Friday, October 30, 2015


I suppose I could have had a wild party the weekend that my parents went away and left me home alone. Most teenagers who have an empty house to themselves would do that. Wild parties, however, weren’t my style. My idea of the most outrageously fun thing to do? I decided to cook a gourmet dinner for a couple of friends. Little did I suspect that alcohol and murder were afoot.
As for the virginity part of this title, let’s clear that up right now. Yes, I was, and so were my guests, but our dearth of sexual experience had absolutely nothing to do with the ensuing story. The virgin in question was not even a person. It was an appliance. A brand-new stove had been delivered to our house shortly after my parents’ departure. Nobody had ever cooked on it before. 
The stove was a virgin.
(Keep reading. I promise that this isn’t a cooking blog, and eventually you will get to the alcohol and murder bits.)
My father was a minister, my upbringing was strict, and my girlhood had been sheltered and naïve—well, up until the weekend in question, anyway. The year was 1965. I was a senior in high school, and I loved to cook! I couldn’t wait to break in the untouched stove; thus my decision to create an elegant feast.
The two friends I invited to join me for this splendid dinner were juniors in high school who were a year younger than me: clean-cut Janet, and even cleaner-cut Fred (not their real names). (Since those are not their real names, you know that trouble lurks ahead!) Fred, an excellent musician, was one of my piano students, for I was an accomplished pianist even in high school. This will be important later on in the story.

We planned to feast by candlelight. I felt incredibly sophisticated. The April night air hinted at romance, a perfect setting for our elegant dinner. Roast beef was the main course, for I was not a vegetarian in those days. It was the first roast I had ever baked.
As I removed the baking pan from the new oven, Janet lit the candles, and I carved the meat in the flickering candlelight. The meal was a superb, if cholesterol-laden, experience, and the three of us agreed that it was the best roast beef any of us had ever eaten.
Much later, when I turned on the lights in the kitchen, I saw to my astonishment that the roast was nearly raw. To say that I had cooked it would be a gross misstatement. We hadn’t known the meat was raw when we ate it in the dim light of the candles, however, and it had tasted fantastic.
Who knows? Perhaps our wicked scheme was provoked by the pagan stimulus of the bloody meat…or maybe it came about simply because we were three high school kids enjoying a rare evening without adult supervision.
We decided (hold onto your hats) to hike down the road so that I could buy some beer for us to drink.

I’d never had even a taste of beer in my life. My mother and father (the minister, remember?) were vehement teetotalers who believed that drinking alcohol was sinful. A lot of their prejudices are still imprinted on my hard drive. To this day, walking into a bar or a liquor store makes me feel slightly squalid and icky, the way most people feel about strolling into a porno movie or a so-called “adult” store.
I had just turned 18, and we lived in New York state where, in those days, it was legal for an 18-year-old to purchase and drink alcohol. Fred and Janet encouraged this scheme joyously, as they both had some experience with beer and were eager to imbibe.
The nearest place I could buy the beer was a little country store about two miles down the road. Fred, Janet and I would have to walk there. The store was located right next door to my father’s church office. After I purchased the beer, we planned to drink it along the side of the highway as we walked back home. The thought of doing this made me feel deliciously dangerous and wild.

It was not an uncommon sight in the 60s to see certain teenaged types walking along the roadside, swilling down alcohol. Very few of us had cars back then, so we walked on foot a lot more than kids today. The teens who drank on the sides of highways were not the nice kids. They were not part of my crowd. They were the tough kids. We called the tough kids hoods.
This is a "hood."
There were clear demarcations dividing the “nice” kids from the hoods. You could easily tell who belonged to which group by their appearance.
Take the guys. While nice guys had regular haircuts, hood boys wore their hair in a highly-greased and distinct style: on the tops of their heads they either hosted stiff flattops, like little spiky patches of newly mown grass, or exaggerated pompadours, while the sides of their hair were longer and were slicked back to form what we called a DA. The initials DA stood for duck’s ass, which in more polite circles was called a ducktail
The uniform of the hood guys consisted of very tight black pants, button-down dress shirts, and white socks with loafers.
Actually, okay, that was the uniform of the nice guys, too. Except nice guys tended to wear more plaid and V-neck sweaters and mock turtlenecks, along with pocket protectors so that their ballpoint pens wouldn’t leak ink through their shirt pockets. Also, their pants weren’t as tight.
Jeans were against the school dress code. Nobody wore them unless they were washing a car. And since practically nobody had a car, jeans were hardly ever seen.
Here’s what the hood girls wore: tight blouses or sweaters, and tight straight skirts that were so short they almost revealed the girls’ knees! Showing one’s knees was a pretty racy thing to do, but the hood girls were always shoving up against the boundaries of good taste. It would be another year or two before the mini-skirt burst onto the fashion scene, and even longer before girls were allowed to wear slacks to school.
Most teenaged girls of my generation, including nice girls, liked to line their eyes with black eyeliner, a-la Elizabeth Taylor in the movie Cleopatra. Even I did that! Hood girls did, too, but of course they overdid it and applied their eyeliner far too heavily. Their faces were plastered with globs of pancake makeup in pinkish-orange tones that rarely matched their skin tone (or anyone’s skin tone), topped off with smears of nearly white, ghoulish lipstick.

We liked our eyeliner in the 1960s!

While many of us sported some variation of a hairdo called the beehive, hood girls once again overdid it. They spent hours in the girls’ bathroom at school ratting their hair obsessively into massive, ludicrous beehives reminiscent of the wigs worn in the court of Louis XVI (but without the social status, of course); they possessed special long-tailed plastic combs for the task.

Now, that's a beehive!
School bathrooms were the domain of the hoods. All hoods, male and female, smoked in the school bathrooms. And, of course, they walked down the sides of the highways at night drinking beer, as Fred and Janet and I were planning to do on our exhilarating spree.
Only a few scattered houses sat along the stretch of highway we traversed, and there were no streetlights or sidewalks, so we had to fend our way through the scrabbly weeds on the side of the dark road. We were exhausted and cranky by the time we arrived at the store, for it had become a depressingly damp and chilly night, the way spring nights can sometimes get, and our destination turned out to be a lot further away than we had thought. The store was housed in a run-down, dismal wooden building, the closest thing to a convenience store that we had in the 1960s.
My spirits, however, were slightly boosted by the scenario to follow. Janet and Fred, being younger, decided that it would be best if they waited for me outside the store, lurking in the shadows, while I sauntered in ever so casually to buy a six-pack of beer. A six-pack! Wow, did that ever sound tough to me! I was excited. This was a big deal.
“Just go and buy the beer, please,” said Fred. “Hurry. I’m cold.”
I entered the store as nonchalantly as I could, but the moment I stepped over the threshold, I was seized with a self-conscious panic. Maybe you have to grow up in a strict, religious family that prides itself on its abstention from alcohol to understand the extent of my panic. It was one of those panics that builds on itself: the more panicked I realized I was, the more panicked I became. The grumpy owner, sitting behind a counter, shifted his attention from his newspaper and squinted at me with what was clearly a disgusted look as I trod, footstep by noisy footstep, over the wooden-plank floors.
Where did they keep the beer? Could he see how nervous I was? Would my hands shake when I paid for the evil brew?
My mind began to spin more anxiously. When it came time to purchase the beer, the guy would undoubtedly ask to see my driver’s license. Naturally, he would notice that my last name was the same as my father’s. The minister. Whose office was next door! Oh dear, why hadn’t I thought of this before! The next time he saw my father, the surly shopkeeper would doubtlessly say, “Hello there, Reverend. I saw your daughter this weekend. She bought a six-pack of beer.”
What would I say to my father when he confronted me with this information? How could I explain? Why hadn’t this thought occurred to me before we set out on our quest? Like many other people of my generation, I was more terrified of my father’s wrath than just about anything. Fathers could be more wrathful in the 60s than they are allowed to be today.
My heart began to pound in horror at this imagined confrontation, as though it were banging frantically on the inside of my chest, begging to be let out. Trapped in a mounting state of self-consciousness, I found it curiously difficult to move, not unlike a cornered rabbit. My legs felt as though they were partially paralyzed.
‘C'mon. Get a hold of yourself,’ I thought. ‘Act like you’re just looking around.’
Breathing deeply, I shuffled stiffly over to the shampoo section, where I stood pretending to survey the various products as I composed myself. The store owner continued to watch me with a taut frown.
What was wrong with that man? Hadn’t he ever had anybody else in his store who was intensely interested in hair products?
And where, oh where, did they keep the beer? As I fingered the bottles of Breck and Prell shampoo, I glanced covertly around at the shelves and aisles. I didn’t spot any beer. Meanwhile, the store owner’s x-ray eyes were peering critically at me, watching every move I made.
Finally I snatched a bottle of cream rinse from the shelf. (Cream rinse was the name we used for what is now called conditioner.) Like a criminal hoping to appear normal, I felt that I would appear more innocent if I bought something unrelated to booze. I strolled toward the counter.
“Is that it?” the man demanded loudly. His voice made me jump. He sounded like he was yelling at me.
“No,” I gulped, flushing. “Do you have…um…any…um…”
Looking around frantically, I suddenly spotted something miraculous. I was saved! Right next to me, within arm’s reach even, stood a gleaming bottle of daiquiris! The sight made me giddier than a nun spotting a portrait of Jesus in her scrambled eggs!
I’d heard of daiquiris. They had alcohol in them. They drank daiquiris in the movies. There was a frosty picture on the label of the bottle showing an elegant cocktail glass brimming with the heady, tempting, frothy drink! How elegant it looked!

I made a fast decision. I would buy the daiquiris instead of beer. Surely Janet and Fred would rather sip on daiquiris than cans of beer! I knew that I would. Daiquiris were much more romantic. What a lucky find!
Rejoicing, I snatched up the bottle, steeled my nerves and turned back to the counter. To my delighted surprise, the guy never even asked to see my license. As soon as he had taken my money and put the cream rinse and daiquiri bottle into a brown paper sack, he returned to reading his newspaper. My luck was changing, and fast!
I emerged from the store triumphantly. As the screen door banged shut behind me, Fred stepped out of the shadows.
“My god, it took you long enough,” he exclaimed, his voice curdling with annoyance. Janet just huddled against the cold.
Triumphantly, I thrust the bag at her and watched as she uncrossed her arms and took it from me. First she pulled out the bottle of cream rinse. She held it up, staring at it blankly. It was pink.
“Cream rinse?” she said finally, her voice expressionless. “You got us cream rinse?”
“No, no, no,” I giggled, “that was just a decoy.”
Janet and Fred looked at me, not understanding. Both of them came from families who drank.
“So where’s the six-pack?” asked Fred.
“I got us something much better!” I crowed. “It’s in the bag. See for yourself.”
As Janet pulled out the bottle of daiquiris, I chortled with satisfaction.
Fred gazed at the bottle, dumbfounded. “I thought you were going to buy beer,” he said.
“But wouldn’t you rather have a daiquiri?” I replied gleefully. Sticking out my pinky, I pantomimed sipping from an imaginary cocktail glass.
Fred looked at me with astonishment, and then stepped closer. My piano student wasn’t smiling, and he was not making me feel comfortable. Carefully enunciating each word as though I were a very young child, he said, “You bought a bottle of daiquiri mix.”
“Yes,” I grinned, jiggling my feet around in a little happy dance. “Cocktails!” I pantomimed sipping again.
“No. Cocktail mix,” he repeated. “You got cocktail mix. Didn’t you know there’s no alcohol in cocktail mix? It’s just juice! You bought us juice.”
It took a minute for this to register. My happy dance stopped. All that effort had been for nothing. I couldn’t even mumble an apology.
With a disgusted tsk, Fred turned on his heel and stomped towards the store.
“Hey, where’re you going?” I called meekly.
He didn’t answer, and disappeared behind the screen door. Janet handed me back the cream rinse and stood there miserably, banging her arms across her body in an effort to get warm. She avoided eye contact with me.
Moments later Fred returned. He was holding a six-pack of Schlitz beer.
“Can we please go now?” sighed Janet. “It’s a long way back. I’m tired.”
“You’re only 17. How did you buy beer?” I asked Fred as we began heading back down the highway.
“They don’t care,” he said. “Don’t make such a big production out of it. It’s just beer, for god’s sake.”
I ignored their churlishness. It had been an awkward quest, but at last we were finally there! We were walking down the highway, being tough. Acting like hoods! I wished I had thought to put on a little more eyeliner.
The Schlitz beer had a brand-new device on it called a pull tab so that you could drink from the can without using a can opener. I had never used a pull tab before and didn’t know how. Fred had to open mine for me. Taking my newly opened can of beer from him eagerly, I took a quick swallow…and immediately winced. It tasted horrible! It was sour and bitter and sharp, like carbonated old dishwater with a tin-can pungency thrown in for good measure. This was what beer tasted like?
Maybe I was wrong. I took another sip. It was even worse than the first.
I couldn’t drink any more, and handed my can over to Fred. We continued our walk, shivering and kicking at weeds. Janet and Fred swigged on their beers in silence. There was nothing even remotely romantic about this.
“Damn,” I said, hoping that maybe swearing would help make me feel tough. It didn’t work.
Janet finished her beer only a short distance from my home, and handed me the empty can. Rather than carry it back, I tossed it onto the edge of the road. Like something a hood would do.

Aside: At that exact moment we were walking past the house of a high-school friend of mine from band who had a younger brother. 

Me in H.S. band with, yes, my bassoon, not looking especially cheerful.
This younger brother of hers was cute, but he was just a kid, so I never bothered to get to know him.
I think my friend became a psychiatrist. I’m not sure. I am sure about what happened to her brother, though. He became the head of a major film studio and for years was considered to be one of The Most Important People in the movie industry. As the author of several unproduced screenplays, I have more than once regretted the fact that I did not cultivate a relationship with this little brother person when I had the opportunity…but hey, who ever pays attention to their friends’ kid brothers, cute or not? Sigh.

So I tossed away the beer can. In those days littering was not illegal. It would be half a year before Ladybird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Act. There were not yet any national campaigns to clean up litter, and few people saw much of anything wrong with throwing an empty can onto the side of the road—few, that is, except for my parents, who were outspoken opponents of the sad stretches of garbage which used to line our nation’s highways and parks and campgrounds. Our family took pride in cleaning up litter. They even had a motto! “Always leave a place better than you found it,” they would say as they cheerfully went about cleaning up debris from picnic sites, and national monuments, and…well, you get it.
Throwing that beer can into the bushes was a supreme act of rebellion. I expected to get a little buzz from it. I didn’t. As soon as I threw the beer can away, I felt lousy about it. I feel lousy about it to this day…that, and not getting to know the little brother occupying the house behind the bushes where I threw it.

Our party was deflated, and as soon as we got back to the parsonage, Fred and Janet left. Wearily, I brought the leftovers of my elegant dinner back into the kitchen and turned on the overhead fluorescent light. It was then that I saw that that the roast which we had eaten so rapaciously was bright red, with trickles of scarlet blood still oozing out of its sides.
As a vegetarian, I am shy about admitting this sordid aspect of my past, but thanks to that night, I developed a taste for very rare beef that stayed with me for the remainder of my meat-eating years. Sometimes I would even consume raw beef in the form of beef tartar...and I liked it.
I have, however, never acquired a taste for beer.

A year after our failed attempt to be hoods, when I was a college freshman, feeling much older and wiser (and no longer a virgin), I returned to my home town and visited Fred. Fred borrowed his father’s car and drove me to the beach, where we parked and talked and watched the ocean until it was past-due time for him to get the car back home.
Just before turning the key in the ignition, for some odd reason he kissed me. It took me by surprise. He looked at his watch, then at me, and kissed me again. And again. And again. We both liked it very much.
“Wow,” he exclaimed with regret as we drove back. “I never realized you were like this!
That was the last time I saw him. We said goodbye in a lusty daze, and I returned to college.
The next time I heard from Fred, I was in my 20s. He wrote me a letter. In it, he said that because of the musical coaching and encouragement I had given him, he was now traveling across the country on a nation-wide concert tour. He enclosed a program together with the glowing, ecstatic letter, in which he stated,  “Everything I am today I owe to you.”
Not long afterwards, so I am told, he got married. And murdered his wife. He shot her during an argument, and ended up in prison. I always hoped it wasn’t our spree of drinking beer on the highway that night that corrupted him.

© 2010 by M. E. Raines
Copying or reproducing in any form prohibited by law
Please feel free to link to this story


Saturday, April 25, 2015




That time I came in as a fruitfly, I recognized clearly that we’re all One. Humans don’t know this, but fruitflies do.

I’d landed on a banana peel in your kitchen, along with hundreds of my mates. I mean mates literally. Man, was I one horny fruitfly!

Then I saw that you were ready to squish me. As your thumb loomed over me, I screamed, “Don’t do that! We are the same! We are One!” I guess I wasn’t very articulate. You/I squished me anyway.

That was not fun. Next time, I'm coming back as a rattlesnake.

© 2015, M. E. Raines
For more stories by this author, please scroll down:; check "other posts" at the bottom of the page for still more!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

THE BEST APPLE EVER (A Very Short Story)

by Mary Elizabeth (Leach) Raines

It was the best apple ever. There can only be one, and this was it. Never before or since on earth would there be an apple so outstandingly, scrumptiously good.

Along with thousands of its lesser siblings, the apple got shipped to a supermarket, where some lucky guy picked it out of a bin. His mind was on things other than spectacular apples, though. It fell and he gave it a kick. The apple rolled against the refrigeration unit and lay there, bruised, until the produce manager found it and threw it away.

Sometimes I feel like that apple. 

© 2014, M. E. Raines
Copying or reproducing in any manner prohibited by law
Please feel free, however, to link to this story.

Thursday, December 18, 2014



For a while, I lived in Hollywood. During my time there, my dating life was almost non-existent. 

Here’s why:
  1. I was not thin.
  2. I was not blonde.
  3. I was not a member of the Academy.
  4. I was not rich.
  5. I had never had botox or lip plumper, and I possessed my original breasts.
  6. I was not bi-curious.
  7. My idea of doing drugs was to take an aspirin if I had a headache.

That said, I did become the focus of heightened sexual attention one night. It was, as they say, waaaay cool! I was at a party and my becoming an object of lust was completely accidental. It happened like this:

Sometimes by chance, everyone in a room stops talking at the same time and there is a space of awkward silence. We’ve all been there. At the party I was attending, just such a gap occurred—a surprise lull in the flow of chatter. All conversation suddenly dropped away.

Well, almost all. Except for mine. I happened to be making a comment to another party-goer at that very moment. As the other sounds ceased, my remarks were amplified, projected boisterously into the otherwise dead room.

Here’s what I said: “I can get really kinky.”

Everyone heard me.

My declaration was followed by several seconds of stunned silence—reverence, perhaps. (It being Hollywood and all.) Then it was as if someone had turned on the floodlights. In a flash, I became the object of intense and fascinated scrutiny by more than a few turned-on party-goers. I felt sexy! I felt desirable! By golly, it was fun.

They liked me. They REALLY liked me!
But it didn’t last long.

My short sweet burst of popularity came to an abrupt end when the truth about my purported kinkiness emerged. I had only been describing what happens to my hair when it’s humid outside.


Even though my love life was sparse in those years, it wasn’t totally devoid of romance. (For proof, see my previous post, The Movie Star Who Wanted Me.) Occasionally I even dated. Once, for instance, I met a man in a café, and we went out to a nightclub the next evening. He was a well-mannered and good-looking European man who held some promise, even if he was a tad dull…dull, that is, until the end of the evening, when he managed to turn the conversation to a new topic.

My would-be beau began telling me, with animation, about certain women he knew who enjoyed wearing dog collars. That's right. Dog collars. As he spoke, his pupils grew larger—and maybe other parts of him as well. There were some clear hints that he enjoyed being the one who held the leash.

I imagine he was looking for Ruff-Ruff sex.
My response was that I needed to go home (alone!) and do some drugs right away (please note what my propensity for drugs entailed in the introductory paragraph, #7).

Okay, so I was mostly dateless when I lived in Hollywood. I was, however, well entertained, for I lived in a strange little compound populated by movie and TV folk who were themselves somewhat kinky.

In this eccentric show-biz community, for instance, lived Gary, a cameraman from the original Twilight Zone series who wound up committing suicide by hanging himself; we found his body swinging from the rafters. But that’s a story for another day, and yeah, probably not the most shining example I could give of being entertained.

So, okay, another resident of our compound was Santa Claus. Well, actually it was an actor named Harry, but he looked exactly like Santa, with the requisite round tummy, twinkling eyes, snub nose, white beard and jolly laugh.
Harry had started out playing Falstaff in the theater, and had gone on to earn a modest living with bit parts on TV shows like Cheers, Knots Landing, Batman and Night Court. It was when he reached his senior years that Harry found the perfect niche. He became a professional Santa Claus, and enjoyed modest success playing Saint Nick in a number of movies, commercials and TV shows.

Not long after I’d moved into the compound, my landlord, Bob, and I were chatting one afternoon on the street in our favorite spot next to the garbage cans (more about that later), when Harry-aka-Santa came down the steps of his apartment. He walked over to a parked car, where a friend of his emerged.

Lo and behold, Harry’s friend was another Santa look-alike, right down to the cherubic smile and rosy cheeks! The two were the same height, the same heft, had the same white flowing hair and beards, and were even dressed in identical garb. Both wore purple t-shirts. I couldn’t tell one from the other! Confused, I looked at Bob.

“All the professional Santa Clauses in Hollywood know each other,” he said. "They belong to a club."

As I watched, the two Santys hugged. Their hug grew in intensity. They wrapped their chubby arms around each other in an embrace and, belly pressed against belly, gave one another an extremely generous and lengthy kiss. Full on the lips. My jaw dropped and I stood there by the garbage bins, dumbfounded.

Although it may have made my story spicier if I were able to relate having had an affair with Santa Claus, this was not to be. Harry, as it turns out, was quite gay. But at least I can say in all honesty that—hold onto your hats—I saw Santa kissing Santa Claus.

The aforementioned garbage bins from our complex were a favorite gathering place of ours. Whenever cops came into the neighborhood—frequently—or a movie star disembarked from a limo at the studio across the street—also frequently—we would stand by the garbage cans to stare or gossip or exchange greetings.

It was also a fantastic place to hunt for treasures. Most of them were contributed by Lotsa Lotty, a member of our community who had at one time been a famous stripper and porn star.

In her heyday, she’d possessed silicone breasts the size of human heads. Now, decades past her prime and flat-chested after a double mastectomy, she buzzed around the compound in her bathrobe, glasses and curlers, sweeping the sidewalk—for she was a compulsive cleaner—and chattering into her telephone headset.

As a newcomer to the compound, I’d become alarmed one day when I heard groans and screams coming from behind Lotty’s closed door. I ran to Berta, the former Broadway actress who lived across the patio, and breathlessly suggested that we should call 911 because Lotty was making funny noises.

Instead of responding to my panic, Berta sank back onto her divan—Berta spent most of her days reclining on her divan—and murmured, “Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Lotty really needs the money.” 

It turned out that Lotty, no longer in demand as a porn star, earned her living by doing phone sex. I grew accustomed to seeing her standing at her kitchen sink, ferociously scrubbing a frying pan and waving cheerfully at me through the open window, while crooning words into her headset like, “Oh yes, yes, whatever you want, baby…oooh, ahhh, it’s huge…

Back to the garbage bins. Even in retirement, Lotty often received gifts from her still-avid fans, for she had become a kind of cult figure. Her philosophy was easy-come/easy-go, and she despised clutter. Thus, whenever she grew tired of something, or if a gift wasn’t quite to her taste, she discarded it immediately, regardless of its worth. Lotty would even throw out expensive clothing when she got tired of it, despite the fact that she could have made a tidy amount of cash taking her used garb to a shop that specialized in reselling the clothing of former stars.

A person could find anything from designer pocketbooks to jewelry to appliances lying on top of our garbage cans, waiting for some enterprising scrounger—or me!—to give the unwanted stuff a new home.  

One day I noticed a hair dryer sitting on the garbage cans. It was a big hair dryer. I needed a hair dryer, and this one looked as good as new. Snatching it up, I took it home and tested it. It worked wonderfully and immediately joined my bathroom appliances.

It wasn’t until some weeks later that I had the opportunity to ask Lotty why she had thrown out a perfectly good hair dryer.

“Oh, it’s because of one of my phone-sex clients,” she said. “He likes to call me up and ask me to ‘do it’ with my hair dryer while he talks to me. One day he sent me a new hair dryer to use, so I threw out the old one…”

By association, my hair may be even kinkier than one would ever want to know.

(c) 2011, M. E. Raines
Copying or reproducing in any form prohibited. Please feel free to link to this article.

See Mary Elizabeth Raines' newly released novel, UNA, on Amazon

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


© 2014, M. E. Raines

“The hive of the honeybee centers around its queen. When the hive needs a new queen, the workers select several larvae from eggs that had been laid in the cells of the honeycomb by the previous queen. The  workers feed these larvae a special substance called royal jelly and the cells they inhabit are later sealed. Because of the royal jelly, the larvae in these particular cells will eventually turn into queen bees. 

“Upon hatching, the very first queen to emerge from her cell begins to make a high-pitched piping sound. She sings to her still-unhatched sisters. From within their cells, they sing back to her. Tracing the location of their cells by the sound of their calls, she finds each of her unborn sisters and stings them to death. This is because there can only be one queen bee.”

Her name was Bodacious Bea and the club where she performed was called, ironically, The Beehive. Bodacious Bea had soft tawny-colored skin, fleshy breasts, and flawless, if spectacularly overdone, makeup. Her glitter-strewn scarlet hair was perfectly curled and coifed, piled high on her head.

On the past Thanksgiving, Bea’s brother had commented rudely about the color of her hair. “That shade of red is not even in the spectrum,” he had remarked, mumbling through a mouth crammed with stuffing and mashed potatoes. “It’s just wrong. Like seeing a blue popsicle.”

He did not approve of her being a drag queen. None of her family did. She consoled herself with the thought that even Jesus couldn’t preach in his home town.

Despite the sneers of her brother, Bodacious Bea was clearly the star act at The Beehive. And everyone always told her that they loved her hair!

“What makes me so special,” she said haughtily in a recent radio interview, enunciating each word carefully and lisping ever so slightly, “is my size. I am sooo not one of those gargantuan, ludicrous imposters. You can see right through them in a second. I am only 5’4”, and except for certain portions of my anatomy, I am very petite.” She rolled her “r” when she said the word very. With a little giggle, she added, “I am feminine, you see, to the hilt.

Night after night, audiences screamed their approval of Bodacious Bea. She had a bit where would return for a curtain call and stand in the spotlight. As the roars subsided, she would bat her eyelashes and cry to the audience, “Ooh, you naughty men! You make me want to throw my panties at you!” Of course, this made them begin to cheer her loudly all over again.

In her mind, it was indisputable: she was the queen of the queens…or she would have been if it weren’t for her rivals, Kurvee Kittee and Luscious Lou-Lou.

It was almost time for the show. Bea was punctual, and she was always ready well before everyone else. Emerging from her dressing room, wearing a snug turquoise sheath that glittered with the garish reflections from thousands of embedded rhinestones, Bodacious Bea minced confidently down the backstage hallway. Her dress was so tight that she had no choice but to mince. It wasn't a problem. She liked to mince.

In a high-pitched piping voice, Bea sang out, “Kittee! Kittee? Where are you? I so need to see you!”

Kurvee Kittee had galloped in only a few minutes ago, and she was decidedly grumpy. From one of the dressing rooms, a masculine voice growled, “What the hell do you want? I’m late, damn it.”

Whenever Kittee was stressed, she fell out of character. She could be decidedly unfeminine. This bothered Bea, who wished that Kittee’s fans could hear her now. Bea herself was always genuine; she never forgot for a moment who and where she was.

Bea opened the door to the dressing room from which the voice had sounded. Kittee, in her underwear, sat awkwardly on a stool before the mirror, legs splayed for balance, and was frantically attempting to glue her false eyelashes on. They kept falling off. Kittee’s red-smeared lips were curled back in a furious, impatient snarl.

Posturing coquettishly with one hand on her hip, Bea moved in behind Kittee and shook her head at the scene. “Oh Kittee, darling,” she crooned, “You always have so much trouble with your makeup...." She leaned in more closely and murmured softly, "You know, honey, I’m not sure you really belong here. You should leave.”

Kittee swiveled angrily around on her stool. She seemed to be preparing to shout obscenities at Bea, but she choked on her words as the latter waggled her hips and departed swiftly from the dressing room.

Re-entering the hallway, Bea turned in a new direction and, in a high-pitched falsetto, trilled out, “Lou-Lou? Oh, Lo-o-o-u? Where are yo-o-o-u?”

“I’m here, Bea, in wardrobe. And oh my god, I need help!”

The sad wobbly alto voice came from behind the clothing rack in the costume department. Bea sashayed over to the gleaming, gaudy garments. It was easy to spot Lou-Lou. 
She hovered high over the rack of clothes, for she was nearly a foot taller than Bea, and she was decidedly not thin. Nobody else was present in the room except for the two drag queens.

Unlike Kittee, Lou-Lou never lost sight of her feminity, but still, in Bea’s mind, she was always just a little bit off the mark. Yes, Lou-Lou tried too hard, but it wasn’t that. Trying too hard and being over the top were expected of the girls. Lou-Lou’s height was a flaw in Bea’s mind, but most of Lou-Lou’s fans enjoyed her gigantic frame. No, the problem was that Lou was just…pathetic. There was something whiney and droopy about her. Her voice constantly quavered and she always seemed ready to burst into tears. Granted, she did a good Judy Garland, despite her size, but otherwise, Bea felt that Lou-Lou was distressingly inferior.

“I just cannot find a thing to wear tonight,” the tall queen moaned helplessly. “I’m retaining water and it’s made me puffy. Nothing fits!”

Bea wanted to make a bitchy comment about the three puffy beers and two puffy cheesteak subs that Lou-Lou had wolfed down last night when they went out after the show, but she held her tongue.

Grabbing a large-sized emerald green frock from the rack and moving around to the other side to get closer to Lou-Lou, she warbled, “Why don’t you try this one on, dear?”

The dress served as a shield when she stabbed Lou-Lou. She didn’t want any more blood to spatter her turquoise gown the way it had when she had cut Kittee’s throat…although she realized that the audience might simply see the red spots as a wonderfully chic way of balancing out the glorious red color of her hair.

That night Bea gave the most splendid performance she’d ever given! The audience went wild! They loved her! They couldn’t get enough of her! It was the best night of her life. Bodacious Bea was truly the queen of queens!

A year later, sitting with her legs crossed on a chair in her prison cell, impatiently thumbing through a magazine, she came across the article describing the behavior of honeybee queens. Bea reflected sadly upon this. Why did the rules for one species have to be so different for another? She sighed, and wished she could freshen her lipstick. They would not let her wear her makeup in prison.

It wasn’t so bad, though. She still quite popular. She looked good in orange. And she was the only queen on her cell block.