Lupine never quite fit in with the other animals. He looked just like a normal wolf, he had gray fur and a long bushy tail and his main was coming very nicely for a 5th grader. One day in class Lupine’s teacher announced that they would be showing the play of “Little Red Riding Hood” for their parents in the spring. It was already the first of March and they had just 2 weeks to prepare, the class of little animals erupted with excitement, Little Red Riding Hood was their favorite story.
Lupine’s best friend a red fox named Whiskers leaded over and asked.
“What role are you going to try out for?”
“The wolf of course, silly” Lupine replied
“That would be a perfect role for you.” Whiskers said with excitement
“Yes, Indeed it would, how about you Whiskers, are you going to try out”
“Of course, I’m going to try for the role of the heroic hunter who saves little red riding hood.”
“Really, in my family the hunter is remember much differently than a hero, he was a misguided monster, but all the same, good luck.”
They ran off to lunch together and ate their sandwiches in silence and they imagined being on stage with their proud parents clapping.
They next day was auditions for the play. Lupine had stayed up all night rehearsing his lines in the bathroom mirror. “All the better to see you with my dear, har har har”. Or was it all the better to see you with my love? Whatever, he knew he had a great chance at nailing the role since he was one of three wolves in the class, and those other two wolves were no good at anything except licking their own balls, Lupine thought to himself. Lupine continued to rehearse his lines in his head as he waited for his named to be called.
“Next up, Lupine Wolfburger. Is there a Lupine Wolfburger here?” the Toad drama teacher croaked into the hall way.
“Here miss Toadstool, I’m over here”
“Oh there you are, so you’re going to try out for the roll of….” She flipped through her notepad, “let me guess…the role of the scary wolf?”
“Yes miss, I am trying out for the role of the Wolf.”
“Great, step inside, Lupine”
“Thank you miss Toadstool.” He squeaked as he felt his tummy coming up into his throat. Lupine never tried out for anything so he was very scared. He shuffled behind her nervously as he followed her into the dark auditorium.
The room was much bigger and darker than he had remembered from school assembly days. He looked around and saw Mrs. Annie Alpine Ibex, Mr. Gorilla, and the old withered face of Mrs. Toadstool. They looked at Lupine expectantly.
“Well…” Mrs. Annie Alpine Ibex said after a long pause
Lupine just stood there petrified in the bright lights
“Well...” she repeated
Lupine leaned into the microphone
“Um…” he said. Which was followed by the electric crackle of feedback.
Mr. Gorilla sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Um…” Lupine repeated “Um…I’m going to read to part of the wolf.”
“Well, get on with it Lupine we haven’t got all afternoon there are at least six of your classmates waiting outside.” Ms. Toadstool interjected.
“Yes, yes sir…I mean miss.” Lupine mumbled
“I happen to change my sex ever time I meet a new mate. Lupine, get on with it. My sequential hermaphroditism is not important at this moment, but we do need a true thespian to play the roll of the big bad wolf, you got the look, but do you have the attitude?”
It was in the moment that Lupine knew that he would need to bring his best acting forward, he had practiced for hours in the mirror, he was ready, he was more than ready he was going to nail this role.
He face turned dark and the room fell silent.
“Come closer my dear.” He hissed with a toothy grin. “That’s right, a little closer.”
“I’ve brought you a cake grandma” Mrs. Toadstool said in a rather flat tone.
“Oh, my dear. Thank you. Put the cake on the counter and come into bed with me. Come keep you grandma warm” Lupine replied wolfishly
“Oh ok grandma.”
“Good good my child” Lupine mimicked open the bed covers
“Grandmother, what big arms you have!”
"All the better to hug you with, my dear."
"Grandmother, what big legs you have!"
"All the better to run with, my child."
"Grandmother, what big ears you have!"
"All the better to hear with, my child."
"Grandmother, what big eyes you have!"
"All the better to see with, my child."
"Grandmother, what big teeth you have got!"
"All the better to eat you up with."
“Bravo, bravo!” Mr. Gorilla Exclaimed, as he thumped his chest with excitement.
“Looks like we’ve found our wolf” Mrs. Toadstool said with a clap.
“Thank you, thank you.” Lupine was beaming
Lupine rushed home that day and told his parents the good news. His mom was proud of him and his dad gave him a big pat on the head and said well done.
The next day after school was his first day of rehearsals, Lupine showed up 5 minutes early and waited outside the door scratching on it periodically to see if Mrs. Toadstool was inside. After what felt like an eternity the doors opened the all the actors entered the dark auditorium excitedly. Whiskers did not get the roll of the hunter but instead had to settle for the roll of the guy who moves the trees and set props around during the intermission.
Mrs. Toadstool grabbed the microphone.
“Ok everyone gather around. First of congratulations to all of you! You have been selected from a very competitive field of students to put on our 4th annual Little Red Riding Hood play at Oakdale Elementary School for Gifted Animals.” They all clapped.
“Alright, so everyone, today we are just going to go though Act One, so we’ll only be needing Red Riding Hood, Father and Mother Hood and their dog. The rest of you please go to the back for your costume fitting.” Mrs. Toadstool explained.
Lupine shuffled off with the rest of the animals to the back stage where he found Mr. Gorilla standing next to a long rack of clothes.
“Lupine, come over here.”
“Yes. Mr. Gorilla.”
“Ok, so you look like…uh…about a size medium, would you say?”
“Yes sir Mr. Gorilla.”
“This one aught to fit.” He held out a red nightgown
Lupine reached for it and when his paw touched the fabric he felt a tingling sensation.
“Well…Take it. Try it on.” Mr. Gorilla said impatiently
“Um Thank you.” Lupine snapped back into the moment
Lupine walked to the dressing room with gown in hand and again he could feel a sensation of excitement and anticipation. He moved his paw up and down the silky gown and imagined how it would feel against his body.
In the dressing room he removed his school issue white dress shirt and tie. He then raised his arms and let the dress slip gently over his shoulders and down his body. He looked in the mirror for a long moment just blinking. For the first time in his life he felt beautiful, he felt that he was himself. He loved the way the silk gown moved with his body and he moved. He posed in many positioned in the mirror. And felt more beautiful than he had ever felt in his life, actually for the first time in his life he liked what he saw staring back at him. He just stood there gazing, when suddenly a thump, thump, thump came at the dressing room door. Lupine yipped.
“Lupine are you done in there, I need to try on my hunter outfit!” Benny Badger yelled though the door.
“Um. Yea. I’m all done in here, nothing to see, nothing to see. Just give me a sec.” Lupine stammered.
Lupine crumped the dress into his school bag and hurriedly got out of the dressing room bumping into Benny as he left.
“Geez, do you mind.” Benny said with a look of shock.
Lupine said nothing and kept walking with his head down. What happened he asked himself? What happened in there? He just kept walking, right past Mr. Gorilla who was looking for an outfit for goose playing one of the townsfolk.
Lupine hurried home and closed his bedroom door. He threw his school bag on the floor and peered out his widow at the street below. Lupine turned around ever so often to gaze at his bag on the floor calling his name, the dress within beckoning him.
“Um ok just one more time then no more until the play.” He said to himself. He slowly walked to his bag and the red dress within. His paw trembled with anticipation as he gripped the zipper. He unzipped his bag slowly as the red silk of the gown came into view. He caressed it with the back of his paw and closed his eyes and let his body drink in all the sensations. Gently he pulled the dress from the bag and held it in front of himself. He felt both excitement and fear as his breaths came in short bursts. He took a deep breath from his nose and exhaled.
For the second time today he lifted the dress above his head and let the fabric fall over him. And again he looked in the mirror longingly. He felt beautiful again. He began to run his fingers over the dress and posed in the mirror. Suddenly a click, and his bedroom door was open and standing there was his father, a great gray wolf nearly the height of the door frame with mouth aghast blinking with a pile of folded laundry in hand, the stack of clothing fell to the floor with soft thud. Lupine looked back at him confused and horrified.
“Um son…I came home early and uh, thought uh.” And then he backed out of his room closed the door. Kicking the laundry in his room as the door became stuck.
Lupine stood there in his red gown and put his paws over his face and began to sob. Tears streamed down his face.
“Stupid, so stupid. Why did I even do this?” He ripped at his dress, tarring it off in tatter sheets of silk.
On the other side of the door his father stood in the dark hallway. He could hear his son’s muffled cries. Daddy wolf walked down the hallway to his room where he began to go though his mommy wolf’s closet, he found and only dress that would fit him which was his wife’s pink muumuu she wore to a luau while on vacation in Maui last year. He slipped it on over his head and walked back to his son’s room and knocked.
“Knock, knock. Anyone there?” Daddy wolf asked though the door
There as no answer so daddy wolf slowly opened the door and he could see Lupine sitting in a chair head down in a tattered red dress. He entered the room, stepping over toys and laundry that covered the floor.
Lupine did not look up at first but as daddy wolf approached his eye lifted and what he saw his dad in the pink muumuu. Daddy wolf put his hand on Lupine’s shoulder.
“Hey champ, head up. Sorry about that earlier, I should have knocked.”
“What are you wearing dad, you look ridiculous.” He sniffeled.
“Son, what ever this is, it’s ok with me.” Daddy wolf patted him
“Really?” Lupine looked up
“Yea totally, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Listen if you want to wear a dress go ahead. I’m always going to be your father no matter what.”
“Thanks dad. You know you didn’t have to put on that ridiculous muumuu to tell me this.”
And they both laughed. From that day on Lupine knew that he could be himself no matter who that wolf would be.
The next week Mommy and Daddy wolf attended the school play of Little Red Riding Hood and Lupine was the star indeed, the entire auditorium gave him a standing ovation for his both scary and conniving portrayal of the big bad wolf. After the play they took Lupine out for pizza and ice cream to celebrate his big night.