Bridesmaid - the Finale

Synopsis:

The final chapter. The wedding day. I hope everyone likes it.

Story:

“So, how’re things with Arianna?” Adam and Arianna had been going out for about two months.

“I dunno,” he said, looking somewhat depressed. He and I were hanging out on my couch, watching “Mystic River.” I was wearing a pale pink short sleeved floral print dress. I don’t know, but whenever I was with Adam, I felt pink.

“What’s wrong?”

“I dunno. It’s starting to get serious...”

“And?”

“I’m not sure how I feel. I mean, she’s great and everything, but you know how when you stop dating and start having a relationship, things change...”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, you actually start showing more of your real self...”

“Yes, and?” Oh, yeah, I was a real expert at that. I still hadn’t told him about me.

“Well, like, I’ve noticed some issues...”

“What kind of issues? Like she sips loudly issues, or serious problems?”

“I dunno. I mean, yeah, she licks her fingers when she turns pages which annoys the crap out of me...”

“Adam.....come on, that’s ridiculous. I mean, if it really bothers you, then you know. Don’t stay and think it’ll get better, because it won’t...”

“I know that,” he said, looking downward.

“But, I mean think about what you want and what’s realistic. Everyone’s got bad habits, even you. I mean, there’s no ideal.”

“Yes, there is.”

“Oh, really? And who is that?”

“You.” I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. I started to cry.

He reached over and hugged me. “What’s wrong, Jessica?”

“I...uh...oh...Adam, I’m a horrible person....oh god, I never meant to hurt you in any way...”
“What?”

“Adam, I have something to tell you...but please promise that if you’re really upset, you’ll just leave. That you won’t hurt me....”

He looked shocked. “What? You think that I would ever hurt you? Ow, jeez, Jess, what kind of shit do you think I am? I’m not Kenny...”

“I know. I know. But this is really awful....”

He smiled. “What could it be? What’s so horrible?”

I took a deep breath. “OK, remember you promised.”

He rolled his eyes. “I promise.”

“Here goes. I’m a guy....”

“I know,” he said softly.

“I’m sorry I lied to...what?”

“I said I know.”

“How? How could you know?”

“I mean I didn’t know know. But I was pretty sure...”

“How..what...what gave it away?”

“Honestly?”

“No, lie.”

“It’s a little complicated...”

I smiled. “Like the rest of this is simple.”

“I mean, it’s not the way you look or carry yourself, if that’s what you’re worried about...”

“Adam, I’m really freaked now. Just tell me.”

“I mean, I could never figure out why you had no relationship with your family. I mean, you’re smart, nice, beautiful and you said that you were this disappointment to your father. And that your sister didn’t approve of your life.”
“That was it? I mean lots of people believe in barefoot and pregnant.”

“Also, you had no pictures of you with friends or anything. And the place is very...uh...sparse.”

“What? All women need chintz and tchotckes?”

“No, not just that. Also, I noticed the strange looks from Jim too. Like he couldn’t figure out why I was with you. I mean, I could understand why someone would think you’re too good for me, but not the other way around.”

“Adam, stop. You’re a great guy. Merely by not beating me senseless, you’re great.”

“Jess, I would never. And then there was the whole Kenny thing. I’m guessing he didn’t like you dressed up. That’s a big deal with gay guys, right?”

“Yes. So what did it?”

“I saw a magazine addressed to Brian Rosen, and then it all made sense. Everything.”

I buried my face in my hands. “I am so sorry. If you left and never came back, I’d understand.”

He put his arm around me. “Are you kicking me out? Because I’d rather not go, if you don’t mind.”

“Really?” I sniffled. “I am so sorry. I should’ve told you sooner.”

“You should have.”

“I was afraid. I was afraid you would hit me. Or certainly hate me. Both of which would be completely understandable.”

He got annoyed. “Hitting would never be. Neither would hating. You’re my friend. A good friend. Why would I hate you?”

“Because I lied to you. Because I led you on.”

“You didn’t lead me on. You said from the beginning that you only wanted to be friends.”

“But, you liked me more than that.”

He laughed. “Full of ourselves, aren’t we?”

“Adam, very funny. I know you did. And I liked you too.”

“I thought so, but I couldn’t tell..”
“Adam, again. Subtle signals, not flares.”

“I know, I know. Anyway, I just figured you had a reason.”

“You are too good.”

“So are you.”

“So, I don’t understand. If you knew, why did you still call me an ideal? Or am I not anymore, because I’d understand.”

“I don’t know. I mean, now I’m kind of freaked...”

“Why? I mean, I know why. But why?”

He got a little agitated. “You don’t know why...”

I got scared. “Sorry, I just thought...” He was really starting to worry me.

“You know what’s freaking me out? I know you’re a guy, and I still love you. I still look at you and want to be with you. And that scares me. I’m not gay...what the hell’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing is wrong with you...”

He got sarcastic. “Hi, Mom and Dad...this is Jessica. But she’s not. She’s Brian...”

“Adam, calm down....”

He stopped for a second. “I’m just scared...I love you, but I’m scared.” Then, like a bad movie, he grabbed me by the waist and kissed me deeply.

When we broke, he said, “Sorry....”

“Shut up,” I said, standing up on my toes to kiss him. This was getting cheesier by the minute. I started to unbutton his shirt. “Just shut up.” He pulled my dress over my head. I was wearing a white bra and thong. I pulled him toward my bedroom. I reached my hand down his pants. He was rock hard and, from what I could feel, fairly big. Not enormous, but about 7 1/2". Hey, when you’re gay, you learn by feel. “Mmm,” I said, “someone’s enjoying himself.” I gave his balls a little squeeze. “Come on..”

“Jess...Bri...I...uh....”

“What?”

“I can’t.”
“You can’t what?”

“I can’t do this.”

“What?”

“I can’t...this,” he said, clumsily buttoning his shirt.

“What? Why?”

“I’m such a shit...”

“No, you’re not.”

“I am. I love you, and you’re beautiful...and I can’t get past...”

“What?”

“That....you...”

“Have a penis?”

He slumped. “I am such a piece of shit....like I have this great...person, and I can’t...”

“Sleep with him?”

“You must think I’m such crap. What does this say about me?”

“That you’re not gay?”

“What’s the matter with me?”

“You’re not gay. I mean, I wish you were. Believe me, I wish you were more than anything. But, you’re not.” I started to put back on my dress.

“See, that’s it. I look at you, and I see my Grace Kelly. But, then...”

“I take off my clothes, and the illusion is shattered, right?”

He sat down on the couch. “Yeah.” He started to put on his shoes.

“Where are you going?”

“If I were you, I’d kick me out.”

“You’re not me. Do you want to go? Because, I’m not kicking you out. I’d like to talk, if that’s OK.”

“Me too. Can I ask you a question? If it’s too personal, just say so.”

“Let’s see. You just me saw me in a bra and thong. Personal’s kind of past,” I laughed.

“OK, here goes. What are you?”

“Excuse me?” I said, not liking where this was going. “What does THAT mean?”

“I’m sorry. That came out wrong. Are you gay, pre-op, a cross dresser?”

“Pre-op? You seem unusually conversant in the topic.”

“I read the Voice,” he said, with a grin. “So?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“No, I really don’t.”

“So, you dress this way and act this way and you don’t know why?”

And with that, I launched into the whole Lisa story. After I finished, he said, “Wow...that’s pretty amazing.”

“What does that mean?”

“Nothing, I’m just amazed that you’ve only been doing this a few months.”

“Well, I have. Do you think I’m lying.”

“No, no, no. I believe you. I really do, it’s just...”

“What? Just say it.”

“It’s just that you really seem to fit the role.”

“Meaning?” I snapped.

“Meaning,” he said, taking a breath. “that you seem so relaxed and confident. I mean, remember that day in that Makola store...”

“Yes?”

“When you put on the dress, you seemed to stand taller..”

“It was the heels.”

“I’m serious.”

“Sorry.”

“No, I mean, you left and you just seemed so happy. And you’re always so kind and sweet and I mean, if I didn’t actually see your penis, I still wouldn’t believe you’re a guy...”

“Great,” I started to cry.

“I’m sorry. That’d scare me too if I was you. Boy, we’re a pair. A straight guy who’s in love with a gay guy who’s more of a woman than the woman the straight guy’s been sleeping with since the gay guy in a dress pimped him out to her...” We both started to laugh.

“Thanks, Adam. That makes me feel SOOOO much better.”

“No, seriously. What are you?”

“I really don’t know. I mean, when I started this, I was scared. I mean, like it plays into every stereotype of gay men you can think of.”

“I could see that.”

“Yeah, but then...oh god, I feel embarrassed....”

He laughed. “I think we’re both a little past embarrassment, don’t you?”

“True. Anyway, so I was totally tripping. Then, I started going out dressed and men started paying attention to me which is a new thing, you know?”

“I find that hard to believe. I mean, you’re gorgeous.”

“See, that’s the thing. Jessica is gorgeous. Brian is a little 5'7" runt. And Jessica started getting attention and Brian started to like it.”

“It’s funny. You talk like it’s someone else.”

“My shrink says that, too. Sometimes, I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. Anyway, I started to like the attention and I really started getting into it.”

He picked up my shoes. “Yeah, I can see that. You have more shoes than Ari does.” He stared at the 3" heel. “Don’t your feet get tired in these?”

“No, surprisingly not. Besides, I look good in them.”

“You really are such a girl. Anyway, so what happened?”

“Anyway, then I met Kenny....”

“Prick.”

“Yes, he is. But, anyway, I started to freak out again. Like I’m a freak and I’d never be in a relationship, because...”

“Cross dressers and pre-ops are at the bottom of the pile. No pun intended.”

“You really know your stuff, Connolly.”

“I told you. I read the Voice.”

“So, I really didn’t know what to do. Like, I wanted to be with Kenny. But, I like Jessica.”

“You really think Kenny was ever going to be a real thing? Come on, he sounds like a closet case.”

“He is. But, you get lonely, you know.”

“Tell me about it.”

“So, I started to think. I’d rather get rid of Jessica and be in a relationship than keep doing it.”

“OK, so where do I fit into this?”

“Then I met you, and you were such a great guy...”

“That you lied to me for two months...sorry, that was harsh.”

“I deserved it.”

“Go on.”

“And you were such a great guy, that I tried to set you up.”

“Assuaging your guilt...”

“Ouch. True, but ouch. Anyway, I started to fall in love with you. I mean, I never told anyone the Steve Wozniak thing. And I really became Jessica, that...never mind.”

“What?”

“This will really skeeve you out.”

“No, it won’t.”

“It will.”

“Just tell me. I mean, I think we can’t really have secrets anymore.”

“I felt like I was going through puberty again. Only this time I was a girl...like I became even girlier than I was already. OK, I shouldn’t have said that.”

He smiled. “It’s OK. That explains the Makola dress.”

“Huh?”

“It was like the epitome of what you’re saying. Like it was this really girly dress, and I wanted to see you in it. Or it, in a ball on the floor...OK, that slipped out.”

I blushed. “Now, I’m embarrassed. Anyway, you made me examine what I wanted. Like I wanted nothing more than to be the girl you wanted. To be with you. I mean, with you.”

“Me too,” he said. “And now?”

“I’m in between. Like I want to be Brian and Jessica at the same time. That makes no sense, does it?”

He smiled. “No, I get it. You ever read Hegel?”

“Huh?”

“The Hegelian dialectic. Thesis, antithesis and synthesis.”

“I’m lost.”

“OK, like the thesis is ‘This is only until June 25th. And the antithesis. ‘I like being Jessica. I want to be a girl. And the synthesis..I like both.’

“Huh, that’s interesting. You’re a smart guy.”

“Thank you. So, now what do you do?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I like being Jessica. I like the clothes. I like getting checked out. It’s fun. That must seem really weird to you.”

“Kind of. But, I mean everyone wants to reinvent themselves sometimes. You’ve just taken it to a whole other level.”

“I guess...”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“Jessica’s all well and good and fun. But, what do I about clients? What do I do about my love life, such as it is. Kenny may be a shit, but he’s definitely in the mainstream of gay opinion on this.”

“Somewhere there’s someone,” he said, half-heartedly.

“No, there isn’t. And you know that.”

“I know. Can I ask a favor?”

“Sure.”

“Can I meet Brian?”

“Um, you have...”

“No, I mean, I want to see Brian. Not Jessica telling me she’s Brian. I want to meet Brian. Does that make any sense?”

“Yeah, it does. Give me a few minutes to change.” I went into the bathroom and I washed off my make up. I even took off my nail and toe polish. “Keep your eyes closed.” Then I went it to the bedroom, and took out my breast forms. I combed my hair to the side, and put on a t-shirt and jeans. “OK, open them,” I said, coming back into the living room. He laughed loudly.

“What?”

“Boy, little girl, when you hit puberty, you’re going to be a real heart-breaker.”

“That was cruel.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, laughing. “I can’t help it. You look like a Jessica, not a Brian.”

I started to laugh. “I know. I know. Before I ever started this, people called me miss all the time. Does a hell of a number on your ego, you know?”

“I can imagine.”

“So, where do we go from here?”

“What do you think?”

“I asked you.”

“I dunno. Can we still be friends?”

“I’d like that. You’re not too freaked by me?”

“I’ve been processing this for a while. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still a little confused. But, you’re a real friend, and my father always said that if you had five real friends in your life, you’d be doing OK...and you’ve been a good friend.”

“So have you. Today alone you proved that.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

I looked at the floor. “I don’t see any skid marks, Adam. That’s huge, you know.”

“You don’t drop a friend over this.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Besides, you know what, you’ve introduced me to two women, who I wouldn’t have otherwise met. That’s big.”

I laughed. “But, you said the best part of Denise was her dog. And what about Ari?”

“Hey look, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m in the game. And it’s because of you. I can’t give up my shill,” he said, with a big grin.

“Very funny. Putz. So who do you want?”

“I don’t follow.”

“Brian or Jessica. Who do you want as a friend?”

He looked hurt. “I want you. You decide the label. But I want you.”

“You’re unreal, Adam, you know that?”
“What does that mean?”

“You’re too good. I don’t deserve a friend like you. You sure you’re not freaked.”

“Absolutely,” he said, sticking out his hand. “Friends?”

“Friends.” We shook. “So, what’s up with Arianna? It better not just be the finger licking thing.”

“That’s a symptom, not the disease.”

“So, what’s the disease?”

“She’s too into labels. Like ‘get me my Chanel sunglasses.’ Or ‘have you seen my Burberry scarf.’ It’s a scarf. Everything doesn’t need a label. It’s obnoxious, you know?”

I laughed. “That caps it. You are obviously so not gay.”

He laughed. “I’m serious. Like I look at that and I know that if we stayed together, she’s not going to change and I’d come to hate her for it. Like, I don’t blame her. That’s her thing. Not my thing. I don’t get it. It’s just stuff. But, I can’t be with someone like that.”

“So, you know what to do. Sooner beats later.”

“I know. I don’t want to hurt her.”

“Waiting doesn’t make it better. Believe me I know about that. Just do it. Otherwise, it’ll only get messier and more painful.”

“I know. How come you didn’t tell me sooner?”

“I dunno. Jim told me I should.”

“Jim? Not Lisa.”

“Jim. He called me. Said you deserved better than that.”

“Tell him thanks. I didn’t think you two were friends.”

“We’re not. But he’s been surprisingly cool and insightful during all of this.”

“Wow. I’d freak if I were him.”

“Me too. So what now?”

What do you mean?”

“I dunno. I mean, what now in the sense of do you want to watch the rest of the movie? But, I probably mean something else too.”

“I’m not really up for the rest of the movie. This has been a lot, you know? I mean, I’m glad it’s all out and everything, but it’s a lot.” He started to put on his shoes.

“Don’t go. I’m glad I finally told you, but on some level I wish I hadn’t. And I’m really sorry I took so long. Please don’t go.”

“I...uh...sorry. I need to go. I’m really spent. I’ll call you later.”

“Adam, I am sorry. If you never wanted to speak me again, I’d understand. It’d kill me, but I’d understand. But don’t tell me you’ll call.”

“Jess...Bri...I just need to get some sleep. Seriously.”

“Friends?” I stuck out my hand.

“Yeah,” he said, reflexively sticking out his hand but not meeting my gaze. “Friends. I will call. I promise.”

I wished I could believe him. I really did. But I didn’t. I felt like I had lost my friend forever. I called Lisa, and said, “What are you up to?”

“We were about to get something to eat. Why?”

“I kind of need to talk.”

“What’s wrong?”

I heard Jim say, “We going or what?”

“It’s Jessica,” she said, which only made me feel a thousand times worse. “Hang on. What’s wrong, sweetie?”

“Adam.”

“What happened?”

“I told him.”

“Oh my god...what happened?”

“Can I come down?”

“Do you want me to come up?”

“No, I’d rather leave the scene of the crime, you know what I mean?”

“I guess so. Of course, come down.”

I went downstairs, still in my t-shirt and jeans. Lisa opened the door, “Hey....oh...oh wow, Bri,” and she hugged me. “Tell me what happened.”

I told her the whole story, and started to sob, “We told each other we loved each other, and I thought we were cool, and then he freaked...”

“He is such a shit. I can’t believe he left.”

Just then, Jim chimed in, “He’s not a shit.”

“Excuse me?” Lisa said, angrily. “Who asked you?”

“No one. But, I’ve earned the right after this whole soap opera of a wedding to say my piece. You want to disregard me, go ahead. But, you both heard me. He’s not a shit. Not by a long shot.”

“He tells her that he loves her, and then leaves, and...”

“Him.”

“What?”

“He told HIM he loves HIM. Whatever’s been going these past few months, Brian is still Brian, last I heard. True?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“So, after two months, the girl Adam thinks he loves tells him that she’s actually a guy, and he gets upset and leaves. He doesn’t lose it. He doesn’t yell or scream or anything. He just feels overwhelmed and probably betrayed, and he left. Seems eminently reasonable.”

“He said he already knew, Jim,” Lisa responded nastily.

“Yeah, he knew. But, like you said, there’s knowing and there’s knowing. And do I need to remind you that I told you like two months ago to tell him and you didn’t. You waited, until he called you, what, his ideal, which by the way is hysterical given how much I know about you, but I digress. So, you shoot his dream to shit and then wonder why it didn’t turn out like a fairy tale. I expect Lisa to expect fairy tales, but I thought you were a little more realistic...”

Lisa interrupted, “When did you tell her to tell him? And what’s that crack supposed to mean?”

“You’re a romantic, sweetie. Kenny and all. But BRIAN is a little more sensible, I thought. Anyway, I told HIM, and let’s not forget pronouns are part of the problem here, right after we met them on the street that time. So, why didn’t you tell him?”

“I figured that once he started dating Arianna, it wasn’t all that urgent,” I mumbled.

“That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” he said. “Were you planning on doing this forever?” He laughed. “Didn’t you realize that Arianna was going to try and set you up with someone?”

“Excuse me?” I laughed.

“Yes, Jim, what does that mean?” Lisa said, tapping her toe.

“Yeah, Jim. Explain yourself. Look at her, she’s pissed at you.”

He laughed again. “All girls do that when they’re in a couple. Misery loves company.”

“So does the couch, Jim.”

“I’m kidding. Anyway, how long were you planning on doing this? Forever?”

“I meant to,” I mumbled, looking at the floor.

“You meant to? That’s incredibly weak, Bri. You’re better than that.”

“I know. I got scared.”

“That what? What happened was going to happen? That was the risk you took.”

“Jim, you’re being mean.”

“No, Lise, he isn’t. He’s being honest. Blunt, but he’s right. I made my bed.”

“Look, Bri,” he said. “I hope he comes around. I do. You’ve been beaten up enough with this whole Jessica thing. But it wasn’t only going to get worse. And, I hate to say it, you’ve really gotten lucky with this. It could’ve been worse.”

“Are you saying she deserved this?” Lisa asked accusingly. I couldn’t help but notice that she kept calling me ‘she.’

“No, HE didn’t. He’s a he, Lise? A salami slurping, fudge packing, ass wrangling, dress wearing nancy boy,” he said, flashing me a grin, “but a he nonetheless.”

“Salami slurping?” I said. “Do you stay up at night thinking of these?”

“Sometimes. Sometimes they just come to me, in a vision,” he said, waving his arms in an arc.

“They have meds for that, you know.”

“Meds? What, and miss this?”

“Excuse me,” said Lisa, “what do you mean he or she?”

“You keep calling Brian ‘she.’ But, he’s not.”

“Do I, Bri?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Sorry. I don’t know why.”

“I haven’t helped recently. I’ve been acting girlier, if that’s possible.”

“I’ll stop. I’ve really screwed up your life, haven’t I?”

“Yes.”

“I didn’t ask you Jim.”

“You didn’t. I mean you started this, but like Jim said, I took the ball and ran for daylight...”

“I’m not sure I like you two talking behind my back.”

Jim smiled. “Who else can we talk to?”

I smiled. “Exactly. We need to trade war stories. Jim’s a perceptive guy, by the way. I never knew. If I get nothing else out of this, I got that.”

“I’m like an onion,” he said. “Many layers....”

“Why not a parfait?” I said, imitating Eddie Murphy in ‘Shrek.’

“I am an onion...”

“Trust me,” Lisa said. “If you smelled his feet, they ain’t no parfait.”
“And you love me for it, baby,” he said, grabbing her by the waist.

“Shall I leave you two alone?”

Lisa laughed. “Are you OK?”

“Yes. No. I mean, I’m worried about me and Adam, but I can’t do anything but leave him alone, so yeah I’m OK. I won’t kill myself or anything.”

Jim put his arm around me. “You did the right thing. I know it sucks. But you did. I hope he gets past it. You deserve good stuff.”

“Wow, thanks Jim. That was...”

Before I could finish, he interjected, “because the Mets suck and no one likes a mopey maid, Fifi.”

“That’s better,” I said, smiling. “You two go eat. But remember Jim, ‘you’re every breath that I take. Every move I make...”

“Talk to that shrink about changing your meds. You’re clearly delusional.”

“It’s our year. We’re due.”

“We’re due. We’re due. OK. Sure. Whatever. I’ll even let you pick out the color of your uniforms...”

“Good night Brian,” said Lisa. “If you need me, call me.”

“Thanks. Both of you. Go eat.”

A month passed without any sign of Adam. I started to call him a hundred times the first week, but stopped myself, figuring that if he wanted to talk, he’d call. Having said that, I went through the five stages of grief, all in the first week. By the second week, I realized that, sad as it was, our friendship was probably over. I mean it was based on a lie, on some level. I mean, all the emotion sharing we did still didn’t obviate the fact that I had lied to him. I was hurt, but also knew that I was responsible. The wedding started getting closer, and Lisa kept me busy with dress fittings.

We were at the last fitting for the bridesmaid dress one Saturday in May. I had just come out of the dressing room.

Lisa let out a whistle, “Damn, Jess. You look amazing.”

“I know,” I said, with a grin. And I did. It was the blue sheath, that ended about 2" above the knee. My legs looked amazing. And my breasts, such as they were, looked spectacular.

Lisa turned to the seamstress and said, “Can we do anything to make her look dumpier? Some ruffles? Let it out? Something?”

The seamstress was Korean. I don’t think she understood all that well. “Ruffles, yes. OK.”

We only averted disaster when the saleswoman told her, in a nasal Brooklyn whine, “Joke, ha ha, Kim. No ruffles.” The seamstress rolled her eyes, and gave all of us a look that could only be described as abject contempt, the sort shared by orderlies and cab drivers who seem to be saying, “In my country, I was head of surgery. Here I clean bedpans.”

Anyway, I was in the dressing room getting changed back into my black skirt, when my phone rang. “Get that, Lise...”

I heard her pause, then say, “Hello...oh, it’s you. Can I help you? I’ll see if she’s available, although why she would be is beyond me....”

I came out, “Who is it?”

She handed me the phone. “Look at the caller i.d.” It was Adam.

“Hello, Adam,” I said as flatly as possible, but feeling my heart in my throat.

“Hi, uh, Brian,” Adam said, tentatively. “How have you been?”

“Fine. You? Long time no speak,” I sneered. “What’s new.”

“Nothing much...What are you up to?”

“Dress fitting.”

“Oh.”

“Does that bother you? I mean, does it get you all confused?” I didn’t mean to be nasty, but I heard myself and cringed. “So, did you call for a reason?” I said snidely.

“I deserve that.”

“Whatever. Can I help you with something?” Lisa and Jennifer were leaning in. I walked outside.

“Um...I...yeah, oh boy....”

“Just say it.”
“Can we talk?”

“We are.” I was being such a bitch.

“I meant in person.”

“Why? Why now? I mean, it’s been a month.”

“I mean, that’s part of what I want to talk about.”

“Is there something you want to say to me?”

“Not on the phone. What do you want from me?”

“I could ask the same.” I don’t know what had crawled up my ass, but it was lodged there really well.

“Look,” he said, getting irritated. “Can we please get together? Give me five minutes, and then I’ll go if you want.”

“Are you going to run like hell again? Because I don’t need that at this point.”

“Let me explain in person and I’ll leave you alone.”

“Whatever. Fine. I’ll be back around 5. Be there at seven.”

“Thank you.”

“Uh huh.”

“Um, bye, Brian.” It sounded like he choked on Brian.

I hung up and walked back. “Please tell me you are NOT talking to him,” said Lisa.

“It’s complicated, Lise. You know that.”

“What’s going on?” said Jennifer.

“Nothing, Jen,” I said. “Long story.”

“It is NOT a long story. It’s the same story every time. Guy craps on her. She takes him back.”

“You know there’s more,” I snarled.

“Whatever,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I am so getting tired of this movie.”
“That’s enough, Lisa,” said her mother. She turned to me, “Are you OK with this, honey? I don’t want to see you hurt again.”

“Thanks, Sandy. I appreciate that. It’s nice to have a mom again. Sorry if that crossed a line.”

She looked hurt. “Absolutely not. You’re like my third...child. I really want what’s best for you, just like my other girls.”

I looked sideways at her. “Thanks. Maybe this’ll give me closure or something. It’s a shame. He was nice.”

“Just don’t let yourself be hurt.”

I got home at five, and spent two hours agonizing what to wear. I went to put on the cute pink sundress, but decided that would be too confusing. Then I put on sweats and a t-shirt, and looked like I was trying too hard. I tried on ten different outfits, five Jessica, five Brian. Five minutes to six, I finally decided on a white shirt and khakis. No shoes. No breasts. I looked like I was going to work.

At seven on the nose, the buzzer rang. “Hey, it’s Adam..” I buzzed him up.

I opened the door. He had flowers. And some beer “These are for you.”

“Um, thanks,” I said. “Interesting choices.”

“I didn’t know what to do.” He looked me up and down. “You’ve changed your hair.”

“I lightened it for the wedding.” It was now a dark honey color. Robert said it looked amazing, without being too queeny. Which was an interesting thing to say to a guy in a pink baby doll top, skirt and heels, who was getting his hair colored.

“It looks...nice.”

“Thanks,” I said without affect, but feeling incredibly insecure. I put the flowers in water. “Beer?”

“Yeah, please.”

I opened two. “So?”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?” God, I had spent too much time with Lisa. I was becoming her.

“For everything. For the way I treated you. For leaving suddenly. For not calling. For bringing beer and flowers. For...”

“Fine. So now what?”

“I was a jerk. I ran like a scared rabbit. And I was a pussy who didn’t call for a month...”

“Keep going.”

“You were a great friend, a great person and I ran like a scared rabbit. I wanted to call every day, but I was afraid...”

I snapped. “Afraid of what? Afraid of me? Why? Because I’m gay? Because I’m Jessica, I mean I dress like Jessica? What? Afraid this makes you less of a man, is that it?” I was getting angrier. “Because it doesn’t. Running from it does. ‘Ohmigod,’ I said, in a singsong voice, ‘I’m friends with a gay guy, I must be gay.’ Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. At least, not for someone secure.”

“Shut up,” he said.

“What?”

“Shut up and let me talk.” He had never been this confident. I was confused. Turned on, but confused.

“Fine. Talk.”

“You know what I was afraid of? You want to know? I’ll tell you. That I still loved you. That I loved you not because of the dress and not in spite of it. Because, even after Brian came out, I still loved you. That I saw someone who made me feel great. That I felt connected to. That I wanted to wake up next to every day. And she...he..that person was a guy. And I didn’t care. But I did care. Because I never felt this way. And, yeah, maybe this makes me shit, but I didn’t know what I’d tell people. But, all I knew is I loved you. And I didn’t want to deal with that. So I ran. And hid. For a month. Like a coward. I didn’t think you’d take my call. But, I decided to risk it. If you told me, if you tell me, to drop dead, I would. But, I needed to say it. And so I did.”

“Is that all?”

“No, it’s not. I’ve been picking up other women for a month...”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“That was mean, really mean.”

“Sorry.”

“I deserved it, I guess. Anyway, I’ve met all these other women, and you know what? They’re not you.”

“We covered that the first night.”

“That is NOT what I meant. They were fine. Great. Some were pretty. Some were nice. Some were smart. But they weren’t you. I didn’t feel any connection. I looked at them and it wasn’t there. And I couldn’t deal. I couldn’t deal with that. I’d spend the rest of my life looking for someone who I loved like you, and I wouldn’t find it...”

“So, you had this epiphany. And it took you a month because....”

“I was scared. That may not be a good reason to you. But it is to me. And, you know what, I’m glad I told you. Because if you told me to go, I’d be upset, but at least I would’ve said my peace. I hope you can forgive me...”

And with that, I jumped into his arms and kissed him. For five minutes. I know. I looked at the clock before we started.

He carried me, hanging off him, into the bedroom. “Ad, before we start, I have a penis.”

He laughed nervously. “Interesting foreplay.”

“No, I have a penis.”

“Um, I know that?”

“And it’s not going anywhere.”

“OK.”

“The last month has taught me that I like me. And that I’m not changing for anyone, not you, not Kenny.”

“Don’t lump me in with him,” he said, angrily.

“I’m not. But I’ve learned I’d rather be alone and be me than start changing for someone. And, me includes all of me, including some parts you didn’t expect. You want me, you get me Brian as well as me Jessica.”

“Me Tarzan?”

“I’m serious. If we’re going to be anything, it’s me as is.”
“I don’t care.”

“I’m not always going to be in a skirt and heels. Sometimes, I’m going to be Brian.”

“You were Brian tonight, right?”

“Yes.”

“And I’m still here, right?”

“Yes.”

“Look, I love you. Not Jessica.”

Now it was my turn to be confused. “Huh?”

“I love who YOU are. I mean I love Jessica. She’s more gorgeous that any woman I’ve ever been with. But that was, if not lust, not love either. I mean beautiful is great, no ever looks at someone and says ‘whoa, dig the personality on her.’ But, I love you. You’re kind, understanding, you don’t judge people...”

“I don’t have the right.”

“No one does, but they do. And you don’t. And I love that. I love the way you care about me. That you tried to help me. You make me a better person. That’s what I want in a...partner. Someone who makes me better, and who I make better, I hope.”

I started to tear up. “You do. But, you really need to think, ‘Am I going to be OK with this for my life?’ I mean, you love kids. And I clearly can’t do that for you. I mean, I don’t want you waking up and hating me someday because I’m me.”

“Look, Jess, Bri, I can’t make that promise. And neither can you. We may wake up one day hating each other for all the usual reasons people hate each other, not because of this. You know it. I know it. All I know is I love you now. I mean, I hope that’s enough. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I fucked up so bad we’re done. But, I said my piece.”

“Shut up,” I said, smiling. Then we started kissing and undressing each other. I reached for his penis again and started rubbing it.

“Mmmm, someone’s happy.”

“Uh huh,” he said. He looked at my closet. “Put on the plaid skirt and some heels.” He was looking at the school girl skirt I bought in Paris.

“Excuse me?”
“If you don’t mind.”

“Not at all, you kinky fuck. You want a little school girl, is that it? A slutty school girl? Fine.” I took off my pants, tied my shirt at my midriff and put on the skirt and heels. I sashayed over to the bed. I had no idea what sashaying exactly was, but I was doing my best impression of it. “Is this what you want?” I pushed him backwards. “Lay down.”

“I...uh...”

“Shut up,” I said, pulling down his pants. He was wearing the boxer briefs. He looked even better than I imagined. I pulled his penis out. “Mmmm,” I said. “Get ready for the best blow job you’ve ever had.” I really needed to work on my dialogue. I started going up and down the shaft. “Yum, yum, yum.” Then I tea-bagged him. I know I was in the minority, but I liked balls in my mouth. “Don’t cum...” I said, stopping. “Fuck me, fuck me hard.”

I leaned over the bed, and he started fucking me. I yelped in pain, then pleasure. He grabbed my ass, and started pumping. “I’m going to cum...I’m going to cum.” Why did guys always do that? Lisa and I used to joke that it was like some kind of Miss Manners thing. ‘A polite partner always announces his sexual plans.’ “Oh god...oh god...unh.” We both came and fell onto the bed.

We lay in each other’s arms, like a bad movie.

“Wow,” he said. “That was....amazing.”

“You hesitated. Are you OK with this?”

“I told you I love you. I’m just new at this.”

“At what? Being with a guy?”

He laughed and ran his fingers through my hair. “No, although I am. I’m new at being with someone I love.”

I blushed. “Sorry. I’m just scared that this is a dream.”

“Me too. Let’s stop talking about it and just be it.”

“That’s funny. My shrink always tells me to just be.”

“She’s right.”

“I’ll have to tell her that. Can I ask a question?”

“You just did,” he said, smiling.

“The Catholic school skirt? Come on. That is so cliched.”

“Actually, I’m really not that into it. I mean I went to Catholic school. The skirt lost its appeal in the 11th grade.”

“Really?” I said, playing with his chest hair. “You wouldn’t know from the way you acted. So, what is your fantasy?” I said coyly.

“Cheerleaders.”

“Cheerleaders?”

“Cheerleaders. Not NFL though. High school. College. Something about the skirt and the panties...”

“Dirty old man.”

“You’ll see how dirty I get,” he said, swatting my butt.

“Hey, watch it.” He started tickling me. “Stop it,” I giggled. I was such a girl. “So now what?”

“Hey, give me a minute to rest....”

“No, I mean are you going to run again?”

He started rubbing my back. It felt so good. “No, I’m not.”

“Think about it,” I said, kissing his stomach. “This is going to be some complicated shit for you, Connolly. I’m out. All the people in my life know who Jessica is. How’re you going to explain this to everyone?”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning what do you think your parents would do with someone like me?”

“I dunno. If I’m happy, they’d be happy. Confused for sure for a while, but they wouldn’t disown me or anything.”

“Good Catholic family? Really?”

“Talk about stereotypes. No, my mother doesn’t go to Mass everyday. And, no, my father’s not Paddy O’Furniture, getting drunk and beating up blacks with a shillelagh and everything.”

“I’m sorry. I just thought...honestly, I don’t know a whole lot of people who’d be cool with their son being with someone like me.”
“You’re a good person. My dad might have a tough time. My mom would be cool. You dress properly.”

I laughed. “What?”

“My mom is very big on being neat and properly dressed. She always thought my ex was slovenly. Which is much worse than gay in her book. She’d like the fact that you wore a skirt to Sunday brunch. So long as you don’t wear flip flops, she’ll be fine. She hates flip flops. I can hear her now, ‘Is he going to the shower?’”

I laughed. “I’ll remember that, should it ever come to that. Want the rest of your beer?”

“Yeah. Thanks. This has been...I could use a drink.”

“Me too.” I went to the kitchen, and brought back the beer. I took a sip.

“Well, now my mom would be upset.”

“Why?” I laughed.

“You drank beer. Straight from the bottle. ‘A proper lady does not drink beer. Certainly not from the bottle. Even if she has a penis.”

“Ad?”

“Yeah.”

“Shut up and kiss me,” I said, throwing myself on top of him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Three weeks later, I called Lisa. We had been speaking occasionally, but between the wedding and other things, the conversations had been very short.

“Hey stranger,” she said, laughing. “I was wondering when you’d come up for air.”

“Sorry. I’ve been...busy. Work and all.”

“Work doesn’t interest me. And all does.”

I giggled. “Sorry. I’ve been a bad friend.”

“Please,” she laughed. “You’ve been with me through how many guys? It’s OK. I was wondering if you were going to make it to the wedding.”

“I wouldn’t miss it. I look fabulous in my dress. Adam said so.”
“Oh, ADAM said so. Well, then, pick it up off the floor and get it pressed beforehand.”

“Lisa! Please.”

“Oh, you girl. Speaking of which, Melissa said you seem calmer lately. Said you’ve outdone yourself with work.”

“What else did she say?”

“She liked your hair.”

I groaned. “That was a mistake.”

“Oh, please, you baby. She’s fine with it. All she said was, ‘she looks so adorable. I could just eat her up.’”

“Adorable. Her. Great. Just what I need from a client.”

“Stop it. She calls you the golden girl. Said she wouldn’t trade you for a hundred consultants.”

“Golden girl? Oh god.”

“Stop focusing on it. It’s a compliment. Anyway, so what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”

“I want to introduce you guys formally to Adam.”

“OK. When?”

“You sure?”

“What does that mean?”

“I mean, you and Jim will be OK with this.”

“He’s your boyfriend. It’s important that I get to meet him. Someone has to watch out for you, your taste being what it is.”

“I’m serious.”

“Me too. I’m hurt that you’d think that I wouldn’t want to meet him for real. Or is it that you’re embarrassed of me...”

“Stop it, Lise.”

“That’s it, isn’t it?” she mock-sobbed. “You’re...ashamed..of...me.”
“Ha ha, Lise. That’s not it. I’m afraid.”

“Of what?”

“That you’ll embarrass me. Like this.”

“A-HA! Now, we’ve solved the problem. I’m going to tell him about that time junior year...”

“What time junior year?”

“Oh that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even have to be true.”

“Ha ha. Seriously...”

“Seriously, tell me when and where and we’ll be there.”

“Thursday. 7:45. We’ll meet here. Maybe I’ll cook.”

“Oh god. Is food poisoning really the way you want to go?”

“Bitch.”

“You can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan...and give him trichinosis.”

Thursday, 7:35, Adam was at my place. I was wearing a baby blue shirt dress and black 2" heels. I liked baby blue. Adam said I looked cute. I wore a lot of pastels and florals with him. Melissa was right. I was such a girly girl.

“Are you sure you’re OK with this, Ad?”

“I love you,” he said. “I don’t care what anyone thinks. Do I look OK?” He was wearing a black shirt and charcoal gray wool pants. Flat front. He looked hot.

“Mmmm,” I said, sticking my hand down his pants. “You look amazing,” I said, standing on tip-toes and kissing his neck.

“Hey, stop it,” he said. “They’ll be here soon.”

“I have a surprise for you later.”

“What?”

“What does surprise mean to you, you doofus?”

“Please?”
“Just trust me. You’ll like it.”

“OK,” he said warily. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through dinner though.”

“Think of Mo Vaughan naked.”

He laughed. “Now, I’ll be done for the night.”

The doorbell rang ten minutes later. “Hey Lise, hey Jim. Jim, Lisa, you remember Adam. Adam, Jim and Lisa again.”

Jim stuck out his hand. “How’s it going?” he grunted in the universal straight guy greeting. This was good. He looked Adam straight in the eye.

“Good. What’s up?”

“Yankees,” he said, smirking at me. “Ahead of the Mets. As it always is.”

“And always should be,” said Adam.

“That’s right, you’re a Yankee fan,” Jim grinned. “Any luck with this one yet?”

“It’s what I love about her. That sense of hope in the face of all empirical evidence to the contrary. Like the President.”

Lisa laughed. “I don’t know who should be more insulted, Jessica or the President.”

“Hey, I’m not invisible here.”

Jim laughed. “Did she tell you about our bet? Although, given that she has like zero shot of winning, it’s not much of a bet.”

Adam raised an eyebrow. “No, what is it?”

“Nothing. It is nothing.”

“Oh, so it’s definitely something then. What?”

“When the Yankees have a better record on June 25...”

“If...a big if.”

Jim laughed derisively, “WHEN...the Yankees have a better record...I have this July 4th party every year...and Jessica and Lisa here will be the French maids there.”

Adam laughed. “French maids? Sweetie, why would you ever make a bet like that?”

Lisa mouthed ‘sweetie? That is so cute.’ Jim showed no emotion whatsoever.

“We’ll see. And when the Mets are better...” Jim started humming the Twilight Zone theme, which I ignored, “Jim has to dance with me at the wedding. To a song of my choice. Which will be ‘Endless Love.’”

“She’s always had a thing for me.”

Adam laughed. “She’s taken.” Again, Jim just laughed. Then Adam turned to Lisa, “So how goes the wedding plans? I hear the final fitting’s next week...”

“Thank you, Adam. It’s so nice that someone,” she said, looking at Jim, “remembers.”

“Am I really necessary? That’s why the rabbi says, ‘do you take this man..’ If I’m not there, someone else’ll step up. Like Dave. Or my brother.”

“Oh boy. That’s a choice. Just for that, I’m substituting Allison.”

“Allison?” said Adam. “I forgot my scorecard. That’s your sister, the...earthy one, right? She even try on the dress yet?”

“Wow, Jess. He’s very attentive. Again, unlike some people I know.”

“Whatever. Got any chips?”

“Top cabinet.”

“Thanks,” he said. “Continue on without me. Please.”

“Anyway, Adam. Yes, she finally took it into Portland to get fixed. And ‘earthy’ is a polite way to describe her.”

“I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

“I’m sure she won’t, but I can’t do anything about her. So why worry?”

“Wow. If I didn’t know you were Jewish, I’d say you were Catholic.”

“We invented fatalism before you,” she laughed.

He laughed. “Do you need help with anything? Pick up place cards or something?”

She smiled. “He is amazing, Jess. A keeper.”
Adam blushed. “I know,” I said, kissing him on the cheek.

Jim came back in, crunching some chips. “I miss anything? No? Good.”

“Adam offered to help with wedding stuff.”

“Dude, you’re making me look bad. Anyway, they’re just dating. Wait a while and see how helpful he is. We getting dinner?”

“I made reservations at Calle Ocho on Columbus. That OK with everyone?”

Everyone agreed, and we went to dinner. We had a great time. We talked about work, families, the usual stuff. Adam made sure to hold out my chair. That earned Jim, who plopped himself down, a glare from Lisa. As expected, around dessert, Lisa said, “Excuse me for a moment. Jess?”

“Huh?”

“Jess....”

“Oh yeah.”

As we left, I heard Jim ask Adam, “Did you ever see that Saturday Night sketch, where Tim Kazurinsky and the other guy sneak into the ladies’ room.?”

When Lisa and I were in, she turned to me, “He is amazing. And he is so in love with you.”

“You think?”

“He listens to you. I mean, really listens...”

I blushed. “I really love him. I’m just so afraid that...”

“I know. But, you know what, you just be you. And he won’t go anywhere. Besides, if he hurts you, my mom will kill him...”

“Uh oh. Siccing Sandy...” We both giggled. “You’re happy,” she said. “I’m happy.”

“Thanks. Your opinion means everything to me, you know that. I’m glad we could do this.”

“We always could. They seem to be getting along.”

“They both mock me about the Mets.”

“You know Jim. If he didn’t like you, he wouldn’t mock you. He’d ignore you.”
“I know. I just want everyone to get along...”

“Don’t be a martyr, Jess. Worry about you for a change.”

“OK, mom.” And we went back to the table.

“Everything OK?” said Adam, getting up. Lisa smiled again. Jim rolled his eyes. “I ordered us a Mayan chocolate ganache cake thing,” he said to me. “If that’s OK.”

Jim made a retching noise, looked at Adam and made an “L” on his forehead. Adam laughed.

“And what did you order US dear?”

“I got a vanilla creme brulee (which he specifically pronounced “Creamy Bruley” to piss off Lisa) and I got you the chocolate cake thing too.”

“The curable romantic strikes again.”

Dessert came. Adam insisted I take the first bite. “Oooh, this is good. Try some Ad,” I said, spooning some into his mouth.

“Oh god,” said Lisa. “New couples...”

“Oooo twy some. No, oooo. I wuv you soooo much,” said Jim.

“They’re just jealous,” I said.

“I thought bitterness and resentment only set in after you’re married,” said Adam.

“Touche,” said Lisa.

“We’ve been together ten years,” said Jim. “Romance fades....just kidding, Lise. I love you as much today as I did when I first met you.” He leaned over and kissed her. Lisa looked shocked.

“I’ve said it before. Everyone thinks I’m a one-dimensional asshole. I have many dimensions.”

“Like a parfait,” I added.

“Onion! I am an onion,” he said.

We finished dinner, and walked down Columbus for a while. Adam and I held hands. It felt good. I think we even made Jim romantic. He took Lisa’s hand.

“What?” she said, staring at him.

“Come on, look at them,” he said. “I’m trying to be nice. Fat lot of good it does.”

Lisa and I were both surprised. She smiled softly, “OK. It’s been a long time.”

Adam dropped us at my place about ten-thirty.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come up?”

“I do. But tomorrow’s my early day. I need to be there at 6:30 and if I come up, I won’t be awake tomorrow,” he said, with a leer. Jim retched again.

“What?” I said. “Is this a brush-off?”

“Not at all. I am that into you...”

“Sex and the City, Adam?” said Lisa. “I would’ve never guessed.”

“Dude,” said Jim, disappointedly.

“Hey, hey, my ex watched that show religiously. She had one TV. It sank in...”

“Uh huh,” said Jim. “I’ll let it pass. This time,” he laughed.

“Anyway, Jess, like I said, I have a really early day. And the 6:30 people are bad enough even with sleep. And I don’t want to sleep here,” he said, smirking at Jim.

“Don’t taunt me, dude. I’m going home to sleep...”

“With that attitude,” said Lisa. “Keep it up. Maybe if you’re good....”

Jim leered. “Thanks dude,” he laughed, shaking Adam’s hand. “Come on Lisa.”

“Good night, Adam,” she said, giving him a kiss. “Call me, Jess.”

“Good night. Very nice finally meeting you for real.” And they left. “I had a good time. They were fun.”

“They liked you. Well, Lisa did. And that’s what matters.”

“Lucky Jim. Am I going to get set up on grown man play dates, like Chris Rock says?”

“You two seemed to hit it off.”

“I think so. He likes you.”

“Really? I never could tell.”

“He said you were smart and a good friend. Said you’d go through a wall for Lisa. Which meant a lot to him.”

“Wow. That’s cool.”

“Don’t say anything, OK? I don’t think that was for public consumption necessarily.”

“Understood. Are you sure you don’t want to come in?”

“I’m sure I do, sweetie. But if I do, I’ll be up all night.”

“Is that so bad?” I said, sticking my hand down his pants again. I needed to calm down.

“It’s not that. I just know that we’ll be up all night going over stuff. And I really need to go home, Jess. I have to be up really early. But, I want you to think about me all night.”

I felt flushed. “No, I want you to think about me. About me putting my lips around your cock. Going slowly up and down the shaft....fingering your balls...and you’re tied to my bed frame.” Adam liked light bondage and S & M. No, not the gimp mask or anything. Just a little tying him up. Or him spanking me. It turns out that under that shy exterior beat the heart of a kinky little bastard.

“Oh, Jess, you are such a tease...”

“I don’t have to tease. If you come in, I’ll do whatever you want. Plus, I have the surprise.”

“I can’t stay.”

“I know. I want you out anyway,” I joked.

“Hey.”

“Kidding, Ad. Get in here.” We kissed some more, and fumbled on to the couch. I took off his shirt and unbuckled his pants. I took off his underwear. He was naked. I was still fully clothed, including my heels. He loved this. Said it turned him on to be so powerless. I smacked him on the ass with his belt, flipped him over and straddled his chest. “So, are you ready for the surprise?”

“Yes. Oh god, yes.”

“Yes what?”

“Yes please.”
“That’s better,” I said. “Close your eyes.”

“OK.”

I went to the bedroom and changed. “Now open them.” I was standing there in a full cheerleader uniform. White sleeveless top with a big red “A” on it, and Jessica in script over my heart. A little red and blue pleated skirt. Even pom pom socks and white Keds. “Well?”

Suffice it to say, we didn’t get much sleep.

June 24, 2005. 3 P.M. The rehearsal dinner was four hours away. Lisa was, politely, a basket case.

“Goddammit, mom. Where is she?”

“She will be here, Lisa. You know this is hard for her.”

“Hard for her?! Hard?! For?! Her?! This is my wedding, and she can’t get her ass fucking here?”

“Lisa, that’s enough. Stop cursing. Your sister will be here. Her flight was delayed.”

“You know what, if she didn’t want to be here, she didn’t have to be. I didn’t want her. She could’ve stayed in the woods for all I care. I sure as hell didn’t want her in the wedding. I did it for Grandma. That’s it. But, if she screws this up, I will kill her...”

“Lise,” I said. “Relax. I will make sure this gets done. If I have to babysit her the entire time, and wrestle her into the dress, I will do it. Your day will be perfect.”

She laughed. “You wrestle her, huh? Sorry, but you are sugar and spice, and Allison will beat the crap out of you hands down.”

“Jen will help me. Right, Jen?” Jen waved.

Sandy’s cell phone rang. “Yes...yes..we’re at the hotel. The Essex House on Central Park South. I’m sure we could save lots of rain forest for the cost of the room. I’ll send the monkeys hors d’oeuvres. That was a joke. For once, just do this for me, please? Thanks. See you soon...”

“What, mom?”

“Nothing.”

“What? What did she say?”

“She’ll be here. And she’ll behave. That much I can promise you.”
“God help her.”

“Lise, I told you. I’ll take care of her, if need be.”

“Thank you, Jess. What are you going to wear tonight?”

“The LBD you bought me. And my black Manolos. And the necklace Adam bought me.”

“LBD? You amaze me with how girly you are, Miss Brian. Wait. Necklace? What necklace?”

I pulled a diamond pendant out of my top. “This?”

“Very nice,” said Sandy, fingering it. “This sounds serious.”

Lisa laughed. “You can barely pull them apart. It’s nauseating, really.”

“Bridezilla speaks. So bitter.”

“Girls. Please,” said Sandy. “This sounds wonderful. And you two have talked...?”

“Yes. We’ve talked.”

“And.”

“And he bought me this necklace. Enough said?”

“Enough said. Will he be there tonight?”

“A little late, but yes. He has a late appointment today. Some big shot he can’t tell me about. He had to sign a confidentiality agreement. But, he’ll be there.”

“I can’t wait to meet the man who’s made my Brian so happy.”

“You’ll behave yourself, mom?”

“Allison will behave herself,” she said, with a grin. “Mother’s prerogative.” I started to tear up. “I’m sorry, Brian. Did I cross a line?”

“No, not at all. I appreciate it, actually. It’s just...you know.”

“I know, dear. I understand. But, you know you can always talk to me.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m not going to behave myself though,” she said, with a grin.

At 7 P.M., we all met in a hotel ballroom. Lisa had us all wear black dresses. As I planned. I was wearing my little black, spaghetti strapped dress and black 4" open toe Manolos. The dress came in at the waist, and fell about 2" above the knee. I had my hair blown out just before, and was wearing the necklace Adam bought me. For him, I had painted my toes a bright pink. I felt amazing. As I walked through the lobby, I could feel every man’s eyes on me. I know that sounds incredibly arrogant, and maybe I was deluding myself, but I felt great. And I wanted everyone to know it.

I walked into the ballroom. Jim came over. “Hey, Jessica. Looking good.”

“Jessica? No comments? I’m disappointed.”

He smiled. “I’m behaving myself. Besides, I know you saw the standings. We’re one game up. So, I will have ample time to amuse myself on the 4th.”

“There are two games to play. Tonight and tomorrow. So, I’ve been practicing...”

“I’m going to check my silverware after the party. You know how help can be....”

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, our groom specifically wants to dance with...”

“So sad. So delusional. Poor Adam. Speaking of which, where is he?”

“Late appointment...”

“Oh yeah, he told me. Some big hoo-hah.”

“I don’t like that you guys talk unchaperoned...”

“Please, we’ve been wedding widowers. I need to talk to someone, and Dave is, well, Dave. By the way, Kenny is here. Just wanted to give you fair warning.”

“Thanks, but I don’t need any warning. Honestly, whatever. He is who he is. And I’m not who I was. So fuck him. Sorry. I know he’s your friend.”

“Don’t apologize. He pulled some shit. But I know you can handle yourself. Just try not to throw a drink at him or anything.”

“I’ll try,” I said, smiling.

“That’s all I can ask. That and, if you do, throw soda or something. They’re serving top shelf stuff, and I hate to see good alcohol go to waste.”

“You’ve got it. Maybe a Shirley Temple. Sticky and it stains...”
He laughed out loud. “That’s the ticket. You’ve learned well from Lisa, young Skywalker. Oh shit, Lisa’s giving me the eye again. I guess I have to say hello to someone else I don’t know.”

“Just remember. You’re totally irrelevant.”

I started to walk around. I knew all of Lisa’s relatives, but couldn’t very well say hello, dressed as I was. So, I hung out with Jennifer. We were having a drink when Allison came over. She was actually wearing a black dress. When she cleaned herself up, she didn’t look half bad.

“Brian,” she said, with a barely disguised sneer. “You look...pretty.”

“Thank you. So do you. So, Allison, how are you? How’s Oregon?” I said, brightly.

“Fine, thanks. This is ridiculous.”

“What?”

“This whole party. After ten years, they decide to do this. Come on...”

“Allison, just do me a favor. I understand how you feel, but just do this for Lisa. You two used to be close. I remember. Just suck it up for two days, and then you can go back home...”

“You’re the expert on sucking up...”

“Nice, Allison. You don’t have to do anything other than smile and wear the dress. Is that so hard?”

“I suppose not. Clearly you’ve adapted to it.”

“Allison, I’ll ignore that. It was uncalled for. I know I’m not your favorite person, but that was unnecessarily cruel, even for you.”

She softened somewhat. “Fair enough. This is just such...bullshit. The Theater of Lisa. Plus, I have to listen to all my relatives. ‘You look so nice. Why don’t you dress like this more often?’ ‘When will you meet someone?’ ‘So you live in Ah-Ree-Gone. Are there Jews?’ Plus, Lisa doesn’t want me here...”

“Yes, she does,” I lied.

“Brian, don’t lie to me. If you want me to be here, don’t lie. Whatever else, you’ve never been a liar. Although your outfit makes me doubt that.”

“Long story. Anyway, it means a lot to your mom and Grandma. Do it for them. You have family. You may not appreciate it, but you should, you know? Don’t screw it up.”

“Whatever. Tell me where I have to be and I’ll be there.”

“Tomorrow. 10:30. Lisa’s room. You want me to give you a wake up call?”

“Hurricane Sandy will take care of that, I’m sure. Later. I’m going to hide somewhere.”

“Just remember. It means a lot to your grandma.”

“Yeah. Uh huh.”

Jennifer and I were standing together, having a drink when Kenny walked over.

“Kenny,” I said, coolly.

“Hello...Jessica,” he said, giving me the once-over. Hello...?” he said, offering Jennifer his hand.

Jennifer glared at him. “Jennifer Flynn,”she said, with her arms crossed. “So, you’re Kenny.”

“My reputation precedes me,” he said, grinning nervously.

She ignored him, and turned to me. “What do you want here?”

“I can handle this, Jen. Even he wouldn’t try and pull anything,” I said, looking through him.

She looked warily at him, then me. “If you say so...”

I held up my hand and smiled. “Thanks, Jen. But I’ve got it.” She walked away.

“So, how have you been?”

“Fine, Kenny, and you?”

“Fine.”

“Is there a point to this conversation?”

“You’ve changed your hair. But this is only until tomorrow, right?” he smirked.

“Did you come over to be an asshole? Because, quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do.”

He slumped. “I’m sorry. We had a good time and then you disappeared...”

I laughed loudly, so that people turned around. “I didn’t disappear. You acted like an asshole, raised your fists and I left. Period.”

“I was hurt. I felt betrayed.”

“Betrayed? Why?”

“You know why...”

“Do explain again.”

“How you were dressed.”

“You didn’t seem to have a problem with it in front of your friends.”

“What was I supposed to do?”

“Be honest? Oh wait, sorry, can’t do that. Better to dump it in my lap, right?”

“Look, I’m sorry. We were good together. We could still be. What is you want from me?”

“Kenny, stop. I don’t want anything from you. We weren’t good together, because we were never together. We had one good date that was obliterated by one horrific and expensive weekend for me. That’s it. But, realize that there is no we. There is you. There is me. But there is not nor will there ever be a we. By the way, thank you.”

“Thank you? Why?”

“Your behavior actually made me really take a look at myself...”

“And this is what you saw?” he said sarcastically.

“Actually, yes. You know what? I like me. I like this. And I like Brian. And you know what else?”

“No, what?”

“I’m happy. I was pretty upset after all your shit...”

“My shit? MY shit?”

“Yes, your shit. Your playing along when it served you, and switching gears when it didn’t, rather than being who you are. But then I realized, I’d rather be me alone than give up something just to be with someone.”

He clapped three times slowly. “Bravo...or should I say, brava, for you. That is so touching. Call me when you’re alone and tell me how you feel.”

“I don’t need to. I’d really rather be alone. Because, even with you, I’d be alone.” He raised an eyebrow. “No, Kenny, I would. Because there’d be this huge part of your life I’d be excluded from because you’re not out. So, we wouldn’t be a couple. I’d be some guy you fucked.”

“That’s classy.”

“How would you express it? You’d never take me to a firm function. Because what would you call me, your roommate? Come on.”

“So this,” he said, waving his hand up and down, “is my fault.”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Kenny. It’s not about you. It’s about me. And it’s not about fault. I like me. I like this. If you have a problem, have a problem. But, just think, I’m out. You’re not. And as alone as you may think I’ll end up, at least I’ll be real. Some point, you have to get tired of bathroom hook-ups.”

“Thanks for the update. Quite funny coming from a guy in a dress and heels.”

“You wish you had the guts to be out. But you don’t. So you crap on me. That’s too bad. Good luck. I hope you find whatever makes you happy. I really do. I’ll see you Sunday. But right now, I’ve got other things to do.” And I walked away. No crying. No drinks thrown. Nothing. I felt, well, empowered.

Jennifer came over. “Are you OK?”

“Fine,” I laughed. “Have you ever dated someone and then looked back and asked what the fuck you were doing?”

She laughed. “Every date I’ve ever been on.”

“That’s what this was. I don’t know what I ever saw in him.”

“He’s cute?”

“It’s funny. I used to think that, but he seems uglier now.”

“Some people get better looking as you know them. Some get worse. Are you going to be OK walking with him in the wedding party?”

“Please. The question is better directed to him. I look good. No, great. He’s just some guy who’ll make me look better.”

“You are such a diva,” she laughed. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear you were a girl.”

“Thanks, I think.”
“Shut up. You love it. It may freak you out a little. But, look at you, you love the dress and the shoes and the hair.”

I looked down. “It’s fun?”

“It is. And you know it. No one cares if you like it. So just do it. One thing..”

“Yes.”

“I hate your legs. Bitch.” she said with a smile.

About fifteen minutes later, Adam came in. He was wearing a navy suit, with a blue shirt and red tie. As always, flat front pants. He looked good. “Sorry, I’m late,” he said, giving me a kiss. “You look amazing.”

“Please,” I blushed. “No problem. How did everything go?”

“Fine. This...client is a gigantic pain in the ass. But...they...left happy, so maybe it’ll be referral business.”

“Nice eliding the pronouns, Ad.”

He looked serious. “I signed a non-disclosure. I can’t let anything slip.”

“Relax,” I said, reaching up to kiss his cheek. “I know non-disclosures. I wouldn’t think of asking.”

“Thank you.”

“So who is it?” He looked shocked. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”

“Ha ha. So how’s the party?”

“I saw Kenny.”

He looked irritated. “Are you OK? Where is he?’

“I’m fine, Ad. Really. He’s pathetic. I just kick myself that I ever wasted time on him. But, please. I have you.”

He grinned. “Lucky me.”

“No, lucky me.”

“So, where is he?”
“Over there. Tall guy. By the bar.”

“Dark gray suit?”

“Charcoal. Yes. Dark gray...”

He laughed. “Dark gray. I’m a guy, remember?”

I smiled devilishly. “Yes, yes, I do.”

He blushed. “Jess, stop it.”

In a low voice, I said, “Oh, come on. You know you want it. My lips, around your shaft. Up.. Down. Up. down. You’re tied to the bed frame, with my panties. You can’t move...”

“Come on. Stop. I’m getting excited....”

“That’s the idea.”

“Think anyone will notice if we’re missing?” he said, with a smile.

“We have time. Just keep thinking about it.”

“How about instead, I bend you over the bar and start fucking you. In. Out. In. Out. You want to scream, but you can’t...”

Now, it was my turn to blush. “Ad...come on.”

Thankfully, we were saved by Jim and Lisa. “Jesus,” she said, laughing. “What were you two talking about?” She leaned over and gave Lisa a kiss hello.

“Nothing,” we both said. “Work.”

Jim laughed. “I need some of that kind of work.” He stuck his hand out. “How did whatever go?”

“Fine, can’t talk. Even if I could, it’s just another appointment” Adam said. “How’s this?”

“Thrill a minute,” he said. “Whole lot of people I don’t know.” Lisa punched him on the arm. “Hey! Sorry, I’m having a great time.”

“That’s better,” I said. “You’re learning. Like Pavlov’s dogs.”

Adam turned to Lisa. “You look beautiful tonight.”

Lisa smiled. “Thank you for noticing. Jess, you’re training him well.”

He laughed. “I have a mother and a sister. Jess got me broken in. So, how’s everything? Nervous?”

“Not at all. I can’t wait. I’m excited, not nervous.”

“Me too,” said Jim. Everyone looked at him. “What? Then, we get to go on the honeymoon and I don’t have to hear about dresses or shoes or caterers again.”

Lisa rolled her eyes. “I saw you talking to Kenny before...are you OK?” Adam grimaced.

“I’m fine,” I laughed. “He may not be. But I am. I have Adam now,” and I gave him a kiss.

Jim smirked. “Get a room, you two.”

“Gladly.”

He turned to Adam. “The Yankees are one up, as I was telling Fifi over there.”

Adam laughed. “Can I pick the uniform?”

“What you two fail to realize is there are two games left. And I have specifically told the band to play ‘Endless Love’ reallllllly slow, so Jim can get the full wonder of me, like he secretly wants.”

He and Adam laughed. “I’ll keep you company when they cart this one off to the looney bin.”

“You were my first love.....” I sang. “You are my......endless.....love.”

Lisa laughed. “I can’t wait until this is over, so I don’t have to listen to either of you.”

We talked about things for a while, when Kenny came over. Jim shot him a ‘don’t be an asshole’ look which he, of course, ignored. I held Adam’s hand.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us?” he smirked.

Adam stuck out his hand. “Adam Connolly, and you are?”

“Kenny Weinberg.”

Without blinking an eye, Adam said, “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Really?” Kenny looked shocked.

“Yes, you live in Paris, right? Lawyer?”
Kenny was clearly nonplussed. “Uh, yeah...”

“Must be really interesting,” he said happily. “I’ve never lived in another country. Must take a lot of getting used to.” Jim and Lisa were stifling giggles.

“It does...I guess...” Kenny stammered.

“Me, I’m a chiropractor. Not quite like being an international lawyer. But it pays the bills, I always say.” Jim looked like he was going to choke from stifling laughs.

“Sure, um...yeah.” Kenny was clearly getting annoyed. He couldn’t figure out what was going on.

“I guess I should explain,” I interjected. “Adam is my boyfriend. I mean, we’ve been together about a month.”

Lisa pounced. “Together is right. You can’t pull them apart.”

“You don’t mind that I call you my boyfriend, do you sweetie?” I said, ladling on extra sugar.

Adam blushed. “No, I love it.”

Kenny looked disgusted. “You know she’s a guy, right?” Jim looked like he was going to kill him.

Adam, without missing a beat, turned to Lisa and said, “You’re a guy? Wow. I’d never guess. Shouldn’t you be doing this in Massachusetts?” Jim and Lisa burst out laughing.

Jim turned to Lisa and said, “So, THAT’s why you always want the lights out!”

Kenny looked deflated. Adam stared at him. “Yes, I know who Brian is. Some people look inside the package when they get a gift, know what I mean?”

“Whatever,” he mumbled.

Lisa started to say something, and I stopped her. “Don’t be mad at Kenny. Pity him. He just can’t deal with himself. So, he does this. Besides, I have Adam. You’re the gift, sweetie,” I said, and he and I gave each other a deep kiss.

Jim started retching. “OK, that’s enough. No more. Kenny...what is wrong with you?”

“You think this is OK?”

“I think it’s none of your business. You two went out. Then you didn’t. Deal. Don’t deal. But don’t fuck up my fiancee’s party.”
“Jim,” he said. “You don’t understand.”

“I do. We’ve covered this. You don’t like what Brian does. Don’t do it. But, why is it so damn important that you two be on the same page. He doesn’t like you. They’re a couple. Get over it.”

“We’ve been friends a long time, I’d think...”

“What? That I’d take your side? Sorry, not happening. If you two were together and broke up, whatever. Bros before hos. But this is some sort of psychological thing you have. Get some help.” Kenny shook his head, and left.

“Wow, thanks, Jim,” I said. “That was really cool of you to do that. I mean, he’s your friend and all.”

“Please,” he said. “Number 1, that was a dickhead thing to do. Number 2, I like Adam. Number 3, and most important, if I take his side, then you and Lisa would be all pissy and I don’t want pissy maids. Happy help is good help.”

With that, Lisa said, “That’s enough, let’s go say hello to my cousin Stacy. Tell her she looks good. She lost weight.”

“Fat Stacy?” I said.. “Good for her. How much?”

“I don’t know,” Lisa snorted. “Probably three pounds. But we’re all supposed to encourage her. Good bye, you two.”

When they left, I turned to Adam. “Are you OK?”

“With what?”

“With all the Kenny shit.”

“He’s an asshole. I love you. What else is there?”

“I mean, maybe it pointed out things you didn’t want pointed out...”

He looked annoyed. “I told you. I love YOU. Not Jessica. YOU. All of you. I love Brian and Jessica. Don’t get me wrong. I love the way you look tonight in that black dress. And I’m going to love it even more in a ball on the floor of our room, you slut...”

“Adam, come on...please.”

“But nothing that dickhead could ever do would make me love you any less. Although, I still don’t get it. What did you ever see in him?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t. All I know is I’m too lucky. I have you.”

“I agree. You are lucky....just kidding, I’m too lucky too. Now, I can’t wait for the 4th. You’re going to wear a pink uniform and 5" heels. And you will wait on me hand and foot. I can get pretty demanding, you know.”

“Stop,” I said, blushing. “I have a secret for you.”

“What?”

“You get the maid’s uniform, even when the Mets win.” With that, he pinched my butt. “Hey!”

“Just practicing, Giselle.”

“Giselle?”

“I like it better. Giselle, get me a drink. Giselle, get me a newspaper. Giselle, service me.”

“Perv. Come on, I have someone I want you to meet.”

“Who?”

“Lisa’s mom.”

“Hurricane Sandy? Do I have to?”

“If you don’t, I’ll be in real trouble.”

We walked over to where she was standing. “Excuse me,” she said to her party. “I have to meet someone.”

We walked a few feet away. “Thank you for rescuing me. My in-law’s friends from Florida. I’ve had enough...so,” she said, looking Adam up and down. “you must be the famous Adam I’ve heard so much about.”

He looked nervous. “Hi, Mrs. Wasserman. I’m Adam Connolly. Mazel tov.”

She smiled. “Mrs. Wasserman is my mother-in-law, may she rest in something resembling peace. Call me Sandy.” She turned me. “You’ve dressed him up nice. He’s cute.”

Adam blushed. “So...are you ready for the big day?”

She laughed. “Relax, Adam. I’m fine, thank you. I’ll be glad when this all goes off.”

“I can imagine. My brother said his mother-in-law couldn’t wait.”
“It’s been a lot of work. But enough about that. Bri..Jessica hasn’t told me nearly enough about you. Tell me.”

“Um, what can I say? I’m a chiropractor with my own practice. I’m from Bronxville. I have two brothers and a sister...”

“Do you love Bri...Jessica.”

Adam blushed and took my hand. “Boy, cut to the chase. But, yes, I do.”

“Are you ever going to pull what you pulled before?”

“Sandy,” I said. “Stop!”

“No, I won’t. You’re one of my children.”

Adam gulped. “I screwed up. I know that. I’m the luckiest guy in the world that she took me back. So, no I won’t.”

“Good,” she smiled, “because if you do, you’ll answer to me, understood?”

Adam laughed. “I’ve heard about you. I don’t want that.”

“You’ve heard about me?” She turned to me and said, “What did you say?”

“Nothing...nothing at all. Just how you were like my mom....”

“So are you two next?”

“Sandy! It’s been a month!”

“See? I am just like your mom. Adam, I’m glad to finally meet you. And after this is done, we’re going out, just the three of us. I have,” and she sighed, “family to deal with here. But don’t think you’re off the hook. When we go out, be prepared.”

Adam laughed, “Uh oh. Am I in trouble?”

“Depends,” Sandy laughed. “Now, excuse me.”

When she left, Adam turned to me. “She really loves you.”

I teared up. “I know. I’m lucky.”

“You OK?”

“Yeah. No. I mean, it’s times like this I miss my family. And I realize they’re not coming back, you know.”

“I know. You have me though. And Lisa’s family. And my family will love you.”

“I don’t know....”

“I’ve told you before. If I love you, they will. Besides, my mother would definitely approve of this outfit. You look like a million bucks. Keep wearing skirts and heels and you’ll always be on her good side,” he smiled. “You want to go outside for a while?”

“Yeah, I’d like that. You’re really too good to me. When am I going to wake up from this dream?”

“Never, I hope. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Saturday morning 11:30 AM. The Mets and Yankees had both lost the previous night, leaving the Yankees one game up. Now I was getting nervous. Anyway, we were all in Lisa’s suite. The hair and make-up people were there. Sandy was there. Jennifer was there. Lisa’s grandmother was there. Except Allison. Allison was not there.

“Where the hell is she?” Lisa screamed. “I told you she’d pull this!”

“Calm down, Lisa,” he mother said. “It’s six hours.”

“That is not the point! She has one thing to do and she can’t even do it. She is a bitch. She’s doing this on purpose.”

“Lisa, calm down,” said her grandmother. “It’s your wedding day.”

“I’m aware of that, Nana!”

“Lisa, apologize.”

“Sorry, Nana. I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just...she can’t even do this. But I’m sorry.”

Her grandmother smiled and turned to Sandy, “Like a repeat of your wedding day.”

Sandy laughed. “That’s different. That was Helene. Lisa, relax, I called her. She’ll be here.”

“Why does she have to do this? And don’t tell me it’s difficult on her.”

“I’ll deal with her. Don’t worry. You relax.”
“Lise,” I said, “Can I get you something? Water? Soda? Champagne? Nembutal?”

“Shut up. I’m actually surprised to see you here this early,” she laughed.

I blushed. “Lise, come on....”

“At least I don’t have to worry about you getting knocked up.”

“True. But, to answer your question, I got enough rest. Not too much. Just enough.”

“Are you OK with today? Kenny and all?”

“I wish everyone would stop asking me that. I feel nothing for him. Scratch that. I feel pity. He was a bad date. That’s it. Like I told Jen, he’s just someone walking with me. It’s five minutes. Five minutes when all eyes will be on me, because I will be just so stunning...”

Lisa rolled her eyes. “Girly girl, girly girl, girly girl.”

“Don’t hate. Appreciate.”

“I’m serious. Look at you. We’re getting ready and you’re wearing a dress. I’m in sweats. Jen is in sweats. And you, Miss Jessica, are dressed in, I’m sorry, what did you call it, a “really cute pink sundress” and heels. You are the girliest girl I know.”

“Adam likes me in dresses. And I....never mind.”

“What?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. He likes me in dresses.” I started to tear up.

“Mom, Nana, Jen, could you guys go outside for a minute?”

“They don’t have to.”

“Come on everyone,” Sandy said. “Let’s give them a minute.”

They shut the door. “Jess, what’s wrong?”

“That’s it. Jess. That’s what’s wrong,” I sobbed.

“I’m sorry. I was just kidding with you. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“I know. It’s me. I think it all just backed up on me. I’m sorry. This is your wedding day. You should be happy. Or nervous. Or pissed at Crunchy. Not worried about me.”

“Please. Brian. Talk to me.”

“You’ll think it’s stupid.”

“No, I won’t. Try me.”

“When you said that, it brought back something I said to Julia.”

“Oh jeez.”

“Stop. It’s just...I can’t.”

“Brian Andrew Rosen, talk!”

“I feel like...like...I’m going through puberty again.”

“Excuse me?”

“Like puberty. Except now I’m a girl. I told Julia this, it’s like I like pretty things and I have a crush and....”

“Are you getting your period? This is a magical time in every young girl’s life....”

“Thanks a hell of a lot.”

“I was kidding. So, you like dresses. They can be fun. And Adam likes you in them. Why wouldn’t he? You’re gorgeous.”

“That’s just it. I know rationally that he knows who I am. I just wonder does he really or does he really want Jessica and one day he’ll wake up and I’ll be alone and Kenny will be right...”

“Stop it right now, young lady! Sorry, I just had to say that. Number 1, I’ve heard Adam call you Brian as well as Jessica, so he knows who you are. Although mostly he calls you sweetie and cutie, which Jim and I want to tell you is just plain nauseating. But anyway, he loves you. Nana saw it too. She said that he loves you absolutely. So don’t worry about that. And Kenny, I won’t even discuss that. He’s not right.”

“Even still, I’m just really scared. I’m sorry to do this to you today. I’m just freaking out. The girly girl thing hit too close to home. I need to stop this before I have a breakdown...”

“Bri, I was kidding. I won’t say it again. You’re my best friend. Please!”

“I’m sorry...I really am...I need to go take a walk...”

“Bri, please don’t go.”
“Lise, I just...I....uh,” and with that I left.

I ran down to my room. I wanted Adam to be there. But he was seeing patients this morning. He didn’t want to, in case he said, “you need something.” He was too good. But I told him that he’d be bored hanging around and he should go to work. Now, I regretted it. I needed him more than ever.

I took off the dress, and put on a t-shirt and shorts. I stared at the mirror. I felt like I did that first night. I had no idea who I was. I looked like Jessica. Even in a t-shirt and shorts, I looked like a girly girl. I just stared and cried. I had lost who I was. I may not have been much as Brian, but I knew who I was. Now I was just some circus freak. “Ladies and Gentlemen! Come and see the boy who looks and acts like a girl! So real you won’t believe your eyes!” I wasn’t wearing any makeup, but I started scrubbing my face. Like Lady Macbeth, out, out, damned Jessica!

Ten minutes later, I heard a knock. “I don’t need housekeeping...”

“It’s Stanley Lachman.” Lisa’s maternal grandfather. I was in shock.

“Mr. Lachman?”

“Brian, open the door please.”

I opened the door. He walked right past me. “Close the door.”

“Um, what’s going on?”

“You tell me. I’m watching TV with Jim and his friends, when Lisa calls all upset. She says you left the bridal suite and she’s worried about you. That you won’t be part of the wedding.”

“You knew I was in the wedding?”

“You didn’t invent the wheel.”

“Sorry?”

“You weren’t the first fagelah. You won’t be the last.”

“Thanks. But, how did you...I mean...how?”

He laughed. “Do you know why I like you, Brian?”

“Um, no...”

“Because everybody else treats me like a child. They talk about me like I’m not in the room. Does Dad want dinner? What’s Dad doing? Like I’m invisible or a moron or something. But, you don’t. You talk to me about work. About sports. About the market. Thanks for that tip by the way...I made a bundle.”

“Don’t share where you got it. That’s about ten SEC violations. So, I’m not sure where this is going...”

“You act like I shouldn’t have known it was you.”

“I’m still lost.”

“You and Lisa have been friends since you started college. You’re always there. I see you more than Allison, with the spotted owls. Then, she’s getting married and you’re no where to be seen. And, lo and behold, here’s her new best friend Jessica. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes.”

“Oh god. Who else figured me out?”

“Relax, Brian. If I didn’t know it was you, I wouldn’t guess. But, I know the whole story. Actually, my nephew Ronnie said ‘who’s the new girl? What I could do with her...”

I rolled my eyes. “Ronnie. No, I don’t think so. Sorry, Mr. Lachman, I didn’t mean...”

He laughed. “Like I said before, you weren’t the first fagelah. You won’t be the last. And you’re right, he’s a putz. I don’t care if you wear a dress. You like it? Go ahead, you look good. But, Ronnie, that’s unforgivable.”

“I’m sorry to have put everyone through this.”

“You’re a good person, Brian. You want to dress like a girl, go ahead. It’s your life...you look surprised.”

“I just didn’t expect...”

“What, that I’d say that? I knew you were gay from the first time I met you. That’s not important to me. You’re a good person. You’re a good friend to my Lisa. That’s what counts. You want to sleep with men, go ahead. Just not Ronnie. Or Stephen (Lisa’s uncle). You should have standards.”

I smiled. “I’m seeing someone.”

“I saw. I heard. Where is he?”

“Work. I told him to go.”

“I want to meet him. Make sure he’s OK.”

“Thanks. You will tonight.”

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I’m still a little unsure.”

“About what? You go upstairs. You get dressed. You go to the party. You dance. You drink. You go home. Everything else, as the rabbis say, is commentary.”

“I’m just worried...”

“No one knows, Brian. I know. Nana knows. No one else. And if they do, so what? That’s them, not you. Now,” and he laughed, “be a man and put on your dress.”

I laughed. “Can I ask something else?”

“What?”

“How did you end up down here?”

“Well, Lisa calls Jim and can’t breath, she’s crying so hard...”

“Oh boy...”

“Oh boy is right. Anyway, he figures out that you left, and he’s going to come down....by the way, that Kenny made some comment...you two have something?”

“We did. Don’t ask.”

“I won’t. Don’t do it again. He’s a schmuck. Anyway, Jim said he would come down. I told him I would.”

“That must’ve been something.”

“He looked shocked. I told him I knew and would take care of it. He’d give you some pep talk. You don’t need a pep talk. You need sense. And that, despite what my wife thinks, is where I came in. So what are you going to do?”

“Go upstairs and put on my dress, I guess.”

“Good boy. You’re a mensch, Brian.”

“So are you.”

“Don’t let that get around. Let’s go. Any tips for me?”
I laughed. “One day, I’ll get caught and look at me. How long do you think I’d survive in jail? Anyway, I’ll have friends and family shares on a deal coming up. We’ll see what I can do.”

We went to the bridal suite. Mr. Lachman knocked, “Lisa, come to the door. I have a surprise.”

Lisa opened the door. Her eyes were swollen and puffy. “Bri,” and then she hugged me. “I’m so sorry.”

I started to cry too. “No, I am.”

“I’m going back downstairs. Maybe I’ll take a raft from all the tears,” her grandfather said, in mock exasperation.

“Thanks, Mr. Lachman.”

“Stanley. Sixteen years. Stanley. Or Grandpa. Not Mr. Lachman.” Then, he walked away.

We walked into the bedroom and Lisa closed the door.

“Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“I mean, really sure. I don’t want you to do this if you’re not 100%.”

“I am. Besides, what would you do without me?”

“Throw out Kenny. On second thought...but seriously, are you OK? I won’t make anymore girly girl comments.”

“It’s OK. I shouldn’t have freaked out like I did. It was uncalled for.”

“You got scared. Don’t apologize for that.” She looked in the mirror. “Apologize for the fact that my eyes look awful because of you.”

“Sorry, we can take care of that. I have some eye stuff in my makeup bag.”

“Your make up bag? You are such the girly girl. Poor Adam.”

“Ha ha. I learned from the best. I’m sorry, Lise. For everything.”

“Don’t be. I made this mess. If you stopped after tonight, I’d understand.”

“No.”
“No what?”

“I’m not stopping. I told Adam and I’ll tell you. I like this part of me. I like Brian too, don’t get me wrong. But you know what, I like dresses and heels and putting on make up. And I like sports too. And if someone else doesn’t, that’s them, not me. I’m me.”

“How ABC Afterschool Special of you,” she said drily.

“Bitch,” I smiled

“I’m serious. I’m glad you’re happy. I like having both of you around. More clothes for me. On that front, can I borrow the sundress for the honeymoon?”

“Will it fit you?”

She threw a pillow at my head. “You’re right. I might have to have it taken in.” Then we laughed and hugged.

“Now, let’s get you ready,” I said. “This is your day.”

______________________________________________________________________________
The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch. Lisa looked, cliched as it is, radiant. Everyone gasped. I too looked gorgeous. The dress showed off my figure perfectly and, as Adam said, made my legs look ‘more phenomenal, if that was possible.’ Kenny was Kenny.

“You look gorgeous,” he said with a sneer.

“Thank you,” I said, ignoring his tone. “That tux looks good on you. Are vests still in?”

“That was bitchy. But what should I expect from you?”

“Kenny, look. This is not about you and me. It’s about Lisa. And, tangentially, Jim. You don’t have to like me. Or respect me. Or even talk to me. You have to walk down an aisle with me. That’s it. After the ceremony, you don’t have to say another word to me ever again. Something we both can appreciate, I’m sure. But, for now, all you have to do is hold my arm and try not to trip. That’s it. OK?”

“Yes, ma’am.” He said, spitting out his words. “I’ll be fine.” We walked down the aisle uneventfully.

The Yankees lost that afternoon, leaving the Mets a half-game up. The Mets had a game at 5:00 PM. I was truly on pins and needles awaiting the outcome.

At 8 PM, Adam and I were sitting at our table when Jim came over, and held out his hand.

“Mind if I dance wif you date?” he said to Adam, imitating the Dexter Lake Club Scene in Animal House.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Mets just won.”

“You don’t have to do this.”

“Tie goes to the runner, you know that. I made the bet. So, here goes.”

“Jim...”

“Adam, tell your girlfriend here it’s rude to insult the groom on his wedding day.”

Adam laughed. “He seems serious. You better go.”

The band finished the song. Jim pointed at the bandleader, who announced, “And, now, our groom has made a special request. He wants to dance with the beautiful Jessica Rosen,” and with that ‘Endless Love’ began playing.

I turned beet red. “Jim, I’m going to kill you.” I turned around and saw Lisa and Adam doubled over in laughter.

“You asked for it,” he said, with a huge grin. “Come on.”

We started to dance. “You didn’t have to do this, Jim.”

“Bet’s a bet.”

“I’m serious. I would never have held you to it.”

“I know. I would have held you though.”

“I know. Believe me I know.”

“Thanks.”

“For what?”

“For everything. You went above and beyond, you know?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You did. You didn’t have to do this. But you did. You’d do anything for Lisa. I really appreciate that. I love her, but she can be...difficult.”

“That’s an understatement,” I laughed.

“Relay that and die,” he said. “Anyway, I know this has been hard on you and I really appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I like you, by the way.”

“Huh?”

“Not that way, you deluded butt biter,” he laughed. “I mean, you’re a good...person. I don’t know why you never thought I liked you.”

“I never said that.”

“Yeah, you did. Lise told me.”

“Sorry, I like you too. You’ve been way too cool during all of this. I appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome. Remember, I’m an onion...”

“Parfait.” We both laughed.

“Anyway, you and Adam want to watch a game some time, that’s cool. Or just we can. Unless that dress has made you like Lisa.”

“Shut up. Seriously, thanks.”

“You too. I like Adam, by the way. He’s a good guy. Don’t fuck it up.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. He likes you too.”

“The four of us need to hang out more. He’s better than the other guys Lisa’s friends hang around with.”

The song was coming to its climax. “Hey,” he said, with a grin, “want to piss off Kenny?”

“Gladly, how?”

“Follow my lead.” And with that, he spun me out, then back and then he dipped me.

{The End}

Authors’ Note:

The Yankees and Mets were really tied on June 25, 2005.

All restaurants named herein are real. Calle Ocho is not worth it. Cabana is.

Dress for Success is a real organization that gives poor women clothes for interviews. It has a male equivalent, Career Gear. Please give. It’s a hand up to someone in need.

Notes:

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