February 1997
s m u g
bumping uglies
by Todd Levin


"Shemp?! Me too!" Somebody pinch me; I was dreaming. Here was a woman, a very tall, very sexy woman with an uncharacteristically square jaw, who not only had a great stereo system, and could drink me under the table, but also shared my appreciation of vintage slapstick and farcical comedy. I have truly won the lottery, I thought, as she slid in behind me and started working my shoulders over with a fierce and deep (and crushing, I must admit) massage. We met, totally by chance, at a goodwill thrift store, fighting over some gorgeous LeRoy Neiman prints. It was magic. We decided to go out for a couple of drinks, where I got my ass handed to me in a couple of games of nine ball, and we eventually climbed into her beat up utility vehicle, retreated back to her spartan but tastefully arranged apartment, and talked until sunrise, arguing about typical twilight nonsense like whether Green Hornet or Green Lantern would win in a cage match (she actually suggested that Mean Joe Greene would kick both their asses, to which I silently acquiesced). She even asked to try on my Members Only jacket (OK. I have a silent bet with a friend that I can find a way to plug Members Only in 90% of everything I write, including inter-office memos and love letters. Truth be told, I don't even own a Members Only jacket but I am accepting donations at letigre@smug.com). God, it was so nice to meet a woman with whom I was so instantly comfortable. It was great to toss aside the usual head games that occur with the opposite sex. It was actually kind of like hanging out with one of the guys.

It was like hanging out with one of the guys. I repeated this in my head a couple of times as she continued to completely decimate the knots of stress in my shoulders.

Oh shit. I had to ask.

"Excuse me, Samantha, I don't mean to set you off or anything, and please don't take this the wrong way but if just occurred to me to ask: were you ever a guy?"

Samantha looked me straight in my favorite eye, deeply concerned, and after a very dramatic pause she daintily removed the chewing tobacco from her mouth, wadded it up in a tissue the way only a beautiful woman can, and said, "Labels!"

I left without even putting on my Members Only jacket and ran home 37 miles without stopping, except once to pick up a bottle of Listerine and an Economy sized box of steel wool pads.

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me. I meet a really wonderful woman at a thrift store, lumber yard, bait shop, or gay bar, we hit it off instantly and then, just when I think this is the real thing and I am ready to open a joint checking account, I find out she used to be a man. I just don't get it. I went so far as to see an allergist to determine whether I give off some kind of a rare pheromone which causes trannies to descend on me like so much fresh carrion.

In the interest of the reader who may share my plight as a post-op sex magnet, I have taken the trouble of recording a few telltale signs that the woman you are dating may in fact be trans-gendered. Trust me. I have been burned many times and can say with a straight face that I speak from acquired wisdom.

(FYI: this article is soundtrack optional. I know SMUG is no fancy-pants showoff magazine with cheap thrills and high-tech streaming audiophonics gadgetry, but if you care to and can get your hands on it, I think now would be the time to slip a copy of "Brick House" into your CD-ROM. I think it will really punch up the experience of reading this article.)

Number One: Does she have a better home entertainment system than you do? This may seem an arbitrary and unfair litmus test for transexuality, but I assure you that it has a surprisingly high success rate. One time, I picked up this gorgeous woman at a Division Two Singapore rules cockfighting competition at a Chinatown YMCA. I saw the blood in her eyes, the passion for sport, and I was smitten. (In all the excitement, I neglected to pick up my winnings when El Diablo valiantly pecked out the eyes of El Guapo for a technical victory and then, to the crowd's astonishment, proceeded to liberate three Dominicans of twenty dollars each by whipping them in consecutive games of tic-tac-toe -- the third game in an astounding five moves!) Later that evening, when she took me back to her place in the Meat Packing district of Manhattan and sat me down in a special chair so I could feel the center channel speaker of her THX Surround-Sound Home Theater pummel me with a sonic hailstorm, I immediately bolted out of my seat, put down the can of Schaeffer's she was kind enough to offer me, and was out of there faster than you can say "Polycarbonate Dome Tweeter."

Additionally, it is a safe assumption to make that you are about to have marital relations with a woman who leaves the seat up if, upon scouring through her CD collection while she is out of the room, you discover albums by any of the following artists: Rush, John Cage, Weird Al, Peggy Lee, Hawkwind, Wendy Carlos, or the Soundtrack from Conan the Destroyer. If there are a few Indigo Girls or Joni Mitchell albums shuffled amongst the art rock and atonal jazz, I would write this off as nothing more than a crafty smoke screen.

Number Two: I have taken the trouble of using even more advanced methods of post-op authentication in my own dating partners as I have been scorched so many times. For instance, I have found that by analyzing a woman's name, you can often determine whether her gender has been falsified/altered. This works particularly well if her name sounds like it was derived from a masculine name and carefully cross-gendered to sound a bit more feminine. Some examples of female names that should draw suspicion (these have all been culled from first-hand experience) are as follows:

Michael (pronounced "Mee-shell")
Glenn Close

Number Three: Finally (and this one is so obvious we tend to overlook it), ask yourself: Does she have a penis? If you notice that she has a penis or you catch her saying things like, "Man, does my penis itch!," or "I really hate it when my penis gets caught in my zipper" or especially, "Listen, you little fucking freak. I'm going to tell you this just once more: I'm a fucking guy. I have a wife. I have kids. I have a penis that I generally reserve for urinating and having sex with my wife. If you don't stop calling me 'foxy lady' and trying to pinch my ass, I'm going to lay you out right here in front of all of these other Star Trek Convention attendees, peckerhead!!" smart money says that she is or was at one time a guy and she's trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Don't buy it, Bo Peep. Stop, drop and roll.

Other things to look for as you're rummaging through her personal affects: beef jerky, Eagle badge, sanitary napkins dating back to the seventies (if there's a picture of a woman in hip huggers and Dr. Scholl's on the box, these feminine hygiene essentials are there just to throw off the scent), Stay-Hard cream, a cable TV descrambler box, Three Stooges commemorative plates, and a full beard and moustache combo (it is essential that she has a combination of both; do not jump to conclusions if she sports one or the other). If you discover any or all of these things (and trust me, I have discovered all of them at one time or another, usually the hard way), chances are excellent that she asked for a Barbie Dream Boat for her sixth birthday but got a Hess Truck anyway.

I am aware that some folks prefer the adventure of intimacy with puppy dog tails wrapped up like sugar and spice, but for those of you who are vulnerable to near life-altering cases of mistaken sexual identity, I hope there was a lesson for you in here somewhere. As for me, I have been snagged for the last time and learned all the lessons I have needed to learn, often with persistent burning sensations. You live and you learn and I at least have the luxury of regularly meeting wonderful, kind, and artistically inclined women. In fact, as I write this my thoughts turn to my new girlfriend, who happens to be an artiste, as the French are wont to say. We have been seeing each other for quite a while now and I think she may actually be the one. We met at a musical performance -- well, more of a cabaret-style variety show, I suppose -- where she was performing and we have been inseparable ever since. It's kind of scary actually, when I think about how hard I fell for her, but she is honestly everything I have ever wanted in a woman. Smart, interesting (she is a performer, after all!), tall, gorgeous. In fact, she looks just like a young Diana Ross -- which may be more than a coincidence, since she performs an enchanting medley of Miss Ross' songs each Saturday night in the cabaret and I must say she has caused quite a sensation with the other gentlemen attending the performances. I can truly feel their jealousy from across the room, to tell you the truth, but I know in my heart she's all woman and she's all mine, gents. Watch and Wish, I say. You might even get what you've wished for (providing you do your wishing in off-peak wishing hours).


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