The Catalyst

The hushed murmurings echoing through the church are replaced by the stark, metallic grandeur of the harpsichord rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. 

Georgia

Each step I take is punctuated by an electric jolt generated somewhere in the incredibly stupid pointed toe of these hideously over-priced Jimmy Choo white silk stilettos, that I swear, I will never wear ever again! Why the hell did I ever let Cat talk me into these? Just let me get through this day so life can get back to some semblance of normal—the “new” normal, that is.

My father smirks as he escorts me down the aisle. The wedding guests seem to be scrutinizing me—my hair, my make-up, my jewelry, my dress, and the hint of cleavage produced by the malicious vice grip of a Wonder Bra. Even though I’m trussed up with a steel bone-studded corset, I hold my stomach in for good measure, just in case losing ten pounds wasn’t enough to give me the defined waist I was never meant to have.

Cat, my beautiful bride for the second time, waits expectantly at the altar, flanked by her parents, the very venerable Judge and Mrs. Richelaud Poindexter. Her wedding dress is every bit as spectacular as mine, but only she could tell you why. Me? I don’t care about wedding dresses. Never did, never will. This was all her idea–the wedding, the dresses, the frills and the fanfare; the sex change operation? Sorry, the “gender reassignment” surgery? That was mine–and I’d do it all over again. If I can’t have Cat, living is not an option. And if I have to live the rest of my life as a woman, I’ll do it. Very happily, too–because I really don’t have a choice.  Take your pick: I can’t or I won’t live without her—it makes no difference to me.

Dave, Father of Georgia

Good thing Georgie’s Mama ain’t here to see this! She’d up and die on me all over ag’in! I’m so pissed I could crush his stupid skinny little girly bony ass with one hand. I didn’t raise no son of mine to become no faggot. And here I am, dressed in this goddamned monkey suit, walking down the aisle with him! Humph! Says I gotta call him “Georgia.” Shee-it! Next thing ya know, they’ll all be thinkin’ I’m a faggot, too! I mean, look at this! It’s a damn freak show! And I’m smack dab in the damn middle of it! Wish to hell I could just shout out what I really think: Hell, no, this ain’t right! I don’t approve, so don’t none of you assholes get to thinkin’ that I do, goddamn it all to hell!

On the other hand, he’s the only kid or kin I got, so I reckon I’m kinda stuck. Plus, it don’t help me none that I ain’t never been much help to him before neither—that’s whatcha got a Mama for! After she died, I just kinda hit the bottle and didn’t think too much about him or nobody else. Poor kid had to find his own way in this world AND look after me, too. Not that I ever told ’em so, but if not for him, I’d already be dead a real long-ass time by now.

He did pretty good for hisself, too, come to think of it. He musta knowed I wasn’t gonna rescue him from the cesspool I got us into. Got hisself a scholarship to college and didn’t ask me for not one red cent—no sir, he didn’t! Graduated and got hisself a degree in computers, got the hell outta South Carolina as fast as he could and landed in New York City. Works whenever the hell he wants to and makes a shit wad of money doing it! Yep, that boy’s been good to his old Dad.

I do believe, though, that if I didn’t show up today, that little shit woulda cut me off for good. Said so, quite a few times, in fact, yes he did, that little shit. Told me to get my ass to the airport, that there was a ticket waitin’ on me, and don’t be late. He got me a shave and a proper haircut, and this here monkey suit, and looks like I gotta dance to his tune.

He tells me he ain’t no faggot! He still likes girls, only he ain’t no guy no more, neither, so I guess he’s one of them there, whatchacallit, lesbians! Just like his damn wife!  But she sure don’t look like no lesbian to me! And come to think of it, Georgie don’t neither! He looks a damn sight better than any other woman in this here church!

Dang! Good thing his Mama ain’t here! She wouldn’t know who the hell he is!

Girl E. Girl

Mmmm, mmmm! Now just lookit the way Georgia’s just struttin’ her stuff down that aisle! Honey? Hmmmm!   If I’da looked THAT good, he woulda fallen in love with ME and I wouldn’t be having this conversation with my sexy self.

Good thing I was on duty that night he almost killed his fool self! I gathered him up in my beautiful strong girly arms, and, child? I’m picky, but you know, he was MY kind of man! By the time we got all that poison pumped outta him? We put him straight on suicide watch. I took goooood care of that fine man! Yessss I did! I got there before the shrinks could get to him. Just him and me, the way it ought to be. When he realized he wasn’t dead? He cried and carried on like a baby! Said his wife’s a lesbian, and she don’t want him NO more! I’ll take that fine man, thank you, darlin’! I rocked that fine man in my beautiful strong girly arms and you know what? I think I did him some good, yes I do! He was so broken up, so broken down, so broken every which way. He said he was just gonna keep on practicing killing himself and one of these days? Lawd! Ummm, ummm! Give ‘em to me, Lawd. I’ll take good care of this fine man! Some man love ME like that? Don’t want NO-body else but me? Even if I didn’t love a man like that, I could NOT, Lawd, I hope you’re listening, NOT leave a fine man like that. He cried and carried on so like nothing would ever stop hurting, that death or a miracle would be the only thing that would make sense to this poor man. Then I told him how to get his lesbian bitch wife back. I wrote down the name of MY doctor. He stopped crying, and just like that, a sense of peace just settled right over him. He held me with his weak arms while I cried and carried on, just like I’d lost him myself! Yes, Lawd! I lost that fine man before I ever knew what hit me! Ummm, ummm!

Wonder if Georgia’ll lend me those Jimmy Choos? What the hell! She owes me!  That her Daddy from South Carolina? Gonna snag a slowww dance with him at the reception!

Dr. Jeremy Hainsworth

They don’t all turn out this well. Georgia looks like a million bucks! She’s perfect! The perfect patient! Money’s no object and she even rejiggered my whole computer system for free!

This is the craziest story! I’ve never had a straight man re-assign as a woman to win back his estranged lesbian wife! What a chance he was taking! His wife didn’t even KNOW about it! He was so dedicated to this—it was his long term project and he never complained about the pain and suffering, the mood swings, and the nausea, the loneliness, the depression, the second guessing–not for a minute did he feel sorry for himself or take off time from the grueling transition regimen of the hormone therapy, counseling, the many surgeries, gender training, voice training—he even has a wardrobe consultant! He said his wife was a real fashionista, a young, upcoming entertainment attorney, glitzy, already a partner in a top law firm. He said he couldn’t afford to be an ordinary woman, that he had to be in the same league as his wife or this whole thing wouldn’t work. And what if it didn’t? What if his wife didn’t love him/her after all? Just to placate me, he said he’d survive, but I knew he was going to throw in the towel and finish the job he’d begun the night he met Girl E. Girl. His wife was the only person in this whole world who ever made his life worth living.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. This whole thing made me dizzy—even I was getting counseling by the time this was over! This was a long shot, to be sure. And it worked! At least it sure looks that way!

Girl E. Girl has no idea how she’s advanced my career—Georgia is, by far, my biggest success story. Thanks to the two of them, I’m taking on new partners and moving my Brooklyn office from Eastern Parkway to…you guessed it! Fifth Avenue right near Bergdof’s! Ka-Ching!

Cat

George and I were so different—he was from some black water swamp somewhere in South Carolina, a self-made man with a father who nearly drank himself to death after George’s mother died.

I lived a sheltered and pampered life in a little unincorporated hamlet in Westchester County, New York, called “Valhalla”—oddly enough, considering our story—the name means a kind of Norse heaven where fallen warriors live forever.

We both complete each other in a way no other person can. Being a debutante, I never met anyone like him before—not a frat boy, not a bon vivant, not a social climber—just a good, solid, decent, funny, sweet, nice guy, someone you’d be proud to introduce to anyone you respected. Someone you could count on to do the right thing. Someone who would always be there for you.

He was a computer consultant in the Park Avenue law firm where I was working as a summer intern during law school. He’s not much taller than me and just the perfect height—I can walk right into him and kiss him. He’s got such a beautiful face—delicate features with thick, raven-black hair and black, smoldering eyes. It was love at first sight—neither one of us had had a serious relationship before since we’d both been obsessed with academics. We knew we’d always be together.

We kept our relationship a secret from our parents, but the first thing we did after I graduated from law school was elope—even before the bar exam. We got a Justice of the Peace and a handful of friends to accompany us up to The High Line, and we got married just as the sun was setting over the Hudson River. Very romantic!!!

His father didn’t really care, but my parents were furious when they found out—I was an only child and my mother felt cheated out of all the pomp and circumstance of a formal wedding, at which my dad, a judge, would have gladly officiated. But they soon grew to love him and recognized that he was, indeed, a very fitting prince for their little princess.

He was always so good to me, the best friend I never had. That was the good part. The bad part was I soon realized that I was not attracted to men—it didn’t matter that I had the best man in the world, and that everyone, including me, loved him to distraction. I got to the point where the whole thing made me ill. I cried, I got depressed, I almost quit my new job. I was a mess. I finally had to tell him. He was devastated. And I hated myself. I’m a lesbian?!!!! So what now? I was frantic! My parents had a hard time with this but even though I’d broken their hearts, they managed to stay civil and to love me.

We all mourned the loss of George. I brought all this sorrow to George, my parents, myself. I was powerless to fix it. He left, sparing me the awkwardness of having to ask him to leave. I missed him so much my heart just ached, but I didn’t dare contact him because I couldn’t bear to give him false hope, only to destroy him once again. I felt that I couldn’t breathe without him, but I couldn’t just use him emotionally and then reject him physically. I had several relationships with women, some more comforting than others, but I felt unmoored.

Meanwhile, I was moving up in the law firm and through hard work and determination, established a good reputation. Life was pretty good, but there was a constant void I would tiptoe around for fear that I would fall in and never come out again. I survived the five-year mark of our divorce.

And then… Last Christmas, I had been invited to The Russian Tea Room for a small party. The blustery, snow globe New York night had chilled me to the bone, making the festive warmth of the Tea Room all the more enchanting. I caught sight of a stunning woman with long black hair, elegantly dressed in a copper sequined cocktail dress warming her hands at the fireplace. As I walked towards her, she looked up at me—a smile of recognition spread over her face and mine as well. I melted into her gaze. Our eyes filled with tears. Neither one of us spoke. We held each other’s trembling hands and continued to stare at each other through our tears. We held each other for what seemed like hours, both reluctant to let go ever again. Our tears soaked the other’s shoulder. Finally, she took a deep breath and after a long sigh, she whispered, “Cat? Do you still love me? Could you love me now? I’ll understand if you can’t.” All I could do was sob, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Forever yes.”

Georgia

As my father and I approach the altar, I am spellbound by Cat’s dazzling beauty. Her parents are beaming with glassy-eyed jubilance. Even my father seems to be sporting a more pleasant demeanor. My heart is pounding and, overwhelmed by all that has propelled me and my fate to the gravity and the blessing of this very moment, I start to cry.  The harpsichord in Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major fades out. In that short, peaceful silence of right now, when everything and nothing matters, I take her hand and kiss it. She begins to weep. This time, I tell myself, it will work.

Shui Wong-Mei, Maître d’ of a Trendy TriBeca Chinese Restaurant

Tonight  big night in my restaurant. No regular customer. Closed. We have big wedding party celebrate here. Everything nice, they say. Want white nice table cloth, big, big buffet, brown rice, vegetarian—everything no limit, only best. They say pay extra. Fancy plate, fancy chopstick. Champain fountain, big flower, ice sculpture, band, open bar, table and more table, big floor for dance. Special light, candle too. Waiter, waitress, tonight special black jacket, black tie, black pant, white shirt. Nice, smile, clean, neat, nice. Always nice here, fancy anyway. But tonight, extra fancy. Ahh….food ready…many guest come…everybody happy, laugh, smile…parking lot too full. Limousine stop next to front door…driver in black suit, white glove, open door…come out two bride!!!! Not one, two!!!! I say, “Groom?”  Customer tell me, “Two bride—no groom.” “Ahhhh, yes!,” I say, happy now I know, “Jewish wedding!”

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1 Comment

Filed under My Very Short Stories

One response to “The Catalyst

  1. Genevieve Faljean Giles

    Wonderful! Believe it is the first piece written by you that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. Gen

    Like

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