The first time I noticed there was something different about me I was in the sixth grade. It was the first time we had to dress out in gym class. I was nervous because first off, I’m an only kid. Secondly, who the fuck wants to get undressed in front of a bunch of kids you have to sit next to on the bus ride home? Anyway, we were all standing in front of our long lockers with our gym clothes sitting on the scarred, wooden bench behind us. David Lions pulled his jeans off first and started yelling about how big his dick was. Then James Allen did him one better and ripped his underpants off, jumped on the beat-up old bench, and started thrusting his pelvis like he was fucking the air. By the time our PE teacher realized not one boy had made it out to the gymnasium and came in to see what was going on, every boy in my class was butt-ass-naked and yanking their little—for some, not so little—dicks and singing that old ass song, PONY by Genuine.
That is every boy in my gym class except me. I was sitting on the bench, fully clothed, and confused as fuck. Either I was a late bloomer or there was seriously something wrong with my anatomy. I can still hear Coach Wheathers’ booming smoker’s voice, “Son, what the hell you doing sitting on the bench when all your friends are in here discovering the joy of maleness? You got yourself a vagina in your drawers?” His laughter followed me out of the locker room, down the hall and into the nurse’s office.
“Taylor, what’re you doing in here, hon?”
“I need to call my mother, please. Something happened in gym and I need her to come pick me up.”
“You know where the phone is. Go ahead, make the call. Do you need a pad or a tampon, dear?” I screwed my face up as I raised my moss green eyes up to look into her face, hoping she could see the confusion written all over mine. “What? I’m assuming you got your period and that’s why you need to go home, right?”
“I’m not a goddamn girl, Nurse Davis. Why would I get a period if I ain’t got a fucking pussy?” She gasped really loud and realized I probably should not have used the word pussy or fucking or goddamn with an adult but, what the hell? I went over to the phone, snatched the receiver from the set, and dialed my mom’s work number. I watched the nurse and she listened in on my one-sided conversation.
“Yes, mom but…” Deep breathing is supposed to keep me calm. “I know you don’t have time—but mom! I… theirs was so much... is something wrong with me.” Why is this stupid woman in my conversation? Can’t a kid talk privately with his mom without having to share it with a nurse who doesn’t know the difference between a goddamn boy and girl? “Mom, I was in gym and all the boys went crazy in the locker room and tore their clothes off, and well… I— ”
“No! Of course not, why would I do something like that?” Why is she having a conversation with someone else why she’s supposed to be talking to me? “You can? Thanks, I’ll be in the nurse’s office.” The nurse walks over to me once I’ve placed the phone back on the base. Her face looks strange. Confused and a little worried. Exactly how I feel right now. Strange. Confused. Worried. “Uh… thanks for letting me call my mom. Sorry about using that kind of language, I usually don’t say words like that.”
“It’s okay, Taylor. Hon, may I ask you a question? And please don’t get upset, it’s just… why do you think you’re a boy?”
That was twenty-two years ago. I was an eleven-year-old kid who watched a bunch of boys swinging their little pubescent dicks around and realized I didn’t have one of those little pricks to swing around in the locker room that day. If I’d taken my underwear off in that locker room, they would have seen something akin to a clit sitting on top of a pair of oversized lips. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would have been for them…? What? Find humor and joy where you can is what I tell myself. Now at the ripe old age of thirty-three, I don’t have those moments where I feel strange, confused, or worried. I am pretty damn happy with my life. Could I be happier? I think every-fucking-body walking the face of this rock could answer in the affirmative on that question. Have I found my person… the one that makes time and space collapse inside themselves and evaporates everything that’s not them into oblivion? No. No, I have not met my person, yet. Lucky for me, I’m open to loving whoever I happen to fall in love with. As long as we vibe and they don’t eat and fuck animals… we’re good.
It’s Friday in the city that never seems to sleep. I’ve just returned from a visit with my parents in South Carolina and as much as I love my Southern roots, it’s damn good to be back in New York. I’m meeting my boys at our favorite club in Midtown and maybe we’ll get lucky tonight or maybe I’ll have to drag my lonely, horny ass back to my penthouse and rub one out before going to sleep. Who the fuck knows anymore? Three of my closest friends just got engaged—like back-to-motherfucking-back—to their significant others. Brian and Cécile have been together for all of four-fucking-weeks. Yeah, that’s right. This ignorant shit proposed to this French girl after knowing her for all of three weeks. I hope he knows what the fuck he’s doing. I’m not mad at my boy, He knew he had to lock that shit down in a hurry. Then there’s Kevin… this love-sick motherfucker finally proposed to Jason—did I mention Jason is one of the most fuckable men I’ve ever known—after being together for-fucking-ever. I don’t remember a time when Kevin was single… and I’ve known his lanky ass for almost eight goddamned years.
That brings me to Christie-Lynne. This girl is made of… sugar and spice and everything nice. I love her to pieces, but her fiancée is a real son-of-a-bitch; I can say that because I’ve met his bitch of a mother. We’re all a little concerned about CL but she’s in love and well… who the fuck am I to tell her she’s marrying an idiot? Anyway, that leaves only four of the tribe of seven who are still single, foot-loose, and fancy free. We’re all meeting up tonight to celebrate two of the three engagements, and hopefully pull a successful intervention with CL and that cunt, Rob. We’re also celebrating my latest acquisition and being named as one of forty under forty by Bloomsburg. It feels fucking amazing to be thirty-three, wealthy as fuck, surrounded by good friends and the chance to find my person.
But enough about me and my awesome life—and it is awesome—but also kind of lonely. I’m man enough to admit I’m ready to settle down but that doesn’t mean I willing to fucking settle. I’m the main character, the star of this entire production. Why would I, Taylor Jameson Wittington, settle for a goddamn thing. I didn’t have to settle when it came to gender, so I damn sure refuse to settle for who I spend the rest of my life with.
“Fuck! This club is on fire, is there a live band playing?” Anna throws her heavy, auburn hair over her shoulder and flashes those emerald peepers at me like I know what the fuck is going on in this place. I’ve been down south for the last two weeks.
“I haven’t got a clue. Did you get a text from Brian and Cécile? I can’t see a foot in front of me.”
“Hell no, I haven’t heard shit from any of those fuckers. Are you sure they said to meet at Anthony’s and not Antonio’s?” My nutbrown face freezes when my feet refuse to take one step further. Did this hoe just ask this question after we’ve paid this overpriced cover charge, valet parking, and some motherfucker just spilled his drink on my Italian loafers?
“What the fuck, Anna? Antonio’s is our go-to spot. When I asked you about Anthony’s you were all like, ‘yeah, I know what I heard on my messages. Fuck, Taylor. Get off my back.’ That sound fucking familiar to your dizzy ass?” I’m so goddamn mad at this girl. Every time I try to give her the benefit of the doubt, she fucks shit up.
“Fine?! Is that all you’re going to say to me? Antonio’s is all the way on the other end of Midtown and in this traffic…”
“Hey, babe. I’m glad you could make it. I’ve been fucking frothing at the mouth to lick your wet ass pussy.” Red. Every fucking thing in this club is covered in a haze of red. Red like blood. Red like death. Red like this cunt’s hair.
“What. The. Fuck? You purposely tell me some bullshit so you can hook up with your fuck buddy?” Not waiting for a response, I turn around heading out the door. Fuck her, usually, I don’t leave my friends alone in a bar, but fuck her. Anna’s always doing shit like this. I’m done. Fucking done with her messy ass.
“The midnight blue Tesla X. Thanks.” I’m waiting in front of one of the most eclectic clubs in Midtown. I should’ve known something was amiss but again, I’ve been kicking it with my family for the last two weeks. I could whip her bony ass.
“Um, excuse me.” She doesn’t give me a chance to answer before she plows ahead with her question. “Do you know when the valet will be back? Apparently, I’m in the wrong place.” I turn towards the raspy voice that has my stomach tightening at the tone and come face to face with a fucking goddess. I’m not kidding. Not being overdramatic, this woman is. A. Fucking. Goddess.
“Uh…” Smooth, Taylor. Clearing my throat, I start again. “Yes, he’s gone to get my car. Seems I’m in the wrong place, too. Let me guess, Antonio’s?” My heart is beating a mile a minute because if she says she’s heading there, I’m going to ask her to be my goddamn wife.
“Yes!” Her entire face smiles up at me. Dark, open brown eyes remind me of the rich soil we planted our summer gardens in. Deep and fertile. Full of all the nourishing goodness everyone is seeking these days. “I have no idea how I got it so wrong, but here I am.” She drops her lids and I swear the soft breeze from her thick lashes makes me shiver. She is fucking gorgeous.
“My loser friend knew where we were supposed to go and purposely misled me so she could come here and meet a guy she’s hooking up with. All our friends are over Antonio’s probably thinking we bailed on them.” Even though I should be pissed, I can’t find it in me to give a fuck about any of that now. If Anna hadn’t pulled such a cunt move, I never would’ve run into… “Ur, what’s your name?” She scrunches up her nose and looks at me like I just plucked those words right from her brain.
“I was just going to ask you the same thing.” We both laugh and shake our heads a little. Unable or unwilling to look away from each other. I hear my fucking car pull up beside the curb and I want to throat punch the speedy valet guy.
“Sir, your Tesla X. Will there be anything else?” I shake his hand and drop a fifty as I turn to my companion expectantly.
“Uh…” I leave the space open for her to fill with her lovely voice and hopefully her goddamned name.
“Suriah. Midnight black Tesla X.” She sneaks a look at me from under her lashes before quickly placing her ticket in my waiting palm.
“Thanks, could you please bring Suriah’s car around, as well.”
“Of course. I’ll be right back.”
“I’m going to wait here with you.” Rich loamy eyes reach for my face. Questions and answers pinging back and forth between us, even though no words are spoken.
“Thank you. I appreciate a gentleman. Is that a southern accent I detect...”?
“Taylor, and yes. South Carolina, born and raised; although, I’ve lived in New York since I was eighteen…”
“And your accent is still that strong?” I laugh at her shocked expression.
“I just returned from a two-week visit. It becomes stronger the longer I’m down there with my family and old friends.” I laugh thinking about how disgusted my mom and dad are when we talk. “My parents called me a slick-talkin’-yankee. They’re not happy their baby boy has lost his southern charm.” I’m laughing in earnest, now because my folks are crazy as fuck and I wouldn’t take anything in the world for them and how they love me.
“You don’t sound so much like a yankee that your southern dulcet tone doesn’t shine through, Taylor.” Hearing my name slip from her mouth does some funny shit to my heart. What the hell is happening?
“You’re obviously not from the south, Suriah.”
“No, not even a little bit. I’m originally from Chicago but, like you, I’ve been in New York since I was eighteen.”
“Yeah? What university or college?”
“Barnard at Columbia University.”
“Shut the fuck up!” She throws her glorious head of dark brown and ash-blonde corkscrew curls back and laughs like she’s out on the playground with her best friends. Not a care as to who might be watching her cackle like a loon. I join her because how the hell could I not?
“What…?” She wipes the spilled joy from beneath her eyes and shakes the rest of her giggles away before fixing me with a look that says, ‘I’m quiet, now wow me, big boy.”
“I didn’t go to Barnard, but I did graduate from Columbia with both undergrad and JD.”
“I have my JD from Columbia.” We stand there looking at each other like maybe somebody’s trying to set us up. When at the same time and out of nowhere we both blurt out.
“Class of 2014!”
“Get out of here!” One more time for shits and giggles.
“No, you get out of here!” That’s it. We dissolve into a fit of giggles and snorts. We’re holding on to each other’s’ shoulders for support because for some fucking reason, us saying the same thing at the same time is the funniest shit we’ve ever heard.
“Ur… Um, excuse me. Um, I have a black Tesla X for a Suriah…” We hear the valet at the same time and try really hard to compose ourselves, but it’s not working. A couple of loud whoops and oh boys later and she finally takes her keys, tips the guy and looks pointedly into my green eyes, and nods. I returned her nod and put her into her car. After making sure she’s secure, I make my way around to my driver’s side door, slide in and start up the silent engine. We pull out into traffic together, cruise down fifty-seventh; one behind the other. I can’t fucking wait to get to Antonio’s and see where else this night takes us.
“Text Anna-Banana,” I tell my hands-free phone service.
“What is your message?”
“I hope he fucks better than you give information, be safe. Call me if you need me to send rideshare to pick your horny ass up. Love you.”
“Message sent. Anything else?”
“You didn’t say thank you.”
“Fuck you, you’re a computer program.”
“I'm unable to fulfill your request at this time. Is there anything else you need?” I don’t bother answering because I’m not trying to lose my mind with this damn car. I’ve got more important things… a more important person on my mind. Suriah. Goddess. Fellow Columbia Law School alum.
“Whoever’s up there looking out for me, thanks.”
“You are welcome. Now, was that so hard?” Shaking my head, I turn on Debussy and follow the most intriguing woman I’ve met in a long ass time to Antonio’s.
“The fuck you been, asshole?” Brain yells across four or five tables as I’m walking toward him and our friends. Shaking my head and beaming him with the best smile in my limited repertoire—I’m not known for smiling; although, I smiled quite a bit with Suriah—hoping to disarm his surly ass. “We’ve been waiting for you and… where the fuck is Anna’s dizzy ass?” Guess my smile did nothing to soothe the savage beast lurking just below Brian’s olive skin.
“Why are you so goddamned concerned with everyone else… where’s your three-week fiancée?”
“Fuck you! And I got your fucking three-weeks, you dickless motherfucker.” Ouch, he is well and truly pissed.
“Okay.” I draw the word out because I want to give him a chance to explain himself before I turn my dickless ass around and find that beautiful… wait, where the hell is Suriah?
“Okay, nothing. I—just. I thought you weren’t coming and I was already pissed the fuck off and then Cécile’s best friend swept in and stole her away to the lady’s room and…”
“… and you miss your pacifier? I watch his shoulders relax as he shakes his shaggy brown hair out like some kind of old sheepdog. The smile he gifts me makes me forget all about his dickless comment. “Anna is the reason I’m so fucking late. She told me you guys changed the venue to Anthony’s. I should have known her skanky ass was lying—who the hell goes to fucking Anthony’s for anything other than getting shit-faced and the all-you-can-eat wings?”
“I know my sister is a piece of work, but a skanky? Come on, man. That’s low, even for your righteous ass.” I look at him with my no-fucks-to-give expression as I look around the semi-private booths set aside for our rowdy group only to realize we’re the only two people standing around.
“My sister was the one throwing this little shindig…”
“Say no more. So, everyone is over at Anthony’s wondering what the fuck is going on.” The look on his face tells me all I need to know. Why the fuck would Anna do this to her twin on a day we’re supposed to be celebrating his engagement? Then it hits me between eyes like that one guy’s dick when I was in undergrad.
“Anna doesn’t like Cécile.”
“Thinks she’s just after my inheritance…she’s fucking wealthier than me, for Christssake.” He looks off to the left and I follow his line of vision and my heart fucking stops beating in my chest. Like maybe if it plays dead, Suriah will come over and give me mouth-to-mouth to resuscitate its ass.
“Your three-week fiancée’s best friend is Suriah?”
“You know her?”
“We figured out we were at the wrong A at the same time and… oh, that makes so much sense, now.” Suriah arrives at the table, and swear to God, every-fucking-body disappears from the club. I know we look like matching bookends with our open-mouth-smiles, wide eyes, and shaking heads. But, honestly, I can’t find one shit to give about how goofy I look right now. My girl is here. She’s my best friend’s fiancée’s best friend. In my head we’ve already gone on about a billion double dates, we have houses out on Montauk only a few miles apart, and our three children all grow up together. What the actual fuck?
“I take it you two know each other. Suri, is this the guy you tell me about in the restroom?” Cécile’s accent makes every word sound as if she bathes them in thick saliva before sending them through the sieve of her small, tight teeth.
“Yes.” A small smile curves Suriah’s plump lips just enough to let me know she’s feeling the same shit I am.
“Oh, this is so amazing! Isn’t this so amazing, Bree?” Cécile’s jumping up and down like a little tea-cup poodle who’s about to piss itself with excitement, while I’m struggling to figure out who the fuck Bree is.
“Yeah, babe. It’s quite amazing.” Oh, Bree is her pet name for Brian. “Hey, Taylor, you didn’t tell me you knew my fiancée’s best friend.” What’s with the accusatory tone in his voice.
“What? I just told you when I saw them walking up to the booth that we ran into each other at Anthony’s. You all right, old man?” Brian is a few years my senior and I won’t let him forget that shit. Ever.
“I’ve got your motherfucking old man hanging like a pole between my legs, you pussy.” All right, I’m leaving that and him alone. Don’t know what crawled up his ass, but it’s like someone went down to Congaree Swamp Rd. to pay Buzzard, the rootworker, to put the work on his crazy ass. I turn to Suriah to give three-week a chance to calm the idiot down before this shit escalates.
“Suriah.” Her name feels like cool, sweet ice tea in my mouth. Something sacred, meant to be shared between just the two of us.
“Taylor.” Her face is so open. I don’t know what’s going to happen between us but I know, eventually, I’m going to have to come clean about quite a few things. Things most people don’t readily understand or accept. I hope she’s different. Hope she’s as open as her beautiful face. I sound like a goddamned Hallmark-made-for-tv-movie.
“Looks like we weren’t only coming to the same place but to the same party. How did you and Cécile become best friends?” She darts her eyes over to where the engaged couple is huddled together in a low conversation before turning her gaze back to me. “We grew up together. Well, sort of.”
“Really?” I allow doubt to paint that one word because what-the-fuck-ever. If these two grew up together, I have a ten-inch monster swimming in my Calvin Kleins and that will never be fucking true. I always thought something was off with three-weeks… and if my dream girl has information, she’s getting ready to give that shit up to me right-the-fuck-now.
“I say sort of because I only spent summers, Christmas, and New Years in Nice with my maternal grandparents. The last time I spent that time with my parents and siblings I was... five. Maybe six?” Who sends one of their kids away and allows the others to stay at home with them?
“So, you met when you would visit your grandparents and became best friends. That’s kind of… sweet. A lotut definitely mostly sweet.” I didn’t realize I’d grabbed her hand until she gave mine a slight squeeze. She was so delicate. I could crush her without thinking about it. Protectiveness surged through my veins and I almost pulled her into my body to keep her right next to me. Pipe down, caveman.
“It’s not really sad. I was… a different person back then. Difficult to please; and unlike my two brothers and my sister, I didn’t even know what would satisfy me.” A shake of her beautiful curls and I imagine how soft they’d feel on my thighs with her lush mouth around my dick. I definitely need to shut those thoughts down before I embarrass myself.
“Well, however you and Cécile became friends, I’m glad you did.” I tried to keep the excitement from my voice, but I know she heard it clear as day. Fuck, I don’t ever remember feeling like this about someone upon first meeting them. What is it about this girl?
“Yeah?” She turns her soulful gaze on me and I swear I see the rest of my life in their rich depths. Wait, was that a question?
“Yes. If you and three-weeks hadn’t been friends…”
“Oh, shit!” I laugh like I’ve told the funniest joke ever. “I’m sorry. Shit, I didn’t mean to call… I call Cécile, three-weeks because she and Brian had only known each other for a total of three weeks before they got engaged—and well, I…”
“Oh!” She throws her head back laughing harder than I had. She is so fucking magnificent. I can’t even believe this girl is