Authors: Kate Langdon
Praise for Famous…
‘Kate Langdon has cemented her place as the pioneer of quality New Zealand chick lit. Her first novel, That Slippery Slope, was brilliant – and this is even better.’
The Dominion Post
‘Move over Marian Keyes, Kate Langdon is on the scene and she is stealing centre stage – fast. Well-plotted, well-written and very, very funny.’
Taranaki Daily News
‘Naughty, hilarious and highly entertaining.’
‘Chick lit at its snazziest, wittiest and frothiest…funniness that rivals a Friends script.’
New Zealand Herald
‘Langdon’s plot is action-packed, her humour deft and insightful, and she is an author to watch.’
Otago Daily Times
‘This book is retail therapy for the soul!’
Hawkes Bay Today
By Kate Langdon
Copyright © Kate Langdon 2013
Kate Langdon asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events; to real people, living or dead; or to real locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity. Other names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and their resemblance, if any, to real-life counterparts is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any format, without the prior written permission of the author.
eBook formatting by Maureen Cutajar
ife should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming…woo hoo, what a ride!
‘Pull!’ hollered Ethan. ‘Thatta girl!’
I lay crouched on my knees in a field of muddy grass, eye level with the fanny of a very large cow, my arms stuck up to their pits in it, covered in God-only-knew-what, attempting to grasp the legs of her very-nearly-about-to-be-born calf. The complete and utter irony of the situation did not escape me. Barely six months earlier my thirty-three-year-old life had been coasting along all according to plan. My plan. I lived in the city in my fabulously stylish apartment, I was this close to being made a partner at the advertising firm in which I’d worked for the past eight years, I was invited to the opening of every hot new bar in town, and I was relishing every moment of my Single Girl Metropolitan City Life. In other words, as I crouched in the muddy grass, with my arms firmly planted in the cow’s colossal femininity, it was glaringly evident my life had been turned upside down.
‘Here she comes, Sam!’ cried Ethan, as the cow let out one final long groan. ‘Pull!’
And pull I did. Then I pulled some more. I pulled until, with one gigantic squelching sound, I was left cradling a tiny brown slippery calf in my bloody arms.
‘Great job, Sam!’ said Ethan, putting his arm around my shoulders and grinning. ‘You’re a pro.’
Still hugging the tiny calf in my arms, I grinned back.
Its eyelids were beginning to flutter, about to see the world for the very first time.
‘Better put her down by Mum,’ instructed Ethan, taking the calf and placing it gently down beside its mother’s head, ready for the cleaning process to begin. ‘Otherwise she might think that’s you.’
‘Okay,’ I replied. My life may have been turned on its head but I still had no desire to lick the mucus from a newborn calf.
So, how exactly did I get from the big city to crouching in a muddy paddock wearing a pair of farmer’s gumboots? I bet you’re wondering. So was I.
In retrospect, which is a fine but essentially useless thing, my life had started to go a bit patchy with a phone call from my ex-boyfriend Jerry eight months earlier. I hadn’t spoken to Jerry, let alone laid eyes on him for over three years, was the closest I had ever come to settling down with a man. We’d been together for a year-and-a-half before I let him move his possessions through my front door. He had lived in my apartment for approximately six weeks. Jerry was stylish, he was kind and considerate, and he was undeniably good looking, but the effect his presence had inflicted upon my SGD (Single Girl’s Den) was catastrophic. He’d hardly been there two minutes before he wanted to hang the hideous photograph of his university football team in my living room. He simply didn’t understand that my apartment had taken years of shopping and strategic placement to look just the way I wanted it to. And that there was simply no bloody room in it for some God-awful footy picture.
But it was his mother’s Christmas cake that finally broke the camel’s back. Or my back, to be more specific. His mother had sent him her annual homemade Christmas cake and this had somehow wound up sitting in its ugly floral box in my pantry for weeks on end, cluttering what was an otherwise streamlined space. I hate Christmas cake. I hate the smell of it, the look of it, and the fact it just seems to stick around forever and never go away, much like Christmas ham. I told Jerry in no uncertain terms that he either found another home for his Christmas cake, or for himself, and considered the case to be closed. Then one night I returned home late from a work function and walked through my living room to the kitchen, only to trip over the goddamn cake box lying on the floor beside the sofa, fly through the air and land sprawled backwards across my white Conran coffee table. Through the pain of my two cracked vertebrae I still remember my complete shock that Jerry had been eating the bloody Christmas cake while sitting on my white Emporia Italia sofa. He knew very well there was no eating on the sofa! He’d probably had his God-awful smelly feet up on it too!
While lying in traction in the hospital the next day, I informed Jerry that he could promptly take his cake, hideous football photo and smelly socks and fuck off out of my apartment. It wasn’t easy being livid while lying in traction and completely unable to move any part of one’s body, apart from one’s mouth (ever so slightly) and eyes. He must have got the message though, because when I was released four weeks later he was nowhere to be seen and my SGD had returned to its natural clean, serene state. I promptly vowed never to let another man move through my front door until I had made a complete stocktake of all his worldly possessions and forced him to sign a declaration stating (amongst several other clauses) that his mother did not bake. I strongly doubted any man would pass my stringent new shack-up criteria and I felt strangely secure in this knowledge.
Plus, I liked having my own space and my own routine. The thought of a bloke messing it all up with stray socks, beer bottles and car magazines made me shudder. It was not the look I was aiming for. I liked my white walls, my chaises longues, my Japanese vases and my clean stainless bench tops. They were soothing and comforting, my Zen-like womb. Every piece of art adorning the white walls was either a relic from an overseas trip or a hard-earned investment.
However, it was slightly disconcerting to note that the only men who shared my passion for minimalist clean lines and white Italian furniture appeared to be gay. Although I felt secure in the knowledge that any one of my gay friends would be happy to donate their sperm (should I at any stage feel maternal) and would undoubtedly make a fantastic husband. They would have their own life, I would have mine, and together we would share a stylish space we called home. And a baby of course. The perfect family.
But back to Jerry’s phone call. He had some news he just had to share with the girl who’d helped him see the light. He’d had a sex change. A sex change! And what’s worse, he wanted to ask me out to dinner.
‘What does that make me?’ I’d wailed to Mands and Lizzie, my two best friends. ‘Some sort of confused lesbian?’
‘No,’ they replied. ‘That makes him the confused lesbian. You’re just an innocent bystander.’
‘But I shagged him. Lots. And we lived together.’
‘Doesn’t count,’ said Mands. ‘He was a bloke then. Wasn’t he?
‘Course he bloody was.’ I glared at her. ‘A blokey bloke too.’
‘Unbelievable,’ she said, shaking her head in dismay. ‘You just never can tell.’
‘So, has he gone the full hog?’ asked Lizzie.
‘God knows,’ I replied. ‘All he said is that he’s now a woman.’
‘What if he’s a woman with legs like tree trunks and a face full of stubble?’ said Mands.
‘Now there’s a lovely thought,’ I replied. ‘Cheers.’
‘Wonder if he gets premenstrual?’ asked Lizzie.
‘All men think they get premenstrual,’ I replied. ‘Nothing odd about that.’
‘So, are you going to go?’ they both asked.
‘I guess I have to,’ I sighed. ‘Otherwise I’m going to look like some sort of…’
‘Transsexual hater,’ finished Mands.
‘That’s right,’ I agreed. ‘A transsexual hater.’
‘Not very PC,’ added Lizzie, shaking her head. ‘Really not.’
‘I just can’t believe it,’ said Mands, for the umpteenth time that night. ‘Jerry is a woman.’
‘Trust me,’ I replied. ‘Neither can I.’
‘So, tell me,’ said Lizzie. ‘What’s he called now? I mean, he must have changed his name, right?’
‘I don’t know. He didn’t say anything.’
‘P’haps he’s just sticking with Jerry?’ said Mands. ‘You know, like Jerry Hall.’
‘It probably doesn’t say Jeremy on her birth certificate,’ I pointed out.
‘True,’ they agreed.
‘Bet he’s changed it,’ said Lizzie. ‘I would.’
‘Oh, are you planning on having a sex change too are you?’ said Mands. ‘Nice of you to tell us!’
‘Very funny,’ replied Lizzie.
‘Maybe he wants to get back together with you?’ suggested Mands.
‘Oh, there’s a pleasant thought. My ex-boyfriend who is now a woman wants to start dating again. How fabulous.’
‘No,’ said Lizzie. ‘I bet he just wants to confront you and his past, so that he can move on and…and be a woman.’
‘I’m perfectly happy not to be confronted,’ I replied. ‘I really am.’
‘Bit selfish though, isn’t it?’ said Mands. ‘He wants you to see him as a woman just so he can move on with his life, without any consideration as to how you might feel about seeing him…I mean her.’
‘Exactly,’ I agreed. ‘Selfish bastard.’