Neighbor Nicki and I our assorted wart-hoglets from you-know-where (and you know I mean that in the nicest way possible, kids) ventured outta the subdivision again this Friday for lunch at the local Tex-Mex jernt that rhymes with Frili's. Nicki arrived first and had settled into a booth with her two strapping young men and placed her beverage order with Jennifer, our server, by the time Bean and I trotted in, our usual 3 min. 22 sec. late, as we do for Every. Thing. because I was always a precisely punctual person when on my own but have yet to be able to figure out down to the minutes and seconds exactly how much time I need to add to my perfectly-honed getting-ready and getting-there schedule to accommodate Madame Lollygag's personal twah-lette and transport. Which is why when our server approached me for my own drink order, Nicki's eyes were glued to my face and she wore that tell-tale OH WAIT'LL YOU GET A LOAD OF THIS! smirk.
And Land-A'mighty people, one look at Jennifer and I was instantly placed in touch with the undisputable justification of that smirk.
'Cause Jennifer was a man. Or had been one up 'til veeeeeery recently.
But she was the spittin' image of a woman I worked with years ago, until she opened her mouth to speak, at which point, a GINORMOUS Adam's Apple shot up her goozle and the voice of Brad Garrett rumbled out of her perfectly painted cherry red lips.
Now y'all. Transvestites happen. And really? I'm not one to decide who can wear what and why and all that. I lived the single life and worked downtown in one of the most er... orientationally diverse cities in the country, and I've pretty much seen it ALL. But out here on the prairie, Al and I are about as diverse as things get, (imagine THAT! Can I get a ho-hum?), so peering up over my menu, I naturally bore some pre-set expectations as to whom I'd see peering back at me, notepad in hand, and lemme tell you, Jennifer blew those expectations clean out of the water. To me, she did look mostly like a woman. After the initial shock wore off, I offhandedly wondered what the kids would make of her.
I managed to smooth down my scrunched-up eyebrows and gather my wits about me enough to order beverages for Bean and myself. Jennifer departed in a flourish and left Nicki and I and our hooligans to sort through the elbow-deep heap of crayons, napkins and kiddie placemats on the table, locate the menus and begin the arduous task of banging out a peaceable lunch plan for three absolutely adorable (I believe Jennifer inquired if they were not all three child-models or actors?) and very enthusiastic kids and two frazzled Mamas who JUST WANT TO GET A COUPLE SIPS OF DIET COKE DOWN OUR GULLETS IN PEACE BEFORE OUR EYES FALL SLEEPILY OUT OF THEIR SOCKETS AND ROLL UNDER THE WAIT STAND FOR CRYIN' OUTLOUD.
No words were exchanged about Jennifer. Yet.
She returned for our lunch orders and we duly rattled them off over the cacophony of chiddren's squeals, snorts and gruffles. Once Jennifer rounded the corner out of earshot, though, Nicki and I shared one of those OH MY WORD! glances and Nicki quietly mouthed, Oh I could say something but it'd be inappropriate subject matter for the kids. Then she said, Her name is JENNIFER.
I gave her my very best Aaaaaaaaaaaah. look, and then we both resumed our quest to keep all three children seated, all five beverages upright, and all six crayons out of Bubba's mouth. Lunch arrived and we wrestled it down in a smudgy, surreal haze of ketchup, corn kernels and about 17 dozen paper napkins, until Jennifer returned to clear away the plates, baskets, silverware, corn cobs and crayon-stubs (Bubba managed to consume about half of a couple blues). We sat back in our seats with the relief only a parent of a toddler can experience after a meal out. The, aaaaaaaaaah... another one down without aid of the modified Heimlich maneuver or a straight-jacket or a stinkly ol' string mop! sigh of success. Plus, we'd interacted with Jennifer with no difficulties, and the kids hadn't seemed to notice a thing at all different about her! She cleared the table quickly, complimenting us on the kids' behavior and then walked away slowly, balancing a teetering load of dishes and table scraps on her arms. There was an odd pause in the chaos, and out of the silence erupted my daughter's crystal clear outdoor voice.
Mama where's dat MA-AN going? Where he's taking our din-ner?
I turned to her in slow motion, my brain attempting to shake itself loose from the paralysis of sudden trauma. I could not respond to her. I'd been struck mute, apparently, by Bean's guttural outburst.
MAMAAAAAAAAA? WHERE DAT MAN... DAT MA-AN WIF DA CLIP IN HIS HAIR... GOING WIF OUR DIN-NER?
As Jennifer rounded the corner to the kitchen and was out of sight, Nicki and I once again locked eyes and I'll be daggummed if that girl's bloggy mental wheels weren't already spinning. A wicked grin spread across her lips, and before she could utter a word, I spat out, OH NO YOU DON'T! I'M BLOGGING ABOUT THIS! SHE'S MY KID! I'VE GOT DIBS!