The Procedure

“Thanks for coming, guys,” I said. “It means so much.”

Susan shoved the salt and pepper shakers aside, dove across the table, clasped my hand. “Sweetie – we exist to support you. You mean the world to us.”

“Thank you,” I sighed, fanning myself with my hand.

“It’s hard, isn’t it?” said Gary, grinning.

“Yes!” I squealed. I was so happy to have my two best friends and bestest support group ever with me for this special moment. This magical, scary, special moment.

“So,” said Susan, smiling, twisting her shoulder towards me. “What is it you wanted to tell us?”

I took a deep breath. They leaned in as if sucked forward.

“Well,” I whispered. “I’m GAY!” I screamed.

Susan erupted from her chair shouting YAY! and jolted the table and reached over to hug me. Water glasses pitched and yawed and rolled over the side and ice and glass exploded on the sidewalk and a man wearing flip-flops jumped out of the way. Gary leaned back in his chair and beamed and clapped his hands and shook his head with gay pride. “We are SO PROUD of you!” he said.

“Thank you,” I said, and sighed, relieved. I let the moment wash over me. It felt so good to be getting started.

Gary said, “But…?”

“So…,” I said.

Susan put her hand to her heart and all but stopped breathing.

“I’m going to have a procedure,” I whispered.

Gary’s head rocked back and his eyes went wide. Susan glanced at Gary, then turned back to me.

I tickled the red and white checkered tablecloth with my fingertips thinking about how best to say this.

The waiter walked up and pulled out his pad.

“I’ve always despised my junk,” I said, waggling my fingers at Susan’s privates. “I want what you have.”

The waiter blinked, spun, walked away.

Susan brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and said, “You know, Walt, I think that’s brave. I’m proud of you.”

Gary made a fist and pounded his chest. “Right on, man. Right on.”

“Wow,” said Susan, crossing her arms. “Just…wow. Big news.” She scratched her nose. “Big big.”

“Hi! I’m Kurt!”

It was the waiter. He’d regrouped.

“Hi, Kurt,” said Gary.

“I’ll be taking care of ya today. Can I get ya started with -”

“Kurt,” I said. “Can you give us a minute?”

“Great!” said Kurt, and left.

Susan’s eyes clicked back to me; her head was frozen in a perhaps permanent turn towards Kurt.

“I’m also black,” I said.

For a moment, there was only the hum of conversation and the clack of silverware from other tables.

“Come again?” said Gary, protecting his mustache with his fingertips.

“I can’t explain it, but I’ve always felt like a black man – I mean a black woman – trapped in a white man’s body.”

Gary said, “I see.”

“Do you?” I said.

“Of course,” said Gary.

“Will that be part of – ” Susan swallowed uncomfortably ” – the procedure?”

I nodded. “Next time you see me, I will be a black woman.”

They both just stared. I could feel them not accepting me for who I was telling them I was.

“This is just a little…surprising, Walt,” said Susan.

“Well, I think what’s surprising is your reaction,” I said. “I would have thought you would be a bit more supportive.”

“We support you, man,” said Gary, pulling out his phone. “Totally,” he said, swiping his thumb across the screen.

“I hope so. Because…”

Gary’s thumb froze, pointing towards the sky. His eyes flicked up towards me.

“You guys look at me and think I’m tall.”

No answer.

Susan was sitting bolt upright with her hands clasped in her lap.

I shook my head. “I’m not tall. I look tall when you look at me, but I’m not. Not inside.”

Susan crossed her arms and said, “What do you mean you’re not tall? You are tall. It’s who you are.”

“That’s what I’m trying to say,” I said. “I don’t identify as tall. I may look tall to you, but you don’t see me when you see tall. You think that’s who I am but it’s not. That’s just who you people want me to be.”

“Walt, said Gary, placing his phone on the table and leaning forward. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about how I look tall physically, but I’m not tall in here,” I said, tapping my chest. “I am not a tall man – I mean a tall black woman.”

This wasn’t going how I thought it would.

“Walt…” said Susan.

“I’m a little person,” I said.

Susan looked at Gary. Gary looked at Susan. Gary looked at me.

“What do you mean, little person?” he said.

“You…you mean,” said Susan. “You mean a midget?”

“I mean a little person. That’s what we like to be called.”

“What do you mean we?” said Gary.

“I don’t understand,” said Susan.

“Are you telling me,” said Gary, getting a little angry. “Are you telling me that you are telling me you are not a tall white gay man who wants to be a woman, but a tall white gay man who wants to be a black female midget?”

“NO!” I said. “I am telling you that I am a short black little person and you are seeing a tall white gay man because that’s what you want to see.”

“Walt,” said Susan. “That’s kind of…I mean that’s…”

“That’s fucked up, Walt,” said Gary.

“Hi guys!”

It was Kurt.

No one spoke.

Kurt flapped his pen against his pad a few times.

“Okay!” he said, turning to go.

34 thoughts on “The Procedure

  1. Trans height, that’s different. I’m proud of you on so many levels. Don’t take that wrong: by levels, I mean emotional, not like physical levels. There’s nothing you can’t do now. Change your name next. I never bought the name “Walt” anyway, I smell a rat.

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    • No worries. My physical levels are within the realm of surgeons to fix. It’s just a matter of removing bone. And that bone can go straight to short people who are really tall people. The sky is the limit, I think. Or the ground. I may change may name, too. Walton Walker is the name of an obscure WWII general who can be googled up on wikipedia. It’s also the name of a freeway in Dallas. I like it because it kind of flows off the tongue, but maybe it doesn’t work for me. I’m open to other suggestions. I think you maybe get what I was doing with this, and if so, I’m happy.

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Doobster. In writing this post, I was thinking about the idea of tolerance as a guiding principle for us these days. Not God, or a certain Christian interpretation of God. I think that tolerance, when taken to its logical extreme, will ultimately be met with intolerance, and is therefore untenable. Your comment is unrelated to that notion. It attacks some of the presuppositions about God, or perhaps The Bible, that some people have. But I’m happy to talk about those things, if you’d like. I think your comment touches on the ream of Theodicy, or that subset of theology that focuses on the logical problem of evil and suffering existing in a world created by a supposedly loving and benign creator. It’s a difficult intellectual problem to solve for, and I’m not qualified to speak to it in a way that would satisfy you. But I’m willing to to kick it around, so long as you understand that I’m no expert.

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    • I cracked myself up writing it. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who found a chuckle in it. I was a bit concerned I might get fried for posting it. Glad you like the new header, too. It won’t last. I know that. But it won’t get trashed either. It will come and go. My posts are inconsistent in tone and theme, so it makes sense that I can’t settle on a header.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting take on these issues. I hesitate to make any further comment, as no one here can hear me speak, and may be either offended, or otherwise misinterpret, what I write. Great piece.

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    • Well, that’s a prudent and conservative choice, and probably wise, from a certain point of view. Or unwise, from another point of view. You could take a risk and speak your mind, you know. Then again, you certainly don’t have too, and sometimes that’s best. I would guess some people will be offended by this post. I hope that most people understand that I don’t mean to offend anyone. But everyone is so easily offended these days. Especially over the politically correct hot button of the moment. That is where freedom of speech goes to die. But as I see it, this post is about the idea of tolerance as a guiding principle, and that the notion of tolerance at some point must be pushed so far as to be intolerable even to those who value tolerance over all.

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  3. From the little bit that pops up in the reader, I thought maybe it would be about someone revealing that they have some sort of illness. Then when I read it the gay part and the Trans part weren’t a shocker, but the midget part was. Good for you for going above and beyond.

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    • Cool. For me this story is about the idea of tolerance backfiring on those who claim to value tolerance above all. We all have to draw the line somewhere. And that means we can’t make tolerance our guiding principle. It sounds good, but it’s just not possible.

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  4. Okay, so my feelings on this one. At the black reveal, I laughed. By the end, I stopped laughing, and sat there with my mouth open. Gay I can tolerate… black, sure. Midget? Ugh. Anyway, this is fantastic. It’s painfully funny but really not, and made me wonder what I can accept (despite my inclinations towards tolerance). And then I thought: what if this were my family member? It’s all well and fine when it’s someone else… but in my family?

    Great story – kept me reading all the way through. You, sir, write great fiction. Great.

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    • Well, I thank you, sir. Coming from you, I take that as high praise. I can assure you that, at present, I have nothing left in the tank that will cause you to drop your jaw, or want to punch anything. The last two weeks have been a bit of a digression for me, and I don’t envision going off on similar ones anytime soon. I’ll soon be back to a lot of silly nonsense, or perhaps some loneliness or heartbreak, or some such.

      I take that back. There may a kidnapping story coming up at some point. But that would definitely be the last bit of anything approaching shock value. And it wouldn’t be enough to make you drop your jaw or want to punch anything, I don’t think.

      I appreciate the vote of confidence about the writing, if not the content. Definitely means a lot. Thank you!

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      • So these last two pieces are out of the norm, then? Still, that’s a neat trick, to be able to delve into these worlds and then retract. A good kidnapping story is always fun – every story stands on its own merit, right?

        Write on, my friend, I shall be about, reading. So few people seem to write fiction on wordpress.

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      • Thanks. This blog started off as a way for me to get back into the habit of writing creatively, which I’d let slip away over the years. In that, it has definitely served its purpose, as I’ve pretty much held myself to the goal of one post a week. But I’d like to set my sights higher. And surely that’s part of why you don’t see much fiction on WP, I would think. People who are truly serious about it are aiming higher. My opinion, anyway. Thanks for reading!

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      • I hear that… much of my stuff doesn’t appear on the blog. I love my blog community but aiming in a different direction is totally okay.

        I’ll be reading, my friend. Trust me.

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  5. Over the years, members of my family generated some interesting acceptance challenges, but no combination such as you have presented. Of course, back in the ’50s it took a lot less to freak out one’s friends and family. My gay cousin parked his new Nash Rambler, which resembled an upside down bath tub, at the end of the drive where everyone going by could see it. My father was furious. He was a Chevvy man.

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    • Thanks, Judith. That kind of thing was definitely in the back of my mind while writing this post. What we consider acceptable and what we consider shocking these days is so different than what was acceptable or shocking ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred years ago. Not a Chevvy man? Unacceptable!! Male teens who want to be female? Acceptable!! Atta boy! Get ‘r done!

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  6. Absolutely right, in that prejudice will always kick in somewhere if its tested thoroughly and no-one is entirely without some form of bias. Alienation merciless degree by merciless degree, though, that implies another test – of credibility. Is credibility the margin by which we judge?

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