Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Silly Magnus

The following events are just as real as they are imagined, and aim to impart equal consideration towards befriending trixie transvestites as purchasing discounted produce.

It was October 11th, a Wednesday, and the weather was notably perfect. In fact, I made a note of it on my white board, “OCTOBER 11th 2006: THE DAY OF PERFECT WEATHER”. The air wasn’t moist, but not particularly dry, and Lake Michigan created a calm warm, and not even slightly debilitating, breeze. Perfect. I took a walk through campus, celebrating the crisp weather with random acclamations to myself, “Incredible. Wow,” I said. The scarce, but beautiful trees were in the ideal state of autumn color, just before they begin to fade and wither. “Ahh. This is nice.” I thought. And it really was nice.

I came back to my dorm slightly famished from the celebratory stroll. My refrigerator contained: a slice of lime, baking soda, an opened can of diet coke, and a sorry looking orange. Because I only had seven dollars and sixty-seven cents, dinner options were scarce. Back into the idyllic weather, I walked to the market.

The market was particularly crowded, and I paced between magnitudes of fully packed carts and tired looking people consulting lists and reading labels. “Excuse me,” I said, as I squeaked between two shoppers bagging mangoes. I decided to buy a few vital vegetables. Peas were an idea. But you can’t do a whole lot with a pea. Carrots perhaps? I’d have to peel them, which isn’t the easiest of operations. Ah ha. Tomatoes! And they happened to be on sale. Yes, they were slightly soft and discolored, but I couldn’t turn down a sale. I picked four dubious tomatoes and turned to grab a produce baggy.

Standing behind me, baggy in hand, was a rather startling figure. He was just over 6-feet-tall, with a shockingly red, wildly curly, wig. Robustly figured, he wore a floor length faded floral dress, with a lace trimmed color, covered in plastic lettered buttons. One read, “It’s ok to be free, it’s ok to be me.” In elaborately applied makeup, his lips were blood red, and just above his upper lip was noticeable stubble. With a soft high force, and an exaggerated southern accent, he said,

“Here you go doll, you need a baggy for your veggies?” I couldn’t tell if the strong onion odor was from the produce section or him, but it was formidable.

“Thanks,” I said, and graciously grabbed the bag. Our eye contact was piercing and uncomfortable, and feeling my face wane in nerved sweat, I turned sharply, smiling fake. He peered at me deeply as I walked away, and I felt his eyes on my back. I turned around and there he was, unmoved. He waved and curtseyed.

The checkout line was a cluster, and the hurried tension between the shoppers was tangible. I surveyed the lines beside me, measuring their movements against my own line. In the line parallel to me was the red-wigged man-woman again, smiling at me coyly, and pushing a cart forward packed with liquor! I was startled at this, and involuntarily jumped backwards a step. “Whoa!” I said. “I mean, hello.” I waved emphatically.

I paid for my discounted tomatoes and moved quickly to the market exit. I walked out of the parking lot and down the street briskly. The weather was still pristine, and the moon had begun to rise in full yellow form above the buildings. A rattling screeching noise seemed to be trailing me, an irksome, headache inducing harshness. I turned, and there was the red-wigged man-woman again, a half a block behind, pushing her cart in my direction! Now this was too much. He seemed to be following me, and closing in the distance between us. I almost began to run, when all of a sudden the sound of breaking tires, crashing glass, followed by a dreadful shriek halted me instantly. Man-woman had collided with a short portly man on a bicycle, sending them both into an ugly street spill.

Vodka and whiskey bottles were shattered on the road, and the red wig had flown off, exposing man-woman’s patchy bald head, and landing in the gutter beside him. It was a sorry scene. His floral dress was pulled up, and his hairy legs shown through ripped nylon knee highs. The short egg shaped man seemed alright. He gathered himself up, and waddled over to his bent bike, cursing lowly. Man-woman didn’t stand, but just laid their whimpering awfully. “Oh no! ahhhh.. my legs are broken. I can’t move! OOOHH NOOOO!” The high pitched southern accent was an embarrassing shrill, and I just couldn’t leave him lying there.

I walked back to him, picked up the red wig and offered my hand down to help. He stopped whimpering suddenly, put the wig back on his head and stood up, fixing his dress with his hands. “Oh thank you,” he said, “I really thought my legs were broken, but I reckon they’re alright.” There were a few unbroken bottles from the crash, and I picked them up and carried them for him.

“So you’re fine then?” I asked.

“Oh I’ll be ok. I broke most of my particulars, but I’ll live,” he said. “That silly little fellow came out of nowhere! You can never be safe here doll.”

“That’s true,” I said. It really was true. I watched his lips move while we walked. I gleamed at his arms and buttons and chin stubble and eye shadow and red wowwing hair. He possessed an unnatural flamboyancy. It was clearly calculated, and he emphasized everything external in the feminine way that he knew.

"A girl just can't even go to the market alone anymore here. Just last week I saw an elderly man beating a girl about your age with a cane in the parking lot of Hancock Fabrics! No one even stopped it child. The girl had on a blue sweater. Cereleum. Wool I do believe, doll." He said. The tone of his nonsense was so assured, and the vision of his imperial attitude was an encapsulating thing really.

“Where are you going now?” I asked him. I noticed he had developed quite a limp. He grabbed my arm for support as we walked.

“I live about 4 blocks from here, in a basement between the train and Deacon Avenue. I can manage though doll, don’t trouble yourself. You just keep on to where you’re going and don’t even worry about me.” He said.

"How long have you lived there?" I asked.

"Oh my goodness. About a hundred years before you were conceived child! I've been here. Ooooh I've been here and there. I've seen things in this neighborhood that, doll, you don't even want to know about!" He brushed his face and adjusted his curls femininely.

We talked about the pristine weather, and went through the rudiments of small talk. We arrived in front of my dorm building. His name was Magnus, and he really seemed like a lovely man to me now. He was like a cartoon figure, or the anti-thesis to a superhero; entirely unreal in nature, yet perhaps useless to any real production or function.

We stood in silence in front of the doors. He leaned on the wall for support.

"Oh don't even worry about me doll. I'll crawl if I have to child. Oh, I've been worse. I have been worse," he said.

"Well, if your in some pain and need to recover for a moment, would you like to ..."

He rushed passed me.

“Oh if it wouldn’t be trouble!” He said. “Maybe I could just borrow a glass of ice and put my feet up for a few moments doll.”

He ducked to avoid hitting his head on the entrance.

While we waited for the elevator, torrent crowds of students exited and entered the hallway. They walked past stunned, overhearing him ask boisterous questions and make elaborate comments about the building.

"Oh my. Look at all these ee-vents you've got goin on." he said, scanning the postings on the bulletin board.

"Oh my. Intra-mirror-ol' football. Doll, that's where you need to go to meet a nice boyfriend!" He laughed with full lungs, teeth, a deep breath; an arresting release of boisterous chime.

Peers did what they do. Stood in gawky jerky silence, watching and ignoring all at once.

"Look." I thought. "Judge." I thought. "Assholes." I said, by accident. Didn't mean to let it slip. Magnus put his hand over his mouth in shock, a very lady thing to do when someone swears really.

The elevator came to take us to my floor, and it filled with my peers. Average looking twenty-year-olds with expensive backpacks texted, played with their hair, sifted through songs on MP3 players... Magnus and I cornered ourselves to the back of the square. His smell was so wretched; students turned and looked back at us in disgust.

Magnus ducked in through the entrance to my dorm, shrinking the room instantly. Carefully, full of fabricated grace, he sauntered around the room, limp free and fabulous. He plopped himself onto the edge of the couch, shifting the cushions down towards him. I grabbed him a cup of ice, and he poured his vodka to the rim. “Now, you can’t let a girl drink alone doll,” he said.

I grabbed another cup for myself, and sipped it in droplets, gasping in repugnance at each taste. Magnus drank without restraint, and surveyed the room curiously over his glass.

"When I was a little girl, doll, my mother used to braid my hair everyday. Now she was a perfect lady. Always put together. No you'd never see her without perfect lipstick and a pressed blouse. She made sure I was polished too, doll. No dirty dresses. My stockings always clean." Magnus looked beyond me, tranced in thought.

"Sounds lovely." I said.

"Being lovely IS important child." He said, matter-of-factly.

I wondered if Magnus truly believed he had been born a little girl, if his mother had dressed him as a little girl always.

The hour past quickly, and the vodka we opened had just an inch left at the bottom. I stood up, and realized I’d become quite drunk. The room leveled before my eyes, and the image of two bright high moons from the window looked alarmingly beautiful.

“Would you look at those moons, Magnus!” I said. Magnus marveled over the image too, because they were really quite glorious.

I remembered how hungry I was, and staggered into the kitchen to retrieve my discounted tomatoes. I could see Magnus overpowering the small loveseat. His arms looked very muscular to me suddenly, and his undeniable masculinity was evident in everything from the width of his calves to the layered wrinkles in the skin on his powdered forehead.

Now the tomatoes seemed even less dubious than they had before, and I ate three of them ravenously, without rinsing or slicing into them at all. They tasted wonderful. Tomato juice dripped onto my blouse, and seeds stuck to my lips and chin. I walked to the couch and offered Magnus the last one. He ate it in just two bites. The juice dripped over his lettered buttons, and we both laughed riotously at the mess.

"Do you mind just laying down with me here, doll?" he asked. He layed down on the couch on his side, offering me the space before him. I layed next to him, not saying a word. He smelled my hair. He breathed softly into the back of my head, and for a moment I thought I felt him crying. He soon fell asleep, and snored riotously. The masculine sounds bounced against my hair and danced into the moonlit shadows of the walls. The deep snores were genuinely masculine. Magnus had not practiced and perfected a mask of loveliness for these breaths. I stood up and placed a blanket over his floral dress.

“Silly Magnus,” I thought. My stomach turned, and in my bed I dreamt of red juice hosing my bedroom walls.

When I woke in the morning, Magnus was gone. A note, written in lipstick, took up the majority of the window in large elaborate cursive writing:

"My name is Magnus," it read.

I washed tomatoe puke off my walls. I drank the opened can of diet coke in my fridge. It was flat but tasted good. Underneath the couch I could see red curls sneaking out from a depth of shadows. I pulled out the red wig and held it in my hand. The curls were rough and thread-like, like a doll I'd had years ago. I put it on my head and opened the windows. "It's almost 11 a.m.," I thought. And It was. It was almost 11 a.m.

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