I had stopped by my mother's to check her car, which she claimed wasn't working. After saying a few incantations, looking under the hood, her 2000 Grand Am started right up. Didn't even have to add oil or antifreeze. I told her I'd send the bill so I could get a new tattoo.
Since we're in the middle of a heat wave and her house has central air conditioning, I stayed for a quick meal and a re-run of a documentary on Channel 13. My mother is a big supporter of Channel 13, and rarely watches anything on cable, even though we got her the Verizon Fios bundle, which saves her over 200 dollars a month. Sometimes, she watches news on msbnc or The Catholic Church Channel, leaving the other 400 cable channels in the stratosphere.
I was feeling like I should sleep over to monitor the new changes in her heart medications which all have names like alien military from other planets: Supreme Commander Metoprolol Succinate, who is married to the twin sisters Princess Lanoxin and Princess Lipitor. Their father, the aging Emperor Losartan arranged the union after the planet Benicar revolted en masse and had to be destroyed. Unfortunately, the twins' younger brother Prince Lipitor was the leader of the revolution, so he is now scattered through space for all eternity. His young lover, a commoner, knew nothing about his politics so the sweet, but pregnant Boniva was allowed to live in the large castle complex on the peaceful planet Caltrate. However, the evil and conniving Supreme Second-in-Command Minister of Affairs Furosemide the Fourth had schemes of his own. He had faked his transport papers and was actually from the planet Warfarin, well-known throughout the galaxy for their insidious wars and crimes against everything good and decent. His half-sister, Lady Amlodipine Besylate was no lady which is where imagination and what my mother and I were watching on television collided.
I had almost dozed off, when Diane Sawyer or somebody started interviewing a Chinese choreographer and dancer, who turned out to be the first transgender woman to be recognized by the Chinese Government. Well, that woke me up from my intergalactic fog. First, they showed the dancer as a young man, stunning and beyond talented. A few interviews with a translator, then Jin Xing as a woman. Again, stunning and beyond talented. What struck me as most poignant was the father's reaction; he had always known even though it was not spoken. So, I'm sitting there with a lump in my throat, totally mesmerised, having forgotten my mother was watching this too until she asked, "Have you ever known anyone who did this? It must have taken such courage. We didn't even know about these things; it's hard enough just being a woman or a man."
I hesitated before answering, "Yes, Mom, you knew him too. You taught him in CCD before he was burned in the fire, before his father and mother split up, each blaming the other. He was at the high school reunion, except now he's a female. It was pretty bad how former classmates reacted."
She remembered the fire and how the boy, barely entering adolescence, was not expected to survive. Years of skin grafts and surgeries and at some point, a decision. I told her I thought people should be able to do this without judgement from anyone. She agreed, then we had a somber bowl of frozen yogurt together and I did not sleep over that night.