Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Scenes from family life
A fragment that I have failed to keep really short, depicting a scene from (some) family life. It will probably push some wrong buttons with some folks, as the hero is joined by his father, but what can we do? The end may seem a bit forced, but I was anxious to wrap it up quickly.
“So glad you could make it, Christopher,” my mom says as she greets me at the front gate, “Your father and I have something very important to tell you.”
I must admit I feel uneasy when I hear her say it. The marriage of my parents hasn’t been that great in the past years. In fact, ever since my mother had started moving forward on the corporate scale, our house has become home to daily occurrences of shouting arguments between my parents.
“Okay,” I say, warily.
“Before I say anything else,” she says, “I want you to know that your father and I love you very, very much, but we have reached the point in our relationship where we simply couldn’t go on like we used to.”
“Oh, God,” I groan, “You’re getting a divorce.”
In a way, I actually feel relieved for my father. Since the beginning, it seemed as my mother had had the upper hand in their arguments, but in the past year or so, she has been making it painfully obvious and sometimes humiliating for my father.
“Oh no, nothing like that,” my mother says.
For a few moments, we walk in silence across the front yard, until we reach the door.
“Your father,” my mother begins, her hand on the door handle, “Has agreed to start living as a woman.”
“I beg your pardon?” I say, but she, seemingly ignoring me, starts to open the front door.
“Hold on, please,” I say, putting my hand on hers to stop her opening the door, “What do you mean he has agreed to live as a woman? Agreed with whom?”
“Honey,” my mother says nicely, but decisively as she takes hold of my wrist with her left hand and moves it away with surprising force. Then, using her right hand again, she holds my left arm just above the elbow and leads me in.
A strange, yet strangely familiar looking woman, dressed in a floral print blouse, a white pencil skirt and white high heeled sandals meets us in the living room.
“Hi, Christopher,” she says, smiling nervously, and, although it sounds like a woman’s, I recognize my father’s voice.
“God, dad,” I say in disbelief, “Is that really you?”
“Christopher,” my mom says, putting a possessive arm around his shoulders, “This is my life partner Jessica.”
“What’s going on here?” I say.
In a way, I am not really surprised. My mother has forced my father to put on her clothes before. So far though, he has always looked like a man in women’s clothes, which I thought was my mother’s intention, but now, standing before us, there is nothing manly about him.
“Your mother and I have agreed that it would be in the best interest of our relationship if I stopped trying to have the man’s role,” he says.
“But you are a man,” I say desperately, “She can’t force you to do this!”
“This is crazy!” I turn to my mother, “Those crazy bitches at that club of yours put you to it, didn’t they?”
“I can see you’re upset because you care about your father, so I will ignore this inappropriate behavior,” my mom says sternly, “And I realize that you get that impression because I did use to make your father wear my clothes before, but I assure you that today, your father is dressed as he is entirely by his free will.”
“Is that true?” I turn to my father again, “You really want to dress like a woman?”
“I want your mother to be happy,” he says, smiling awkwardly.
“This is what will make you happy?” I ask her incredulously.
My father draws a deep breath, then begins to explain again.
“Your mother has reached the stage in her life in which our marriage so far didn’t work out anymore,” he says, “So we have decided that the only way to move forward…”
“Excuse me, Jessica dear,” my mother interrupts him, “Who has decided?”
“I’m sorry,” he says, his voice starting to break, “Of course. Your mother has decided that the right way to move forward was for me to start living as a woman.”
Saying this, he looks away, then tilts his head backwards and blinks, as though he wants to stop tears from flowing.
“Why don’t you make us some coffee, Jessica?” mom says to him.
Nodding, he goes to the kitchen.
Her hand on my arm again, she takes me to the sofa and makes me sit down beside her.
“How long has this been going on?” I ask my mother.
“We haven’t told anyone yet, if that’s what you mean,” she replies.
“Good,” I say, “Then there’s no need to go ahead with it.”
“Christopher, listen to me,” she says warningly.
“No,” I say, “You listen to me. He’s agreed to what you want, you’ve proven your point, isn’t this enough? You’ve got what you wanted from him, there’s no need to go through with this crazy shit and ruin the rest of his life.”
“I know you mean well because you love your father,” she says, “But this is really not up to you.”
“So what happens now?” I ask, “Actual sex change? Unless that hasn’t…”
“What will happen is that we’ll make an announcement shortly,” my mother says, “To family, friends, neighbors, your father’s coworkers, and so on. The following days will be very stressful for your father, so he’ll need all the support he can get. You’ve made it seem like you care deeply for your father. If you really care for him as much as you make it look like, you’ll be supportive of him in this important life decision of his.”
“Sure,” I say, defeated, “Anything I can do.”
“You can start by sharing your father’s interests,” she says, “Spend some time together, strengthen your bonds.”
“Which particular interests are you talking about?” I ask warily.
“Isn’t it obvious?” she replies, “Pretty clothes and shoes, how to do your hair and makeup properly, such things.”
“This is crazy,” I say, getting up to go, but my mother pulls me down with strength that I cannot oppose.
“Stay!” she says sternly.
Obediently, I remain seated even after she lets go of my hand. A few moments later, my father joins us, bringing a tray with three cups of coffee, some sugar and milk.
“Have you…?” he shyly asks my mother.
“Go right ahead,” she nods.
“Christopher,” he says, turning to me, “Your mother and I have bought some clothes for you to try on…”
“Did you girls have a nice time together?” my mother asks as when we come back to the living room almost an hour later, with me looking like a woman as well now.
“Yes, mummy,” I obediently reply. Even though nice is not how I would describe it, it has certainly been the longest time I’ve spent with my father in the past years.
“How do you like your new clothes?” she asks me.
“They’re very nice, thank you,” I almost whisper. Again, I’m not particularly enjoying the clothes. My lingerie feels alien and constricting, and I’m having trouble walking in three inch heeled shoes, but my dress itself does feel very comfortable.
“Did you do your makeup yourself?” she asks me.
“Only the lipstick,” I say, “Jessica did most of it.”
“You’ll learn,” she says, while all I can think about is how I’ll take it off before going home.
As if reading my mind, my mom speaks again.
“I think you should stay with us for a while,” she says, “It’ll give you and your father a chance to spend more time together. Make up for lost time.”
“I can’t,” I panic, “What about Sheila?”
“I’ll call Sheila and tell her you’ll be staying here with us for a couple of days,” she says. “What…” I begin, “What will you tell her?”
“I’ll tell her that I’ve asked you to spend some time with your father,” she says, “I’m sure she’ll understand.”
Pausing for a second, she looks at me from my head to my toes and up again.
“I’m certainly sure she’ll enjoy what you’ll learn in this time,” she adds.
“Please don’t…” I plead, tears welling up behind my eyes, “You don’t know Sheila. She really wouldn’t like this…”
“I can see that you care about your wife, and look after her interests,” my mom says, “But this really isn’t up to you.”