“Sit still, you big baby!”
Ben closed his eyes and took a deep breath. This was made more difficult with the weight of his girlfriend sitting on his chest, but Ellie had insisted this was the best angle for her work. He was electric with nervous energy, which of course made sitting still worse. I’ve got to stay calm, this won’t be that bad, girls do this all the time…
Cold metal touched his eyebrow, and he flinched away. Again. “UGH! Seriously?” He opened his eyes to see Ellie pooch out her lips in an exasperated pout. “I do this, like, every day.”
“Yeah, to yourself,” he countered. “How often do you have someone else sit on your chest and poke sharp tweezers around your eyeballs?”
She held up the tweezers and poked the end of her finger with it. “They’re not sharp. And I’m nowhere near your eyes. Now, do you want to look pretty for this thing or not?”
Pretty. He didn’t exactly know how he wanted himself to be described after his big transformation, but he knew that word wasn’t right. It didn’t feel manly enough, which was strange, considering the nature of tonight’s activities. They’d spent all day picking out his costume. Unsurprisingly, it had been quite difficult to track down a corset, fishnet tights, and heels for someone of his size and build. They’d gone over the aesthetic merits of each piece objectively, but he hadn’t really put into words exactly how he wanted to be received. Hot? Maybe. Sexy? Certainly. But pretty?
“Let’s try something else,” Ellie said. She leaned her whole body down, maintaining eye contact as she came forward, the tweezers held close to her own face. Soon he was almost eye to eye with her. He felt the metal on his brow again, and though he did flinch, it was a smaller, more contained action. Ellie stayed put, right next to him, mesmerizing him with her eyes, the corners of which raised up as she smiled. And then…
“Ow!” Ben’s protective instincts kicked in and his eyes snapped shut. It stung a little, but it faded quickly, especially after Ellie blew gently on his eyebrow. “Look.” She held the thick eyebrow hair up for his inspection. A big chunk of flesh still clung to the bulb of the root. “That is so gross,” she said, wiping it off onto a tissue. “We’ve got a long way to go, and we still have to trim your wig and do your makeup. You ready?”
“Yeah, go ahead.” After the first one, the rest were easier to bear. I wonder if it’s the same with drag shows, he thought. “You sure you’re okay with me doing this tonight?” he asked.
“Do you think I would have spent all day shopping with you if I wasn’t?” she replied, plucking three more hairs in rapid succession. “I don’t care if you want to play dress up, as long as you’re still coming home to me at the end of the night.” She sat back, turning her head this way and that, inspecting her work. “I mean, I get why you want to do it.”
“Really?” I don’t. He’d gone to his first drag show back in college. His girlfriend at the time had a bunch of gay friends, and they were all going together. Ben had no interest in going. However, she’d had one particular friend, the one that used to say he’d go straight for her, that Ben didn’t exactly trust. And so, he’d gone to the show to run interference. It was eye opening, in more ways than one. He wasn’t attracted to the performers in a sexual way; rather, he was in awe of the fact that a man could dress so flamboyantly and be so unfalteringly confident. It was, in it’s own way, incredibly macho.
“Sure,” Ellie said. “I used to do pageants when I was kid. I mean, I wasn’t one of those Toddlers in Tiaras girls, but I did a couple of them. It felt good to feel pretty, to have a whole room full of people looking at you.”
“Can we not use that word?” She’d moved on to his other eyebrow now, the tweezers working faster than ever.
“Sorry. But you’re gonna have to get used to a whole bunch of those kind of words if you’re gonna wear those big girl panties we bought you.”
“Jesus, Ellie.” He shook his head. I can’t believe I’m going through with this. “You know you can’t tell anyone about this, right?”
“But I already scheduled a video chat with your brothers!” She laughed, kindly, and bent down to kiss him. “We won’t tell anyone until you’re ready. And if you’re never ready, that’s okay too. Now hold still.” The tweezers descended once more to pluck a final hair. “I think that about does it. What do you think?” She held up a mirror so he could look at his newly manicured eyebrows. With a nervous chuckle, he smiled, unable to keep it in. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
“I look great. Help me with my makeup?”
With a wink Ellie said, “I think I’d like to see what you can do on your own first.”