i was never allowed to watch talk shows
which made them endlessly appealing to me
I would stay home sick from school with diet cherry seven up, liptons chicken soup and paperdolls, all I needed spread out on the coffee table and the princess bride in the tape player
but as soon as my mother left the house I would flip on the television,
scan through the channels,
the screen would glow bright with
longlegged lolitas, ball-breaking jailbirds, incestuous cousins,
I would stare wide-eyed as oversized drag queens paraded across the box
shaking what god didn’t give them
the aphrodites would raise from the audience, born in the waves of excitement, screaming ‘how can you live like this? you are a disgrace’
Aphrodite the hermaphrodite
which garnered responses of hiss and blur from the pink and turquoise stage.
girls in short sequined skirts would dance on imaginary poles, shouting, can you believe I was a geek in high school? a thousand pound woman would brag about her lovers
or a punk rock goth boi would be made under into mr republican 1993
the phone would ring, and I would answer, exaggerating the weakness in my voice ‘yes mommy I feel ok, but I wouldn’t say I feel good.’
‘are you watching television? what are you watching?’ she would ask
‘just price is right, mommy.’ it wasn’t any use, she always knew the truth, even if she didn’t hear the audience screaming ‘it’s a man! no it’s a chick!’ in the background. ‘they are talking about a blender’ I would say. ’12 dollars!!! $12.50!’ I would add for affect.
she could tell I was eating up the 12 year old Mexican runaway, the Saturday night latex model/ Sunday school teacher. my eyes devoured the salacious titles,
‘I was fat but now I’m all that!’
‘my man will stay and you will pay!’
‘don’t be crazy, you know its your baby!’
I learned the terminology of daytime tv, like ‘cross dressing’ and ‘paternity test’, ‘three way’ and the perfect way to drag my words when saying
‘that just ain’t right.’
and it just wasn’t right. but it was perfect
it was the world outside of my cul-de-sac, a world bathed in neon lights and techno beats, where everyone has an opinion, an identity,
and a rhyming juxtapositional slogan.
some of those men were the women I wanted to be.