Chapter 8: Leroy King and the Triple Daddies (2017)
Picking the Solstice Gift for 2017 turned out to be easy-peasy. That was the year that our ancient Subaru Forester, Ruby Tuesday, finally shuddered to a halt and nearly went into the Subaru graveyard in the sky, but we decided to put in a last-ditch effort to get it repaired. The owners of the shop we’d been going to, Gay’s Gearhead NoHo Car Repair, had retired, so we asked around for a new mechanic. The consensus was that King’s Automobile Services was the cat’s meow. King’s Automobile Services’ slogan was “King’s: Where queens are kings, kings are queens, and service reigns!”, and they were known for a series of peppy commercials that featured the owner, a dapper stud named Leroy King. Leroy looked to be in her mid-50s, had greying dreadlocks, a fondness for wearing a forest green bandanna as a neckerchief, ironed grey mechanic’s overalls with “King’s” embroidered in curly red script across her chest, deep-set dark eyes behind retro black eyeglasses, and a sparkling gold labrys inlaid in one of her front teeth.
Of course, we had other contenders, but Lucky and I were totally crushed out on Leroy and the others faded into the background like distant stars to Leroy, a luminous full moon. Yeah, we had it bad and this is how it went down.
When Lucky and I saw Leroy’s commercials and her series of do-it-yourself videos for the community, instructing folks how to do simple maintenance like change their car’s oil, replace a gasket, winterize their car, and change a tire, all narrated by the effervescent Leroy, we swooned. Hell, half the dykes in the Valley were nefariously plotting on how to get into Leroy’s spotless mechanic’s overalls. We’d seen Leroy looking confidently dapper at local parties and events but hadn’t had the chance to introduce ourselves to her, just admired her from across various rooms. She excluded a calm, Daddy energy and was kind and handsome, always ready with a grin, a friendly shoulder, and a hug. Leroy swaggered into Hors D’oeuvres’ Drag Brunch, So’s Yer Grandma polka concerts, and library fundraiser book sales with equal finesse and confidence, with her jaunty bow tie and gold labrys flashing as she laughed.
In July, we had Ruby Tuesday towed into King’s Automobile Services and worriedly turned over the dear old Forester. Leroy was gentle as she let us down, explaining that it might be time to let go and get a new car. She pointed out that Ruby had over 310,000 miles on her and extensive salt corrosion in her undercarriage, then went over the repairs that would be needed to bring poor Ruby up to snuff. The three of us had a moment of silence at Ruby Tuesday’s front grill, eyes downcast over the ancient metal car. We threw caution to the wind and asked Leroy out for coffee, then, when that went well, for dinner.
The months flew by; on the autumn equinox, we nailed the list of Solstice Gift finalists to the oak tree near Paradise Pond, and that year we invited Leroy to our annual Orphans Harvest Potluck Dinner for the first time. Leroy arrived with an abundance of sweet potato dishes: a scrumptious Pyrex casserole dish of orange halves that had been stuffed with mashed sweet potatoes and topped with the obligatory miniature marshmallows, along with southern sweet potato pies. When Leroy toasted the marshmallows of the orange and sweet potato dish with a blowtorch at the dinner table, with the sleeves of her pink dress shirt rolled up, our hearts melted as surely as the marshmallows. Leroy’s front porch gift to us was a whimsical wooden carved and painted replica of the dearly departed Ruby Tuesday, along with a quart of premium motor oil. Sentimentality combined with practicality; Leroy was one fine Daddy.
Leroy was a Daddy and a mechanic. She liked to fix things, tinker until everything worked just so and purred along happily, whether it was a car or a girl. Like all accomplished Daddies, Leroy had a sure touch and an intuitive nature. There was a bit of the paternal or maternal to Leroy, a soothing selflessness. I once knew a ferocious butch top who admitted dejectedly that she had a secret craving to be nurtured by someone who would take care of her instead of her doing all of the planning and the care-giving. She said that being a Daddy was exhausting, and at the same time admitted that topping was so habitual that she wasn’t even sure she’d be able to accept it if someone offered to nurture her instead. Lucky and I thought of that top when we considered our plans for Leroy. What was Leroy’s deepest unmet need? How could a bone-tired Daddy be nourished on the longest night? Having Leroy daddy us for the night was too obvious and would leave the three of us sated and content, but we wanted something special. In a flash of hot cider and pumpkin donut fueled inspiration, Lucky and I decided to throw a solstice slumber party for Leroy, the most Daddy Solstice Gift ever.
When Leroy knocked on our door on Thursday, December 21st, we were gleeful in anticipation. Leroy stood on the front porch gallantly in her leather jacket, black turtleneck, and button-fly jeans. The snow swirled around her, a bouquet of crimson and lavender roses in hand. We drew Leroy inside to the warmth of the living room, removed her jacket for her, and settled her into the low velvet armchair next to the glass-fronted wood-burning stove. Lucky arranged the roses in a vase, while I poured the three of us pre-dinner ginger mocktails.
We’d set the table with a red tablecloth that was printed with white snowflakes and bordered with snowmen, peppermint striped napkins, a runner edged in gold ric-rac adorned with Santa Claus in his sleigh and all the reindeer flying through the night air, and a collection of vintage Santa Claus ceramic candle holders, each holding a red lit candle. Lucky had strung paper chains from the center overhead light fixture to the corners of the dining room in an “X”.
We’d done some sleuthing with a couple of Leroy’s exes and had cooked her favorite childhood comfort meal of fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens with flavored with ham, and peach pie topped with ice cream. Leroy was astonished as Lucky brought out dinner and set it on the table, rubbing her hands together in glee and laughing. Waiting on Leroy’s empty dinner plate was a tiny parchment scroll tied with gold ribbon. Lucky and I leaned forward as she unwrapped it, holding our breaths.
Golden glitter spilled out of the scroll onto their lap as Leroy unwound the invite and read the message out loud: “Dearest Leroy—You are cordially invited to the Holly Jolly Solstice Gift Longest Night Slumber Party. Please say yes!! Love, your very best Daddies, Daddy Behrouz and Daddy Lucky. P.S. We were told that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph will be flying by!” Leroy looked up, pumped her fist into the air, and shouted an enthusiastic, “Yes! How did you know that I love Christmas? This is perfect!” Her eyes were gleaming with excitement, and dinner commenced.
It was a festive night. After dinner, we all changed into pajamas. Lucky and I had bought matching fuzzy onesie footie pajamas for each of us, in Scandinavian prints of in red and white with reindeer and snowflakes. We lit the woodstove in the living room and put Burl Ives’ Have a Holly Jolly Christmas on the hi-fi. We strung cranberries and popcorn by the soft glow of the fire, then pulled on snow boots and ran outside under the pale light of the waxing crescent moon and festooned the pine tree with the garlands so that the birds would have a treat, romped in our pajamas in the snow and threw snowballs until we were too chilly. Once inside again, we played a few boisterous rounds of Chutes and Ladders and Candyland, and then finally snuggled up together on the sofa with a giant wooden bowl of buttered popcorn and steaming mugs of hot cocoa to watch The Princess Bride and the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol. At one point, I gave Leroy a manicure, dipping her hands in a paraffin bath, softened her calluses, trimmed her cuticles, and finally painted each fingernail bright blue. As the Spirit of Christmas Present showed Scrooge how “men of goodwill” celebrate Christmas, Lucky gave Leroy a scalp massage, rubbing her scalp with lavender scented coconut oil as she groaned with pleasure and release. As the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come visited Scrooge, we gave Leroy a green tea facial, steamed her skin with hot towels, applied a creamy green tea mask, let it do its magic, and then tenderly washed it off. 3:00 a.m. found the three of us droopy-eyed, stuffed with popcorn and ice cream, and smelling of lavender and essential oils. The cats snoozed at our feet. We toddled off to bed, climbed between the forest green flannel sheets, each of us with a stuffed velour reindeer tucked under one arm, snuggled up together in a happy puppy pile, and were snoring within seconds.
The next morning was magical. We could see the birds clustered around the pine tree with the popcorn and cranberry garlands, chirping excitedly to one another as they devoured their holiday breakfast. Lucky insisted upon serving breakfast while wearing antlers, and when she caught Leroy looking at them longingly, found another pair and crowned Leroy too. As a result, the Equestris Dignitas ad Solstitium Donum medallion on its lavender ribbon was bestowed upon a giggling, dread-locked reindeer in a flannel onesie that year. It seemed impossible that we could eat another meal after last night’s feast, but we managed. Over breakfast, we raised our red coffee mugs high and toasted, “To each and every year’s Solstice Gift! Long may we all reign!”