I’ve worked at a lingerie store for six years. While most of my customers are cunts, I do have a special place in my heart for one particular brand of panty-mongers: drag queens. When one steps in, usually draped in sequins and satin and wearing enough perfume to stun a horse, it’s as though real royalty has entered the premises. The crowd parts for her, children gasp and have uncomfortable conversations with their parents later, and horses, as previously mentioned, pass out. I imagine it’s like when the queen visits commoners in England, only she doesn’t have to work so hard to hide her dick bulge. Drag queens never try anything on. They buy a mound of trashy lingerie, then skip away gleefully with their little pink bag. No muss, no fuss. Of course, sometimes, they return items they’ve tried on. I just “forget” their sweaty junk was crammed up against a panty’s crotch and passive-aggressively sell the undies to the next entitled bitch I meet. And I meet a lot of entitled bitches. Side note: ladies, always wash your underwear after you buy it, because most salesgirls are vindictive and underpaid. I instantly knew Michael was not your average drag queen. There was no entourage yelling, “You go, girl!” to him at regular intervals. Huffy women in sweater sets weren’t trying to condemn him to hell with their eyes. He didn’t have a single rhinestone anywhere on his person, at least not that I could tell.Michael was pudgy and pasty, with stringy hair tied back into a ponytail. His stubble-covered face was coated in ashy makeup, and he wore sloppy jeans and a t-shirt. But by night, he explained somewhat bashfully, he was a fabulous drag queen. By day, as evidenced by the half-empty bottle of Jack in his shopping bag, he was really, really sloshed. Michael asked me over and over again if I thought he was a pretty girl. Now, come on; if I’ve learned anything from the educational series RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I’m certain I have, it’s that a real queen needs confidence, and also an excellent wig. Regardless, I wanted to sell him some of the trashy shit that is designed specifically for drag queens and fat women in Alabama. I assured him he was beautiful, pancake makeup and all. Michael slurred that he was starring in an all drag queen revue of Chicago at a local gay bar, and he was playing Velma Kelly. He got increasingly excited as he discussed his upcoming performance. “I do the Cell Block Tango. Want to see?” he asked eagerly. Before I could answer, he flashed me a grin and jumped onto one of our display tables, fucking up all of our carefully stacked underwear. He began to sing at the top of his lungs.All around him, customers went silent, watching with varying degrees of horror and glee, as this drunkard started his own stumbling one-man kick line atop the table. We couldn’t take our eyes off of him; as he got to the climax of the song, he bent down to lick the table, then gracefully slipped on a silk panty, fell, and broke his leg in three places. As the paramedics arrived to take him away, my managers fretted about lawsuits, and the rest of the staff scrambled to straighten out the underwear and wipe up any lingering drag queen blood. On the stretcher, he looked up at me with a boozy smile. “I’m a star!” he cried. In honor of all the really cool drag queens I’d helped through the years, I pushed a lacy black thong into his hand. He winked at me; it was our little secret. It took an hour for us to realize he’d had a secret, too: he threw up multiple times behind the cash wrap when we weren’t looking. Retail is the greatest!
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