At midnight it’s my birthday, but I don’t notice until Porcelain sneaks up and gives me a birthday spanking, and we all end up giggling on the couch in front of the fake fire. I’m twenty six now. As usual I remember the asshole judge who told me that kids like me died before we got to be sixteen and how sure and unwavering he was in that opinion. It was the basis for all his judgements about me (not that there were many) and his eyes were dead. Most years I consider writing him a letter: “Dear Asshole Judge, You are an asshole. That was really fucked up. Fuck you. PS. I’m still alive and I’ve accomplished XXX. So there. PPS. Fuck you.” This year I decide that that’s really an awful thing to be thinking of on my birthday, and I’d really prefer not to. There. It took me a decade or so, but I think I let go of a grudge.
After work I park at the grocery store, because it’s the only place I haven’t parked lately. I pull in near some other vehicle dwellers: three people and a golden retriever in an old Toyota with vis-queen and duct taped windows. They are always sleeping where I am, and I know exactly how they sleep, all piled up on each other. They are in purgatory and I’m blissfully just one step away from playing house under some sheets, so we’ve never found much to talk about. In the morning we talk; I tell them it’s my birthday, they tell me it’s cold, they are vietnam vets, and their phantom limbs are acting up. I give them my spare SmartMug and a couple jars of soup. Happy birthday!
At the bank the check I took from a customer last night clears. Happy birthday!
I eat some liver and start the long drive to the big scary city. It’s one of the most beautiful drives in the world, full of snowy mountains, blue skies, and waterfalls. I go to my friends house and we dress her roommate up as a princess. It is her roommates first halloween as a woman, and my friend is an expert make up artist and has even made jewelry to go with the costume.
Once the princess is dressed my friend resorts to giving her the same lessons in grace and femininity that she gave me back in the day when I was a baby stripper: stop looking down, you’re beautiful; hold your ribcage like this, yes, but drop the shoulders you look like you’re about to fly away.
“You guys are so sweet and apple pie,” I tell them.
“Us?” They stare at me, a forty something stripper and a princess with the shadow of a beard.
This is how beautiful people are, sometimes.