Author’s Note: This is another look at the life of Denis from Because I Paint My Nails.
“Denis, I’m going to get some coffee. Would you like some?” Eric asks, suddenly standing from his cubicle.
I force myself to not look at him while I answer, “Oh, no thanks.”
He leaves and I sigh in relief.
It’s nearing that three o’clock hump where nearly everyone in the office gets their third cup of coffee.
I’ve learned to avoid these little meetings. Most of the time my co-workers stare at me. They look me up and down, like I’m completely diseased or pock marked or plague ridden.
I guess it’s my fault I enjoy wearing lipstick at work.
Though it’s certainly as far as I’ll go. For now. None of them have seen me in a dress. And while I would love to simply waltz through the double doors in my favorite vintage Chanel little black dress – it seems better to address the issue slowly.
“Tara made cupcakes. I brought you one.” Eric surprises me. He saddles up behind me so silently sometimes.
I take the cupcake from him, trying desperately not to touch his fingers, “Thank you.”
“You’re quite welcome!” He pirouettes back towards his desk. A smile lighting up his face.
I try to not roll my eyes, but sometimes it’s just so difficult. I place the cupcake next to the monitor and continue reading through the Fellows’ File.
“Denis?” Eric’s nasally voice breaks through.
“Yes?” I ask, keeping my eyes roving through Daphne Fellows’ file. She’s quite rich.
“I was wondering,” He clears his throat, obviously bothered, “If you would be interested in getting drinks tonight at Marcella’s.”
My eyes stop roving the screen. I’m certain my heart has stopped too. I turn to look at him. I actually turn completely around in my chair.
Taking a few moments to meet his eyes and gather my words I finally say, “Thank you for the invite, Eric. But I’m afraid I would not be.”
“Would not be interested?” Eric’s hopeful blue eyes scan my own.
“Correct.” I provide a sad smile of my own, knowing what it’s like to be on the other side of this conversation.
“Oh.” He turns away slightly.
“But.” He continues. I sigh. He cringes, “It’s because you’re seeing Daniel right?”
I nearly laugh. “No. No, I’m not seeing Daniel. I am seeing someone, but it’s not Daniel.”
“Oh. Who?” Eric’s shoulder’s slump.
I turn to my computer as I speak, “Linda. You don’t know her. She’s my girlfriend. We’ve actually been together four years.”
Silence greets my back. Then Eric sputters, “I’m sorry. Your girlfriend? Who do you think I am? Some idiot weirdo? You don’t have to turn me down and disrespect me, Denis!”
I turn around in shock. Eric never raises his voice. “I mean no disrespect, Eric. What I said was true.”
Eric stands up to stand over me at my desk. “Your girlfriend? Your girlfriend -“
“Yes.” I stand up. Our bodies are touching, but neither one of us is willing to back down, “My girlfriend. Don’t yell at me because of your ignorance. I enjoy wearing lipstick, earrings, pearls and dresses. Yes, even dresses. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still enjoy my time spent with the fairer sex.”
I sit back down as meaning comes dawning over Eric’s face. He slowly turns towards his desk.
“I didn’t – .” He says. I can hear him shaking his head, his bangs beating against his forehead, “I still don’t understand.”
“I’m a transvestite. All that means is that while I enjoy dressing like a woman, I also enjoy being with a woman.” I explain, meeting his eyes again and offering a smile.
He nods several times and swallows deeply, “Okay.” He chokes, “Okay.”
He sits back down and goes back to his work not bothering to look at me.
I sigh and pick up my cupcake. Red velvet. My favorite.
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