"Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap!" I'm running frantically around the house, trying to find my left shoe. I'm already running late, and now I might miss my appointment at the salon to help for my meeting with the matchmaker. Great.

Sure, it's probably really conspicuous to go to a salon when you're trying to hide the fact that you're gay, but I honestly don't care. It's important to make a good impression, especially if this one meeting was going to determine whom I would be with for the rest of my life.

And there was that stupid shoe! The clunky hiking boot that Dad insists I wear to help hide my 'problem' was hidden under my bed the whole time. I distinctly remember slipping it under there in hopes of never seeing it again, now that I think about it.

Dad completely respects the fact that I'm gay, but in a world like this you would be killed for such a thing. It's better to just keep it to yourself, go with the flow of society. Go to school, get an education, get a good job, have a marriage arranged for you. Simple. Still, I wish that there were something I could do, some way to feel like myself for a change. Not this boy I'm forced to be, who wears ugly boots and like sports and doesn't know a thing about musicals.

Alright, shoes on, get your jacket and keys, get out of the house. I move faster than I even thought possible, practically throwing myself in the car and putting the keys in the ignition at the same time. My truck flies down the streets of Lima, until finally I reach Mercedes's salon. I climb out and immediately wince, seeing my friend's face through the large glass windows.

"Kurt Hummel, you are so lucky I like you."

I approach Mercedes slowly after noticing she has a rather large pair of scissors in her hand. "Why don't you just put those down, and we can get me ready?" She sighed and nodded, so I gave her my best attempt at a charming smile and sat in the swiveling chair beside the low sink. Mercedes grabbed all of my usual hair products, knowing just what I would need to look my best. I tried to keep quiet, I could tell she was pretty pissed at me.

This is what you give me to work with?
Well, baby, please don't fret
We're gonna fix this right up,
Without breaking a sweat

Warm water hit my temples, and those talented hands started kneading shampoo into my chestnut hair. Mercedes is literally the only person in the world I trust with my hair, other than myself of course. It's really a shame she's already betrothed to someone; I'd marry her in a heartbeat if it meant I could live life with my best friend. Even if I wasn't attracted to anything she had to offer, physically that is.

We'll have you
Washed and dried
Primped and polished til you glow with pride

How else could you ever find a bride?
You'll bring honor to us all

Wait and see
When we're through

Girls will surely want to be with you
With good fortune and a great hairdo
You'll bring honor to us all

A man can start his family
Only in this one way
By striking a good match
And this could be the day

I groan a little when Mercedes finishes. The relaxing part is over, and we've moved on to the primping stage. Whoever said that beauty is pain was clearly the smartest person in the world. My chair was pushed away from the sink, and now Mercedes and I are in front of one of the oversized mirrors. I feel the cool metal of scissors briefly touch the back of my neck as Mercedes goes to town on my hair.

Find a girl with good taste
Calm
Obedient
Who works with haste
If you happen to
Find one with grace
You'll bring honor to us all

We all must do our best to
Live the life that we receive
Men work hard and must take care
Of the families they conceive

With one final sweeping motion, Mercedes finishes my hair. Flawless, as usual. I give her a big grin and she smiles back, pinching my cheek like I'm her little brother or something.

When we're through you can't fail
Girls will fall for your skin, soft and pale
How could any woman say "No sale"
You'll bring honor to us all

"There! You're ready." She helps me up and gives me a hug, then shoos me out the door. "Go meet your mother!" Crap. That's right. Carole has a fascination with documenting these "special occasions," so I've got to meet up with her before I go see the matchmaker. I run out to my car for the second time today, driving like a maniac down to a nearby diner.

"Oh, Kurt! You'll do such a good job, I just know it," Carole says, pulling me in a tight hug.

I return it, but she doesn't realize that I hug her so tightly because I'm scared. Truly terrified. I'm about to march off to what could be my doom, and she didn't even let me finish my breakfast first! Well, at least now I can't throw up from being nervous, there's nothing in my body to purge except a couple servings of coffee. "Great. Thank you." I give my stepmother a halfhearted smile. "Can I get going now?"

"Not yet!" Her eyes pop open, suddenly frantic. "I have some things to give you, come out to my car." We head outside and she tells me to close my eyes. I sigh and do as I'm told, listening to her open the passenger's side door and shuffle around, looking for something. "Aha! Found it!" I open my eyes and she has a little gift bag for me. I smirk lovingly at her and open it up.

"I know how much you love pins, and I found this owl..." She attached the tiny pin to the collar of my shirt, a black button down that tucked into a nice pair of loose jeans. "They represent intelligence, you know. A very desirable male trait." It was adorable how much thought Carole put into this. She reaches into the bag again and pulls out a tiny can of hairspray. "And I bought you one of these, I know you like to fix your hair before going places."

"Thank you, Carole." I laugh as she smiles and playfully spritzes my bangs. "I really gotta go though..."

"I'm not done!" She puts the bag down in the car and turns back to me, putting a hand on each shoulder. I know what's coming now. I'm about to get the speech she had been planning for ages.

Confidence is key, dear
You must proudly show it

She reaches into her car one last time and pulls out a tiny cage. Something yellow hops around inside, and I immediately recognize it as Pavarotti, my pet songbird. I can't believe she brought him here, but who am I to complain? Pav always makes me feel better.

Now add a warbler just for luck
And even you can't blow it

One last hug, and I'm off again. I've only been awake for a few hours, how in the world has this morning gone so slowly? Back in the car, ready (I guess) to go meet the matchmaker, I make a silent prayer. No, I don't believe in God. What God would make a world where being myself equals instant death? Still, praying couldn't hurt at a time like this.

If you're there
Hear my plea

Help me not to make a fool of me
And to not uproot my fam'ly tree
Keep my father standing tall

Yes, never forget to pray for Dad. He's my world, and I'd be dead already if he weren't so understanding. After his heart attack, he needs my prayers anyway.

All too soon I'm there, standing outside the looming doors of Rachel Berry's office building with Pavarotti on my shoulder, chirping comfortingly in my ear. With a deep breath, I knock twice. The door opens slightly and a brown eye appears in the crack. "Kurt Hummel?"

"Yeah, that's me." The eye disappears and is replaced by an entire body, that of the matchmaker herself.

"Follow me," Rachel says. Back straight, eyes forward, I follow her into the darkness. This is really an amazing analogy to my future, isn't it? Being led through the unknown by some woman I don't even know if I'll like. I shake the thought from my mind and keep walking, making one last silent prayer. "Please bring honor to my family," I say under my breath. I'm ushered into a small, dimly lit room. Let my consultation with the matchmaker begin.


"TIME'S UP!" Rachel calls, snatching my test paper away from me. I barely got through the math portion and my essay is probably shit, but at least it's over with now. "Hummel, you didn't-"

"I know, I know, I didn't get through the whole thing." I hit my palm to my forehead in frustration. "You should really consider shortening that, you know." I hear Pavarotti chirp in agreement from the banister of the ceiling, but Rachel doesn't seem to take notice. She glares at me from over her clipboard.

"Taking out of turn?" She clicks her tongue to the roof of her mouth and writes something down. I close my mouth and fight to keep it shut, before I yell at this little bitch who probably wouldn't be married if she wasn't the freakin' matchmaker. Rachel makes an upward motion with her hands, and I stand politely.

"I'll look at your intelligence score later. Now we look at appearance." It suddenly became very quiet, other than the small noises Berry made as she looked me over, and the scathing scratching of her pencil against her clipboard. She pokes and prods me like a piece of meat, until finally she makes one finally note and pushes me into my chair. Rachel sits across from me and taps her pencil against the clipboard. "I just have a few more questions. Do you have any special skills?"

I nod. "I'm pretty handy with mechanics. My father owns a tire shop. Oh, and I sing." I smile proudly. My voice is to die for, if I do say so myself.

"Oh, really?" Rachel smiles widely. "What are you?"

"Countertenor."

"Oh," she says, the smile leaving her face as fast as it came. "That's quite... feminine." I shrug and she gives me a strange look, but moves on to the next question. "Do you have any career plans?"

Broadway. "Ya know, just gonna take over the shop."

"I see. And what is it that you like to see in a woman?"

Five o'clock shadow, a six-pack, nice teeth, male genitalia. "You know, I really want a girl with a good personality. Looks, they don't matter to me much."

"Hmm. I see. Not many guys who come through here say that." She glares at me and paces in a circle. "There's something different about you, and I just can't put my finger on it."

"Sorry, I don't know what you mean." I rise out of my chair. "Are we done here?"

"I suppose we are," she replies, and just as she stands I see something yellow fly past her.

"Shit! Pav don't!" I say, more to myself than to the bird. Rachel looks at me like I'm crazy.

"Are you talking to yourself?"

"What? No, don't be silly." I look past her head in search of Pavarotti, but it soon became clear that I was looking too far. Pav was on top of her head. My body twitches and I immediately swat at the songbird, which Rachel was still oblivious of.

"What the hell?" She ducked out of the way, scaring Pavarotti into flying across the room. She gives me a look of complete distaste. "You idiot, what do you think you're doing?"

"Trust me, sweetie, if I wanted to hit you it would've happened." Her jaw drops, and I regret the words as soon as they leave my lips. She points to the door, yelling profanities that are very unladylike. The door is thrown open, and I am thrown out. "Have fun with your match, Hummel." She spits my name with venom. "I've got just the girl in mind for you." The door slams, leaving me alone on the street. I'm about to walk to my car, when I notice something is missing. Crap. Pav.

I sneak back over to the door and open it quietly. Pav is sitting on the banister out in the hall, and I quickly whistle to get him back down. I hear a groan from the next room, and Rachel stalks out into the hall. "What do you want, Hummel?" She says, just as I grab Pavarotti and hide him behind my back.

Now, I'm pretty good at quick thinking, but the things I come up with aren't always the best ideas. When I flip her the bird (and not the one hidden behind my back), I think it's safe to say that was one of those bad, bad ideas. She's practically steaming from the ears as she grabs for something to throw at me, but I'm out of there too fast for her. I hear a heavy object hit the door, and I run before she has time to open it and try again.

The ride home was long, but not long enough. I don't want to tell anyone about what just happened. I look in the rearview mirror as I pull into our empty driveway, and I see the fear and confusion on my face. Why does this all need to happen to me? A single tear rolls down my cheek, the salt burning my dry skin. I laugh, because it wouldn't burn so much if Dad hadn't made me throw out my facial moisturizer. It sent the wrong message, I guess. But why does there have to be a message involved?

Look at me
I never asked for the perfect bride, and never did I offer
To give away what I feel inside my heart
Now I see I can never truly be myself
In this world, I have no part

Who is this boy I see
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection someone I don't know
Some how I can not hide
Who I am, though I've tried
When will my reflection show who I am inside

I wipe away any tears and take a deep breath. My body rolls out of the car without my knowledge, and I walk the path to my house, closing the door behind me without a sound.