It didn’t help that Uncle Brian was six foot four and an ex rugby player. The fact that he had a glorious bass voice that sent ladies aflutter was a distinct disadvantage. Perhaps if it had not been the annual family Halloween party we would have taken Brian more seriously. Uncle Brian had always been a joker, so we were used to his larger than life pranks.
When we were young we always went to Uncle Brian and Aunty May’s summer barbeques, but when he and his rugby mates had had a good few bevvies and the ribald jokes started we were quickly rounded up for home time. Once, when we had Granny squashed in the back seat as well, I said ‘Mum, is Uncle Brian very rich?’
Dad laughed. ‘You must be joking.’
‘So why do his friends say he’s well endowed?’
Granny let out a sort of choking sound and Mum shushed me.
The Halloween party was one social occasion my husband did not try to avoid, he said you never knew what was going to happen when my family got together. He certainly wasn’t disappointed this year.
It wasn’t actually Halloween yet, but any time in October was good enough and it was my cousin’s turn to have it at their place. Just about everyone had turned up except Uncle Brian and Aunty May. The children ran around dressed as pumpkins and skeletons and the adults caught up with the gossip. We were just murmuring that Brian and May were a bit late when the door bell rang and we heard Brian’s loud voice in the hall. When he walked into the sitting room, strangely the first thing I noticed, he had shaved his beard off. The second thing I noticed, he was dressed as a woman; completely, from his high heels to his coiffured hair and perfect make up.
He stood poised elegantly as the room fell silent, we waited for him to laugh, then the children started giggling, but Brian wasn’t laughing. My cousin grinned. ‘Daad it’s not fancy dress, that was last year.’
‘It’s not fancy dress, from now on I’m Bryony.’
‘Ha ha,’ said his brother ‘next thing you’ll be telling us you’re gay.’
‘Not gay, just in the wrong body, always have been, now the real me has come out.’
‘You mean this isn’t one of your jokes…’ said his daughter tremulously.
‘Nope, no joke, but I’m still your Dad, nothing’s changed.’
I risked a glance at my husband who was relishing every moment and opened his mouth to speak.
‘Have you had it chop…’
I dug him in the ribs and jumped up before he could say any more. I had heard all the programmes, read the magazine articles, I was well up on the LGBTQ scene, I knew what to say. I clasped Uncle Brian’s hand.
‘Well done, if this is what you want, we can go shopping for clothes together and we’ll support you all the way.’
I paused waiting for him to let out a loud guffaw and say ‘I really fooled you all this time’ but he didn’t.
Then someone else piped up.
‘So where’s Aunty May, just realised she isn’t here.’
‘Ah, erm, well she wasn’t feeling at all well and sends her apologies… Anyway isn’t it time for some food and I must sit down, my feet are killing me.’