Caramel Constanza by Zach Ellis

Editor Acacia Blackwell, Editor's Choice, July 1st, 2015

"Did I want to pack hard or soft? Silicone?"

mojo wang art nailed magazine

I changed in front of everyone. I recorded my voice every other day to listen for deeper tones. My voice went from sounding like a grown woman to a prepubescent boy. Facial hair appeared, while the hair on my head migrated South. One day, I looked in the mirror to see a perky version of George Costanza staring back at me.

I was an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. I was all I could think about. I couldn’t stop staring in the mirror. I was fascinated with myself and horrified at how selfish and boring testosterone had made me.

I surprised myself by wishing for a bulge in my pants. The definition of manhood. I heard about something called a packer. It was something that resembled a penis, but was for stuffing purposes only. I had always been a non-fiction-versus-fiction kind of guy, so the idea of putting something in my pants that wasn’t real was not an easy choice. I swallowed my pride and went to my local feminist coffee bar/sex positive bookstore/sex toy shop and sought out the biggest packer they sold. I can’t tell you why it felt important to have the biggest one, but I assumed that bigger was better. Bigger meant real. Bigger meant I took my manhood seriously.

The clerk asked me questions I could not answer. Did I want to pack hard or soft? Silicone? White or black? If I packed hard, how did I feel about a rod in the packer? Was this for sexual purposes?

“Just something for my pants,” I said, my voice squeaking. “You know, to wear while I’m out shopping or something.”

The clerk smiled a knowing smile at me. She reached into a drawer and pulled out a fake flaccid penis. Like a good sales clerk, she placed it in my hands. She told me this was the Mister Softie. My mind went to soft serve ice cream, while my hands squeezed the packer. It was thick.

“That’s the 6.5 inch, she told me. “It comes in two colors. This one is caramel. It also comes in white.”

I stood there in a phallic daze, and as she began to reach for another packer, I told her I’d take it. I paid and rushed out of the store as quickly as I could. I was excited and embarrassed at the same time. I wanted to call someone and share the good news, but knew I’d probably be breaking many rules of etiquette.

I took the packer  home and held it in my hands some more. I stared at it. It stared back. I wanted to name it. I looked at the two of us in the mirror and settled on Costanza. Caramel Costanza.

I realized quickly that I should have stuck around the shop to ask how to keep Costanza in my shorts. I couldn’t quite figure out how he was supposed to stay put, but I assumed if he had a small space to live in, he wouldn’t move around. Like a caged chicken. I bought smaller underwear. Tighty Whities, to be precise. I shoved Costanza in my BVDs and felt like a real man.

I decided one morning, that the time had finally come to let the public experience me at my manliest. After twenty minutes of stuffing, shifting and settling Costanza, I grabbed my messenger bag and headed out the door. I was happy and confident. The bulge between my legs confirmed what I believed to be the end of my transition. My walk turned into a strut. I wondered if anyone noticed. I was so caught up in my moment that I did not realize the bus was coming and I was a block away from the stop.

I began to run and immediately realized this was a huge mistake. I could feel Costanza shift with each movement. He moved to the right, then scooted to the left. He went up, trying to escape his small BVD prison, then he began to move down. The leg holes tried their best to contain this massive lump of masculinity. He managed to inch his way out.

My penis was leaving my body. My penis was actually leaving my body and I couldn’t stop it.

I looked behind me to see that my bus was nearly to the stop and it became a race. Would Costanza make an appearance in front of the entire 8:10? I ran faster, hoping to make it to the stop to yank him out of my pants and shove him in my messenger bag. He fell faster with each step, the fake balls sliding down my thigh, and I knew I might have to figure out a way to board the bus with a penis dangling precariously above my sock.

Mere feet from the bus stop, I slowed down and hoped that Costanza was as out of breath as I was. He was stubborn though, and despite my best efforts, he slipped out of my left pant leg onto the dusty ground. The world stopped for a moment.

I noticed how well Caramel Costanza blended in with the dirt. I had to make a decision. Would I be a proud transgender man, picking up his penis and putting it in his messenger bag? Or would I abandon Costanza to the dust and grime of the bus stop, feigning ignorance to those around me? The brakes of the bus squeaked to a halt and my feet sidestepped Costanza to board the bus.

I quickly moved to the back and took an empty window seat, avoiding all eye contact with my co-riders. The bus idled as the driver waited for a woman running to catch it. I stared out the window and covertly looked for Costanza. He was there, all six-point-five flaccid caramel inches of him, staring back at me. The bus pulled away and I felt a mixture of regret and relief. I wondered how I would ever feel like a real man with nothing to show for it.

I took the bus home and couldn’t stop wondering if Costanza would be there when I got to my stop. He wasn’t. I imagined a dog in my neighborhood, proudly bringing Costanza home, to the horror of his owners. I mourned my friend, telling myself it was probably not meant to be, that what makes you a man or woman is not what’s between your legs but between your ears, right?

I called the sex toy shop the next day and asked if they had a Mister Softie in white. They said they’d set one aside for me.

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Header image courtesy of Mojo Wang. To view an artist feature and gallery of his work, go here.

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zach ellis writer nailed magazineZach Ellis writes creative nonfiction and is the author of the memoir Being, published by Instant Future. He has been published in The Nervous Breakdown, Rad Dad, NAILED, and The Gravity of the Thing. He lives in Portland.


Acacia Blackwell

Acacia is a writer from Portland, OR, which suits her because sunshine gives her anxiety. She is currently completing an MFA, despite being recently told by Tom Spanbauer that to become a better writer, she needs to "unlearn all that grad school stuff." She listened, and it seems to be working. Acacia is working on a collection of personal essays that she really doesn't want to admit might be a memoir, and a memoir that she really doesn't want to admit might be a novel.