I WAS the hottest of hot messes.
The reflection looking back at me in the hotel room’s bathroom mirror was terrible. My auburn hair had the posttravel appearance: random locks sticking up on end and a headrest indent from sleeping on the plane. Ah yes, very classy. I combed it forward a bit more and frowned. Product would fix it, but that was in my suitcase, and my suitcase apparently forgot to make the connecting flight out of Atlanta. The airline assured me they were “looking into the matter.”
I stared at myself harder.
And this suit! Jesus Christ, how had I ever let the salesman talk me into this shit?
What had he called it? Power clashing, or something.
“It’s not a business event,” I had told him.
“What sort of convention is it?”
“Er—it’s, uh—for single people to… mingle,” I had awkwardly offered.
“Oh honey! And it’s in San Diego, you said? So we’ll throw some bright, beachy colors into this. Don’t worry,” he had told me over and over. “You’ll look so fierce. Your phone won’t have enough memory for all of the numbers you’re going to come away with.”
And at the ungodly hour of six in the morning, before leaving my New York apartment for the West Coast, I had decided to make a good impression as soon as I arrived at WaddleCon and wear the suit on the plane instead of changing after.
I sighed and plucked absently at the jacket. Brown, what was this—tweed? A plaid tie. Blue striped shirt. And these pants… I think the salesman had called them salmon.
I called it the worst decision I’d made since signing up for this stupid event.
“So I have my bad hair,” I said to the mirror while ticking off the points on my fingers. “And my even worse suit.”
And I was attending a singles’ convention for special people like me to find their forever penguin partner. But after I paid the attendance fee, got a hotel room, and booked my flight, I found out it was specifically for guys and gals.
Not that these folks hadn’t read the story And Tango Makes Three, but they weren’t really using their budget to cater to the few gay penguins—er, people—in the community.
I sighed dramatically.
“My name’s Theodore Reinhart, I look like a rainbow puked on me, and I’m a gay penguin—Magell—attending a meet and greet for straight folks.”
Yep. Hot mess. No doubt about that.