Four score and seven years ago, I was friends with a transgender.
Actually still am. Just don’t know how much credit people give Abe Lincoln. For the right reasons, that is.
Everything I needed to know, I learned–in regards to alcohol, what women really want, and how to control my uncontrollable tears–from a chick with a dick.
This was all Platonic mind you, which actually is a bit ambiguous when you research it.
To clarify: the relationship was as gay as Tom Hanks and that other guy in Bosom Buddies, except one of us was gay.
Sharice and I became acquainted on an outrageous taxi ride that began in white suburban New Jersey and ended just into the Manhattan side of the Holland Tunnel.
Being compelled to make a living beyond my own means of simply taking up space, I’d taken a job. No details needed other than that on certain days at certain times my presence was demanded.
I would learn Sharice had similar circumstances, and not too dissimilar circumstances.
And so, as fate declared it one day, having a broken down train, tired of waiting on a platform with a biting wind cutting through my seersucker suit, and unsure of when the replacement train would arrive, I decided to bite the bullet and hire a car for the West Village.
Sharice and some high school kid going to Newark asked if they could ride along.
I didn’t care, and only a bigger dick than myself would have said “No.” I’d worked all day. I wasn’t gonna be paying for the ride anyway. That’s what the rich call “expense account” and/or “tax credit.”
So I said, “I don’t give a shit.”
The cab driver wished I’d said, “No!”
I’m glad I didn’t.
“Don’t let anyone mess with an original, Honey. They’ll always fuck it up! Everyone always claims they saw something first. No one ever did. Everything is like the moon. Who first saw the moon? No one we know, so why give a fuck. Anyone got a light? It’s all right if I smoke in here, right?”
So Sharice lit her smoke, the driver showed consternation, the kid rededicated himself to getting out of the Newark slums, and I wished the journey an immediate expedition so I could crack a beer and order Fat Sal’s late night pizza delivery.
(For full factual release: they deliver till 4 AM, delicious stuff , and one of the best deals in Manhattan: Fat Sal’s Pizza.)
“Mr. Beard,” she began, “where do your people come from?”
“Today? Or all time? I’m afraid I’m no good at history. It haunts me too much. I find myself too good at it. So I try to be bad at it. What was the question?”
“Who are you?” she asked in a fake Jamaican accent that I couldn’t have condemned Miss Cleo for: it was more authentic.
Who am I? When I finally stop breathing what will the difference be in the world? I’ll fill a need for carbon in the lives of plants, lessen the drain on social security, and I suppose a few people will cry.
She didn’t mean to be this intrusive, but 100 feet past the Manhattan side of the Holland Tunnel exit, it becomes apparent.
Sharice and the Persian cab driver get into a physical argument. I maintain Zen Buddhist tranquility by not getting involved. I’m the American Zen Buddhist. I watch and do nothing. Then proclaim my spiritual purity: I pay for my sins with bullshit pilates and suburban yoga.
She punches him in the eye as he attempts to punch her. She’s got the reach. And the obvious athletic advantage. He shouts out like a child. He flails. She runs off.
We imagine a world where everyone can be skinny, everyone can be rich, everyone can be happy.
If they just worked hard enough.
If they prayed to the right God.
If they had enough money in the first place.
If they bowed to the job generators.
Oftentimes, you’ve got no idea what someone goes through to get to another day.
Take for example, Dick Cheney. He’s fond of drinking and driving. It helped him get through a few days. And apparently shooting people with buckshot. Admittedly, most of us have done one of these.
Compared to Cheney, Sharice is a saint. You might not approve. But no one is dying from her go-go dancing.
So as Sharice and the cab driver get into it, and he feigns exaggerated injuries while she runs off into the night, I debated simply walking away from the cab, cause fuck that guy.
The kid got his ride to within a few blocks of his Newark slum. Sharice wasn’t too far from the Christopher St. PATH station. And I too made it home.
But why did the driver have to be such a prick. Why? Because he was going to get paid regardless. And he knew it. So he had a free pass to treat someone like garbage.
And I did nothing.
So when I went to catch the PATH a few weeks later and passed Sharice, she said, “Hold my loot and duck for cover, what are you doing here you bearded motherfucker?”
With no need to catch any train, we went to the Corner Bistro, because obviously we’re high class people.
Some people just need their lips to be loosened and for someone to listen. No one in particular. Just an attentive ear for someone in desperate need of attention, not even affirmation, just acknowledgement that: I, too, am human.
I won’t get into those details cause we’ve all got enough reasons to drink, and those aren’t my stories to tell.
But I’ll relate something else I did learn. Never skimp on cocktails or worry about the calories. “Trying to cut calories out in drinks is like trying to pad your bra. It only works for so long. Meanwhile you’re miserable. “
BBP © 2012