Mandy and I took advantage of Brooke's bathroom break to have a quick strategic conversation about the next steps.

"You're not going to tell him about faeries, are you?" she asked.

I shook my head. "No, I think that'd be a bit too much for him right now."

"So what, then? A total sex change is a BIG thing. How are you going to explain that?"

Well, she had me there. I heard the toilet flush and the door open. Brooke was coming back. I'd just have to wing it.

"Sorry 'bout that," Brooke said. "I'm... not sure what's come over me. Look, bro, now that you've seen the spot I'm in, are you gonna help?"

I shrugged. "Brooke, you're a jerk, an ass, and a moron. I've got half a mind to leave you to your troubles. You certainly deserve it. But yeah, I'm going to help. First off, we have to diagnose your condition."

"My condition?"

"Yeah," I continued. "I have two theories. The first is that you were once a man and got changed into a chick through the use of some kind of powerful magic spell. It know this may sound..."

"Crazy," Brooke finished. "That's a little nuts, as a theory, don't you think? What's your OTHER theory?"

Yeah, he really wasn't going to buy the magic angle, not in a million years. I was going to have to find something MUCH better.

"Hypnosis," I improvised. "It explains everything and makes a lot more sense, don't you think?"

"Hypnosis?" he asked, hesitantly.

I pressed on, seeing an opening. This might work.

"You're really a chick, but were hypnotized into thinking you're a man -- or were once a man. And there might be a few more triggers, too, like some words that make you come, or events that cause some reactions."

Brooke looked at Mandy. "Like our boobs getting stuck together?"

"Right," she nodded. Sensing where I was going, she ran with the idea. "Did you go see that hypnotist show a few weeks back? That guy was in town -- what's his name again? -- and I hear he was pretty good."

Brooke shook his head. "No, I don't think so." He paused, then corrected himself. "At least I don't REMEMBER so. But maybe I took some chick there... I mean, maybe I went there with a guy, and got tricked..."

Brooke hesitated, then covered his face with his hands, and started crying.

"Shit, this is so messed up! I'm a chick, but I think I'm a guy, and I'm attracted to other chicks, but when I look at me in the mirror, I turn myself on, but shit, I'm not a lesbian! ... Am I?"

Brooke looked up at me with pleading eyes. "What if I'm like that for the rest of my life?"

Yeah, I hadn't thought about that. Or about the next steps.

"Okay, Brooke, here's what we're going to do. You're going to sleep over here tonight, in the guest room, and we'll figure this out tomorrow morning. You need to get some rest."

Mandy nodded. "We're going to take care of you. I don't know if you deserve it, but whoever did this to you did a shitty thing, and we'll at least try to find out how to reverse it."

And so that was Monday last week.

On Tuesday, we told Brooke that we'd try to track down the (imaginary) hypnotist Mandy had mentioned, but it might take a few days, or even longer. I offered for him to stay at my place for a while. We had a long chat about what happened with Meghan (whose calls he's stopped returning since he'd "changed"), and Brooke gave me a heartfelt apology about that. He figured, it might be his messed up sexual preferences that had gotten the best of him or something. I didn't dissuade him. It looked like the hypnosis explanation was not only satisfying to him, but also allowed him to rewrite and explain some of his past history.

Maybe this would all work itself out.

On Wednesday, Lana came over for a surprise visit. She was having yet another "nipple episode" and wanted some... relief (which I'd normally be very eager to provide). Unfortunately, Brooke was also there -- we were having beers while playing Halo on my X360. I introduced Brooke as my cousin (thus defusing a serious crisis I could see coming) and presented Lana to Brooke as my girlfriend.

"Heya there, nice to meetcha," Brooke said, shaking her hand and looking down at her nipples with a glint in his eyes.

Peachy. Just peachy.