Three episodes in, I raised my cool drink to my lips as I asked Ma, “What do you think so far?”
She replied as I drank, “Well, it’s fine, but I’m not going to say I’m ‘gagging for it’.”
I choked, sending carbonated bubbles out my nose. Ma whacked me on the back and gave me a ton of tissues, before clicking on to the next episode.
“Hey, we don’t have to watch another,” I said, dabbing my eyes.
“Miss Vanjie,” Ma replied with a wink, sending me into another splutter.
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo was the first contestant eliminated in Season 10, and her exit went viral, inspiring a countless number of memes. And now my ma was her latest fan.
When I finally got my breath back, Ma said, “I do feel bad for that Vanjie person, I almost wished she’d stayed. But if she hadn’t been sent home, then she wouldn’t be Miss Vaaaaanjie.”
Again, Ma was coming out with words of wisdom. But all I said was, “She comes back in Season 11.”
Ma’s eyes brightened. “Really? Then let’s skip to that season.”
Which was all kinds of wrong, skipping seasons like that, but she was so happy, that we did it.
We were two more episodes in, and the sky was growing dark, when she asked, “So is this what you want to do? Be half man, half woman?”
“I don’t see it like that. I mean, sure, there are people who are transgender, but I’m not. I just admire the artform, the way it allows people to express other sides of themselves.”
Ma was quiet for bit, as the episode played on. But as RuPaul took the stage, she whispered, “People have gotten killed, dressing like this.”
I inwardly flinched as I kept my eyes on the screen. “Adnaan Davids,” I whispered, referring to the drag queen brutally murdered in March of 2020.
She took a deep breath, “I’m not going to lie, it scares me, the idea of you doing,” she waved at the screen, “this.”
“But I understand that you are saying these people, the Miss Vanjies, they are being all of themselves, yes?”
“Exactly right.” It came out as a whisper.
“Then,” Ma said, “I think that’s brave. To boldly say, ‘This is me.’”
“So fine.” She clapped her hands, “Let’s go raid my wardrobe and see what fits you best.”
I let out a soft snort. “Thanks, Ma, but no thanks.”
“Are you saying my clothes are boring?”
I picked up my cool drink and raised it to my lips.
“Ja, well, okay, but in this pandemic, who needs to wear anything but comfy clothes?”
I kept drinking.
“Fine, we’ll get the good stuff out from under the bed.”
I lowered my drink. Ma has a secret stash?
“You see, I did have a life before becoming a Ma,” she said, throwing up her hands. “How’d you think I met your father, hey?”
I had no idea, never asked.
“You took dance classes?” I spluttered.
“I was the teacher.”
My jaw dropped. Literally. Like I was in a cartoon.
“You didn’t think you got your rhythm and moves from your daddy, did you? The man had two left feet.”
Actually, I had, but of course I shook my head.
Tell us: Are you fully yourself when not alone? Or do you feel you have to hide a part of yourself when around others?