Plaisir


I Was A Teenage Beauty Queen
January 21, 2009, 4:13 PM
Filed under: Adolescence, Self-Expression, Work Bitch! | Tags:

Parents are annoyingly perceptive, it seems.  Maybe perceptive is the wrong word.  All-knowing, maybe?  Or intuitive?  Certainly observant, if nothing else.   They claim that they have “eyes in the back of their head,” when I actually think they just having homing devices planted deep within the walls of our small intestines.  It’s really the only logical explanation I can think of.

I say this because my parents knew the most intimate secret of mine before I ever decided to expose it to the world.  I guess you could argue that the play dates with Barbies and the constant testing of my mother’s foundation was a dead giveaway, that there was hardly a secret to begin with, but I wish my parents could just be like the rest of the world when they see these things and just deny them until they become invisible.

When I came out to my parents, there was no battle to fight.  There was no struggle, no argument, no fires to put out.  At best, there was a wry smile, a shrug, and a subtle cough coming from my mother from this tickle in her throat she’s been having for a while.  I couldn’t believe it.  The most life-changing and pivotal moment in my young life and my parents reacted as if they were watching a re-run of According To Jim: “Eh…well…yes, we did see that coming…”

It wasn’t like I was actually offended, I was more so relieved.  The only disappointment came from the fact that I didn’t get to do something dramatic like flourish out of the room and say, “If you can’t accept me for who I am, then you can’t have me as a son!”  I’d pack my bags, take a bus to Montreal, get completely wasted and go home with the bouncer.  He’d tell me that I was beautiful, fuck me ruthlessly, and we’d live happily ever after.  My parents would call me every once in a while to check up, but I wouldn’t answer.  I was too busy learning how to make papier mache.

Again, not that I actually wanted to do any of that, but it was more exciting then what actually happened.

Coming out to my friends was just as easy, which was tolerable.  They were mostly happy and, once again, hardly surprised.  “Well, of course I knew, I was just waiting for you to say something!”  It’s really unfair if you think about it.  What if you walked into a room full of people who were all chatting and you just came back from the bathroom with your genitals still hanging out.  Instead of someone coming up and saying, “Dude, put that away,” everyone just stops talking and stares until you notice.  Embarrased, you zip up and ask the person next to you why they didn’t tell you your penis decided to join the party, they just smile and say, “I was just waiting for you to say something!”  How rude.

When I came out, my entire countenance changed.  I rejected my old wardrobe of cargo shorts and hawaiian-print button downs and started shopping around in my sister’s closet.  I began to walk with a swagger, and not the kind that Johnny Cash had (think J-Lo).  I wore Calgon and flipped my hair.  I constantly checked my nails for any sort of imperfection and peppered the word “girl” into almost every sentence.  I went from being a dorky gamer to a transexual beauty queen.  Hyperbole applied, of course.

One of my favorite changes was going from sweet to sassy in about a week.  Fortunately, I had the perfect punching bag in mind for my newly found inner bitchiness.  Mrs. Jacobs, a registered Nazi and flowered frock enthusiast, was my English teacher for half the year that I came out.  She ate psalms for breakfast and always walked a little faster when she passed a black student in the hallway.  She claimed, quite adamantly, that gay squirrels were a figment of our imaginations, much like evolution and 100-calorie snack packs.  And worst of all, she heartily supported a “vaccination” for the homosexual disease.  I didn’t learn much about English that year, but I sure learned a lot about hate, as the incarnate of it was writing assignments on the chalkboard.

During class, Mrs. Jacobs and I would terrorize each other, her more so than me, but her way was always much more, for lack of a better word, dainty.  Mine was much more renegade and clever, but yet she always appeared to be unphased by it.  Regardless, the argument that I never got to have with my parents, I got to have with her every day at 10:14 AM.

One day, I brought a bright red beaded choker to her class, so that I could wear it, simply to piss her off.  My friend Jessie was sitting behind me, so as Mrs. Jacobs was talking, I nodded towards her so that she could put it on for me.  As Jessie was hooking said choker to my neck, Mrs. Jacobs stopped in mid-sentence.  “Chris…take that ridiculous thing off right this instant.”

This was one of my favorite games.  “But…don’t you like it?”  The class snickered.

She rolled her eyes. “Please, just take it off, it’s distracting.”

“I think it’s quite exquisite.  Don’t you?”

“Just…please…take it off…”

Suddenly, I had a better idea.  I took it off and got up, “Here…why don’t you try it on?  It’d look great on you!”  I took one step and she staggered like a wounded elk.  “Enough!  Sit down and stop interrupting my class room with your shennanigans!”  The fear in her eyes was like sweet nectar, and I drank it all in before I finally took my seat.  I crossed my legs, set the choker down, and gestured for her to continue.  It was, in my opinion, one of my finest hours in high school.

However, Mrs. Jacobs wasn’t the only one that had something to say about my openess.  Kids I barely knew in the hallway began to talk about me, and it usually whatever they were saying wasn’t very good.  I was called a faggot usually around once a week, and people would even start throwing things at me in the lunch room.  For whatever reason, it wasn’t as easy to confront them as it was to confront Mrs. Jacobs.  My peers were different; I wanted them to like me, no matter how many milk cartons they beamed at my head.

It was second hour my sophomore year, that I realized I couldn’t have both, as is typical of high school.  You have two choices.  You either be yourself and have everyone hate you for it, or be someone else and be popular.  Second hour was jazz band, which I played clarinet in.  Besides the other clarinetist in the band Ali, everyone else was a guy, and the guyiest guys were the trumpet section, and they sat right behind me.  I was putting my clarinet together when one of the guys made a wretching noise, as if he had just swallowed hot oil.  “Sick!  Look at his fingers!”

I looked down at my fingers pressed against the clarinet keys.  I had painted them a bright blue yesterday so they would match my shirt for today.  I could feel the heat rising in my face, and I knew that he wasn’t going to let this go.  “Why the hell would you do something like that?”

I remember opening my mouth to say that I was gay, but then for some reason, I thought better of it.  I didn’t say anything at all.  I turned back, my face swollen with embarrasment.  I went home that day and took the nail polish off.

So began my second transformation, into a person I never was.  Into someone that the trumpet player may have found socially acceptable, but not me.  I chose being liked over being happy, and for a while, I may have been happy being liked, but I wasn’t me.

Regardless of the outcome, there’s really nothing like the freedom of expression.  While the phrase “coming out of the closet” may be a bit cliche, it’s exactly how I felt.  Like I was sheltered and alone, locked in a room, being kept from my true self.  When I told everyone I was gay, the enormous burden was lifted, and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone.  I felt like I had to explore my sexuality, discover what it was to be a gay man.  I would never take it back.  But I can honestly say that you will never find me wearing nail polish ever again.

Well, I can say it…but maybe not honestly.

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