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  • Other than a handful of silly knock knocks, I know exactly one joke, a single one in its entirety, and I never tell it.

    I learned it in high school. It is dirty and crude and unbeknownst to me until this very moment, strangely related to my one recurring Halloween costume.

    Long joke short: Little Red Riding Hood meets the Big Bad Wolf in the forest, and he threatens to do bad, bad things to her. Red looks him in the eye, pulls out a gun, and tells him exactly what he can do with himself and to her. The damsel in distress becomes the one with power.

    The joke escaped me years ago when I made the capelet, my little red riding hood. I didn't think of anything but the fact that it was easy costume. In the years that followed, though, Sam the Sham and his Pharaohs walked with me whenever I wore it.

    Who's that I see walkin' in these woods?
    Why, it's Little Red Riding Hood!
    Hey, there, Little Red Riding Hood,
    You sure are looking good.
    You're everything a big bad wolf could want.

    Somehow, the costume felt sexy without resorting to shams of its own. It didn't need to be short. It didn't need to be tight, but it worked. The red brought attention, and people got it. They knew who I was, and with my (faux) fur-lined basket purse, I managed to avoid looking like a victim.

    Who needs a woodsman?

    Not every weapon has a blade or goes boom. Not every weapon can be held in hand. The cape lent its wearer a strange taste of power.

    Lately, I have lost weight, not that much weight, 20 pounds or so in all the right places. I didn't think I had 20 pounds to lose, but the numbers kept dropping. My body shifted in ways wholly unexpected, and wolves have started stalking.

    Listen to me.
    Little Red Riding Hood
    I don't think little big girls should
    Go walking in these spooky old woods alone.

    I didn't mean to lose it. I liked me as I was, but my medication kills my appetite. Sometimes, it makes sick. Recently fighting to actually eat, I dropped even more weight because my metabolism had slowed itself into starvation mode.

    Slim but not gaunt, I have started to look and feel healthy again. I don't want to curl up in a ball under my desk or toss my cookies 23 hours out of 24. Progress has been made, but I am still small.

    As I have shrunk, other things seemed to grow: my personality and my hair, my eyes and my mouth. They look bigger by comparison.

    I look in the mirror, and I only see me, the me I have always been, the girl with Doc Martins and pearls, quick wit and fiery temper. I see the me who once weighed over 200 pounds, and that girl's got my back. But that isn't what strangers see when they look at me.

    What big eyes you have
    The kind of eyes that drive wolves mad
    So just to see that you don't get chased
    I think I ought to walk with you for a ways

    "It's not just your boobs," a friend recently said.

    Like my personality, eyes, and hair, my breasts did not get smaller. (They never do, but I dress to hide them.) My friend saw wolves nipping at me, pawing, stroking. The wolves had become my constant companions, staring, leering and drooling. They approached me on dark streets as I walked home from volunteering. They asked me to call, to give them my number, to let them keep me warm for a while calling me "baby" and talking in low husky voices. They yelped and they growled when I tried to pass.

    What full lips you have
    They're sure to lure someone bad
    So until you get to grandma's place
    I think you ought to walk with me and be safe

    I kept my head down and wore earphones. I pulled my hood high, red as it was, but according to my friend, I had the perfect blow job mouth and I don't know how to hide that with wearing a little red burka.

    What a big heart I have - the better to love you with.
    Little Red Riding Hood,
    Even bad wolves can be good.
    I'll try to be satisfied just to walk close by your side.
    Maybe you'll see things my way before we get to grandma's place.

    In the very near future, I might start seeking either the woodsman or an axe of my own. I am leaning toward axe; I have never been good at waiting for someone to save me.

    Just look at where it got Granny.
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