Coming out wasn’t exactly something Noodle would call easy. Noodle had plenty of experiences coming out of places — coming out of cabinets to startle her bandmates, coming out of a Fed Ex box, etc. Something like this, though? She didn’t even know where to begin. What if they asked if she was certain, or how she knew for sure? She didn’t really have an answer for that—she just knew. After taking a break from the first album, self-discovery became a priority in her life. When she returned to Kong, the first time she stood in front of the mirror from her old room and proudly uttered those two freeing words, she felt an immense pressure lifted from her shoulders. Suddenly her mind became clearer that day.
And here she sat with all that pressure back on her as she struggled to say those two words which now trapped her once again.
“You’ve been quiet, Noodle,” a deep and calming voice said. It snapped her back to reality, faced with the horror that she called her bandmates down to the living room couches for an emergency meeting. To be fair, nobody in this studio took “emergency” seriously, so she could always bail if need be. Would postponing the inevitable be much worse than getting everything off her chest now? Russel spoke again, “Is everything alright?”
“Are you upset that I ate your sandwich in the fridge?” 2D asked. She wasn’t, mainly because she didn’t know he was the one who took it. She’d make a mental note of that for the future. “If we’re here to discuss kitchen courtesy, I’ll take the blame for that one, but I want it noted that Murdoc’s been taking my lunches, too.”
“And if you keep complaining, I’ll start taking your dinners.”
Noodle fidgetted her clammy fingers, praying that this banter would go on forever. That is, until Russel caught her looking down and shaking. “Look, you guys are making her scared with your arguing.”
“I’ve made her scared? Please, Noodle doesn’t get scared! She’s just waiting for your dumb arses to shut up and let her speak,” Murdoc said.
“Call me a dumbass one more time and I guarantee I’ll shut you up permanently.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
In that moment, both men lunged at each other with one poor scrawny sap caught in the middle. “Hey you guys, cut it out! At least get me out of here!” Although 2D’s cries were ignored, one thing wasn’t: a swift kick that targetted Murdoc. He fell back to one of the couches and clutched his stomach region where he’d been attacked.
“For fuck’s sake, Noodle, why couldn’t you hit Russel?”
“Russel didn’t steal anyone’s food.”
“Attagirl,” Russel said. He patted her on the head and gave Murdoc one last nasty look, then took his seat. 2D sat at a distance from him and Murdoc, shaken from the sudden conflict. Noodle couldn’t help but giggle at this horribly dysfunctional family. She really did love them.
“Look, she’s all cheered up! Maybe she’s ready to tell us what was on her mind,” 2D said. They all pleaded to her with their stares, now focused on the topic she almost forgot. Fuck, she hated them.
“No matter what happened or what you did, I’m willing to overlook the fact that you just knocked the shit out of me. If you got in any trouble, I’ve got your back, sweetie,” Murdoc said. “We could always burn down the studio, run away with the insurance money, and change our names to Johnny and Delilah. It’s just like we’ve always planned.”—Russel gave him a dissapproving glare at the revelation of a supposedly ongoing secret plan. 2D wondered why he wasn’t invited to this getaway plot and decided that if he were, he’d name himself Stewart, since it’d be a shame to permanently part ways with such a decent name as his own; he’d hope the spelling difference would be enough to tip off the cops.—“Really, it’s better you tell me now so I can get the fake I.D.s printed sooner.”
The gesture was appreciated, but Noodle shook her head. “I didn’t get into trouble, I just...” She took a deep breath and decided it was now or never. Gripping onto her pants, she muttered two words.
“What was that? Didn’t catch that,” 2D said.
“I said...” Noodle repeated the words.
“Honey, you’re gonna have to raise your voice a bit,” Russel said.
The room was crashing around her. She thanked God that her bangs covered her eyes because she could’ve sworn they probably looked swollen and red from holding back tears of frustration. No matter how many times she said it, she spoke quieter and quieter.
Murdoc started, “Love, if you’re not going to spill, I’ve got things I wanted to do today—“
“I’m gay! I like girls.”
Noodle forgot she could breathe. She swore she could feel every air particle entering her lungs and hear every honk and curse from the traffic a few blocks away. She was in complete tune with everywhere else in the world, but she couldn’t predict how her family was feeling for the life of her. She did, however, feel a source of warmth enwrap itself onto her hand.
“Thank you for telling us,” she heard in 2D’s voice, though she wasn’t sure if she was imagining that response.
Where was the “how do you know?” Where was the “it’s just a phase?” Where was the lack of approval (not that she needed approval) that she’d built up for years in her mind?
She finally looked up at everyone and surprisingly saw understanding smiles all around. She also happened to see 2D exchanging some money to Murdoc while Murdoc mouthed something along the lines of I told you so. “You guys aren’t disappointed?”
“Disappointed?” Russel asked. “Noodle, the only way I’d be disappointed in you is if you ran away from the law with this fool and changed your name to Delilah.” He nudged Murdoc, who muttered something about Russel just being jealous that he didn’t come up with such a good plan, himself. “Besides, I can’t get upset with you for being the way you are if I’m gay, too.”
“Wait, you’re gay?!” Noodle mentally cursed herself for having gone through all this not realizing that the remedy to all her worries was right beside her the whole time.
“Yeah, Del wasn’t just a friend of his,” 2D said. “This guy’s about as straight as Murdoc’s nose,” he added with a snort.
“Sleep with one eye open, Stu,” Murdoc threatened. “Wait, sorry, forgot you’re fresh out of those.” Russel gave Murdoc a warning slap on the arm. “Ahem, what I meant to say was... Noodle, truth be told, none of us are straight. And trust me, you don’t exactly radiate straight energy, yourself.”
“You’re all gay?” This was like a dream come true!
“Bi,” Murdoc said. In hindsight, she should’ve seen this one coming from a mile away.
2D raised his hand. “Bi as well.” He lifted up his shirt to reveal two scars along his chest under his nipples, likely no older than a year or two. “Trans, too, actually. Got this work done with the money from the first album. I’m thinking of showing it off in one of the new music videos.”
“I’m vetoing that. There’s only one major sex appeal member allowed in the band, and that’s me.”
“I don’t know,” Russel said. “You’re doing a pretty awful job at it, Muds, considering you look like a half-baked booger. Maybe it’s time we get a replacement.”
“Oh please, don’t tell me you’d rather gawk at that bumbling blue-headed idiot than—erm, Noodle, are you okay, love?”
In listening to them talk, Noodle didn’t even notice how much she was crying. It wasn’t a bad cry. In fact, it felt beautiful and relieving. Every worry she had washed away from her through those tears. To think she wouldn’t have to be an outcast in her own family was a miracle. Noodle wiped her tears and couldn’t think of anything to say other than, “Thank you.”
2D smiled tenderly toward her and ruffled her hair a bit. “How about we get some ice cream to celebrate my new gay sister?”
“I’ll pay,” Russel said. “Anything for my new gay daughter,” he nudged her playfully.
“No, no, I’ll pay. She’s my always-been-gay daughter, after all,” Murdoc said.
“You guys realize I’m not ten anymore, right? I don’t need you to get sweets for me.” Noodle asked.
“So no ice cream?” 2D asked.
She almost said no, but she looked up at Russel and Murdoc’s faces silently fighting over who would get to treat her. In those faces, as well as 2D’s, she saw pride for her. They were absolutely beaming it. She thought maybe it’d be a waste to not milk it for all it was worth, just this once. “Sure, but only if they have cookie dough flavor.”