This prompt involved giving everyone an “Adult” fortune cookie, which I bought in San Francisco’s Chinatown, at The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. They weren’t exactly X-rated—they were saucy at best—but they were silly and great fun. We read them out loud and then wrote down some phrases or words that stood out to us. I wrote down these words, and then wrote what follows:
Her texts came early in the morning, one after the other, so my dresser started vibrating. “Grrrrl,” she wrote, “you’ll never guess where I am!” But her iPhone auto generated a GPS message, so I did know. “I’m at the top of the Eiffel tower!” The next message read, “And you’ll never guess who I’m with!” There was a picture attached, but I could have told you that the handsome bald guy with blue eyes was Officer Harvey, Jon Harvey. I knew him well. “Honey,” she wrote in the next text, “the sun is setting and I’m wearing real girl panties from the lingerie section of La Samaritaine!”
I turned the phone off at that point. I had to. I know it’s normal to feel as if your fictional characters have real lives, but when they start texting you from Paris, well, it’s just annoying.
The thing is, I like Shantel. She’s my tranny hero, but now that she’s been liberated from my psyche most days and is waiting in limbo in a blue file of raggedy-edged notebook paper, I think she’s getting impatient. Okay, that part of me— who is a six-foot tall Afro-Brit transsexual with a fierce weave and a tiny Amsterdam apartment in the Southern Canal Belt— is getting impatient.
“You’re working on a cookbook?” she asked me recently, not even incredulous, just annoyed. “What on earth for?” When I told her it’s a project I feel I can contain somehow, can envision as a whole, she simply said, “Darling, you have simply got to publish my story so I can become a screenplay character. I was born to be in the movies.” Great, I think. Who’s going to play you? Wendy Williams? But this is the problem with fictional characters: they live in your head, so she said, “I heard that, and it isn’t a bit funny.”
Maybe I’m just jealous. I went to Paris with a lover once, but my man and I argued a lot, my favorite restaurant had closed for summer vacation, and we waited until our last day to see the Louvre: it was closed. Readers take note: the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.
Shantel’s all woman now, and she’s got herself a man who loves her. I don’t. She’s watching the sunset from the top of the Eiffel Tower and she’s wearing cute underwear. Not me. (Well, my undies are okay, but not panty pretty.)
Anyway, who cares, ultimately? She’s a figure of my imagination, right? She only goes where I imagine she goes, and only wears what I imagine she wears. Still. She’s having a lot more fun than I am. She’s having great sex, and she’s probably eating at Le Petit Prince tonight. They’re open for her, no doubt. Or maybe I’m just imagining that too.