Posted in Fiction

The Surprising Revelation of Velma Von Tussle: A Short Story from the POV of Hairspray’s Venomous Villain

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Thanks for having me over. It’s been a really long day. If I have to endure one more taping of those negroes singing and dancing on the Corny Collins stage, I swear, I’ll leave this stupid, filthy, liberal Baltimore and go somewhere that’s the real America. Like… Arkansas. Wait. Nevermind. I can’t imagine what that kind of humidity would do to my hair. I can’t afford to look bad, Prudy. Not at my age, let me tell you.

Oh, thanks for the drink. A double? You shouldn’t have.

It’s amazing, really. All I try to do is put on the best show I can. Every single day I create a program from the ground up that serves as endless entertainment for families all around our city. And what do I have to put up with now? A demand for integration. A plea that I give the negroes a chance. And that little bitch Tracy Turnblad who thinks she’s starting some kind of revolution. I swear — I thought Edna was a piece of work, but her daughter is even worse, a goddamned degenerate she is. But you know what? It’s only temporary. It’s all going to pass. Because the negroes of all ages, of all backgrounds, have their place, and it’s not with my show, and it’s certainly not with me.

At least, I guess… not anymore.

You can’t tell a soul. Not Amber. And not Franklin, even though he’d never believe you. That man, I swear, would take my word about anything in this world. No, this is something that can only exist between us, understand? I never even told my mother about this. This would have killed her.

Another drink? Sure thing.

So I’ve only been in love a few times in my life. One time was with this freckle-faced redhead named Carl, who I quickly dumped for Franklin after I got pregnant, but… you’ve heard that story. The first boy I loved? His name was Jason Laroche. Isn’t that the most sublime last name you’ve ever heard? We met when I was seventeen, during my senior year. One day I was walking home from school when I tried a shortcut, which took me the wrong way, of course it did, and led me into a neighborhood I was not overly familiar with. And when I saw this negro couple walking down the sidewalk, I ran, Prudy, I just bolted. I thought I might be captured, tortured. Held for ransom. I don’t know. A hundred horrible thoughts were running through my mind, and I turned a corner too fast, got my foot caught in a gutter, and I slammed my face against the concrete. Boom! Thankfully my teeth were saved — I didn’t even need a trip to the dentist — but I had bad cuts all over, I was bleeding. I didn’t know what to do. And then I felt these big hands grab me by the shoulders, and I heard this deep voice say, “Are you all right, Miss?” God, that voice. I’ll never forget it.

And I’ll never forget the way he looked, either. Jason was so beautiful, so tall and striking. He had the most genuine smile I’d ever seen on another person. He took me home and cleaned up my face — he used this impressive first aid kit, I guess his dad was a doctor — and before I left, you know what I did? I couldn’t help it, and I’m not ashamed. I didn’t even bother listening to the little voice in my head begging me to get out of there before I did something I regretted. I smashed my palms against Jason’s cheeks and I kissed him, Prudy. I kissed a negro man.

Oh, don’t give me that look. Hear me out. And yes, fine. I’ll have one more drink.

So I kissed him, and he kissed me back, and then suddenly being with Jason became a big part of my life, in between the long hours at school and dinner at home. My mom thought I was studying at the library, when I was really with Jason, taking walks, eating ice cream, listening to him play the harmonica. Jason was my whole world for a short window of time.

But then one Friday school got out early — for testing, I think, I can’t really remember — and I went over to see Jason at eleven instead of two-thirty. He was nineteen, out of school, in between jobs, and so I knew he’d be home. I didn’t even bother knocking. Instead, I came through his back door, which he always left unlocked. I tiptoed down the hall, quietly, and entered his room. This was the day I was going to tell him I loved him.

But then I saw him on the bed, naked, with another girl, a tall, curly-haired white girl. I never did find out her name. I kicked her in the chest, and slapped Jason in the face, and I sprinted out of there as fast as I could.

Sure, one more drink. But seriously. That’s the last one.

Jason eventually caught up to me. It was the first time I’d even seen him in my own neighborhood. He told me he was sorry, that he cared about me. But then he said he didn’t want to see me anymore. I asked him why — I couldn’t resist — and when I close my eyes right now, I swear I can still see the look on his face when he said this. Jason said that I’d gotten too fat. He called me fat, Prudy. There I was, a white teenager slumming it with some unemployed negro boy, and he has the gall to call me fat. Oh, I screamed in his face. Told him to go die, to go back to the hellhole he came from.

And then you know what I did next? I starved myself that summer. I ate nothing but berries and carrots and celery sticks, and that September I auditioned for the Miss Baltimore beauty pageant. Forty-nine girls. Forty-nine girls, and I won. The fat girl was no more, and Velma Von Tussle was finally born. A person who leads. A person who wins. A person who won’t let one negro, child or adult, girl or boy, near my amusement park, near my Amber, and especially near my television show. I don’t care about the color of their skin, that’s never been the problem. I care that one of their species, in that one despicable moment, made me feel like I was nothing. And so I’m going to spend the rest of my life guaranteeing their swift and thorough demise with every last piece of arsenal I’ve got.

Anyway. I should call Franklin. He’s probably wondering where I am. Or maybe he’s not, I don’t really care. The sad part of this whole story? I’ve never loved Franklin, not for one second. But I loved Jason. I loved him with all my heart.

Prudy. No, please. No more, okay? No more!

Oh — all right, if you insist. One last drink.

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