By Hellen Back
Ms. Back is a performer, originally from Santa Cruz, who now makes their home in Portland. She has kindly agreed to share recollections from her life, in and out of drag.
Quetzalcoatl. Do you know him? Yes, darlings, I had a few dates with him. So here’s one from the annals of my dating file. Although “anals” may ring truer, but not in the way you think.
A number of years ago I decided I wanted to begin dating again and meet a nice guy and get back into a serious, monogamous relationship. Good luck with that one, right? So I put up a profile on one of those so-called dating sites.
There were a number of men who caught my eye, but one stood out as rather special. He was middle-aged, a bit of silver coming through, and very attractive. He had posted a number of photos and I noticed that he was rather nicely dressed in each one. A tuxedo here, a lovely suit there, and very California “dressy casual” in the others.
Why Was He Still Single?
I’ll admit, cars are a weakness of mine, and in some photos he was leaning against VERY expensive cars. He also had shots of him standing in front of his home. A place which resembled the house from the TV show Dynasty, a show I was obsessed with at one time. So much so I dressed up as Alexis Carrington one fateful Halloween. Money means squat to me, but he was handsome and stylish. I wondered though…why was he still single?
After a few emails back and forth we met at a lovely restaurant in Los Gatos which is a charming community of ultra-expensive homes populated by very thin white women who shop incessantly. They occasionally stop briefly for a surgical procedure or to judge someone over martinis with olives, the only thing they can eat in public. Their husbands appear sporadically to announce how much their homes cost and compare portfolios. Because comparing penises would be just futile and sad, unless you live in Boston.
All Tied Up in Silk
My date arrived with a gorgeous bouquet that he had made himself for me. It was a perfect combination of colors and textures, hand wrapped in silk ribbon. He was as handsome as his photos if not more, and a fascinating conversationalist. After picking up the tab for dinner he walked me to my car, kissed me rather passionately, complimented me repeatedly, and drove off in his Rolls convertible. I went home that evening and began packing for my honeymoon. “Most of these clothes will have to go,” I thought to myself. “Well that’s OK. I’ll get a completely new wardrobe very soon!”
A few nights later I invited him up to my place for dinner. He complimented my collection of antiques, my uplighting, my style and even my cat…he had me at the cat! Well, the Rolls helped, you know.
I’m a fabulous cook so I pulled out all the stops. He was impressed, which was what I hoped. He complimented me even more and between bites gave me small, sweet kisses.
“Hmm,” I thought to myself. “I’ll need to get rid of most of these black clothes and focus more on navy and khaki…possibly pastels.
I winced at the very thought, but what I was ready to sacrifice for love. “L’amore, l’amore!” the countess says in 1939’s The Women. Everything was going perfectly.
The Conversation Turned to Travel
We had both traveled the world extensively. We regaled each other with lovely stories of drinks at the top of the Spanish Steps overlooking Rome at Sunset, of people watching from a Parisian cafe. I shared my love for the views across the jungle treetops from high atop a Mayan pyramid.
And that’s when it happened. I was babbling away about the Mayans, their art, culture, religion, etc, when suddenly he turned on me. He just completely snapped, and became VERY aggravated.
“Stop talking this instant! Don’t ever speak of that! Never, EVER,” he yelled at me. I sat there stunned, “What had I said to upset him?” My mind reeled, I couldn’t quite grasp what was going on.
Still angry and shaking, he explained that his travels to places like Machu pichu, Tikal, Easter Island etc. were necessary because these were the chakras of the planet.
“Chakras of the planet,” I may or may not have whispered aloud.
“OK, sure, what the hell I’ll play along. The planet has chakras, fine, whatever,” I don’t think I said aloud.
He said that he would go there to meditate on the chakras…fine, dandy. “Have a fuckin’ ball,” I thought. “When we’re married he could go and meditate his ass off. I’ll be back at the hotel poolside making eyes at the cabana boy, telling him how my husband is always off meditating on chakras and how alone I am…and could I have just one more vodka stinger please?”
As if his chakra world tour wasn’t weird enough things were about to get a whole lot weirder; weirder on a scale I’d never imagine coming from a man with a Rolls and a tuxedo. It turns out that he did his chakra-hopping because the only thing holding our entire planet together was his meditating at these sacred locations.
And why may you ask, what was it that made him so special as to be the one that holds our third rock from the sun together? Well that’s simple, really, once he explained. It’s because he was the reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl the Aztec deity. I included a wiki link in case you missed that in Comparative Religions 101. Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent…well, well, well, well, WELL SHIT!
My Feathered Friend
“He’s crazy as a shithouse rat,” I thought, seeing how deranged yet sincere he was. There was no reason to give up on an “us.” I could deal with his little…quirk. I mean, some people are superstitious, so they avoid the number 13 or wearing hats indoors. If they are religious–some people are snake handlers for Jesus. Some people, namely this one believed they are a reincarnated Mesoamerican snake-diety; with plumes.
So, yeah sure. That’s what it was: “a quirk.” Nobody’s perfect. I could deal with that, “So, he thinks he’s a deity,” I imagined myself telling the well-heeled women of Los Gatos in between boutiques and over martinis. “Well shit, most guys think they’re God, I could put up with this. I mean, what the hell?”
I decided to find it charming. I pressed on and, being fairly well-schooled in pagan religions and being pagan myself, I began chatting away about something or other regarding my new feathered-friend Quetzalcoatl and BAM! He lost it again “Stop it! STOP IT! STOP IT,” he screamed at me. “Stop or I’ll start losing blood again!”
“Wait, loose blood?”
This was definitely getting weirder when I really hadn’t thought that possible. “Yes,” he continued. “Lose blood! If I talk about my being Quetzalcoatl my stigmata acts up!”
Well, fuck! I’ve had my share of interesting dinner dates and guests but this one had stigmata! A raging looney this one!
“Excuse me dear,” I asked. “Did you say stigmata?”
“YES, STIGMATA,” he screamed out much to the amusement and perhaps confusion of my neighbors.
“Well,” I quipped realizing that he was mad as a fucking hatter and that my dreams of the two of us driving off into the sunset in his lovely Cornish convertible had just flown out my window on the wings of a feathered serpent. But not just any ol’feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl at that!
“That’s ok dear. Don’t worry these are tile floors.”
“Don’t laugh at me,” he screeched out, and I half-expected him to start sprouting feathers and/or bleeding.
“The last time this happened I lost six pints of blood!”
Hmm, really I thought to myself, don’t we only have about six pints in us? I was curious now, having been raised in the Church of Rome and regaled as a child with stories of Padre Pio and other saints or mystics who–being so lofty and above us all–had lived with such Catholic piety and were so very close to God that He bestowed upon them the gift of spontaneous bleeding and…excruciating pain. Catholics, gotta love’m, they think that shit’s a gift.
“So you mean you have actual stigmata where you bleed from the five wounds of Christ? Both hands, feet and the side of your ribcage where the Roman soldiers spear slashed Jesus as–err, you um, as He–hung from the cross?”
He paused, I can only assume for dramatic effect.
A Very Different Kind of Stigmata
“No, from my anus,” he screamed, as if he were shocked I needed clarification.
I had nothing to say, although I did wonder if my neighbors were still listening in to this or if they lost interest after thinking it was just a regular, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety stigmata at my table. I just looked at him blankly.
“You don’t believe me,” he fumed. “You’re mocking me, you think I’m making this all up don’t you?”
That’s when I put the nail in the coffin of my hopes and dreams of my handsome, though “quirky” husband to be. Back to Neiman’s went my new WASP-apropos wardrobe. Our “his-and-his” matching Rolls never to leave the lot. And, no hopes of martinis with the Los Gatos chatelaines who couldn’t laugh lest they popped a stitch.
“Ya’know,” I offered. “That just doesn’t sound like a good old-fashioned traditional Church of Rome stigmata to me. Are you sure that was stigmata and maybe you just didn’t get your crazy, lunatic ass fucked off somewhere?”
My Rolls, His Rolls, Rolled Away
Well, that did it. He stomped off furiously, all-the-while screaming obscenities. Which I personally feel seemed quite out of character and unbecoming for a deity. My Quetzalcoatl jumped into his coco brown Rolls, the very one that would have looked absolutely lovely parked next to my matching Rolls in fawn gold. I sighed to myself, as he burnt rubber outta there while giving me the finger. For a deity he really could be quite vulgar, tuxedo or not.
Since that evening I’ve gone on a number of dates, none of them quite as interesting to be sure, but all of them just as disappointing. Oh well, such is the single and dating world, right? I mean who amongst us hasn’t dated the occasional deity? Not you? Surely you jest.
Anyway, that’s the true story of how I almost became Mrs. Quetzalcoatl…I thought the name had kind of had a nice ring to it, but then again I guess it would have eventually gotten tiring having to spell and respell that name over and over every time I made dinner reservations. I doubt eating Mexican out again would have ever been possible.
“Yes, Q-U-E-T-Z…yes, that’s it. Oh, and by the way, could we have some extra napkins please. Yes, lots of extra napkins, just in case of the occasional stigmata.”