I don’t remember how I found out that Mavis died but it was probably through Facebook, cause that’s where everyone my age hears about important things these days. I’m an older Millennial, so I’m on Facebook. I have an Instagram and a Snapchat but I don’t use them like the younger Millennials do.
I decided to ask Ralph to come with me to the funeral because he was with me when I found out and he never has anything better to do anyway.
I met Mavis when she was Mark, when we worked at Toys R Us together the summer after I graduated high school. I thought he looked like the guy from Harvey Danger and that made me like him. We worked in the back storage areas together, scanning boxes and sorting boxes and doing various other things with boxes. He was a wry, sarcastic, nerd dude and I liked him.
I got moved to cashier after only about a week and he got moved to the video game section. I hated that job so I didn’t stay long but he stayed there for some time afterward.
We kept in touch, and I friended him on Facebook a few years later when it came out, and we kept in touch that way.
Then he came out as trans about two years ago and changed his name to Mavis. So, you know, a lot of shit must’ve happened, but because I didn’t see him a lot, I had no idea it was coming.
I don’t remember when I heard he died, but I knew that he’d posted he was sick. I felt like I’d known him well enough to go to the funeral so once I saw that someone posted an event and invited all 320 of Mavis’s friends, I told Ralph about it cause he was over and he said he’d come with.
The next Saturday rolled around and Ralph and I went to Northville.
The funeral was held in what looked like a lecture hall at a community college. It was this modern-looking, really clean theater with a movie screen and everything. Not in a church — Mavis was an atheist.
I got in and the second row was completely full of people. The first and third rows were sparsely filled. About thirty people were there.
The room was way longer than it was deep, a big rectangle of a room with a long long set of seats running like fifty yards down. There was a really long dry-erase board.
There was a movie screen set up showing pictures of Mavis when she was a kid and throughout her life. Mark went through a lot before he became Mavis. He was in improv comedy. Did some stand-up, too. He moved around a lot working for landscaping, all over the country — Michigan, Texas, Iowa, Colorado. He did a lot of invasive species studies. He worked at Toys R Us before quitting and going to college in his mid-twenties.
He got married to this horribly abusive whale of a woman and lived with her for a few years. Soon after the divorce he came out as trans and started dying his hair pink and growing it out and taking hormone treatments. He announced it on Facebook and Instagram and I liked both of the statuses cause good for him, you know? I remember both statuses only got like 10 likes apiece.
He was one of those guys that did not look feminine at all but he started taking the estrogen and and taking pictures of himself sideways in mirrors. Soon, he started looking different. He had always been a paunchy dude, and he was going bald at the age of 32, and his face was wide and his nose pointed but he started to soften up and lose weight. He grew tits and started wearing make-up. It was really fucking weird, cause he still just looked like Mark only with tits and make-up.
We hung out sporadically over the years. I hadn’t talked to Mark in nearly 6 years when I found out he was gone. The last time we got together we went to this old greasy spoon called The Rusty Nail. I used to go there after rehearsals with my first band and and we’d call it The Busty Nail because of this one waitress that worked there.
Our conversations were always play catch-up and see what we were up to, we’d talk about ourselves and our homies and endeavors and politics.
Mavis had apparently been sick recently, like I said before. I don’t know what she had and I did’t know anyone in the audience that I could’ve asked. I didn’t know if the illness was related to her transition, but I did know that she wasn’t fully transitioned yet. She had that soft glow that happens when guys start taking estrogen; her skin seemed to get softer and whiter but other than that everything else was the same. Her facial hair did look like it was starting to go away, though.
Still, recently, when I happened to notice Mavis’s profile whenever it came across in my Facebook feed, I saw Mavis and not Matt. I saw a “she” and not a “he”.
I walked into the lecture hall-turned-church and took a seat with Ralph way down in the third row at the far right end. I looked at the screen for awhile with all the pictures of Mavis’s life. They were playing “See You Again” by Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa on a loop.
I looked down the rows.
There was a huge cluster of people in the center of the three rows and I see the casket in front of them and yes there was Mavis inside it. Her hair was still pink and she looked peaceful and pale.
The casket looked really out of place in this room that looked like it was a Silicon Valley presentation space where a new app would be announced. The casket was wooden and carved and hot pink, and there were pink flowers on it. It was the only thing in the room that looked remotely religious. Everything else was sterile and modern and that neutral blue-grey color, including the podium up front which looked like it was from Ikea. It even smelled like a meeting room, a place where guys shuffle paper and open briefcases and use boring terms like “quarterly review” and “quarterly profit” and show charts and stuff.
“Did you ever know him, or her?” I asked Ralph.
“No,” said Ralph. “I ran into him at church that one time but that was years ago. And we didn’t talk then. I just saw him.”
“Thanks for being here,” I said.
I was so shocked by Mavis’s announcement about her transition. She’d been someone I’d gone to advice for — I remember soon after I quit Toys R Us, I met Mark at Denny’s after my first break-up and him shrugging his big shoulders and saying, “Yeah, it’s hard, man.”
Then all of a sudden this revelation. She must have carried it for years. I knew that her divorce really took a toll on her self-esteem. It was so bad she realized she’d rather live as a woman than a man. I can’t say I blame her. Sometimes I feel like just throwing away my penis. Sometimes I think that women have it way easier than men in our society, even if they don’t realize it.
I was swallowing sadness and looking at the casket, thinking of how I should really go down there and pay my respects like everyone else, look Mavis’s corpse in the face so to speak, but then she sat up.
I mean, she sat up in the casket. Like a normal, alive person. Her peaceful-looking embalmed body just sat up like someone lying in bed who’s forgot something important they have to do.
She was smiling ear-to-ear when she did it and for a second I didn’t know what was what.
“What the fuck?” I heard several people say.
There weren’t any screams. Everyone just kind of looked at her. Her curly hair was pink and floppy on her balding head. She had it combed over. Her glasses were on. She was dressed in a t-shirt and comfy-looking jeans. The t-shirt was red and said “Bazinga!”
She climbed down out of the casket.
Everyone was staring. A few people had been crying and now they were looking at her like she was, well, a zombie or something.
She stood there in front of us with this huge, shit-eating smile on her face and held her arms out like Christ crucified. Then she started applauding really enthusiastically like a parent at an unpopular kid’s birthday party and a few people even joined in.
“Mavis, what the hell is going on?” someone from the cluster of people in the second row finally asked.
“I’m here to announce that I’m getting married again,” said Mavis. “To the woman of my dreams. She couldn’t be here today, but I can’t wait for you all to meet her.”
I stared in disbelief with everyone else. There was a smattering of applause. Mavis didn’t seem to realize the commotion she’d caused. The room was full of either anger or tension, but then, a lot of people just started laughing.
Mavis was laughing, too.
“I‘m so happy,” she was saying. “I’m so happy and I wanted as many people as possible to come to meet the real me.”
I joined in on the laughter. I was laughing so hard I fell out of my chair into the aisle. From down here, the backs of the front row seats look like cartoon teeth.
Ralph was looking around slowly and he was kind of smiling like he does when he gets confused, and he looked down at me and was like, “Is this a set-up? Did you do this to play a prank on me?”
I can’t answer him. I’m laughing too hard.
I have to admit, the first sensation I felt when Mavis sat up wasn’t dread but a palpable relief. Seeing my old friend in the casket, motionless (she really had me fooled), and letting the finality of it all sink in was really getting to me. Replaying all those memories and letting the knowledge that they’re all you’ll experience of this person close in. Now, I felt like the universe had granted me a second chance with good ole Mavis. I was shocked, but I wasn’t even mad.
I was laughing on the floor so hard my face was hurting and I could hear Mavis start to explain herself to a few people who are now yelling at her, like really yelling, and she’s telling them to calm down, calm down, weren’t they happy for her?