Early on, her boyfriend didn't tell her about the dressing. When she got the sense that he was shooing her out of town, she worried he was having an affair. Then she found lingerie.
"I'm not a judgmental person but he didn't want to tell me. He only told me because I thought he was cheating. I freaked out and cried," she says, her eyes welling up. "But that was years ago. He's the sweetest person in the world and I love him."
Right then her boyfriend pops in to check on her because we've been talking a while. He looks like a Pagan in a Raquel Welch wig. Eyeing me suspiciously, he asks Tina if she's okay then heads back to the bar.
As soon as her boyfriend's gone, Tina asks me again not to use her real name.
I hand her my card and my cell phone number and say, "Here. You can hunt me down and stab me if I'm lying."
"No, I won't stab you. I'll just grab you by the throat and strangle you to death," she says, already worried she's said too much.
In an atmosphere where people are driven to protect a secret--a harmless secret--anxiety is a way of life. Sweet as honey just a few minutes ago, she swings the ladies' room door open as the last notes of "Funkytown" jangle on. "And you made me miss my fucking song," she says, as the door slams shut.
First Person Arts Podcast: Proud Mom