The Lisping Barista had the Geeky Guy decked out in happiness, and women’s clothing. He went into a dressing room and came out wearing a Mother Hubbard dress that she selected. On his lips, where she had planted a kiss, she smeared red lipstick. When his blush had faded, she replaced it with rouge. She combed mascara into his eyelashes, hung a purse on his wrist, and crowned him with a blond wig. She gave him a full grown baby, her rugby-playing friend, who gazed up from an oversized carriage and squeaked his pacifier.
“You look thtunning,” said the Lisping Barista to the Geeky Guy. And he was.
“I’ve got to get my cothtume on. You two get in line for the parade. I’ll thee you later.”
She gave him another kiss, this one on his cheek, so as to not smear his lipstick.
“What’re you going to be?” he asked. But she had gone already and disappeared into a face painting tent with the Fat Woman with Too Much Makeup.
The drums started, calling them to the parade. His heart took up the strong beat. He was in a dress, after all, and appearing in public.
The Rugby Player removed his pacifier and reached into his diaper to pull out a reefer. He squinted and lit it. He offered it to the Geeky Guy, who, even though he had never, ever smoked before, took a hit. It would help keep away the panic attacks. As instructed, he sucked in a big lungful, as if he was diving underwater. He held it in as if he was going down for pearls. Then he coughed it up, as if he was drowning.
“Go easy,” said the Rugby Player. “This isn’t any old hippie hemp. It’s good Colorado hydroponic skunkweed. You don’t need much.”
He was right, by the time the Geeky Guy had finished hacking up a lung he was already high and the Rugby Player had become hilarious. The Geeky Guy no sooner was done doubling over coughing, than he doubled over laughing. Waves of happiness washed over him, but it wasn’t all from the pot. He had lots of reasons to be happy. The Lisping Barista had kissed him, not once, but twice. He was at a music festival that would save the world; the epicenter of revolution. And everyone was happy. The happiness would spread, thereby saving the world. Everyone, young and old, rich and poor, male and female, black and white, cool and Geeky, would join the Happiness Parade.
He tried to explain it all to the Rugby Player, but lost track of the point he was trying to make. The drums continued and he urged the Geeky Guy to push him in the baby carriage and take their place in line.
They claimed a position in the vanguard of the Happiness Parade, behind a trio of drummers, next to a zombie type creature and in front of a basketball player on stilts. The drummers got them dancing and then marching in a dancing sort of tread. The roadway was lined with happiness; smiles everywhere, contentment all around; banks of faces enjoying, among many other things, the incongruity of a man in a dress and another man in a baby carriage. When this is possible, everything is possible. Stifling rules tossed. Freedom unbound.
The Geeky Guy even liked wearing a dress and enjoyed the cooling breeze coming from down below. He could’ve skipped the wig; but it was true, blonds do have more fun. It was nice to have a purse to hold his stuff even though he had to sling the purse over his shoulder. The makeup, once it was on, he forgot about. It may be too weird to say that every man has always been curious to know what it’s like to be a woman, but it’s true and every man should be brave enough to admit it. Playing dress up doesn’t really get at that experience, but it’s a start.
They marched and strutted and juked all the way down the road that ran through the music festival. If he hadn’t been high, the Rugby Player would’ve have gotten carriage sick from all the different directions the Geeky Guy pushed him. The crowds cheered them from the roadway and joined the back of the parade when it had passed. Those in the vanguard took their place at the roadside, watching, once they circumnavigated.
The Geeky Guy scanned the crowd for the Lisping Barista. “Do you see her?” he asked the Rugby Player, who just squeaked his pacifier and lit another joint.
There were countless ways of being happy. There were platoons of young women in sundresses and young men in cut offs. A boy and his mother danced sweetly down the street. A man carried a goose puppet. Kids piggybacked on their parents’ shoulders. A redhead sowed the crowd with condoms. The crowd scattered to collect them as children do candy. The Geeky Guy picked up two, not really knowing what they were. There were hula hoopers and stilters and even one hula hooper on stilts. There were bare chested fat men and bare bellied thin women. There were parasols and banners. The zombie that had marched with them had many friends. There were pom-poms and boas and tutus, guitars and flutes and horns. There was a drum so big it needed three men to carry it. There were masks and gowns, and an occasional giant head, but there was no Lisping Barista, not until the end of the parade.
She paced, as if the grand finale, with a dozen attendants, arm in arm with the Fat Woman with Too Much Makeup. The Lisping Barista was dressed as a bride, the bride of the Happiness Parade, her fat friend dressed as a groom. The Lisping Barista had the flowers, the headpiece, and the long, white dress with two girls carrying the train. The Fat Woman with Too Much Makeup had a tux with tails and a top hat and a mustache. But here’s the thing. The Geeky Guy wasn’t sure of it at first. He had to look twice to be certain and, when he was, he thought, perhaps he shouldn’t have looked at all. Both of them were bare chested. Their costumes were nothing but body paint from the waist up.
On a different day, under different circumstances, the Geeky Guy might not have known what to feel; but for now, he only felt glee. This was the Happiness Parade, after all; and the Geeky Guy, for the moment, was happy.