"What the hell was that all about," I asked Bobbi, after the gathering broke up.

"That was about as much fun as you can legally have on a Tuesday night in Missouri."

I thought maybe she was right.

"Listen," she said, "I gotta go.  Will I see you at the meeting tomorrow?"

"I don't know."  The first one was pretty dreadful.  This had been a whole lot more fun, and quite therapeutic.  I felt like I could stay up all night.

"Mox Nix.  I'll catch you later."

Her leaving left me and Topher alone.  Incredibly, I wasn't nervous in his company. 

"Do you want another coffee," he asked.  "I'm buying."

"No thanks," I told him.  "If I have any more caffeine I'll have to walk to the Moon and back before I could possibly sleep.  But I would take one of those juicy things, like you're drinking."

"Sure thing," he smiled and got up. 

I looked around when he'd gone, still stunned by the antics I'd just seen in these very booths.  I looked at the clock.

"Oh shit," I said and got up to go. 

Topher was right there.

"I'm sorry, Topher, but it's eleven thirty.  If I don't get going now, I'll miss the last bus."

"No ache, Cinderella, I can give you a ride.  Stay a bit and talk.  I like you."

"Thanks, I like you too."

He set down a new cup, this one a tall Japanese teacup with a faerie motif pressed into it.  The glaze was a riot of psychedelic colors.  It was full of some dark red liquid, and had ice and raspberries floating in it.

It was yummy.

"So," I asked him when we'd both settled back down, "can I ask you a deeply personal question?"

"From anyone else, I'd probably say 'no', but I doubt you'd be asking those kinds of questions."

"You mean the ones about plumbing?"

"Yes!  It's the first thing they ask."

"I know, right?  Why can't they see we're different?"

"I don't know.  Danes, go figure."

"Danes?  Tilly said I was from the Danelaw, what does that mean?"

"It's short for 'mundane'; the Danelaw is the straight world."

"You mean straight like what?  Heterosexual?"

"Any kind of straight; hetero, square, white-bread, unhip; you know, boring."

"I suppose.  Am I a Dane?"

"Definitely not.  You're Clan Rabbit, under the protection of Diva Rabbit of that Ilk."

He waved his hand over my head. 

"I create you Dani Rabbit, Apprentice to the Subluminiferous-Ether Bunny."

"You're good at that," I observed, hoping I wasn't staring google-eyed.

"Thanks, it takes a lot to get by in that crowd.  But I play rounds much better when I'm happy, and I'm so happy."


"Because I know— not just think, but know—that I am not alone in the world.  Do you have any idea how profound that is?"

"Yes, I think I do..."

"So," he stirred his drink with his straw and sucked on the straw, "what's your question?"

"How is it that you're a guy?"

"Oh," he blinked.  "I wasn't expecting that."

"What were you expecting?"

"I don't know, but not that.  I suppose I should answer it—and don't be offended, please—with 'how is it that you are a girl?'"

"But I'm not a girl."

"Nor am I a boy, but what else is there?  Dani, we live in a world of opposites, paired dualities, if you will, and there is no room for fence sitters."

"There's got to be something else," I supplied hopefully.


I couldn't think of a single reason.

"So that's it?  You are just your hormones, and life's a bitch until you die?  You lose the genetic lottery and suddenly you're life is pointless?  I can't believe that."

"It's not the nature of the world Dani, just the nature of the world we've made."

"What do you mean?"

"I may not be the smartest 'guy' in the world, but I can read.  Nature doesn't come in just two flavors.  That only happens in the Bible.  In reality nature is much more complex, more diverse.  You can see it everywhere if you look; nature's wondrous variety."

"So where is our place?"

"Sadly, I'm not sure there is one.  We may have to make it, each our own-selves, because we'll always be alone."

"Does it have to be that way?"

"Ask me again in twenty years."

I drained my cup, leaving only ice and fruit; it was good, but left raspberry pits in my mouth.  Most people hate them, but I enjoy the sensation of crushing them between my teeth. 

When I was done, I continued my diatribe.

"This is sad; people will never change if they don't question the status quo.  When you look at Tilly, you know something is different.  Maybe you think it's bad, maybe you think it's good, but you have to think about it.  That's how things change—exposure.  We're invisible.  When people look at us, they just see little kids."

"It won't always be like that, Dani.  I'm not like that anymore.  I grew up, and made myself strong.  I had to work for it, but I got where I wanted to be; we all have that potential. 

"As for the gender thing; I think most people believe the roles they're assigned.  I did, until I was about your age."


"No, when I was eleven."

"I'm actually sixteen, you know?"

"Oh, I'd wondered about that; you don't look it.  I forget how young I looked at your age. "

"So what happened when you were eleven?"

"My uncle molested me."

"What?  That's awful.  But how?"

"Oh, he found ways.  I don't like to think about it."

"I can imagine.  No child should ever have to face that.  It's inhuman."

"I think you mean inhumane."

"No, I mean that people who do that are inhuman."

"More like sub-human."

"You'll get no argument from me."

"So how do we fix it?"

"By being more visible, I guess."

"How do we do that?  I mean, no offense, but it you cross-dressed, you'd just look like a little girl wearing her big brother's clothes."

"I don't have a big brother."

"They don't know that, Dani; that's the point.  They see what they want to see, and since they can't imagine anything outside their stalls, they can't see us at all."

"Next question," I asked.  I didn't like where this conversation was heading, though I wanted to be having it; nobody else could have it.  "What do we do about it?  There aren't enough of us to make a decent movement.  At best, we can expect to be swallowed by the gay community."

"Now there's an image," he laughed.  "We're probably the only GBLT movement in the world with two rarebits."

"What does that mean, GBLT?  Archdiva Hairspray called it the BLT Council."

"She's a bit dramatic, but that's about accurate."

"Accurate how?  Which part?"

"About us being a Council.  It used to not be like that.  Not too long ago, the 'T' meant 'transgendered'.  Then she showed up with her bag of trolls and presto-change-o, Drag Queen City.  They dominate the group."

"But what does it mean?  She said Bacon, Lesbian, and Tomato?"

"Hyperbole.  We used to be part of GBLT Memphis."

"Never heard of them."

"A big gay group in Tennessee, as you might guess.  Started back in the Fifties, as a gay only group, then came the bi-boys and ruined it all, they say.  Of course 'they' are the gay party boys—the Good Old Boys of the movement."

"That's kind of harsh."

"Yeah, but it's true, more or less.  When the gay movement first started, it was strictly a big city thing.  Greenwich Village and Castro Street, and those old queens got to make the rules. 

"Don't ask me how such a diverse group of fabu-lites ever became conservative, but they did, in their own way.  When the bi-boys came in, it exposed them to 'fish cooties'.  I'm not making that word up."

"What about the lesbians?  Where were they during this time?"

"The Flannel Revolution happened a long time ago.  Everything changed for women a hundred years ago.  They were already used to doing everything on the sly.  If men don't see it, it doesn't happen in their minds. 

They were deeply into Boston Marriages and cross-dressing by 1885.  Hell, they're more conservative than the gay men.  They used to say a lesbian brings her dowry chest to a second date."

"That's pretty funny, in a Lavender and Old Lace sort of way.  So the lesbians have been around, but all quiet like for a century?"

"Just so.  Then it was Gay-Bi alliances for a while, until the some of the dykes started to show up, right after Stonewall.  They saw gay men out and about, so to speak, and wanted in on the action.  Or maybe they just wanted to bash some cop heads too.  Not all lesbians are straight-laced, you know."

I didn't know, but I'd take his word it.

"So it was GBL for a while, you can just imagine the effect that acronym had on the reputation of a bunch of cocksuckers.  In California, a church labeled them FUJ—Freaks Undermining Jesus or Peace-Addled Cockroaches.  They held FUJ-PACR rallies and burned homosexuals in effigy.  The California Legislature thought it was hilarious.

"So in the early Seventies they started looking for some other kink to add another letter. The transvestites and transsexuals were the next biggest group, so the new letter was 'T'.  That's how it works:  everything else takes a back seat to political expediency, and the smallest minorities have to ride in the back of the bus."

"That's not right."

"That's life, babe."


"Sorry, just a reflex.  I've been around the BLT for too long, and I haven't had my flamboyancy vaccination."

"That's okay.  They are a riot."

"That's for sure."

"Look, Topher, I'm having a really good time, but my parents are gonna shit if I don't get home soon."

"I suppose you're right," he said, looking at his watch.  "I'm not gonna get met at the door with Daddy's shotgun, am I?"

"No," I assured him.


"It's my mother you have to worry about."

"Great.  So what'll it be?  The blood eagle, or bastinado?"

"Excuse me?"

"Never mind.  It's good to see that you don't know every single word in the English language.  I just hope she don't hurt me.  Parents can get such wrongheaded ideas."

"That' for sure.  Hey Topher, can I ask you another question?"

"Sure, anything."

"How old are you?"


"Oh my God, my Mom's gonna have a stroke.  Good thing you have no testes, or she'd have them on a platter.  She can be vicious; she works for a law firm, you know."

"Okay, you've scared me enough.  Let's get you home."


He drove a motorbike.  Not some flimsy little rice-burner but a solid, made-in-America bike—an Indian.  He kick-started it, and I climbed on back, not sure if it was a good idea.

But it was fun, leaning into Tohper, arms around the waist and the wind rushing past my bare head at seventy miles an hour.  We took the highway and his bike ate up the miles like they were furlongs; I kept my eyes closed the whole way.

By the time he got me home, I was shot through with vibrations and my knees were weak. 

I'm not sure if that happened every time one rode on a motorcycle, but I did know one thing—I sure as hell wanted to do it again.

[23—the BLT]


"There she is," Bobbi suddenly sang out in a fakey man-voice, "Miss Sogeny..."

I wondered if there was something nefarious in her drink.

The people in the other end of the 'C'—whom I hadn't met yet, but were part of the group—stopped their chatter and turned toward the entrance.

I turned to see a tall figure with a beehive hairdo...precessing might be the best word, down the aisle.  It was a woman, I think, wearing a rainbow sequined poodle skirt, only without the poodle, and charcoal gray silk blouse. 

She moved in pulses, showing leg with each step.  She wore clear plastic shoes, with rhinestones on, which out-sparkled her skirt.  She was broad-shouldered, but thin of the waist, with ample hips that she accentuated by placing one foot directly in front of the other.

She walked with a purpose and her left hand drawn to her bosom, and she wore on her wrist, I swear, a corsage.

She looked like a truckload of Barbie dolls fell into a giant blender full of disco-balls and they made a one big doll out of the pieces.

She stopped when she reached the end of her runway, turned a glorious about-face, and sat herself regally in the middle of the long bench. 

"Tilly," someone on the other side said in a terrible falsetto.  Spread hands reached out to adore her and Topher got up and bowed to the knee, drew her hand to his lips and kissed it.

"The Archdiva has arrived," she spoke in her nasaly twang, "you may be seated.  This session of the BLT Council will now come to order."

She had an entourage, and the barista who'd sold me my coffee was at the head of the line.  She had her ticket book and pencil out.

"Can I get you something, Your Grace" she asked with exaggerated formality.

"Yas," Tilly said, mostly through her nose, "I'll have the Bacon, Lesbian, and Tomahto please—hold the Lesbians, they give me grief—and an order of Whorled Peas."

Her sycophants laughed and the waitress wrote it all down.  She handed the pad to Tilly, who signed it with a flourish and threw the works over her shoulder.

The assembly scattered, the barista heading back to the bar, and the others dispersed into the spaces left in the booth.

It was crowded now.

"What's the BLT", I asked Bobbi.

"The Archdiva did not address you," Tilly announced with an air of slighted authority.  She pointed at me with her long, clawed finger.  "Who is this to speak in front of the BLT Council without leave?"

"Forgive her, O Queen of Denial."  This was from Topher, who winked at me.  "She is new to Our World, and knows not the Customs."

"Diva Rabbit, do you speak for this girl-child?"

Girl-child?  Really?  That was way worse than little lady.

"I do not, Our Lady of the Hair Spray" Topher replied, clearly enjoying his role in whatever bizarre form of theatre was unfolding here. 

"But I speak on her behalf; I have seen into her heart, and it is pure; no Dane is she."

"Is that so," Tilly asked him, cocking her head like a parrot.  She beckoned to me with a finger.  "Come hither child, and tell me who Thou art?  I do not know Thee; surely thou must come from the Danelaw?"

What was going on here?  I looked around; everything looked normal, considering, but the words she spoke sounded like they were from a mushroom induced dream.  I wouldn't have been surprised to see a rabbit in a waistcoat emerge from the men's room.

"Approach the Archdiva, thou art sum-moned."

Everyone to my left got out of my way, so I went to her.

She leaned forward to me and gave me a long, sobering appraisal.  Then she spoke in a tiny voice several octaves above her 'normal' voice.

"And what is your name, sweetheart?"


"O Dani Boy...," she sang.

I was just watching the show.

"No?  Well, just plain Dani then."

She held up a finger and spoke to her right.

"The Archdiva has spoken."

"So Mote it be, Mistress of Things that Fit in Your Butt," a pair of transvestites in Lesser Drag answered her.

"So who are you, Miss Dani?"

"Just Dani," I replied, not knowing what else to say.  Nothing in my life so far had prepared me for this conversation.

"No," she corrected in a sour tone, "It's 'Plain Dani', I made a Pronouncement.  And I not the Archdiva?  Do I not have the tallest hair in the room?"

She stood up with the ferocity of a storm giant and glowered at her People. 

"Do my commands fall on dear ears," she illustrated with gestures, "is there some Kitten, who being not in my sight, I cannot see?  Am I outranked?  Am I not a vengeful Archdiva?"

"Forgive us, She Who's Will is the Woe of the World."

She reached into a glass of coke sitting on the table and flicked a claw full of ice at her Vice-Bitches.

"You are chas-tized.  Rise."

The got up and she turned back to me.  She put a finger over her lip and smiled.

"Now where were we?  Oh, yes, you were telling us how normal you're not.  Diva Rabbit speaks highly of you.  Tell me, Plain Dani, what are your super-powers?"

"I'm fluent in six languages."

That got 'oohs' and 'ahhs' from the Assembly, but the Archdiva remained unmoved.

"I have the highest GPA on record at my school."

She looked at her nails, but said nothing.

What would impress her?

"I can tie shoelaces with my toes."

"Your shoelaces, or someone else's?"

"How could you tie your own?"

"I don't know, see," she flashed me a seven-dollar smile, "but if you figure it out, I'll award you a thousand diva points."

"What can I redeem them for?"

"Nothing less than Im-mor-tality, hon, and don't you for-git it.  What else?"

"I think I scared my gynecologist."

"Lot's of women scare their fish-mongers dahlink; we call them 'skanks'.  Did you scare him because you had something he'd never seen, or something he'd seen all too often?"

"You cannot see what is not there."

"Ooh, a Riddle.  Give this girl ten diva points and a flower for her little doggie."



My parents didn't squabble one bit when I told them I wasn't going back to the Alateen meetings.

I didn't exactly tell them I wasn't going back, but that I found another one I thought I'd like better.  They assumed I meant substance abuse counseling, but I'm not responsible for their assumptions.

Snoopy's was a funky little place in an old brick building on Forsythe Street.  I took the bus so that Daddy wouldn't know exactly were I was going, or more importantly, what I was doing. 

I wasn't trying to be secretive or disingenuous, but this was mine.  No one else in my family understood it or me, and I didn't want to share it with them.

Maybe I was being evasive.

The smell was heavenly, even on the street.  I love the smell of coffee, and enjoy it too, but only good coffee.  I hated that stuff in a can; it was only good for cleaning up oil spills.

"D-a-a-a-ni," I heard a familiar voice call from the back, and Bobbi came sauntering up.  "You made it.  Here, let me cop a feel."

She hugged me.

"You smell good, sweetie, what have you been eating?"

"Stink heads," I said, spouting off the most revolting thing I could think of.

"Oh," she countered playfully, "I like.  Does it come in 1-ounce bottles?"

Always the joker.

"Hey, Bobbi?  Can I ask you a question?"

"Only if it ends in a proposition."

"Heywood, from last night.  What is his last name?  It couldn't have been what he said it was."

"Davis," she scoffed.  "He's an even bigger clown than I am."

"I see."

"Come," she said, pulling me toward the back of the shop.  "You gotta meet the other guys."  She stopped and grinned evilly.  "I say guys..."

"Wait.  I wanna get some coffee."


This is nice, I thought to myself.  Cozy.  We were sitting in a C-shaped booth at the end of the long narrow back room.  There was a table on each side of the aisle but the bench on the back wall was continuous.  There were eleven of us, mostly older teens but a few adults. 

I was sitting beside Bobbi at the right-hand table and drinking from a stout stoneware mug of Sumatra blend. 

"Hey," I observed, looking around to my fellows.  "None of the coffee cups are the same."

Mine was short and wine, with a thick handle and rim; it had an amazing blue and brown glaze.  Bobbi's was tall and unglazed, with no rim or handle and a rounded bottom.   The handsome black man across from me had a rose pink goblet with a straw sticking out of it.

"Sure."  Bobbi raised her glass.  "They buy them from a local kiln.  I think art students make them.  They buy a lot of defective pieces.  Garrett, the owner, says it's because they have character, but I think it's because he's a cheap bastard."


"They break them whenever they're chipped.  You can even smash it yourself out back.  They have a rule here; if you argue, take it out back."

"That must be cathartic."

"I don't know if that is a religious word," Bobbi told me, "or has something to do with the heart."

"It means traumatic and healing at the same time," supplied the handsome stranger.

"No, doubt, Tophe.  Healing is good, but I could do with less trauma in my life."

"I think you mean 'less drama'," he said with a smile, and took a sip from his cup.

"Same thing.  My father was very hands-on."

She patted her pockets.

"You forget something," I asked her.

"Yeah," she said with a giggle, "my manners.  Topher, this is Dani.  Dani, this is Topher."

"Nice to meet you Topher.  I'm Dani Heywood."

"Likewise.  Topher Grant, but you can call me 'Rabbit'.

"Why Rabbit?"

"Because he's so c-u-u-u-te," Bobbi answered for him.

"It's complicated," he added vaguely.

There was a hook there and I was willing to bite.

"Try me."  And now there's a hook for you.

He didn't take the bait.

"No, it's because...well, I'm different."

Topher was good-looking, but in a soft, almost feminine way.  He was well-built, but not bulging, with a broad oval face and short nappy hair.  His eyes were brown and his facial features prominent, but not obtrusive.  He had no sign of facial hair.

His voice was a tenor, almost a contralto, smooth like glass, or highly polished lacquer.

I took another sip on my coffee, not to be coy, but because I was thirsty.

"Different how?"

"I find it's best to be upfront about it; it saves time and mitigates frustration."

Mitigates?  That was an odd word to choose.

"Who's frustration?"

"Everybody's, except mine.  I don't frustrate easily."

"Perhaps I can help with that."

Bobbi must be rubbing off on me.  I was not usually so forward.  But it was true that I am frustrating.  People get flustered at that they don't understand.

"Okay," he said, perhaps mistaking what I'd said.  "But don't expect to get it the first time I explain."

"Get what?"

"I'm not just transgendered," he explained.  "I don't have any sex at all."

"That's what she said," chimed in Bobbi and smacked the table with her fist.

She laughed and Topher gave her a cross look.

I huffed my coffee deeply and took another long pull.

"I mean," he went on in a low voice, "that I have no sex organs.  I'm a physical neuter."

"What?" I exploded, and sprayed coffee across the table.

"I'm sorry," I said putting down my cup and reaching for the napkins.

"That's okay," he said tersely and grabbed them before I could.  "I knew you wouldn't understand." 

He wiped his face savagely and stood up.

"I need to go the...rest room."

"Don't be mad," I pleaded with him.  "I didn't mean it like that..."

"And how did you mean it?"

"You're that kind of Rarebit?"

It was his turn to do a double-take.  His glacial countenance thawed a little, and he sat back down.

"What do you know about it?"

"Not much," I admitted.  "I only just heard about it myself."

"Well, it's pretty rare.  I'm the only one in St. Louis.  I know of one in California, and there are a few more...maybe a lot more.  But almost nobody has ever heard of us."

"How did you learn about it?"

"I am a Rarebit."

"I understand that, but I mean, where did you learn what it's called, and where it comes from?"

"I read a book about it.  It just came out less than a year ago.  How do you know about it?"

"Because," I said in an even lower voice, putting my hand on top of his, "I am a Rarebit too."


Alateen is a support group for the teenage children of hopeless alcoholics.  I attended my first meeting on Monday, the Twenty-fifth of October, which Robbie, in his own way, reminded me was special.

He had written a stanza from a poem on the refrigerator:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

That was typical of him.  But I had no idea what he meant.

"You've never heard that before?"

"Yeah, somewhere, but I can't remember where."

"It's from Henry V—you know, Shakespeare?"

"Oh.  It's fictional, you know?"

"The speech is, but the battle really happened.  It was fought at Agincourt, 561 years ago today."

He looked really pleased with himself.

"Whatever," I told him and he shook his head sadly.

Daddy honked his horn outside. 

"That's my ride," I told him and grabbed my book bag.  "Daddy's taking me this meeting."

"Dani," he asked earnestly, "did you really take drugs?"

"No," I told him, trying to explain that life was not so simple as to answer 'yes' or 'no' to a question like that.  "Not those kind."


The meeting was held in the basement of the Richard B. Foundmann Libray.  It was dark and dank, and smelled like an old locker room. 

I went in by myself and stumbled around in the gloom until somebody clicked on a light.

It was a big...person, about five foot six and weighing maybe a hundred and eighty pounds, with a soft baby-fat look and pale cropped hair of indeterminate color; I thought it might be taupe.

"He-e-e-e-y you," the person elided in a voice that gave no further clue as to the gender of its owner.    "How are you doin'?"

"Okay, I guess."

"Go-o-o-o-d," it belched.  I decided it was a boy.  "Have a seat.  Meeting's gonna start in f-i-i-i-ve minutes."

I looked around.  It was a mess; there were chairs scattered from here to breakfast, mostly upright in singles or short stacks, but a few were overturned, thrown akimbo hither and yon. 

There were boxes mixed indiscriminately amongst them, some open, some taped shut, and a liberal seeding of other junk—a music stand, a broken projector, couple of mismatched old boots.  That explained the Eau-d'locker.

Not tidy at all.

"Where," I asked him.

"In a chair, thilly."

I was doubtful. 

"Shouldn't we clean this place up a bit before the meeting?  Or at least arrange the chairs properly."

"Can if you want; I'm not gonna.  Not my job."

"How many people?"

"All of them..."

"Huh?"  I usually didn't say words like that, but his toddler mentality was getting to me.

"Oh, 'bout four, maybe six; plus one for the counselor.  Never seen more than eight."

"Ah."  I started clearing room for a circle.  "Who is the counselor?"

"Me," he pointed to himself and smiled a goofy grin.  "I'm Bobbi."

He offered his hand.

"Nice to meet you Bobby," I said.  I shook his hand and added "I'm Dani."

"It's a pleasure Danny."

"Likewise, I'm sure."

It was my mother's words coming out of my mouth.  That's supposed to be a sign of some sort.

"If you're the counselor, why isn't this your job?"

"Counselors counsel; janitors clean."

"I see."

He was one of those.

A ruddy-faced boy with curly chestnut hair stuck his face in the doorframe and said "hi Bobbi."

"Hey James," he answered.  "How's my favorite lush?"

"Sober," the boy replied, scratching at his arm.  He looked disheveled and had dark bags under his eyes.  "The old man hasn't had a drink or a smoke in days...and it's killing me."

They both laughed like what he said was hilarious, then he sucked in his bottom lip and said "one day at a time" under his breath.  He took a seat.

I sat down beside him and offered my hand.

"I'm Dani."

"Danny, huh?  You don't look like a Danny.  Don't point that think at me, I don't know where it's been."

I drew my hand back reflexively, though I'm not sure why.

"Derry," he said simply.

Bobbi took a seat opposite us and we waited for several minutes until we could hear voices in the hallway.

"...the bitch," an alto voice with an indistinct New Englander accent exclaimed.  "But I showed her.  That night while she was passed out on the couch, I took her smack and pawned her wedding ring."

A second voice laughed; not a normal laugh, but high-pitched and nervous —a kind of horsey little titter.

Their owners came into view and stepped through the doorway. 

One was tall and thin, and looked the way I imagined Yossarian to look, from Catch-22.  He had straight brown hair and a long sallow face with oversized features.

The other was short, but compact.  He had steel blue eyes with an intense stare and bad teeth.  His hair was so greasy it was hard to determine its color.  He was wearing a faded leather jacket and pair of raggedy old jeans with duct-tape around the knees.  Even the tape was mostly worn away.  I wondered how long he'd been wearing them.

"Booby," he said when he saw Bobbi and they hugged.  "How you been, sir?"

"You know, it's hanging."  They did some cool brother hand-shake thing and each took a posture that said 'I'm a bad ass and I'm only not beating the shit out of you because it smacks of effort'.

All three of them laughed and Bobbi turned to me.

"Ricky Ricky, this is Dani.  Dani, Ricky Ricky."

The filthy one nodded but couldn't even be bothered to square up to me.

"And this is Heywood."

Heywood blinked and grinned.  His Adam's apple bobbed slightly.  His eyes were glazed over.

"Nice to meet you, Heywood.  That's my last name."

"Heh.  I'm Heywood...Heywould Djiblowmey..."

"None of that," Bobbi interceded.  "I think we're all here; let's get started."

"Wait," I said, "this is all?  Aren't there any girls in this group?"

"Me," replied Bobbi and sat down.

"You?  You're a girl?"

"Not really, but I was born one.  First boy who ever touched me, I took his penis and now it's mine."

She looked at her fellows conspiratorially.

"That's my story," she added when the laughter hand died down, "and I'm sticking to it."

The meeting was dull and pointless, and full of witticisms that really weren't and fart jokes. 

First of all, it was a support group for children of Alcoholics, not teens with drug or alcohol problems.  Second, I didn't fit into either of those two categories.  I decided I didn't like it.

And then there was a religious component.  When they explained the twelve steps, I simply couldn't swallow 'admit you're powerless' or 'give yourself up to a higher power.' 

I sat in silence listening to Ricky Ricky drone on about stealing and vandalizing, him and Heywood both talking about drinking, and the lot of them whining that their lives never got any better.

It was a painful hour, and reminded me of the way time seems to expand during tedium or contracts when you're bored.  I thought of the dentist chair and how laughing gas helped pass the time; I could sure have used some right then.  Maybe that's why these boys all drank—to combat the mind-numbing narcoleptic effect of these meetings.

Finally it was over, and the group dispersed.  Bobbi caught me by the door.

"How'd you like it?"

"I'd rather have my tongue run over by a steam roller."

"That good, eh?"

"Worse.  Say, why didn't anyone give me any grief about being a little kid?"

"None of our business.  We don't ask those kind of questions here.  Do you think any of it helped?"

"I doubt it; I don't have a problem."

"Uh-huh," she said and clapped her arm around my shoulder.  "None of us do."

"Bobbi, I have a confession to make."

"Let me guess:  you're an alcoholic?"





"I'm trying to be serious."

"Why?  Never be serious; it hurts."

"Look, Bobbi, when I first met you, I thought you were a guy."

"So did my boyfriend."

"Then you said you were a girl, and now I'm confused."

"So was my girlfriend."

Now I was really confused.

"Okay, I'm gonna just blurt it out; what gives?"

"I'm a girl, but not really.  I think I'm a boy and always have.  But I like the mares and the stallions."

I must've given her a funny look, because she looked hurt.

"Don't worry, you're safe.  I don't touch little girls."

"I'm not either."

"You're not what either?"

"Not either of those things:  little or a girl."

"You might not be a girl," she said looking me up and down, "but you are definitely little."

"I mean I'm not a little kid.  I'm sixteen."

"Really?  Maybe you aren't safe."

"I'm safe," I told her.  "Trust me."

"Whatever you say, ladybug.  So you're a tranny too?"


"Transvestite, transsexual, take your pick?"

"Neither, technically," I explained.  "Trans- in this case means 'across' not 'beyond'."

"I don't follow."

"I'm not either a boy or a girl.  I'm neuter."

"I'm sorry to hear that.  Do you have a scar?"

"Don't you ever take anything seriously?"

"Not unless they hold me down and inject it into my veins."

This wasn't going anywhere.

"My Dad's waiting outside.  I gotta go.  It was nice meeting you."

"Yeah, I bet.  Say, Dani...if you're a tranny, like I am, maybe you could come to Snoopy's Coffee House tomorrow night; we have another kind of support group there...for people like us."

I saw Daddy pull up.

"Wow," I said, heading for the door.  "I didn't know that.  Where is Snoopy's?"

"In Clayton," she answered to my retreating back.  "Look it up, it's in the phonebook."