Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Drag Envy 

The Bikram studio I attend recently acquired an industrial humidifier which, during class, sits in the corner and hisses and spews a column of steam like a chained dragon. The studio is now as sultry and steamy as Danang, a big improvement from the searing, dry, pre-humidifier days. The owner used to be in the HVAC business and installed this system that could probably roast every student alive if the instructor got careless with the settings. Before the humidifier I had to be careful not to wear earrings made out of conducting metals unless I wanted burned earlobes. The floor would burn my feet like I was standing on coals and I would have to hop around. One time I had my feet next to one of the vents and it was like my soles were being hit by a hairdryer, like some especially cruel form of bastinado. The woman lying next to me caught my eye and we both burst into amazed laughter.

I adore the heat, though. I feel like I sweat out so much toxic crud and it gives me a high like no other, like I’ve just slammed a bunch of primo heroin (or so I’ve read). When I stagger out of class I often have to step over all the nodding junkies that congregate in the alley next to the studio, a popular stop for needle exchange. “HA! Higher than you, suckas!” I thought to myself as I passed them. Of course, as it so often happens, my petty superiority instantly and karmically bit me in the ass because immediately afterwards I collided with this neighborhood drag queen street walker whose beauty and fashion sense I find extremely intimidating. She is always dressed to the nines, and that day had a beautiful shawl she had probably crocheted herself wrapped fashionably around her 20 inch waist. She glared at me and strutted past, waggling her hips like a runway model. This particular drag queen always stirs deep feelings of inadequacy in me about my feminine allure and overall appearance. She puts me to shame and makes me feel like I’m not ‘working it,’ that I’m frittering away my God-given attributes. When I look at her and see what she’s doing with what she’s got I always feel like I’m lazily squandering my feminine allure. After our run-in I slinked away, covered in sweat, my hair a greasy mess and my face all ruddy and inflamed from the heat. I caught my reflection in a store window and realized that my bright red face resembled those of my alcoholic patrons who acquire those exposure sunburns from passing out face up in the sun for hours.

To console myself, I stopped at my favorite cheese shop to investigate their new cheeses. I like my cheeses sweaty, oozing and pungent, the varieties that smell like something the dogs dug up from the yard, the kind that are prohibited by law from carrying on public transportation. Among their dazzling array of foul cheeses I discovered an awesomely putrid new one, The Stinking Bishop, that was so good it made me gag. (Wouldn’t The Stinking Bishop also make a good pub name?) While I was sniffing and poking more cheeses these two impeccably dressed, fashionably emaciated French girls joined me at the counter. And it must be true that those bitches don't get fat because they gorged on about a pound each of samples. They looked like they had just stepped out of the offices of French Vogue and I looked like I had just crawled out of a sewer. Anyway, I felt real good about myself yesterday. The French and the drag queens have shamed me into putting more of an effort into my looks. I have become quite lazy about my appearance, so I guess I'm lucky to live in a town teeming with both types to give me a good kick in the ass when I need it.

This coming from one of the most beautiful women I know...
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