Started at the age of 4.
My mother went to the grocery store.
Went sneaking through her bedroom door to find something in a size 4.
Sugar and spice and everything nice wasn't made for only girls.
GI Joe in panty hose is making room for the one and only.
King for a day, princess by dawn.
King for a day in a leather thong.
King for a day, princess by dawn.
Just wait 'til all the guys get a load of me.
My daddy threw me in therapy.
He thinks I'm not a real man.
Who put the drag in the drag queen.
Don't knock it until you tried it
- Green Day, King for a Day
• • • • •
“... so I have a favour to ask you… but you gotta promise not to laugh.”
From within the safe confines of his bedroom, Kyle stared at his parka-clad friend who had mumbled those words so quietly that he could barely understand them. Kenny tended to be muffled at the best of times due to how tight he drew his hood around his face, but this was unintelligible even for him, and Kyle had to strain to understand what he was saying.
Kenny seemed to be waiting for some kind of assurance from the redhead before him, but Kyle had to admit that the thought of making a promise without knowing all the details didn’t sit well with him. Still, the look in Kenny’s blue eyes seemed to express some kind of desperation, so he finally gave in, a small laugh escaping his lips as he smiled nervously.
“Yeah, sure, man. I’m not gonna judge or anything, so just spit it out, okay?”
Kyle watched as Kenny reached for his bookbag that he’d tossed on the floor next to him when he’d arrived in Kyle’s room. The outside zipper had broken off the weathered and frayed fabric, and what was left of the bag was patched together with duct tape and hope. From within the main pocket, the blond pulled out something that Kyle hadn’t expected: a dark orchid-coloured knee-high dress made of light cotton, the fabric dotted with white roses. Kyle had to admit to himself that it was pretty cute -- it was trimmed in white lace, and the spaghetti straps seemed to fit the garment’s style.
“There’s a huge tear in the back where it got snagged,” he muttered in a low voice as he indicated the damage on the dress, and Kyle could see that he was avoiding his gaze, focusing on the dress instead; it was a jagged rip that had cut through the fabric diagonally, and it looked to him as if someone had taken a knife and ripped though it. “You’re the only one I know who could probably fix this without laughing at me.”
“Oh.” Suddenly, everything made sense. He had thought that maybe this was one of Karen’s dresses, but Kenny’s words confirmed things for him: this was one of his dresses. He knew that his friend was rather loose when it came to his sexuality, what with the overenthusiastic zeal with which he played his princess persona, but he didn’t know that he actually liked wearing dresses outside of their games…
Well, not that it really mattered to him, Kyle thought to himself as he got up from his cross-legged position on the floor, rummaging through one of his desk drawers for the small sewing kit he kept within. He was actually quite touched that Kenny trusted him to fix his dress; had he asked anyone else, he would have probably gotten a lecture or something, or just gotten laughed at. Even worse if he’d asked him at the bus stop where they met up every morning -- if Cartman had gotten wind of his request, he’d have been taunting him about it for days, and all of South Park High would have known that Kenny McCormick crossdressed.
“Dude, it’s cool,” Kyle said as he sat down next to his friend again, and he could see the blond’s body language visibly relax as he began to thread the needle he pulled out of the kit. “It’s not going to be a perfect fix, but it’s going to look better than it did. That okay?”
Kyle couldn’t help but smile a little as he heard a muffled “mm-hmm” emerge from the depths of the parka; that was good enough an answer as far as he was concerned, and getting anything clearer would involve removing Kenny’s orange security blanket-like coat from around him. As far as he was concerned, he’d have better luck getting the earth to stand still for a second.
Kyle worked in silence for a while, working the needle and thread through the torn fabric. He didn’t want to ask how the accident had happened; he always tried to push Kenny’s tales of the abuse he withstood in his household out of his mind, as the rage he felt from knowing he was completely powerless to help him bubbled up inside him to the point of snapping at anyone who even came close to him. Eventually, he could see Kenny peer at his handiwork out of the corner of his eye, and he glanced at his friend, somewhat surprised that he actually seemed interested in what he was doing.
“You’re lucky that you can do this shit,” Kenny said with a sigh. “All I learned in Home Ec in grade school was how to get a rich man.”
“Eheh…” A nervous laugh escaped Kyle’s lips as he finished up the stitching, and he reached for his white thread so he could fill in the white rose that had gotten caught in the repair. “It’s no big deal, really. I kinda got into this stuff when I started making our costumes for our games. I guess I have a knack for it? I mean, remember that Halloween where I had to change costumes three times?” Chewbacca, the Solar System, and a vampire, if he remembered right… and he’d made that second one out of balloons, foam and paint he’d found in the art room over lunch, too.
There was something about that night he really couldn’t remember, though… where had Kenny been, anyways? His efforts to remember were cut short as, distracted, he jabbed the needle in his index finger, and the sharp intake of breath was all he could do to prevent yelping out in surprised pain.
“A-anyways…” he continued as he hurriedly finished his stitching, hoping that he wasn’t going to bleed all over the dress. “That ought to do it.”
Kyle held up the dress so that Kenny could see his handiwork; unfortunately, it would be difficult at the best of times to hide a tear like that, but the stitching was subtle enough that it wouldn’t show unless someone put their nose against the garment, and Kyle suspected that Kenny would beat the living shit out of anyone who even dared to to that. Kenny’s blue eyes brightened with excitement as he reached for the dress, and Kyle watched as he ran his fingers over the repair work, the parka-clad boy sighing in relief before draping the dress over him like a blanket.
“Thanks, man,” Kenny groaned as he unceremoniously flopped on his back, crossing his arms behind his head as he stared at the ceiling. “Dresses are fucking expensive, and I always get one of those assholes telling me that I can’t wear girls' clothes.”
“Dude, that sucks,” Kyle said as he reached in the sewing kit for a band-aid. “You should be able to wear whatever the fuck you want.”
"Tell that to the fucking world," Kenny sighed as he closed his eyes. "If I had my way, I'd be buried in dresses."
Kyle didn't say anything for a while, but his mind was already hard at work. It really wasn't fair that Kenny couldn't get the clothing he wanted... but he might be able to do something about it.
"Don't worry, dude..." Kyle said with a sudden, uncharacteristic bright smile that went unnoticed by the prone Kenny. He wrapped the band-aid around his finger, the wound already having coagulated, as he struggled not to blurt out his idea to his friend. "I'm sure we'll come up with something."
• • • • •
For the entire day, Kyle seemed to have his head in the clouds, at least to other students. Where he'd normally participate in class with diligence and attentiveness, he seemed to focus more on the words in his notebook than on class itself.
By mid-afternoon, when most students were lethargic from digesting the semblance of food they served in the cafeteria, he was so out of it that he didn't even notice being called upon; he only jolted out of his reverie when Stan jabbed him in the back with a pencil, a hissed warning coming entirely too late as Kyle looked straight up at an irritated-looking Maths teacher’s face.
“Mister. Broflovski,” the older gentleman growled, punctuating each word in a pointed tone as Kyle shrank away in mortified embarrassment. “Would you care to tell the class what could possibly be more important than Algebra?”
“Uh… Calculus, sir?” Kyle replied with a nervous laugh, eliciting giggles from throughout the classroom.
“Very funny, Kyle,” the teacher groaned as he slammed his ruler on Kyle’s textbook, fully jolting the teen back to reality. “You’re lucky you’re one of the best students in this classroom, or I’d give you detention for slacking off in class. Now get up and solve problem 12 on the whiteboard for the entire class… that is, if you’re not too distracted?”
Kyle reddened even further as he felt everyone’s eyes on him, and his demeanour was meek as he stood up and walked to the whiteboard, textbook in hand.
The uncomfortable, sinking feeling in Kyle's chest persisted until class was over, and he practically ran out of class in an effort to dispel the irrational paranoid feeling of being constantly watched by his peers. Was this how Tweek constantly felt? If that was the case, Kyle had no idea how the blond coffee-lover managed to live with himself.
Kyle sighed as he reached his locker, and he rested his head against the banged-up metal door with an audible thunk. Before he could say or do anything, he felt another tap on his shoulder, and he turned to see Stan looking at him, a quizzical yet concerned expression staring back at him as he leaned his shoulder against the row of lockers.
"Dude, you okay? It's not like you to be distracted in class like that."
"Oh. Yeah," Kyle replied with yet another embarrassed look. Was this going to be the theme for today? At least the day was almost over. "I guess I had my mind on other things."
"Other things?" Stan asked as his eyes drifted to the heavy textbook in Kyle's hands. "Like that magazine in your Maths book?"
"Huh? What the fuck are you talking abou-...?" Kyle's words trailed off as he looked to where his friend was looking, and he stared at the publication in confusion before he burst out laughing, a quick tug releasing the pages from within the confines of the book. "This?"
"A fashion magazine?!" Stan asked, incredulous, as he took the magazine out of Kyle's hand and began leafing through it. Tasteful images of women in dresses graced its pages, along with the usual adverts concerning makeup and yogurt. "This is what you were distracted over? You made it look like you were reading a porn mag in class!"
"Are you out of your mind?!" Kyle stared at Stan in horror as he snatched the magazine back from Stan. "Do you think I'd do something that stupid?!"
"No, but it really looked like that from where I was sitting!" Stan's expression became serious for a moment as he glanced first at the magazine, then at Kyle. "But, uh, I didn't know you swinged like that, man."
"What are you talking about?" Kyle groaned... not this again. "I'm a dude."
"Yeah, but..." Stan gestured vaguely to the magazine, making non-committal noises towards Kyle.
"It's for a fr-...” Kyle stopped himself from finishing his sentence -- they all had friends in common, and saying such would make it obvious who he was talking about. “It’s for someone else. Trust me, I’m fine with my gender.”
Before the two could argue further on the matter, the bell rang, signalling the start of the next period. Kyle couldn’t say that he wasn’t grateful for the interruption… a little more, and he’d probably have said what the whole thing was about.
• • • • •