New Ending: Tootsie (1982)
by Daniel M. Shapiro
Michael Dorsey has blown it, has lied to millions, to Julie, losing two women at once. When you love someone and lie, you camouflage with wigs, false teeth. Stripping down to conventional man on live TV, he delivered a monologue sharp as corset bones. Housewives gasped and cheered, reassigned chores. Julie still needed a babysitter. Now, with minutes to spare in the last reel, with Dave Grusin’s score swelling like shoulder pads, Dorsey waits for Julie outside the studio to tell her he loves her. His secret shocking as comfort flats, he appears as Dorothy. He crosses fingers with French-manicured nails, prays Julie will accept Dorothy for who she really is, prays she will hold his hand as he sheds the pronoun that never fit.
I Know as Much as the Day I Was Born*
by Daniel M. Shapiro
The powers will tell us when to talk about race. Three white men and a black woman perform in a studio. Two of the men, piano player and drummer, play hard, too hard, as if they’ll be abused if they put their arms down. The other white man dances, chews gum as he sings. The black woman leans on the piano until the chorus, when she walks over to the singer and backs him up. This group performs rhythm and blues made slick with strings, rhythm guitar, funky bass all outside our view. Many couldn’t guess the right colors. When the song ends, white people in centuries-old clothes pose in front of a mural on the studio wall, a mural that shows a factory, dirtied workers in lighted helmets, police to keep out and in. Still the powers haven’t given us a heads-up. We don’t know what to talk about: white people trying to make black music, a black woman staying in the background, scabs working jobs as if they truly belong. We fidget over chord progressions, irregular harmonies. We wait.
*Title is a lyric from “Shout to the Top” by The Style Council (#7 on UK Singles Chart, 1984)
Daniel M. Shapiro is the author of “How the Potato Chip Was Invented” (sunnyoutside press, 2013), a collection of celebrity-centered poems. His recent work has appeared in Rogue Agent, Hermeneutic Chaos, Maudlin House, Unbroken, and elsewhere. He is a special education teacher who lives in Pittsburgh.