Olivia totally gets it. Then she makes me read "Ten Thousand Dresses" 14 more times. Literally.
NEXT WEEK: To work out or not to work out?