Car Rides to School with My Father
My father asks me if I’m thinking about girls more. As if the hormones I’m taking will build an attraction in me he can understand. The girls are just props, something to set a baseline for normalcy, a hips-and-breasts-shaped cloth to cover the big queer hole in our relationship. Common ground. I know he is trying to respect me — he would say he’s trying to understand. He wants to know how a not-quite-man should be treated. I want to embrace the hesitation in him, the gentle pain that seeps between the cracks of our masculinity. Each moment is a slipped pronoun away from the thing we are both running from. My shadow, cast over a kingdom under siege. I cannot tell my father how my astronomy professor took me to his office and demanded to see my license so he could know what I was. Accused me of fraud that sinks beneath the skin. The professor is a family friend, grew up with my father and uncles, threw rocks, climbed hills, got stoned and watched the stars as they grew into their boyhood. I cannot tell my father how his friend repeated three times: this wasn’t about my situation. Because none of this is about my situation. It is never about what I am, and what men think I am trying to be. What my father thinks I am trying to be. Boyhood deferred. I cannot tell my father, because we are afraid of what slips through the cracks in us. We are afraid of what I am. I say girls are intimidating. We laugh.
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