Friday, April 02, 2004

Mommy Dearest?

At first I thought it was an April Fool's joke.
My friend I'll call Yvonne called me yesterday, urgently asking to come by and tell me about an earth shattering recent event in her family.
I have known her for 15 years. I know her brother, her mom and dad, her sister-in-law and her little nephew.
Her parents have always been weird.
The mother is a domineering, critical type and the dad is a typical engineer type, with a stoic temperament, not much to say and wildly perfectionistic standards.
As a hobby, the mom plays drums for a German Oompah band, and the dad collects guns and likes to fly around in his little Cessna.
They have always been undemonstrative, secretive and emotionally cold to Yvonne and her brother. Forget Yvonne and her brother being raised by wolves, try raised by robots.

Anyway, on Monday her dad somberly told her he has a letter to give her. He said it contained some crucial news about his health. Yvonne immediately thought Alzheimer's or Lou Gherig's disease. She braced herself for the worst.
Two days later, when the shock had subsided a bit, Yvonne brought the letter over to get my take on it.
I held the three pages of small, single-spaced type and began to read. As I read, my jaw dropped and stayed dropped.
Seems her father had finally had enough of the lies and pretending. After 43 years of marriage, he said it was either commit suicide or become the person he was always meant to be.
He's getting gender reassignment surgery.
Yvonne, always one to seize an opportunity, took that news as the perfect segue into telling her father she was gay.
Needless to say, he was cool about it. So immersed was he in his gender dysphoria, he said he never noticed she was gay. So immersed is he now in his plans to become a woman, the topic of Yvonne's coming out only lasted a few minutes, then it was back to him.
Yvonne was delighted with the reprieve. She'd always expected to be disowned if she came out to him. Ha.
Her mother knows of her father's true desire, and she has known since Yvonne was an infant. Yvonne's brother knows too; he caught his father in drag several years ago.
So now the secret is out.
The father has been taking female hormones for a while now, so he's ready to start verbally exploring these new things he's noticing called emotions and feelings.
The mother and brother are horrified. They don't want the dad rocking the boat. They think if the topic is not mentioned, it'll go away.
Yvonne knows better.
Meanwhile, the father is just giddy about his new ladies' group, 40 local men wanting to become women, who attend meetings in full drag.
I haven't seen him in drag, but I suspect it'll take a lot of makeup to go from a he to a she with that dude.
Yvonne thinks the whole thing is kind of cool, but she's dreading her mother's inevitable meltdown.
The mother hates change of any kind. If she lets it, this change will be her Waterloo.
The father's letter was heavy on scientific data and skimpy on personal details, but I could sense how excited he was to have made the decision to come out.

I knew Yvonne was counting on me for a sensible, calm, reassuring reaction.
I could only think of one suitable thing to say once I had finished the letter.

I looked at her, drew in a deep breath and said, "Hey, can I go with you to the next Thanksgiving Dinner at your parent's house?"
She looked at me and without skipping a beat, said, "Better bring some extra wine."

No comments: