“If you get Dr. Bowers on your side, that’s all that matters..”

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Ted tapped his thigh emphatically as he passed the sales advice on to Bert, who was, at this moment, en route to Dr. Bowers’ family practice in Tulsa.

The Hertz bus Ted was on rumbled habitually towards the rental car lot at Albuquerque International airport. Ted shifted his phone to the other ear.

“These statin promotions are really kickin’, so he’d be a fool not to want to sign up the whole practice. Oh, and don’t forget to mention there’s a trip to Cabo for the top three prescribing practices in the country. That should get his attention. Bowers loves a good margarita.”

He hung up with the junior sales rep, hoping that Bert was going to pick up where he’d left off with the good doctor. It meant a nice little extra manager’s bonus to Ted, and he needed it for supplies, particularly with the summer pageant season upon him.

Albuquerque. That happenin’ town, he’d heard a twenty-something sarcastically tell his buddy as they’d passed him en route to their seats on the connection from Dallas.

So true, he thought. Only one good bar in town, and their best-dressed contest didn’t pay much except in local glory and maybe a mescal shot or two from admirers. So different from the real hotspots like NoLa, South Beach and New York. But his pharma rep territory sadly precluded those places, leaving him to do what he could with the southwest drag circuit.

What really upset Ted most was the impact his road warrior career was increasingly having on his appearance. Stretchy polo shirts and pleated khakis were far more forgiving to a growing paunch than his favorite satin bustier and candy apple red stilettos. If he didn’t drop some pounds soon, his well-received Mae West persona, Maybe Yes, would soon be most decidedly Maybe No.

As he crammed himself into the Hertz Kia Soul sitting in stall 225, Ted shifted his black bra back into place, and cranked the AC. Albuquerque might not be a hotspot in terms of drag queen bars, but it was plenty warm in August. He drove out of the rental lot to the uptown Sheraton, which he liked because the manager, Xavier, gave him the ‘Queen for a Queen’ discount.  Xavi (or rather, Lupi Lupay, as his stage name went) was a tough local competitor, but they had bonded over the years around such fiercely-debated topics as the proper display of peacock feathers and flapper-era hemlines.

He drove down the I-25 highway, past the many storage centers and signs for the local Native American casinos, and began to think wistfully about his annual fall vacation to San Francisco.

Not too far away, thank God. He could almost taste the fresh seafood, smell the sea air and hear the ABBA. Of course this year would be sadly different with Lisa not joining him. She may have appreciated a well-fitting bra and a good lipstick, but in the end it wasn’t enough common ground for a marriage. Ted swallowed hard and blinked back some quick tears as he pulled into the hotel parking. He understood Lisa’s decision. Tough calls were familiar ground to pharma reps and drag queens alike.

 After all, people needed their Lipitor, and the show must go on.

 

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