"It's a good thing I was born a female, or I'd have been a drag queen."
If you ever been in a state of such utter manic boredom that you were curious about what it might be like to spend time with my wife and me, all you have to do is run right out and rent "The Birdcage". The movie with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a homosexual nightclub owner and his lover and star attraction. We're identical.
Not exactly, of course. Robin Williams' character (Armand Goldman) was a much better dresser than I am, and he was in better shape. But aside from a minor difference in sexual preference, watching his basic style and his deadpan, sarcastic delivery is very much like spending an evening with me. Sad, isn't it? Their home decor is even close to ours, although we have more nekkid lady artwork and way more laundry laying around. And every time Albert (played by Lane) yelps, I look at Teres. She just smiles and looks puzzled. Who, me?
It's true. She shrieks, at every caprice of fate, real and imagined. Spilled soup. Yellow traffic lights. A ringing phone. Abrupt oral sex. Flash bulbs. Getting a question right while watching "Win Ben Stein's Money". And if you combine all these, it gets worse.
Just judging by her fashion sense alone, she belongs up on the strip. 4'11" and a 41 DD, she's already realized that dressing sedately ain't agonna make a bit of difference, so why not be wild? Purples and pinks, scarves and leopard-print tights, low-cut tops and strange hats. Nothing trashy, more like a short, buxom Stevie Nicks. Or maybe a gypsy fortune-teller in 1/4 scale (although she refuses to admit that she might be short — instead, she feels sympathy for those of us she considers "freakishly tall").
"…and when a gay man has way too much fashion sense for one gender, he is a drag queen."
– Wesley Snipes, "To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything. Julie Newmar"
But the most telling aspect is the hardest to explain – the attitude. It's hard to pin down exactly what it is, exactly. It could be the way she can wear 5 articles of clothing that were never intended by God to go together, and make it work. It could be the way her mind works, such as when our friend mentions wanting to get her car painted and Teres immediately ran out, bought a case of spray paint and organized an impromptu open-air painting party. I think the phrase is "over the top", and that's the way to live. One of the presents she got for me last Christmas was a mannequin torso she had bought from a store that was going out of business. She painted nipples and tanlines on it (I like tanlines) and added just a few soft brunette curls in the appropriate inappropriate place, then dressed it in the incredibly tacky orange nightie I gave her the year before (I'm assuming that was a coincidence). The mannequin sits atop my filing cabinet and makes a nice little conversation piece, especially after we added the stuffed woman's leg (with bright red stuffed high-heeled pump attached) she found for me in a thrift store a year ago. Bit by bit, she's buildng me a woman.
Our bedroom is the lair of a drag queen. Since I had no preference, the walls were painted purple at her request. Then sponged pink. Then sponged a different purple. Oddly enough, it works, giving the room an old Victorian feel. Scarves cover every flat surface, a dresser she didn't like got painted hot pink, my bookshelves became a dark wine, and the waterbed is a huge soft heap of cloth — we never throw out blankets or comforters, we just pile more on. Doesn't bother me, it's extremely comfortable and there's always scarves handy when you need to tie something down…
Flamboyant. Excitable. Outrageous. And possessing that feminine quality that seems to come easier to drag queens than to actual women, the style that separates drag queens from transsexuals. Poise. Dignity. Playfulness. Constant hand gestures. The eternal state of Grace Kelly and general Rita Hayworthiness. Life is rarely boring.
If you have never attended a drag show, go. Seriously. Check around and find a good one, one where the ladies involved spend time and attention on their acts, their looks and their styles. You'll have a ball, no matter what gender you prefer to take home. Signs of a good drag show:
The place is clean, and there are very few undecorated bits. If it looks like a regular bar with some tinsel tossed over the moulding, skip it. You want a dedicated place.
Look for clubs with regular performers. All great drag shows have at least one diva, the star that repeat customers keep coming to see. She probably won't be the prettiest one there, and almost certainly won't be the youngest, but she'll be the funniest and most personable performer you'll ever see.
Make sure they've got a good stage and a great sound system.
Look for professional shows. Amateur nights can be a hoot, but it can also be the scariest thing you've ever seen. Go with the pros.
Find a club that doesn't discourage straight patrons. You can only find this by experimentation, but you'll know right away. Even if you are gay, you want a club that's primarily there for the party, not for the pick-up. You don't want to be afraid to go to the bathrooms. Note – you know, this also applies to straight clubs.
And as this is the month of Valentine's Day, now is the time to celebrate this attitude and encourage it. Take her to a show. Buy her an outrageous outfit that would only go unnoticed in a disco prom, then take her to dinner. Dress a little outré yourself, why not? "Over the top" is a necessary component of Valentine's Day, and we'll offer you some specifics next week. But for now, I honor my wife the luscious Teresa, draq queen extraordinaire.