Having come out to my family and begun the transition into Caitlin full-time I felt the need to give A a send off. But what sort of kick-off do you give a male persona you were never fond of that is kicking the bucket? It was this sort of clinched thinking that started my mind rolling thoughts of Freeman and Nicholson striving to complete their *Bucket List* across my mental palate, like a coniseuire of the extravagant and expensive swishing a full-bodied wine across her refined taste buds.
The best send off I could give A would be to end on a triumph. To go out in a blaze of light and a hail of gunfire, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Or, as my feminized mind turned to, Thelma and Louise. I’m certain A, in his time, would have balked at this reference and perhaps mustered up a gag or seven, but I couldn’t suppress the bitchy little grin that graced my features as I wondered if A had been more of a Louise then a Thelma.
The ‘Rents and I bundled up against the windy, thirty degree Minnesota spring day and piled into the Ford Focus—the gender queer daughter assisting her gimpy father into the front passenger seat as the gas-pedal tramping mother started the engine to idle and warm. My mind wandered to the issue of fitting the three of us and my Smiling Buddha-round grandmother into the car. A used to get a kick out of solving spatial problems, but they just made my mind swim (I seem to have lost a little of my formerly pinpoint accurate sense of space and time). The idea rattled around in my Mr. Sanders stuff and fluff brain and eventually joined up with a memory from a previous visit, a visit in which A attempted to prove his masculinity by eating the John’s Omelet Challenge—five eggs, stuffed with “hashbrowns [sic], ham, bacon, sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese” served with toast, coffee, and a slice of orange.
He failed to meet the challenge by a one-egg-sized portion of omelet. This, then, would be his moment. As Grandma does not yet know about Caitlin and the role of grandchild would be played by A, he would get his second strike at the John’s Omelet. It contained the elements of a classic rite of passage: an unusual physical and mental challenge, shame (and a significant profit loss; this omelet is eleven dollars after tax!) connected to failure, and a sense of venal manhood (that’s right, venal; the rite is a type of bribe that gets the boy across the threshold into manhood), and masculine pride put on the line. Brilliant, I thought. This would be A’s blaze of glory, driving himself off the cliff in a Cadillac convertible, I mean, leaping from the cliff-face in a sh-t storm of bullets.
When the waitress placed John’s Omelet on the fake wood grain formica tabletop before us Caitlin balked at the sight of the bigger than her head, five-pound conglomeration of cholesterol, grease, and trans fat, but A simply grinned and dove in. In five minutes he had already eaten half of the omelet and one of the English muffin halves.
Five minutes later all that remained was a final quarter of omelet. But A was slowing down. The starches from the hash browns were expanding in his stomach and the bland, greasy taste of egg and cheese was becoming monotonous. It looked like this was the end of it for A; a second attempt ending in near success and actual misery. He would not finish the omelet, would not complete the rite, and would never leave.
From somewhere in the back of the mind in the unused corner she had retreated to Caitlin stirred. This is my life, I thought, and A isn’t wanted hanging around waiting for someone to miss him enough to drag him back. She prodded A forward, like an electric goad used on an obstinate bull. “You WILL finish this omelet, YOU will complete this rite if masculinity, and you will get the hell out of MY life!”
Despite a full, gurgling, vurping, stomach supersaturated with a churning mass of egg, cheese, meat, vegetables, grains, grease, and stomach acid. In spite of heartburn, acid reflux, tummy pains, and a build up of gasses, which would become a WGA (Weapon of Gaseous Destruction) unlike any seen heretofore, A continued to eat, bite by bite; mouthful by mouthful; slower and slower but continuing to shovel it in and swallow it down without a return trip until the plate was empty.
He did it and faded sated into the back of the mind. Caitlin came forward and has been primary since, even when presenting as A. The cliff is empty and even the dust trailing behind A’s last desperate plunge has settled. And Caitlin? She is content to lay on her bed recovering from the bloating, stomach-distending meal. How like a man to deposit something in a woman’s body and then leave her to deal with the weight gain and pain.