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The basket of fries laying in front of me was getting cold and my extremely watered down drink next to it was getting warm. I looked up right was I heard the famous, horn blasting intro of Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out.” The man on the stage held his beer tightly in his hand and began to sing into the microphone. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight of a hairy, muscular man singing this anthem in a drunken falsetto.
I knew I looked out of place, but the regulars were used to leaving a spot close to the wall open for me to do my homework. While most students tend to go to cafes or bookstores to finish their papers, I found that the most mind opening place was at Plaid & Glitter, a laid back gay bar on the outskirts of campus. To me, the sound of quiet mumbling and smell of bitter coffee was too distracting for me. Hearing hilariously intoxicated people sing Amy Winehouse and Joan Jett made me feel strangely at peace.
I grew up in a strict Baptist household and was homeschooled from middle school through graduation. The only people my age I knew were my neighbors and the three other children in my Sunday class. My mom taught us that evolution and Hollywood movies were created by Satan himself. Secular music was obviously banned from entering our household, but I had heard snippets of the Hilary Duff that my next door neighbor blasted.
All my life, I was being trained to become a mother and teacher to my future children. Instead of taking health class to learn about my own body, I learned about giving birth and raising kids. I wasn’t expected to go to any form of higher education, so only my brothers had savings set aside for college. This being said, it came as a shock to everyone when I came to be well on my way to getting my master’s degree in social psychology totally free of tuition.
As the trumpets began to fade out and the crowd began to cheer, I felt a light tap on my shoulder.
“Um, excuse me but is anyone sitting here?” asked a giant, sad looking frog. I shook my head and he sat down next to me. “I’m Pepe, you?”
“Um…” I stuttered, blushing. “I’m Sarah.”
“What is a pretty girl like you doing here all alone?”
“Homework, studying, the usual activities one would expect in a gay bar.”
Pepe chuckled and bit his plump, red lips. In this light, I realized how big and beautiful his eyes truly were. Slowly, and never breaking gaze, he picked up one of my cold french fries and put it in his mouth. I clenched my jaw, praying he wouldn’t see that I was swooning.
“Well, Sarah, would you like to sing with me?”
“I don’t sing…”
“Everyone can sing!”
“You haven’t heard me,” I giggled, dipping a fry into some ketchup.
“I swear you won’t croak,” he said, winking at the pun. I reluctantly grabbed his hand and he dragged me up to the stage. He whispered to the DJ and handed him a five dollar bill.
A familiar percussion started to leak from the speakers on each side of me.
“Summer lovin’, had me a blast,” Pepe sang, his voice melted in my ears like chocolate on a hot day.
“Summer lovin’, happened so fast,” I replied. His eyes got wider, as if he couldn’t believe I had the voice of an angel.
“Met a girl, crazy for me.”
“Met a frog cute as can be.”
“Summer days, driftin’ away, to, uh oh, those summer nights!” Our two distinct voices blended together perfectly and I had never heard anything more beautiful.
The best four minutes of my life were on that stage. When Pepe let out one final croak, the crowd went wild.
I am writing this in the same spot of the same bar that I met him in. We are married and have three children of our own: JeJe, Cece, and Lele. Some may look at our relationship and think, “That’s not okay.” My parents have completely disowned me, but sometimes call me to ask if I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior yet.
At the moment, the only Jesus I know is Pepe’s father.