you know — I hardly recognized you
out-of-drag this afternoon!
your clever disguise
enabled you to sit down
before I could run away.
you both surprised and intriqued me
when you lamented the slow
passage of time — for I
have often envied and despised
your freedom and almost fickle
sense of reality.
funny how …
all these years …
I regarded you as crazy.
but now that we share disillusionment
with expectation and time,
I recognize you in myself.
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Collected poems and stories”, 2005)
Tu sais que je t’ai à peine reconnu
cet après-midi dans tes habits masculins !
Ton déguisement était si parfait
que tu as le temps de t’asseoir
avant même que je ne puisse m’enfuir.
Tu m’as à la fois surpris et intrigué
lorsque tu t’es plaint de ce que
le temps soit si long — car
souvent j’ai envié, voire méprisé
ta liberté et ton sens capricieux
de la réalité.
C’est drôle comme …
toutes ces années …
Je t’ai pris pour un fou.
Mais à présent que nous partageons
le même désenchantement,
a propos de nos attentes
et du temps qui passe,
Je me reconnais en toi.
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Gaytude”, 2010)
(adapté de l’anglais par Albert Russo)
las piernas …
la culata …
los labios …
so hot you are —
with your perfect figure,
tight-fitting short skirt,
shoulder-length blond hair
bouncing against your
firm, but not-too-muscular
shoulders, sending my
lascivious gaze towards
the rhythmic twitch
of your delectable buttocks.
and i think — almost out loud —
“what a delightful specimen
of a young sexy woman!” …
as i speed up my pace
to overtake you, and
prepare to flirt in earnest.
it is then, in passing —
as my glance
darts towards yours —
that i notice the turkey neck,
and the forcibly-tightened wrinkles
on your one-time
“i could be a model” face; and
your experienced seductive gaze …
smiling, but clearly prepared
for possible rejection.
i avert my eyes for a second,
and then i reconsider —
thinking: “she is no older
than i am … what the hell!”
and then i smile and say:
“You look great today!
Care for a cup of coffee,
or a glass of wine?”
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Jisei”, 2013)
(My original Norwegian version.)
Som bestandig er iblant
de best kledde i byen,
men som aldri bruker
penger når du er ute.
Så sjenert at gutter
leter etter deg inntil
du fanger dem.
Så ensom. Så lei.
Så redd for deg selv.
Er det rart, eller …?
(Spanish adaptation by Fernando Rodríguez)
las mejores vestidas
de la ciudad,
pero que nunca
gasta un peso
que los chicos
hasta que tú
de ti misma.
Hey you, spider woman.
You who are always one of the
best-dressed in the city,
but who never uses money
when you are out on the town.
Hey you, spider woman.
So shy and alluring that
guys chase after you until
you capture them.
Hey you, spider woman.
So lonely. So sad.
So afraid for yourself.
Hey you, spider woman.
Is that so strange, really …?
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Three-legged Waltz”, 2009.
There is no way
I am going to let those
bitches and hypocrites steal
my last crowning performance,
with their exaggerated and
about things I was supposed to
have said and done.
No, Blanche …
I have decided that
I am coming back —
to direct both
my funeral and my wake!
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Jisei”, 2013.
i woke up in a mood today —
Mary, Mary — quite contrary …
one look in the bathroom mirror
this morning and i knew that i
would not climb onto the scales
to weigh myself.
in fact, i decided there and then
that i would boycott calorie-counting
today as well.
alas, i am so anal-retentive that
i simply had to count something …
so, here i sit — in front of the
ipad — and count the minutes
until my next meal with calories
estimated by my sense of hunger.
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Jisei”, 2013.
Titaina … the one who fears spirits …
is not impressed by the stiff-lipped
and well-dressed Frenchmen, or the
Demis; to her they are the horsemen
of the Apocalypse.
She is no more enamoured of her own
countrymen, living in slums and working
for the ‘white man’ as servants to the
God of Materialism … traitors to the old
traditions, the Old Way and the
religion of Lemuria.
Looking around herself, Titaina eyes the
gangs of undomesticated dogs she sees
running rampant and fearlessly on the
streets of the slums of Tahiti;
and she recognises in the hollowness
of their spirit the vacant expressions and
frothing at the mouths consistent with that
of the men of the slums as they mindlessly
beat their wives and rape their own daughters …
or those of their neighbours.
Some blame the behaviour on alcohol and marijuana
addiction … but Titaina finds the same culprit every
time she casts the ‘divining shells’:
‘Tahiti has become a “whore” – much like Babylon,
Rome, Iraklion, New York City … and the time of
redemption – while seemingly overdue – is nigh.’
Visions of Moruroa – ‘the place of the big secret’ –
and the coral obliterations caused by El Niño
flashed before Titaina’s Third Eye; explosions,
ecological disaster, cancers, quick money followed
by gentrification and tourism, loss of tradition and spirituality,
squalor, poverty and social imbalance;
all symptoms of the Hell created by the ‘white man‘,
and exported to the naive descendants of Lemuria and Atlantis.
“We have gone to the dogs!” exclaimed Titaina,
throwing herself upon the street pavement and
screaming in vain; her voice could not be heard
above the howling of the dogs.
As she looked up towards the approaching gang of
canines, Titaina shook her fist at them and reached
for a couple of stones within her reach. The fiery-red
eyes of the dog-gang leader burned like coals in its
eye-sockets – prompting Titaina to yell:
“You son-of-a-bitch – stay away – I know who you are.
You are the guards of Cerberus – and your number is
six by six by six (666); but you will never vanquish these Golden Isles.
Our Paradise lives on within us and, with the help of Ta’aroa
and Vaite, we shall soon resurrect ‘votre paradis’.”
The dogs looked unconvinced and unimpressed, and the screams
of the female victims of the inebriated and stoned masculine
slum-dwellers came neither to a halt nor were they toned down.
Titaina prepared herself to be overcome and ravaged by the
four-legged ‘beasts’, saying: “Do with me as you will, but mark my
words – I will haunt you and your devilish masters until the waters of
the Great Wave once again wash away the sinfulness
of your modern ways.
I shall personally dance upon your crushed bones
in my best grass skirt, flashing my wrinkled and
low-hanging breasts and stamping my feet –
not in your memory – but rather in a vehement attempt
to transform your evil to fruitful creation.
Be finished … or be gone with you!
And take your thieving masters with you …
we don’t want or need your luxury hotels,
your tourist business,
your jobs borne on the backs of atomic destruction
and ecological ruin … or your perversion of
our traditions and culture into
parodies of your own disillusionment
with religion and sexuality – now
reduced to a fundamentalist interpretation
of rules and regulations (regularly broken,
and whose perverse transgressions
are the fundament of all ecstatic whoredom).
Go ahead: ravish my old body,
fuck my dried out cunt and
let your lasciviousness drool incessantly from your jowls –
but you will never possess my soul,
or the souls of my ancestors.
Your presumptuousness irritates the Gods;
and the godliness in yourselves
will equalise the imbalance that you have created and that
my countrymen have accepted –
out of powerlessness, greed and
I am no longer curious about you;
no longer afraid … and no longer
ashamed of who I am.
I am Ta’aroa … I am Vaite.
Fuck with me …
and you WILL get fucked!”
The leader of the gang of dogs
looked into the hardened eyes of the old
woman Titaina, and backed off,
saying to his buddies: “Let her be; she is
just an old bitch, who cannot even feel
the fear of our conquest …
not only is it bad meat,
but the limited pleasure is
not worth our energy.”
And with that, the canine followers retreated –
chasing after sounds of barking
a few blocks away – and the leader limped
haltingly after, hoping
that the solitary tear in his left eye
would remain unnoticed
by his colleagues.
Titaina … celui qui craint les esprits …
n’est pas impressionné par les
français guindés et tirés à quatre épingles, ou par les
demis; pour elle ils sont les cavaliers de l’apocalypse;
elle n’est plus amoureuse de ses compatriotes,
qui vivent dans les taudis et travaillent pour l’homme blanc
comme domestiques, servant le dieu du matérialisme,
trahissent les traditions anciennes et
la religion de Lemuria.
Regardant autour d’elle,
Titaina observe les meutes de chiens errants
qu’elle voit fouiner dans les détritus des taudis de Tahiti;
elle croit reconnaître dans leurs gueules dégoulinantes de bave
et au fond de leur esprit les expressions vides de ces hommes perdus,
ces malandrins qui, pour un oui ou pour un non, battent leurs épouses,
puis violent leurs propres filles.
Ou celles de leurs voisins aussi mal lotis.
Certains attribuent ce comportement stupide et bestial
à leur penchant pour l’alcool et la marijuana.
Mais Titaina retrouve le même fléau
chaque fois qu’elle ouvre les coquilles divinatoires des moules:
‘Tahiti est devenue une “putain” –
tout comme Babylone, Rome, Héraklion, New York …
mais l’ère de la rédemption est proche –
même si elle s’est longtemps fait attendre.’
Les images de Moruroa – ‘ lieu du grand secret ‘ –
et les oblitérations de corail provoquées par El Niño
se reflètent dans le troisième oeil de Titaina;
les essais nucléaires, le désastre écologique, les cancers,
l’argent rapide survenu avec l’embourgeoisement et le tourisme,
la perte des traditions et de la spiritualité, la misère noire,
la pauvreté et le déséquilibre social;
tous les symptômes de l’enfer créé par l’homme blanc,
et transmis aux descendants naïfs de Lemuria et de l’Atlantide.
“Nous sommes tombés dans la fosse aux serpents !” a hurlé Titaina,
se précipitant sur le trottoir, poussant un cri vain,
sa voix assourdie par les aboiements des chiens.
A l’approche de ces meutes enragées,
Titaina brandit son poing dans leur direction,
et ramasse quelques pierres.
Les yeux rougis du chef de meute
brûlent comme des charbons ardents –
Titaina se met alors à hurler:
“Éloignez-vous, fils de pute –
je sais qui vous êtes,
gardiens de Cerbère –
vous vous déplacez six par six par six (666);
mais jamais vous ne vaincrez ces îles dorées.
Le paradis continue de vivre en chacun de nous et,
avec l’aide de Ta’aroa et de Vaite,
nous ressusciteront bientôt le vôtre.
Les chiens la regardent, à peine surpris,
tandis que des cris perçants de femmes se font entendre
depuis les taudis, battues qu’elles sont par
des saoûlards drogués, poursuivant leurs méfaits sans relâche.
Titaina se prépare à être assaillie et dévorée par la meute canine
“Faites de moi ce que vous voulez, mais gare –
je vous hanterai ainsi que vos maîtres diaboliques
jusqu’à ce que les eaux de la Grande Vague
viennent balayer vos péchés d’hommes modernes.
Je danserai sur vos os brisés
avec ma plus belle jupe d’herbe, balançant mes seins
fripés et pendants, je frapperai des pieds –
non pas pour le souvenir – mais dans
la ferme intention de transformer le mal que vous représentez
en création fructueuse. Arrêtez vos méfaits, ou alors allez au diable!
Et emportez dans la tourmente vos maîtres,
ces Voleurs de grand chemin.
Nous ne voulons pas, ni n’avons besoin de vos
hôtels de luxe, de votre tourisme malfaisant, de vos offres de travail
concoctées après vos explosions atomiques et
la destruction de l’environnement … après avoir perverti nos traditions
et parodié notre culture dans le seul but de pallier vos désillusions
en ce qui concerne cette foi que vous avez perdue, et votre sexualité
malade – maintenant réduites à une interprétation faussée des règles,
et dont les transgressions perverses ont fait le nid
de la Nouvelle Prostitution.
Allez-y: piétinez mon vieux corps ratatiné, baisez ma chatte
desséchée et faites couler votre bave lascive sur moi
– mais vous ne posséderez jamais mon âme,
ni celles de mes ancêtres.
Votre arrogance irrite les dieux;
et votre piété neutralisera les déséquilibres
que vous avez créés et que mes compatriotes ont acceptés –
fruits de l’impuissance, de l’avarice et de la curiosité naïve.
Je ne suis plus curieuse de vous; plus effrayée,
et plus honteuse non plus de qui je suis.
Je suis Ta’aroa … Je suis Vaite.
Baisez-moi, et vous serez baisés!”
Le chef de la meute fixe
les yeux durcis de la vieille Titaina,
et se rétracte, soufflant à ses copains:
“Laissez-la; ce n’est qu’une vieille chienne,
qui ne sait même plus comment nous craindre
elle n’est que viande gâtée,
et n’en vaut plus la peine.”
Et sur ces mots, les autres se retirent –
attirés par d’autres bruits et les aboiements du voisinage –
tandis que le chef clopine, hésitant encore, avec l’espoir que personne
n’ait remarqué la larme solitaire logée dans son oeil gauche.
Amura and Tita sit on their
bar seats and take in the
potential entourage of admirers
amongst the new crop of tourists;
many too embarrassed to stare
and others who not only gawk but
point and shriek in loud voices:
“Harold! Is that a man? Oh my God!!”
The raeraes’ favourites are not the
photo-snapping honeymooners and
older couples, nor the raeraes’
friendly own fellow countrymen;
but rather the gorgeous ‘would-be’ models
and movie-actresses, and the robust,
muscular popaa men who vie the
raerae for attention, and whose
self-conscious nods in recognition
of their Polynesian mahu competitors
confirm a sense of interpersonal intrigue
Amura et Tita sont assises au bar
avisant leurs admirateurs potentiels
parmi la nouvelle fournée de touristes;
la plupart d’entre eux, trop timides pour
echanger avec elles des regards, tandis que d’autres,
grandes gueules, se dirigent dans leur direction
et poussent des cris perçants :
“Harold ! C’est un homme ou une femme ? Ti Dieu !!”
Les favoris des raesrae ne sont pas
les jeunes mariés qui prennent photo sur photo
ni les couples plus anciens,
ni leurs camarades raesrae;
mais leurs camarades raesrae;
mais plutôt ces superbes filles
qui rêvent de devenir mannequins
ou stars hollywoodiennes,
et ces hommes virils et musclés popaa
qui leur font concurrence,
leur faisant des signes quasi complices
c’est de bonne guerre ou ça ne l’est pas.
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Le Paradis”, 2008.
PART FIVE – Michel-Ange / Angélique –
Michel-Ange was the love-child of a U.S. Air Force pilot Lieutenant (Mike Thompson) and Josiane Péraud (a vivacious young landscape painter from Marseille). They had met while Mike was on special assignment at Istres Air Force Base – Le Tubé. It was a short-lived, whirlwind romance that was never meant to be more than just that. However, Josiane’s unplanned pregnancy came as a surprise – first to Josiane, and then two years later to Mike, who was informed in a letter sent to him on Michel-Ange’s second birthday:
I hope that you are well. Please do not be angry at me for writing this letter to you. It has been a long time in the process, and I have started it and crumpled up the pages many, many times already. I do not really know how to put this to you, so I will just use my simple English in a direct fashion. After we had said goodbye and you returned to Westport, I realized that I was pregnant with your child. (Yes, it is definitely your child as I had not been with anyone else for several months before I met you. I believe that I told you this at the time.) Knowing that you had returned to your life in Connecticut and that we had both agreed that a deeper relationship would be impossible for various reasons, I determined that I would raise the child by myself and not burden you. I could not have an abortion because I am Catholic, and I do not believe in abortions. My parents wanted (and still want) me to marry a Frenchman so that my child would have a father and a father’s family name, but I have resisted. I could not marry under the plan of such deception. (Please pardon my English. I know that that last sentence does not sound quite “right”, but it is the best I can do.)
Well, to make a long story short, I now realize that it is wrong and unjust to keep this information (and perhaps even your son) away from you. At the same time I do not wish to pressure you to take responsibility for our love-child. To me he is never a burden … he is my little angel, and his name is – in fact – Michel-Ange, in honor of you. I have included a photo that I have just taken of Michel-Ange and myself. He was two years old yesterday.
Anyway, you can contact me if you wish. If not, then I understand and I promise never to bother you again.
The letter from Josiane went unanswered, and a year and-a-half later she married a 45-year old suitor – Yves Bertrand – a shoemaker that had been interested in her for almost a year. Yves was kind to Josiane but he came from a rather different background than was her own upbringing … he was hardworking, conservative right-wing and a firm believer in discipline. Josiane enjoyed the comfort and security of a stable family income and a large modern apartment centrally located in Marseille, but she was expected to have meals on the table when her man came home for lunch and dinner, to keep the house tidy and to fulfill all the normal duties of a laborer’s wife. Her painting soon became more a hobby than a vocation, and her artistic friends were replaced by the wives of her husband’s fellow businessmen: Pierre the butcher, Bruno the plumber and Denis the carpenter – the latter whom she did not care for because of his crude demeanor. However, the important thing was that her beloved Michel-Ange had a good home and a male figure in his life.
Michel-Ange had a rather ambivalent attitude towards this burly “cretin” that her mother had taken on as a husband … a man that constantly complained about the closeness between mother and son.
“Enfant de pute !” snarled Angélique, remembering how the accusations from his step-father escalated until his early teens, finally resulting in Yves insinuating that his mother had made him a “queer”. Michel-Ange’s interest in the cross-dressing fashion of alternative designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and in American rock stars put conservative Yves over the top. Michel-Ange blasted his rock music louder and louder to drown out the arguments between the two:
“Your son is a fucking queer – and you are responsible!”
“He is not a queer. He is young and artistic, but you would not know about either – would you?!!”
“Have you seen the way he dresses, woman? I am certain that he secretly loans your clothes … clothing that I pay for with my “conservative francs”!
“And so what if he were queer! At least he will not vote for Le Pen when he is of voting age.”
“Ha! If he ever reaches voting age. He will probably end up a homosexual whore statistic on the streets of Marseille … My friends’ sons beat them up regularly. And I support them. You and your son are trying to ruin me!”
Michel-Ange was quite pleased when his mother kept him home from school that Friday morning and told him to pack his clothes. They were moving out and leaving for Paris in two hours. He never saw Yves again, and Michel-Ange was relieved.
“Good riddance!” muttered Angélique. “May he rot in his own personal hell.”
Michel-Ange had heard the same accusations before … from schoolmates and thugs in the neighborhood – especially from the second-generation immigrants from North Africa. They always taunted him about looking, acting and speaking “different”.
“Bastards!” thought Angélique. “And they were buggering the weaker ones in their own community … secretly, while accusing moi of being a homosexuel!”
Both Josiane and Michel-Ange eventually thrived in Paris. His mother enrolled in art classes and she soon combined a part-time sales job at a boutique with a professional painting career, with up to two group exhibitions per year. Michel-Ange did much better at school, being in a more liberal social and learning environment, and decided to study marketing as a vocation. He was seldom taunted in inner city Paris for being “different” but he was frequently mistaken for being gay. He had – actually – tried having sex with another boy at age 16 but he did not find it satisfying. He sort of liked getting fucked and loved fucking, but he was always inevitably reminded of the immigrant thugs in Marseille and of their homosexual sexual activity. There was something “vulgar” about it. Vulgar in the sense that it was dishonest and clandestine in a detached sense. “Much better to be openly homosexual,” he thought. “Or even to be a prostitute or a transvestite!”
When he was seventeen years old Michel-Ange did have sex with an African transvestite prostitute named Hélène … and he liked it. Actually, he thought that he might like to BE a transvestite, but the idea of sucking another man’s penis did not appeal to him. He wanted “pussy” … and he wanted to have it while being a female. It was then that he decided that he was a lesbian. “Is that possible … to be a lesbian in a man’s body?” Michel-Ange asked himself.
Hélène introduced Michel-Ange to a few prostitutes in “the community” and Michel-Ange soon learned that it was quite “possible”. He met transsexuals that were “in transition” and others that had gone the whole way and become females rather than just “shemales”. Michel-Ange was popular amongst these girls, and one in particular – Annette – guided him through his “education” – from shopping for clothing and applying make-up to learning how to properly conceal his “equipement” between his legs when in drag. She and her friends introduced him to the hottest underground clubs in Paris and even to a few famous designers, one of which wanted to use Michel-Ange in a show. Michel-Ange did do a couple of catwalks in cross-dresser designer clothing, but he always wore a mask. He wanted to break this to his mother properly. Besides, for him this business of cross-dressing and lesbianism was a lifestyle – not a fashion statement.
Three weeks after his nineteenth birthday Michel-Ange enrolled at Boston University College of Business. He did well at school and divvied up his “double life” between “shirt and tie” classroom attire and “cross-dressing couture” at clubs in Boston and New York City. His name was difficult for many to pronounce or remember, so he began calling himself “Michael” at school and “Angélique” out on the town. It worked! Angélique never waited in queues outside of clubs. Just like in Paris, she always showed up in a taxicab and raised her right arm high up in the air so that the men at the door could see her clearly. She was always waved in, and stomped past the admiring and the irritable and ignored would-be patrons lined up outside the most popular clubs with a air of “but of course … I am Angélique!”
However, life as a transsexual lesbian was not just “la vie en rose” for Angélique. Her major problem was … men. She was both taunted as a freak and a whore, and pursued as a kinky lay by heterosexual and metrosexual men. Angélique learned to deal with the latter, but the former proved to be a real problem. The persistence of some – and the violent behavior of a few drunken, “high” or sexually-addicted men – caused her to begin to carry mace in her over-the-shoulder purse. She actually gave one idiot a black eye once. Angélique liked the attention at first but quickly admitted to herself that she was wasting her time impressing men. She wanted to be with women sexually, and after having been on HRT (hormone replace therapy) for a little over a six months she sought out ways to enter the lesbian community in Boston. She found a rich lesbian club milieu: in Boston, Lynn, Provincetown, Malden, Jamaica Plain, and Somerville to name a few places. Getting accepted was not immediate or easy. Therefore she assumed a reserved “Hallo. I am French and new at this …” role. It occasionally worked, and eventually Angélique met a few women that were open to what she had to offer.
Angélique’s first lesbian lover was Carole. Carole was – herself – a “shemale”.
Angélique began nodding her head and dancing with her shoulders at the thought of Carole. Carole was Puerto Rican, with gorgeous dark hair long past her shoulders, beautiful mocha-colored skin, bright eyes and a great body. They met on the dance floor – to hot salsa music – at a club in Boston. A better “teacher” could Angélique not have imagined … or asked for. Angélique and Carole were hot and heavy for five months before Carole sent her further “down the line”. After several affairs Angélique eventually was set up on a date with Tina in Worcester. Tina and Angélique became quite the “item” and Angélique moved to Worcester after only dating Tina for three months. Tina was born female … and born lesbian. It was Tina that introduced Angélique to Wendy, who owned the club in Worcester where Rachel worked. “Quite a progression,” thought Angélique, thinking over her personal life history. “But such a snarled and winding way to deliver it.”
It had always been her plan to have the “ultimate surgery”, but now Angélique was having second thoughts. Being “shemale” suited her right now. Rachel was finally digging on it, and it added an exciting dimension to their sex life and relationship. It was not nearly as popular with lesbians as it was with metrosexuals and horny men (both homosexual and heterosexual). They (the latter) were often obsessed with shemales. Being shemale was no longer equated with being a prostitute or a slut. It had become respectable in certain circles – albeit it, mind you, not amongst the conservatives like her step-father but … Anyway, Angélique was just determined to find her deserved emotional and sexual fulfillment, and thought that she had as much right to that as any metrosexual, heterosexual, homosexual or lesbian. Or transvestite, for that matter! Angélique chuckled, remembering the t-shirt she had had made up a year ago. It read: “I AM NOT A TRANSVESTITE!” That one made many gals and guys at the Pride Parade stop up and scratch their heads.
Angélique had a “love-hate relationship” with her penis … okay, with her dick – her prick – her … anyway… She was afraid of it losing functionality because of the hormone treatments, and yet she sometimes wished it would just shrivel up. It depended upon her partner, and the dynamics of the sexual relationship. She could not imagine having sex with Rachel without the option of fucking her with her penis. But then again, she could also not imagine not being able to be softer “lesbian intimate” with Rachel. She wondered if she would have the same sexual dynamics with her if she no longer had a penis. Perhaps … but Angélique was not willing to take that chance. Not yet, anyway … Rachel was her “dreamgirl”. If Angélique was Rachel’s “shemale” then Rachel was Angélique’s “she-girl”. When Angélique had asked Rachel why she found her so attractive, Rachel had come with the usual crap about physical attraction, emotional understanding, sisterhood etc. And then finally with the core of the matter: spontaneity and versatility that set her “free”. Angélique felt exactly the same way about Rachel. “SHE SETS ME FREE!” exclaimed Angélique to herself, silently beaming with joy.
Angélique’s mamán had often said that the best compliments she ever had received about her art were that: “Seeing your art has inspired me to begin painting myself!” She always felt that art is an active and ongoing communication between artist and audience … each carrying the baton of creation further. This was how Angélique felt about her relationship with Rachel: their love enabled Angélique better to love herself and the world around her.
Angélique was so nervous that first night together with Rachel. It was always nerve-wracking to have sex with a woman that did not know … sort of like it must be for persons with the so-called hiv/aids virus that wonder how early in the flirting process they should disclose their status. Making a big deal out of being a shemale kind of ruins the “moment”. Angélique knew that she was clumsy those first times together with Rachel, but it worked out. “Mon Dieu, I was drunk!” exclaimed Angélique to herself. “I was surprised I could get it up … and I was probably more “male” than “shemale”, but being with Rachel was … simply magnifique ! And it still is.”
Angélique’s smile quickly dissolved into tense lips surrounded by small worry wrinkles. Rachel was feeling challenged lately. It was because of the roses … and Todd. Well, at least Rachel’s experiences with Todd. Angélique could see the conservative creep qualities in Todd which Rachel had described to her, but she also sensed a sense of seeking in the man … a desire to crawl out of his negative existentialism. Maybe she was mistaken, but she would have a chance to find out next weekend. There was something about Todd …
Rachel was busy rehearsing for both tonight’s show at the club and the concert next Tuesday at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, and Angélique had a brunch date with Sébastien and their three other French friends in Worcester – Albertine and Laurent, and Marine. The five of them met once-a-month to eat, to chat and to be “just French” together. Angélique had just called and asked Sébastien to meet her at the restaurant a half and hour before the others arrived. She wanted to talk to him about something personal. He was already there when she arrived at two minutes to noon.
“Bonjour chérie !”
“Bonjour Sébastien !
“Comment vas-tu aujourd’hui ?”
“Pas mal … et toi? De quoi voulais-tu me parler en privé ?”
“I wanted to ask you a favor.”
“Try me,” replied Sébastien, smiling. He had grown very fond of Angélique, and he knew that she never asked for anything unless it was important to her.
“Well, I want to buy Rachel something special for her birthday, and I want to surprise her. She is very nosey, as you know. So I was wondering if I could ask you to keep her occupied while I go shopping next Saturday, and also to keep her little ‘cadeau’ at your place until the party. Are you free during the day next Saturday?”
“Actually, I am,” replied Sébastien. “But what about Rachel? Does she have plans on Saturday?”
“No. She told me that she is really looking forward to having the day free of obligations. Once the concert is over on Tuesday she will be needing some rest and relaxation. She has been working very hard with rehearsals.”
Sébastien nodded and said: “Yes, she has. Why don’t I send her a text message now and invite her out for the day?”
Angélique smiled and replied: “That sounds like a plan!”
Sébastien sent Rachel a message on his iPhone: “Bonjour Rachel ! I see Angélique all the time at work but I miss you my darling. I would love to take you out for the day next Saturday. Please say ‘yes’. I will pick you up at your apartment at one p.m. Just you and me. Okay? Bises, Sébastien.”
Angélique and Sébastien continued chatting and gossiping for a few more minutes when suddenly Angélique spied Albertine and Laurent walking into the restaurant. “There are Albertine and Laurent!” As they both waved to the approaching couple Sébastien’s phone plinged: it was a reply message from Rachel. She had enthusiastically agreed to his invitation. He whispered to Angélique: “All systems are go. I will pick her up at one o’clock on Saturday.”
Angélique leaned over the table and kissed Sébastien on the mouth just when Albertine and Laurent had reached the table. Angélique jumped to her feet and gave them both a kiss – first on each cheek and then on the mouth. Sébastien had risen and proceeded to welcome the two when he saw Marine rushing towards them. “Ahh … here is Marine!”
“Am I the last to arrive again?” she said, a bit out of breath. “I was late leaving the house and …”
“You are right on time, dear Marine,” replied Albertine, exchanging kisses with Marine. They all sat down and Sébastien motioned to the waitress to come to the table and suggested: “Let’s start with some bread and wine, and a demi-tasse … what do you all say to that?”
All responded affirmatively … and they sat and enjoyed themselves for two hours – just as they would have had they been in Paris.
Angélique told Rachel that she had planned to do some window-shopping next Saturday. She felt the need to buy herself something new … perhaps an outfit or a new pair of shoes. She knew that Rachel had little patience for following her around from store to store … and then – more often than not – again returning to the first one anyway. “Would you like to come with me, babe? We could grab some lunch at that Mexican place you like so much.”
Rachel quickly replied: “An afternoon of clothes shopping is not really my thing – you know that. Besides, Sébastien and I have a date on Saturday. He is picking me up at one o’clock. We will make a day of it. Is that okay?”
Angélique put on her pretend-pouting face and pecked Rachel on the cheek, while saying: “Of course it is okay. I find shopping relaxing, and you find it stressful. It must be a shemale vs. she-girl thing.”
Rachel stared at Angélique in confusion for a few seconds, until she saw Angélique’s poker face crack a smile. They then both laughed, and Rachel added: ” Touché ! I know that I should love the sport of clothes shopping – like most women. I guess I am just not like most women …”
“No … and that is why I love you!” countered Angélique. “At least one of the many reasons, anyway …”
Angélique was in a good mood all week long, owing to her joy and excitement in soon procuring the birthday surprises for Rachel on Saturday. “It will be perfect!” she mumbled to herself. “Answers about the stalker … and an engagement ring.”
She had previously confided in Sébastien about her desire to propose to Rachel but she did not tell him that she would be buying a ring on Saturday, and Rachel had made her promise not to tell anyone about the roses. “This time I will surely surprise her!” thought Angélique, while humming to herself the refrain from “Chapel of Love”.
(EXCERPT FROM “THE STALKER – TALE OF A FRENCH BITCH”, Adam Donaldson Powell, 2010)
Rachel was still asleep when Angélique left the apartment in Worcester. She had pre-ordered a taxicab which would drive her to the bus station in time for an early morning bus to Boston. She had already checked on the internet and found what looked to be a reputable jeweler just a block away from the Waterfront Hotel and Spa on Summer Street, where she would meet Todd at 10 a.m.
After looking at several rings presented to her, Angélique chose a simple silver ring with a nice setting. It featured a good-sized quality aquamarine gem with a small diamond on each side. “This should do perfectly,” said Angélique to the jeweler. Rachel did not wear gold jewelry, and she did not like ostentatious baubles. “Funny,” thought Angélique. “Rachel dressed well but she only wore expensive costumes and jewelry for performing, or occasionally to get dressed up for very special social events – never as everyday wear. She seems to have an aversion to that. It is so unlike most women that I have known … and most shemales as well.”
On the way, two doors before the hotel, she saw a fabulous pair of brown suede boots in the display window of a women’s shoe store. They reached just shy of the knees and were quite tasteful – unlike many of the well-over-the knee black leather “fuck me boots” that were so popular amongst many women today. They would go quite nicely with her tweed suit, bringing out the beige and maroon fibers. She went inside and tried them on, and then asked about the price. They were expensive – $525! She did some quick calculations in her head, breathed out a sigh and said to the shopgirl: “I will take them. And I will pay with my American Express Card.” There was only the one – rather young – woman working the register … and she was slow.
“Would you like me to gift-wrap these for you?” the shopgirl asked, with a smile.
“No, honey,” replied Angélique – trying not to appear too stressed. “Just throw them into a bag, thank you.” As the shopgirl handed her the bag she noticed the clock on the wall behind the counter. It was 10:10 a.m.! “Merde ! I am late.”, exclaimed Angélique and she ran out of the shoe store, her large package flailing in her left hand and – lo and behold – she literally almost bumped into Todd. He was just arriving himself.
“Looks like we both timed that just right!” joked Todd. He looked at the large package Angélique was carrying, then glanced back at the shoe store she had just run out of, and quipped: “Did you just hurriedly rob that shoe store, or did you lose track of time as well?”
Angélique was caught off guard by his humor, and before she could speak Todd added: “Sorry I am late. But at least you got to do some impulse shopping while waiting for me.”
“Actually, I did lose track of the time … and where women are concerned, what looks like impulse shopping rarely is. We are always on the lookout for things we need, and suddenly – voilà ! – there they are,” answered Angélique in a more relaxed tone and with a slight smile.
“Et voilà !” teased Todd, admiring Angélique’s personal presentation. She looked great in her tasteful Ann Taylor mid-knee-length grey-and white print skirt and Ralph Lauren white silk jersey blouse. “You look stunning … as you did the first time I met you.”
Angélique replied, with a hint of playfulness: “Why Todd! So sweet of you to notice. I just grabbed something out of the garderobe.”
Todd felt as if he was getting on well with Angélique now, and decided to play his French language card again (hoping to make up for his “misunderstanding” the last time they had met): “Et quelle garderobe !”
Angélique blushed and retorted with a twinkle in her eyes: “Flattery will not get you anywhere, Mister Todd. But even so, I do appreciate your compliments.” Looking up at the building on their right, she exclaimed: “Here is the hotel. This is where Rachel and I stayed during our last trip to Boston.”
The hotel was busy, with several persons checking out and a few waiting to check in. They stood in queue until it was their turn to be expedited. The middle-aged, dark-haired man with a moustache greeted them courteously and asked how he might help them. They had no bags so he assumed that they did not want a room. This was not the kind of hotel for couples that wanted to check in for just a couple of hours, and Angélique did not look like the type to do so either.
Angélique explained that she had stayed at the hotel recently, and that she and her partner had been left a bouquet of roses with a rather ominous card. The card was unsigned and she wanted to try to track down the sender so that she could thank him. The hotel clerk did not seem surprised. There were always many requests at the hotel and this one did not seem any more unusual than others. He asked her when she had stayed at the hotel, what her last name was and what her partner’s last name was. He would consult the booking system and message log. After receiving the information he needed he excused himself for a few minutes, saying that he would check the “system” from the back office – as there was a queue behind Angélique and her friend. When he returned, the clerk told Angélique that he did see that a delivery had been made but that it had not come directly from any florist. The name of the sender on the delivery receipt was simply listed as “Emily”. He had no other information. He was sorry. “Perhaps that will help you,” he said. “We usually ask for a last name but this came during our busy time during the late afternoon, and if the person seems to be known to the person that the delivery is meant for then sometimes …”
“… then sometimes you just take the delivery and move on to the next customer,” said Angélique, completing his sentence for him (a habit she had picked up from Wendy).
“Yes,” affirmed the clerk. “I am sorry, but I must help my colleague with the other customers. I hope you and your friend use our hotel again soon!”
Angélique thanked the clerk and turned to Todd saying: “Let’s go. Nothing more to do here, I guess.”
She looked very thoughtful, and Todd opened his mouth for the first time since they had entered the hotel: “Emily! Well, it looks like you may have a lead … and -”
Angélique replied, a bit frustrated: “Yes, Todd. It looks like both you AND your ex-girlfriend are vindicated … at least of this. But who the hell is this ‘Emily’? Could she be a fan … a competitor … an unknown wacko … or -”
“Or someone Rachel is …”
“Don’t even go there, Todd!” snapped Angélique as they walked out onto the pavement again. “Rachel is not like that … hell, you should know that – you were engaged to her.”
Todd looked sheepish, and he did not want to upset Angélique. They had been getting on quite well so far. “I know … and you are right. There must be an explanation. Perhaps you could ask Rachel who this ‘Emily’ is …”
Angélique seemed distracted by her thoughts, but replied: “I will have to try to work that out in a careful way. She has been jumpy lately, and reacts negatively to being doubted … or if she thinks she is not believed.”
Todd nodded, saying: “Yeah … sounds like me. It must be a ‘human thing’”.
Angélique looked at him, and then broke out in laughter: “Yeah … it must be. Listen, I am starved now. I left the apartment without having had breakfast. What do you say to lunch – my treat? I fancy Italian food today. Do you know of any cozy Italian restaurants in this area?”
Todd smiled and said: “I would love to … and yes, there is a nice family-owned place just a couple of blocks from here. It is called La Trattoria di San Michele”. I have eaten there several times with Lynda …”
Todd stopped short as soon as he had uttered Lynda’s name. “Shit!” he thought. “I have put my fucking foot in my mouth again.”
Angélique pretended not to remember who Lynda was, and smiled while nodding and said: “Sounds wonderful, Todd. Lead the way.” She was starting to like this clumsy “asshole of a man” – especially since he had been absolved of being suspected as the stalker.
Todd and Angélique were seated in a window seat with a view of pedestrian traffic on the somewhat busy street. They ordered a bottle of red wine and a nice antipasto for two, followed by linguini in clam sauce for Todd, and an eggplant dish for Angélique. Angélique excused herself to go to the ladies’ room immediately after the waiter had taken their order, and Todd used the opportunity to approach the owner and tell him that he wished to pay the bill right away. He paid for the meal, two bottles of red wine plus coffee, and left a good margin for dessert and a handsome tip. He was impressed that a classy woman like Angélique was willing to pay for his lunch, but that would tip the scale of balance too much in her favor. Todd had never allowed a woman to pay for a meal – or anything else actually. Even though he knew that Anglique was a lesbian and happily involved with his ex-fiancée, a guy never knows when he might have “a shot”. Grinning, he muttered to himself: “Besides, I have an ‘m.o.’ to uphold.”
When Angélique returned to the table Todd was still grinning, delighting in his little “secret”.
“What are you grinning about?” Angélique asked, reaching for her glass of wine.
“Nothing. Just feeling good. It has been a good morning for me.”
“Good because I no longer suspect you? HA! Rachel still has to be convinced of your innocence … as well as that of your ex-girlfriend. What was her name? Oh yes, Lynnette!” She then burst into laughter. “Hilarious that I should be eating here together with you at your and Lynnette’s ‘place’.”
Todd grinned, seeing both the irony and the humor in her observation as well as appreciating her “classy” refusal to acknowledge Lynda’s proper name. It put it all at a safe distance. “That is like something I might do in such a situation,” thought Todd.
And then Angélique surprised him, by adding: “Well, guilty as suspected – or not. It still sounds as if ‘Lynnette’ is a cunt.”
Todd almost gagged on the wine he was now almost gulping down. Angélique caught his reaction and asked: “Have I offended you Todd? I am sorry. I thought that it was also your experience that she had behaved …”
Todd was staring at Angélique. He could not believe his ears. Here was a woman that dared to call another skirt a ‘cunt’! “No, I am not offended – not at all. And you are right. It is just that I have been struggling with my sometimes offensive language when I refer to difficult women. I have gotten a lot of flack about it. To hear you use the c-word warms my cockles.”
“Warms your cockles, Todd?!! What century are we in?”
Todd blushed slightly, and remained transfixed by Angélique who continued: “Todd, I was born French. I am a real French Bitch – not a cheap copy. There is little that shocks us about language or sexuality. Now, bad food, bad wine and bad French – that is shocking. But not using the ‘c-word’, as you call it. When I went to Boston University …”
“You went to Boston University? So did I! What did you study?”
Angélique explained that she had studied marketing, and they quickly found out that they had overlapped one another by a couple of years, and were also not likely to have met as she had been an undergrad and he a grad student in a totally different field of study. However, they now had something more in common than merely both having known Rachel intimately.
Todd said: “Sorry for the digression. You were saying …”
Angélique continued: “When I went to Boston University, I taught a couple of my classmates some naughty French phrases. It seemed to loosen them up so that their attitude about learning French at school became more fun, and less stifled. Would you like to learn a few phrases and words, Todd?”
Todd was mesmerized by this extraordinary woman. She was élégante and yet she could think – and occasionally even talk – like a man. He grinned from ear to ear and was almost panting like a dog as he replied: “Mais oui, mademoiselle !”
Angélique put on a half-serious attitude and whispered: “Now I want you to repeat after me, Todd. Be careful to watch my lips so that you can mimic the pronunciation properly. I will exaggerate a bit so that you will more easily grasp it.”
“We will begin with something simple, and dear to your heart,” she said. “Now listen, watch my mouth and then repeat after me: le con, la conasse, la chatte … salaud”
Todd repeated each word after Angélique, careful to mimic the contortions of her lips and mouth.
“Very good, Todd! Those words all mean ‘a cunt’, and the last one is the derogatory name-calling form. Now we will get a little more advanced. Repeat after me: Vous sentez comme le boeuf et le fromage.”
Todd carefully and slowly repeated the phrase, and Angélique made him repeat it once again – this time accentuating the proper pronunciation of “le”, “boeuf” and “fromage”.
“Good, Todd! Bien ! You have just said: You smell like beef and cheese.”
Todd looked at Angélique with a worried look on his face, thinking that he had really bad breath. Angélique then laughed and said: “I am certain that you have wanted to say that on a few occasions Todd. We all have.”
Now that things were well-loosened up, Todd signalled the waiter to bring the second pre-paid bottle of wine. The French lesson continued.
“Okay Todd. Let us ‘get down’ now. Do you know what to say when you have had enough of a woman like Lynnette?”
“Yeah … but not in French, Professor. Lay it on me!” said Todd eager to learn.
“Meurs, pute !” said Angélique, repeating it so that Todd could grasp the proper pronunciation.
“Meurs, pute !” repeated Todd.
“Yes, Todd. That should be quite understandable – even to the most stuck-up French Bitch.”
“But what does it mean?” pleaded Todd.
“It means: ‘Die, whore!” replied Angélique, with a straight face.
Todd beamed with joy. He had never actually dared to say that directly to a woman in English, let alone in French – but he had said it under his breath or to himself many, many times. “More … more …”
“Just one more, my naughty-mouthed friend,” said Angélique. “This one is a favorite of mine.”
“Great!” exclaimed Todd eagerly. “Let’s hear it!”
“Va te faire foutre, trouduc ! Or you can also say: Casse toi !” said Angélique in an understated melodramatic way.
The puzzled expression on Todd’s face conveyed that most of the words had gotten “lost in translation”. Angélique promptly explained: “The first phrase means: ‘Fuck off, asshole!’ and the second one simply means: ‘Piss off!’ I find that often the simplest words and phrases are the most effective – especially when telling someone off. It is an art form really – to tell someone off in three words or less.”
They both cracked up laughing. This was the best “therapy” Todd could have hoped for: finally, a woman that understood him!
Suddenly Todd became serious: “Angélique,” he inquired. “Can I ask you something personal?”
Angélique looked a bit apprehensive, then smiled slightly and replied: “Oh, why the hell not! If I do not like the question then I will either not answer it, or I will say: ‘Enculer une mouche’”
Todd looked at her, again with a puzzled look on his face: “Enculer …?”
“Enculer une mouche” repeated Angélique. “It means: ‘Go fuck a fly!’”
Both chuckled, and Todd asked his question: “Angélique …. Why are you gay? Did I make Rachel turn gay, or was she born that way?”
Angélique looked pensive for a half-minute and then replied, choosing her words carefully: “Todd, there is no definitive answer to the question of what makes people gay. I could just as easily ask you what has made you heterosexual … and even why you remain heterosexual. There are many reasons behind a person’s sexual orientation. The reasons are often different for different people. Some may be born that way, and some of us learn sexual behavior patterns that we adjust to better than others. I personally look at sexual orientation as just another personality expression. The relevant issue is rather learning to cope with the idea that there is no one “personality”. We all have multiple identities that we pull out and wear in different situations, and at different times in our lives. I certainly have my garderobe full of identities and behavior patterns.” In her mind, Angélique quickly flashed back to her different periods: in Paris, at the university, to when she first met Rachel at the club (boy was she in a bad way then!) … and now as a respectable working woman and lesbian partner – and soon-to-be wife.
“But you do not seem to hate men,” Todd replied. “You would seem to be the perfect girlfriend for a guy …”
“Not all lesbians hate men,” Angélique assured him. “… and – besides – you know nothing about who I am underneath these trappings.”
“True,” said Todd. “Although I might be curious to find out.”
“Ha! curiosity can be a dangerous thing!” retorted Angélique, dismissing his flirting.
At that moment Angélique felt a shiver come over her. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a blurred figure on the other side of the glass window, an image that seemed to be staring in for a second, and then quickly disappearing.
“You okay?” asked Todd, noticing that Angélique was suddenly ill at ease.
“Yes,” she replied. “I guess the wine must be going to my head. I felt just a bit disoriented for a second or two. I really should be getting back to Worcester. There is a bus leaving in about forty minutes. I should just make it to the bus station in a taxicab. Let me get the check.”
“Already taken care of!” beamed Todd. “It has been all my pleasure! I will accompany you to the bus station.”
When Angélique’s bus pulled away from the station, Todd just stood there for a moment or two – watching it slowly disappear – until it was completely out of sight. “What a woman!” he exclaimed to himself, and flagged down a taxicab that could get him to his apartment quickly. He too was feeling a bit light-headed.
(EXCERPT FROM “THE STALKER – TALE OF A FRENCH BITCH”, Adam Donaldson Powell, 2010)
Walking the fine line
between glamour and
sobriety … taking care not
to fall between the
cracks … not to believe
in the darkness of the
away from the glitter
of champagne cocktail nights,
and uncomfortable shoes.
The music must not stop;
shine the camera on me
just a little bit longer. See:
I am setting the pace,
flaunting a fashion statement.
Synthetic is but a natural
reaction against reality.
Just give me my moment.
A self-made idol;
cliches spat out and
Yes, I could be a star.
What … my name?
I am just part of the
rhythm, the lights are
my melody against the
night of glittering glam.
A torn off piece of
against the annals of
history and the
(Adam Donaldson Powell, “Rapture: endings of space and time”, 2007)
voy a joderte.
y tu lo sabes muy bien.
voy a joderte.
du är söt!
du sekret sex.
men jag jagar inte efter män eller kvinnor.
de jagar efter mig.
och du kommer att jaga efter mig också,
min sexiga vän.
du kommer att jaga efter mig också.