A Good Thumpetty, Thump, Thumping

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A devastating Christmas Eve snowstorm has left much of the country in economic chaos. The cast of a popular TV show has put together a telethon to raise money for those who were harmed the worst. The theme of their program is that Mother Nature has traditionally been our friend and companion.

A Good Thumpetty, Thump, Thumping
By Angela Rasch

“Can you believe that some people are shelling out over $1,000 for those stupid things?” My daddy held his arm around Mommy while his narrowed eyes washed over me with their normal disapproval. Something about the way I played with the Tickle Me Elmo I had just received from Santa seemed to bother Daddy. The black and blue tattoo on his arm muscle glared at me like that scary face on a poison bottle.

He had another family with three boys a long ways away; there were more pictures of them around our house than there were of me.

It’s nice to have a night when Daddy and Mommy don’t yell so much.
Daddy gave Mommy another Hummel doll to add to her collection. . .a little girl in a very pretty dress . . . that looked like it would be fun to wear. Mommy likes pretty things . . . and pretty people.

A yummy smell from our Scotch pine tree filled my nose. I spied the tree ornament that said “Our Baby Boy’s First Christmas 1989”. My seven-year old face turned up to my father. “Instead of spending enough money to buy a house, why didn’t they just ask Santa to bring them a Tickle Me Elmo?”

My daddy’s face flushed. For a second I thought he was going to get mad about my nightie . . . again. Mommy had explained several times that she was simply saving money by dressing me in my cousin Amy’s hand-me-downs. Daddy argued I should have boy pajamas, covered with cowboys instead of kitties and rainbows. Daddy had been a wrestling coach, but the school didn’t have wrestling anymore.

I like the way the skirt of my nightie swishes and tickles my ankles when I walk. I always try to rub hard into Mommy when she tucks me in, so her perfume stays with me all night. Daddy also hates the dolly I take to bed with me, but Mommy says it isn’t hurting anyone. Mommy takes care of sick people at the hospital, so she knows what’s good for you.

“Oh, Sweetie-pie,” Mommy explained. Her eyes were wide, as she strained to see everything about me. “Even at Christmas not every wish comes true. You’re a lucky little munchkin to have gotten everything you wished for.”

Not everything! I thought. I gazed longingly at the dancer spinning on top of my mother’s new music box. It was a gift my mother had given herself. She said the lady dressed in pink lived somewhere near Swan Lake. If only I could be a dancer like her!

***

We moved down the sidewalk in the crisp autumn air clutching the bags we hoped would soon be jammed with Halloween candy.

I breathed in the fragrance of my mother’s perfume, Romance. When she had squirted it on me, Mom said its flowery fragrance would help me feel sexy. “A ballerina has to feel sexy to be a good dancer.”

In the open air the perfume swirled around making me dizzy with happiness.

“Mikey, tell me again why you wanted to dress like a ballet dancer,” Larry asked. He obviously was having a hard time digesting why any ten-year old boy would wear a ballerina costume for Halloween. He still had most of his baby fat, but somehow still managed to look mean and frightening.

I mentally reviewed the made up story my mother and I had planned. Touching the crunchy, delicate fabric of my puffy, pink, organza tutu I spread my fingers so that I could watch my nails sparkle under the early evening streetlight. We’d let my nails grow for two weeks, shaped them, and then painted them with shiny, pink polish.

Larry’s eyes peered out from his ominous Batman mask and dragged a disapproving glance across my pink tights and ballet slippers.

I’d seen that kind of look before on my father’s face before he left town to live with his first family. Mom said he wanted to coach his other sons to become the best wrestlers they could ever be.

Dad once told me that the medals you win for wrestling are made of sweat and guts. Ewwwwwwww!

I flinched under the invisible slap of Larry’s damning gaze. Maybe we went too far with the flowers around the neck of my outfit and behind one of my ears? Or, it could be that the training bra that gave me a bit of a figure was too much for Larry? I wonder if he can see panty lines under my tights? Did we push things with the fall Mom had attached to my own rather longish hair to allow me to pile a huge blonde bun on the top of my head?

“It wasn’t my idea to dress like this,” I lied. Mom said that hurting people was a bigger sin than telling a little white lie. She said that making people angry hurt them. Even though she said they had no right to be angry, she cautioned that I should never be embarrassed by the real me.

“This is the first year Mom is allowing me to go trick or treating without her.” My eyes feel as if Mom went a little heavy on the mascara. She should have just let me do it. . .same thing for my lipstick. The color is perfect for my outfit and goes well with the eyeshadow I’m using, but Mom made it all look too dramatic.

“Uh huh,” Tommy said. He was a cowboy, again. Last year we had both been cowboys and had competed against each other for the fastest draw. “And . . . your Mom said you could go without her, but only if she could pick out your costume.”

I agreed. “She doesn’t really think I’m old enough to be out after dark without her, so she wanted me to back out of the deal.”

They all nodded knowingly. Everybody’s mom had pulled a trick like that, at least once, which had made the cover story my mother invented so believable.

Mom and I had been having “beauty nights” in the safety of our own home for years. Dad had known about it, but my parents were the only ones. I had been allowed to wear whatever I wanted, as long as we were “all careful”. Usually I picked a dress or skirt that had once been Amy’s. Amy had so much clothes that some of the things Mom brought home from her house still had tags and had never been worn. Now that Mom and Dad are getting divorced and he’s moved to California we never hear from him. What he thinks about anything doesn’t count. I touched the spot on my arm where he grabbed me so hard that I had a stress fracture.

“But,” Larry probed, “do you have to spin like that and toss your arms around like a fairy godmother?”

“Do you have to talk with your voice in the basement, as if you’re a grown up?” I countered.

“Batman is a grown-up,” he explained.

I nodded. “And . . . a ballerina dances on her toes, wherever she goes.” I’m glad we thought twice getting my ears pierced. My clip on teddy bears are sweet . . . and not so obvious. Some day though, I’m going to get that done.

“Okay,” he said slowly, “but when people ask our names I don’t want you wasting our trick or treat time explaining why a boy would be a dancing lady on Halloween.”

“Hey,” Tommy said, “why don’t you tell them your name is Michelle; and for tonight we’ll pretend you’re a girl. That way no one will think anything about how you’re dressed.”

I smiled. My name is Michelle. I’m not “pretending” anything. If only I could grow up to be a ballerina.

On the nights that Mom and I would paint each other’s nails and do each other’s faces, we would have long talks about life. Mom told me that love and compassion are the building blocks for happiness. She made me pinkie-swear that I would never knowingly hurt anyone, which I couldn’t imagine doing.

On many of those nights, when she sat on my bed talking about life we would pray together. Often I silently asked for divine intervention, if God thought it was the right thing for me.

“You were really brave to call your mom’s bluff,” Tommy gushed, bringing my mind back to the trick or treating at hand. “She did everything she could to make you look and smell like a real ballerina. I can’t see anything when I look at you but a cute girl who loves to dance.”

“If you love him so much, why don’t you kiss him,” Larry growled. “Come on. Let’s score some candy before the other kids get it all.”

After I quit blushing over Larry’s remark about Tommy kissing me, the rest of the night went by like a dream, cementing my inner wishes.

***

“Let’s finish our trigonometry first,” Tom suggested.

I was staying overnight. His parents and his older sister Carla were checking out colleges on the east coast that weekend. Tom and I had the house to ourselves. I had sworn to my mother that I would get to bed before midnight.

“Hey,” Tom said. “We both can start dating in a few months.” Mom and Tom’s parents had rules about no dates before sixteen.

“Uh huh,” I agreed. “Emily and I have already planned a date for the night of my sixteenth birthday.” Emily is always making plans for us. My guess is Emily’s thinking years into the future, which doesn’t bother me because I like her a lot.

Tom became strangely quiet. “What if . . . what if we have a practice date?”

“How so?”

“Well I’m a boy and you’re a boy, but for tonight we could act like we’re on a date.”

“I don’t know. . . .” What’s this all about?

“You’re about Carla’s size,” he suggested. “If you were to become Michelle again . . . like you did for Halloween when we were kids, we could pretend like we’re on a date . . . and then our real first dates wouldn’t be such a mess. Like Mark’s.”

We laughed. Mark had experienced the date-from-Hell when he took Megan out for dinner. He had done everything wrong; and she had called her mother in tears from the restaurant, and then left him there alone. He had to pay for her meal, tried to eat both his food and hers, and had gotten sick.

“So what do you think?” Tom asked.

“I don’t get it.”

“It’s really simple,” Tom said eagerly. “You put on some of Carla’s clothes, fluff up your hair a little, and we’ll do what a boy and girl do when they’re having a study date.”

“We don’t know what they do,” I stated. Carla does have some neat outfits I’d love to try on!

“That’s why we need to do this,” he protested. “We can have a dry run and not end up looking like some complete idiots when we go out on the real thing.”

“I don’t know. . ..”

He persisted. “We both have been in plays. If you immerse yourself in the role, I’ll do my part; and we’ll just see where things go.”

I allowed him to convince me and in a few minutes I was in Carla’s bathtub surrounded by bubbles that were giving off the flowery scent of Brittany Spear’s Curious. Half the girls at school used that scent.

After Mom and Dad had split up and he had remarried his first wife, he never came back to see us. Mom encouraged me to be Michelle whenever I felt the need. Dad wanted me to man up, even though I was much too small to play football and didn’t really fit the Macho-Man Randy Savage image. Dad’s opinion was no longer a factor.

I quickly dried and powdered myself and spent about an hour finding the perfect outfit, fixing my hair, applying just the right amount of make-up, and getting my mind right to play the role of Tom’s “date”.

With Carla’s taste in clothing and my longish blonde hair I looked a lot like Hannah Montana in my short denim skirt, high-heeled boots, and layered top.

“Wow!” Tom said appreciatively when I came out into their living room. “I wondered if you had changed your mind, but I can see it just takes time for a girl to get really pretty.”

A girl! Really pretty! I melted.

“What do you want to do on our date?” I asked shyly.

“When Carla has a boy over they usually watch a movie,” Tom suggested. “So. . .I rented a video for us.”

I was afraid for a minute that he would pull out Brokeback Mountain. Even though Mom wouldn’t let me see it, everyone knew what it was about.

“It’s called Broken Flowers,” he said. “Bill Murray’s in it, but it’s not a stupid comedy.”

“Oh, I’ve heard about it. He’s a millionaire looking for a child he fathered. Sounds good.”

He grinned. “I knew you’d like it.”

I smiled. “You planned this,” I accused. “This ‘let’s try a date thing’ wasn’t just something you thought up tonight to kill time.”

He blushed. “No. It’s been something I’ve thought about . . . for awhile. We can both learn a lot.”

He seemed to stand a lot closer to me than he normally did while we made our popcorn, which he put in one big bowl, rather than splitting into two bowls like we normally did. When we sat on the couch to watch the video he asked if I minded if he put his arm around me like he would a real date.

“I don’t know who my first date will be yet,” he admitted, “but I don’t want to come across like an amateur.”

“Okay. . ..”

I slipped off Carla’s cowgirl boots, and then pulled my legs under me. My head easily found his shoulder. I hadn’t realized how much bigger Tom is than me.

About fifteen minutes into the movie Bill Murray said something that I thought was funny. I turned toward Tom to share our laughter . . . and he kissed me.

I was surprised, but was also determined to play my role as his date. Our lips lingered.

I turned back to the movie.

“What’s wrong,” he asked quietly, after about ten minutes.

“Nothing’s wrong. . .,” I said, surprised at how much I sounded like a mixed-up girl. Sounded like and AM!

“Didn’t you like our kiss?” His face looked like he was going through agony.

“It was okay,” I said honestly.

“Just ‘okay’? I knew it. I just knew I would need practice to be a great lover.”

I laughed. “Is that what you want to be, ‘a great lover’?”

“You know what I mean. Hey, you promised you would be my date for the evening. Maybe it just takes time to get it right?”

I thought for a moment. “Maybe?” I semi-agreed, without any real commitment.

“Let’s turn off the movie and give this a real chance,” he begged.

“Okay,” I whispered softly.

For the next hour we gave it a “real chance”. He pulled me into a hug that felt really affectionate. He could have crushed me like he did the other team’s running backs on the varsity football team. I allowed him to get to second base with me, which I thought was proper for where we were in our “relationship”. I accidentally brushed into his . . . a few times, so I could tell that what we were doing was much more sexually stimulating for him than it was for me.

We tongue-twisted and he nibbled on my nipples . . . everything we had seen teenagers and other lovers do in movies . . . from the waist up. He had an imaginative tongue. I would have to give him an A for effort, but as the time dragged on I became more and more . . . bored.

“Are you ready for bed?” His voice broke when he said “bed”.

“It’s only 10:30,” I protested.

“I didn’t mean going to bed. . .uhm. . .to sleep.” The words came out so shyly they must have hurt.

“Tom . . . I’m not attracted to you like that. I like girls.”

He sprang off the couch. “Ughhhh. Are you suggesting that I like . . . men! That’s so bogus. I like girls just as much as you do.” His face was contorted in anger. “This was a stupid idea. I thought you would be more mature about it. I thought you would understand what we’re doing . . . but no . . . you’re not doing your part.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing for the last hour,” I said as softly as I could. “I was playing a part.”

“Didn’t you like it?” he demanded.

“It wasn’t horrible,” I said with as much compassion as I could. He’s upset and I don’t blame him. I shouldn’t have led him on.

“Look . . . I don’t know if you get it, but you’re really pretty and I’m just reacting to how you look tonight. Can you really blame me? You’re as pretty as any girl at school. Are you turned off by me because I have the beginning of a zit on my forehead?”

“I didn’t even notice,” I said. “You’re one of the handsomest boys in school. I got mad at Emily the other day during flex because she made a list of the best-looking guys in school and I was only fifth, while you were at the top of the list. She said I would have been on top, if it was a list of the cutest boys . . . which I don’t really understand.” For a second or two I felt really weird. “Should I go and change back into my own clothes? Maybe I should call my mom and have her come and get me?”

“No. . ..” He shook his head slowly. “I wanted tonight to be perfect for us.” A tear trickled down his face. The last time I’d seen Tom cry was in junior high when his dog, Deeohgee, died.

Oh my! I have to make this less embarrassing for him. “Come here.” I patted the couch next to me, and smiled seductively . . . I hoped. Once he sat, I cuddled close to him. “You’re my best friend; and I think a few kisses between best friends is a good thing.”

He stared at his shoes.

I ran my hand through his hair and turned his head toward mine. To show him I wasn’t upset, I kissed him lightly on the lips. “Are we still besties?” I breathed.

“Can we give the kissing thing another try?” he asked quietly. His eyes had glazed over again; and I could tell his mind was wired for sex . . . and only sex.

I nodded and gave him another wide grin.

We tried for at least another hour. I could tell that he was very excited and had totally accepted the roles we were playing. I was tempted to do something with my hands or lips to give him sexual release, but understood he might mistake lust for love. He would only end up hurt, maybe scarred for life, if we actually had sex when I didn’t love him . . . even if it was only oral.

Our making out never became anything other than acting. . .on my part. Second base was a far as we got and even that was a chore for me. What we were doing didn’t feel repulsive, because Tom was such a sweet guy, but it was all utterly nothing for me in the sex department.

I like girls! I’m sure I should have been born a girl, but I like girls and not boys. Maybe I’ve been wrong, except everything about tonight feels right, except I don’t want to have sex with a boy. If only I could understand myself.

That was our first and only date.

***

“Why didn’t you just have Heather Morris do the bit,” I asked, looking out of the snowman head through what I supposed were meant to be two transparent eyes made out of coal. We were rehearsing one of the production numbers for our telethon for the victims of the 12/24 catastrophic snowstorm.

“No offense, Mike,” the director said, “but it’s Frosty the Snowman. We need you to put on your masculine dancing shoes and run ‘here and there, all around the square’ clutching that broomstick like it’s the sexiest bimbo in the world . . . and you’re a stud who’s so much in heat you might just melt away. Just remember when a kid sees a snowman she sees only his jolly, happy soul. All the physical evidence that he’s not a human playmate melts away.”

A good director’s advice is worth a thousand words. I need this gig. Undersized male dancers who don’t have the strength to lift their partners don’t get offered much. A dancing role on Glee could turn my career around. Derek is old enough to have long ago forgotten what a child sees when she stares at a snowman . . . but because he has natural directing instincts he hasn’t forgotten anything he can use to tell a story.

“Besides,” he added, “there’s only one Brittany. She makes all the other dancers on the set look like rookies.”

“You’re not going to get an argument out of me.” My career as a choreographer had been much more successful than my dancing. Dancing was my first love, but showing other people how to move paid the bills. Mom had died during my first year in college, before I had won any significant awards, but she’d always made me feel like it was only a matter of time before everything would fall into place for me.

“We get a ton of tweets from the ‘Gleeks’ complaining that we don’t let the camera rest on Brittany during the big dance numbers.” Mike’s grin told me that he liked the fans wanting more.

I was one of those fans who had been frustrated by that very thing. “Why don’t you feature her more often?”

“Glee’s an assemble. The show is based on fast moving shots that border on schizophrenia. If we let her do an Ann Miller number that displayed her true ability the show would become too much about individual talent. Let’s face it Heather is a much better dancer than any of the cast are singers. We can, and do, alter their voices, but you can’t fake great body movement.”

I nodded. “There’s no one quite like her.”

I took my place on set; and we ran through the number. I became part of the scene when the snowman the Glee kids had built morphed into “life” after they put a silk hat on its head. I danced around making sure to be as masculine as possible. My part was to end right after a gust of wind blew away my silk hat and Artie found a replacement for it.

Artie rolled out of the wings in his wheelchair with another silk hat. “This hat’s better,” he announced as if it wasn’t a scripted line. “I think it was part of a magician’s act who left it at McKinley High after a performance.”

I leaned down, and then he placed the hat on my head. It was supposed to have some special magic in it to take me to another level. Consequently, through a camera trick, I would dissolve into Heather in her Cheerios’ uniform.

For a moment I felt staggered by a little vertigo. Then I noticed Heather walking toward me wearing an identical silk hat and her red uniform. The Hello Kitty perfume we both used mingled in a pleasant bouquet.

“Hey, Holly,” Heather said with a mocking grin. “We agreed I would do the second half of this scene when we choreographed it. You skedaddle because we can’t be on camera at the same time.”

Of course! Heather and I had signed a unique contract to work together on Glee. With all that they required us to do after we agreed to leave Beyoncé, and then help 20th Century Fox Productions upgrade Glee’s dancing. It was at least a two-person job. Having an identical twin has its moments of bliss.

I took off my snowman costume’s head and shook out my blonde ponytail. I then winked at Santana standing in the wings giving me a lustful smirk.

There had been a time when I was a little girl that I had issues about being born in the wrong body, but now I know I’m bi-curious and Santana’s ‘Lebanese’. Being 5’8” gives me the perfect body for most dancing and the height to be her perfect sexual partner.

“Santana,” I said while I tossed her the magic hat, “Try the hat, maybe it will turn you into a unicorn.” I winked again. “Or better yet, a bi-corn.”

“Holly,” the director shouted, “let’s run through that again. You’re dancing is still too feminine. Maybe we need to get a male dancer like we were thinking last night.”

“I can do it,” I said with determination. “There’s a guy somewhere inside of me that I can channel-surf.”

The cast laughed. They always laughed at the insane adlibs I was allowed to throw off while filming. As the resident girly-girl the thought of me finding a guy under my skin was unthinkable.

Naya/Santana licked her lips in my direction causing my vagina to quake.

“Hey Santa-my-ana, did you know dolphins are really gay sharks?” She loves my sense of humor.

The End



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