Some days, there seems to be no limit to how late I can make myself, between make-up, corsets, shoes, and depression sleep. To make matters worse, it’s my partner’s birthday, and not the time to half-step it on adorability.

I drag my sorry ass out of bed and declare the bathroom my own. I shave my head, face, and back, apply Nair from ankles to shoulders, and a peel-off facemask. (NOTE: The time it takes to apply Nair, plus the 10 minutes it takes to do its job, equals the time required for the mask to dry.) I peel off the mask, jump in the shower, and rinse off a layer of dysphoria. Once I’m mostly dry, I apply two layers of lotion—one to aid the healing of a controlled chemical burn and one to defeat the forces of ashiness. After trying on a dozen variations of the day’s outfit, I apply make-up, select a pair of shoes, and I’m off to the store to purchase the birthday cake for the party to which I was already late before I started my grooming ritual.

The shopping trip itself is painless enough, and the line could be longer. Once it’s my turn, the cashier looks me up and down and compliments my perfectly coordinated presentation, causing me to invisibly blush. Invisible blushing, by the way, is but one of many Black super powers.

“I’m just going to say something, because I want to see how you react,” she starts.

“Oh Mohammad fucking Jesus Christ, Son of God! Can we please not do this?!” I scream in my soul as my eyes stare into hers with a mix of boredom, preemptive rage, and pleading.

I can’t even discern the words that follow.

“Did she just have a seizure?” I wonder.

“Y’know! RuPaul’s Drag Race!” she shouts with excessive enthusiasm.

“I’ve never seen it.”

We complete our transaction without words or eye contact, and I leave with a cheesecake variety pack in hand: strawberry, New York, caramel apple, and double chocolate fudge. I give Google my destination, and get predictably lost entering Laurelhurst Park between the lake and the green piano.

I call my partner Cole to masterfully lead me up a slight incline to where they’re seated at a picnic table with a friend. At least I haven’t left them alone through all this on their birthday, and by the grace of Cole’s impeccable sense of direction we’re able to direct others from the piano as well.

Food includes artichoke dip with one of those invasive recipe suggestions no one ever uses, but this one’s unique. This one lists the ingredients followed by a URL for prep instructions—like analog click-bait. Also available are crackers, tortilla chips, hummus (of course), carrots (because), Brie (duh), and stroopwafels. All partygoers are queer and/or trans, but that doesn’t excuse a white person bringing watermelon to a nigga’s birthday.

I kid. This party’s a 10 out of 10.

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