Natalie and Me
Discovery # 1, Natalie and I.
Published on LatinoLA: January 14, 2005
I?m cranky! I am soooo cranky! And I?ve been cranky for quite a while now. Not until today did I realize the source of my crankiness. The source of my crankiness has been my resistance to accept the truth. But today is different. Today, instead of resisting the inevitable, here is my declaration of acceptance. I have finally resigned myself to the truth of the matter. And I am determined that with this resignation to the truth that I think I?ve always know but fought tooth and nail, I will ultimately find peace.
Although, no one ever ultimately sets out for resignation, however now that it has arrived, I am glad that is has. And I am even more appreciative of all the little discoveries that happened over the years, that little by little moved me towards this place of resignation and eventual peace that I am certain will eventually come.
The first of these many little discoveries that lead me to this truth that I speak of is that I look like a dyke. What do I look like? I?m not feminine looking but I?m not grotesque either. Seriously, though, I do look like a dyke. How did this discovery come about? Thank you, my college roommate Alley and my good friend Jesse and Natalie Merchant,. Natalie Merchant came out with her Tiger Lily CD my junior year in college. ?Member it? She?s in brown tones holding her guitar on the back and in the front is a close up of her masculine features and she?s sporting a cholo-style shaved head.
Well, it just so happens that I had shaved my head (cholo-style, as well) at the time that Tiger Lily was released. Boy did I regret ever buying that CD! Alley, my roommate at the time, a woman at the top of her class, identifiably a PhD candidate by her sophomore year in college, an activist, a gorgeous very feminine looking girl with long light brown locks and big bright eyes but not much TACT, was the captain that drove the vessel of this discovery. Jesse, my hangin? partner was her accomplice. Jesse was the guy I hung out with, played soccer with, went to basketball games with and even swam half naked in a natural stream with him on one unexpected occasion. And even though Alley and others asked about it on almost a daily basis, Jesse never ever not even once made a pass at me. Not that I minded, but with everyone else asking me all the time, it did make me wonder?.One day she and good friend Jesse, sat on our garage-sale couch reading the lyrics of Jealousy when I came in. I went to straight into the kitchen and could hear their whole conversation.
?I know man, I used to think she was sooooo fiiiine,? Jesse oozes. That?s how Jesse speaks, dragging out words so that they just ooze from his mouth.
?I know,? Alley agrees muy bubbly. ?I don?t like it?.
?Nah, me neither?, as he strokes Alley?s hair, (really, as an excuse to stroke Alley?s hair) ?I prefer hair on girls?.
I?m bald, but not offended. I like it and plus Jesse?s just a big flirt. Last week, he asked me ?Does the carpet match the curtains, pelona??
You just can?t take anything Jesse says too seriously, that?s Jesse.
?Actually, she looks like a duuuuuude?, Jesse adds.
Did they not just see me walk in? Not taking it personally is getting more and more difficult by the second. I shrug it off. I?ve made a choice not to abide by the societal norm of what a woman is supposed to look like, and I stand by it. It?s not as if they said that I look like a dude, I remind myself.
?She does look all dykey, huh?? Alley adds, muy bubbly again.
Nodding his head as if he?s high even though he?s not, ?Totallyyyyyy.?
That?s when I entered, fruit loops in hand. Jesse, seeing mine, goes to serve himself some. He doesn?t live here but I?m ready to charge his ass rent, or at least a meal fee!
?Look at Natalie Merchant, she shaved her head too!?, Alley runs to show me.
?I know, I bought it?, as I plop onto the couch and try to eat.
?You two could be twins!?, she laughs.
?Shut uuuuup!?, I courtesy laugh back, but this wasn?t the first I?d heard of this. The CD was released over a month ago and I?d been hearing of it ever since.
?Hey, you do kinda like her?, Alley tells me quite nonchalantly.
Why is she acting like she?s just discovering this, I wonder. She heard Nacho and Zeek telling me that very same thing at the meeting a few weeks back. Then she was there just last week when Sal and Sonia said they saw it and they agree, too!
I?m not saying Natalie Merchant is ugly or anything BUT it?s not the first I hear of how dyky she looks either!
?What are you talking about??, I try to dismiss her but in hindsight realize the ineffectiveness of a dismissal that ends with a question mark.
?Look at it, that could be you!?, Alley adds.
She?s getting more and more excited about it by the second.
I look at it quickly then say, ?Oh my goodness, two mujeres with shaved head at the very same time, they must look alike!?, as I stroke the soft stubbs of my head. I love feeling them, it is the BEST thing about a shaved head. And when it?s really short, it feels like a cat?s tongue, it?s cool!
?NO, it?s not just because of the shaved head. Look at her features that could be you! Watch ask Jesse.?
Jesse comes from the kitchen, eating the last of the Fruit Loops.
She places the CD cover next to my face as if he wasn?t just staring at it and as if he doesn?t know exactly what I look like.
?Doesn?t DD look like Natalie Merchant?,
I stand and wait because Jesse?s my hommie. I know he?s going to back me up.
We wait as he evaluates. I?m not nervous. No not at all. He knows whose Fruit Loops he?s eating!
?Yeah, ?specially with the shaved head?, he says nodding his head up and down again, his smile growing with every nod.
?You just said she looks like a total dyke!?, I try to say jokingly but it comes out more like a bark.
?Well you don?t look like a TOTAL dyke, I mean you don?t look like a dyke at all!, defends Alley. But the damage is done.
?Did you not just say she looks like a dude??, I charge Jesse.
?Did you not just say I look like her?, I stare at Alley.
?Ah, why do girls always gotta be so sensitive? Just because SHE looks like a dyke doesn?t mean YOU look like one.?, Jesse complains.
The last thing I want to be at this moment (other than a dyke-looking girl) is a ?sensitive girl? even though I AM one, so I calm down and let it die wishing Alley would do the same. But, somehow, I think she thinks she?s making it better when she starts up again with, ?But, look it, Jesse, look at the other side where she doesn?t look like a dyke at all. (That?s the side with her long hair flowing downward as she?s strumming her guitar) She looks pretty here. She looks like a pretty girl there. Jesse, look at their features. Look at the nose (it?s big for her face, a masculine feature mind you) doesn?t DD look like Natalie Merchant, here, in THIS picture, too?
Not knowing what to say now, Jesse eeks (not oozes) ?Yeah, I guess so?
?See he agrees, you two totally look alike!?
?Jesse??, I ask because sincerely I need to know. Even though she isn?t bald and dyky looking on that picture, she still has a big nose, manly features and is just a pair of Dr. Marten?s away from butchness.
?I said I guess?? adds Jesse before he turns back to the kitchen knowing that his broke-ness is what got him into this mess to begin with.
If he had just had a few dollars in his pocket he?s be at T?o Alberto?s right now. He?s be sitting outside with the sun on his skin enjoying a big ass carne asada burrito with a two chile gueritos and three jalapenos on the side, counting how may deformed birds he saw outside. (Really, there was something toxic out there. Those birds were born with two toes and three legs) He?d be half way through his burritos and up to 12 birds by now if he had just a few dollars in his pocket. He wouldn?t be looking at no Natalie Merchant CD on our cucaracha couch waiting till I go home so he could pour out the last of my Fruit Loops and get mixed up into pretty, feminine-looking girl Alley?s conversation. But he didn?t. And my best guy friend finally answered mine and everyone else?s question about why he after all this time we?ve spent together, never not even once made a pass at me.
After that, Jesse didn?t hang out at our apt. so much anymore. Alley continued showing all our guests how much Natalie Merchant and I looked alike, until I threw the darn CD cover away. Although I never again came home to find Jesse waiting for me on our broken couch, Jesse and I still made time for each other. It was that year that Jesse and I started our tradition of sharing our T?o Alberto?s burritos. At first because they were big enough and we were broke. Later, at his insistence, even when we had the cash, we?d split two different types, just to continue on with the tradition. He was nostalgic like that. I told him it made for a good boyfriend trait. He didn?t respond.
Many times, as we ate our burritos or just found ourselves watching TV with nothing else to do, I wanted to bring it up and ask him. I didn?t know all these years why it mattered to me so much, why I had to know what Jesse really thought. Did he just say that because Alley was hot and he wanted to agree with her and have a moment OR did he really think I looked like the woman he said looked like a dude?
But like I said, I?m appreciative of all the chain of events that have led to my recent acceptance and hopefully peace of mind. Had Jesse had a few dollars in his pocket that day, I might not be writing this today.
And maybe not. It wasn?t the first I?d heard about the Natalie Merchant resemblance either, remember???