I Am Rosemary's Granddaughter Chapter 1: Paper Airplane

Paper Airplane

Let me just come out and say it…Michael Nelson could be an idiot sometimes.
I still love the snot out of him but on that particular day his shortcomings were shining through as I stood in front of the Clarence Brown Theatre. We had an appointment to get to at 3:00 PM and it was already 2:32. It took five minutes to navigate and leave the campus. Then ten minutes to drive to the other side of Knoxville. Thereafter, another ten to find a decent parking space and then travel up to the seventh floor to the office. Unless Michael arrived in less than ten seconds and broke a few laws of physics, we were going to be late.

Fifteen seconds later and his car failed to materialize.
I already called him twenty times--each time I got voicemail.
“He better be dead or dying.”

I hoisted my satchel and took off--something I did almost every day as it was faster to walk, jog or run than to navigate a car around the parking lot for that elusive, open space.
I arrived at the dorm in three minutes and climbed seven flights of stairs (the elevator was an all but confirmed death trap) to our room.

“Michael T. Nelson, where were you?” I didn’t yell but I hoped my message was clear with the combination of the hiss in my voice and my facial expression.
“What?!”
Michael lounged in front of his computer: a controller in his hands, headphones on his ears and his cell lying closed and on its back, probably on silent. I dialed his number.
“We have an appointment today. You said you’d pick me up in front of the auditorium.”

The phone sat upside-down on the desk, ringing silently; no vibration, no visible screen to scream out “Mike! Your sort of pissed off fiancé is calling.”
He took the headset off—the sounds of gunfire echoed from them--and stood up to greet me.
“Was that today?”
“Yep,” I replied as I threw my bag onto my bed.
“Can we still make it?”
“You better hope to God we can.”

We scheduled said appointment in question the second day we had arrived in Knoxville, one day before classes started, two months prior and there was no way that I was going to re-schedule. Michael used a few campus security will bust you for doing the following maneuvers to get us off campus; followed by a dozen the police and maybe the FBI will want to talk to you for doing these things driving techniques to get us to the appointment by 4:05. I had my eyes closed through most of the trip.

Although we were late, it would appear to the receptionist that we were early, as it took her another ten minutes to give us “the book” to write everything down.

I suppose I should have started at the beginning, but in a way that will make you not want to think “seriously, how far back is she going to go? In a way, you’re half right: about how I am going to go back and about the “she” part. For about eighteen years of my life I was called Kristopher Allen Novoselic; but I was, for about two minutes, named Kristina Allie Novoselic.

The ultrasounds showed twin boys. Those crazy ultrasounds, huh? Shadows in the image, a misplaced hand here or there...where everything’s revealed after that last drug-induced push in the maternity ward. I was born as both male and female. Call it what you want…go on, look up all of the terms…it may make it easier to read through this, I don’t know…it wasn’t the easiest thing to live through.
You would imagine that since there was a boy and a…birl…guyl…that they could just say, okay, we have a healthy little boy here and…well…half-and-half...

Again, keep picturing a man in his early fifties talking with a doctor who tells him that he has 2.5 kids, or I mean, he has a kid with two and a half genders, parts, but hey, with a little reconstruction and some hormone therapy…she would be fine. Since I possessed more female traits—that couldn't be seen—and a semi-functional, but more on that later, penis; I was to be named Kristi; my brother Kris and I would leave the hospital together and one day rule the shipping empire!

My brother never left the hospital.

He was surrounded by all of the best doctors but not one of them could save his life. Mom had stated that she would not have cared if he was blue, blind, or blond...she just wanted him to stay alive.

Everyone knew they were having twins: it was in every single newspaper, even in Forbes—which would never have covered such a story, unless the subject were the kids of a multimillionaire, then it gets a little attention. My father was a business magnate, so his Blackberry, pride, financial advisors and stick-up-his-butt were ever present.

Don’t get me wrong, he tried…but he was in his fifties when I was born and he was so set in his ways that to ask him to crack a smile or to change a diaper would have made him suffer a heart attack. However, when you find out your wife is expecting twins (or a kid in general) you do tend to make it happen and make it happen in a big way.

Also, if your net worth is more than the GDP of 60% of most other countries, you fortify your life and keep low-level family members (or at least ones who could give you trouble) out of the loop. My parents did that to us: kept us out of the media circus that would have occurred if our last name was Kardashian, Jolie-Pitt or Windsor. My “condition” was kept such a secret only the doctor and nursing staff were aware and they were issued a gag order to not reveal anything until a “solution” could be found.

I spent so many years in and out of surgeries and treatments I could eventually have a back and forth with the various professionals before I was in third grade. We had diatribes on various hormonal treatments, reconstruction surgeries and on why I felt conflicting feelings about everybody.

“We can schedule the surgery as soon as you’re ready.”
“Right now. Otherwise, I’m going to break it off.”
I crossed my hands as the doctor looked at me like I was going to do it right there in the office.
Michael took one of my hands in an attempt to calm the situation..
“It’s what she wants, I’m for it.”
As I’ve already touched on, I hated the fact that I had a penis.

We left the doctor's office with kind of a viewpoint to a land of hope and glory, but we also left in silence, and with a little bit of space between us we walked to the car. Mike, for all of his clueless moments, usually knew if I was actually bothered by something, and not reacting to the hormone therapy I had to undergo.
Not a word was spoken though, until we closed the doors.
“Kristi, anything wrong?”
“Nuh-uh.”
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing."
"You're lying," he responded in a sing-song tone as he started the engine. “What is it?"
“When are we going to tell everybody?”
“You mean your parents?” He asked as he turned the key.
“No, I mean everyone. We got a dorm hall adviser who thinks we’re gay, I’m getting tired of being asked: "how’s it hanging?" by---
"Yeah,. I know...by Danny."
“Well?"
“Let’s take it a-"
“-Day at a time. If we had a penny-“
It was more than just a saying, it was the mantra I lived by ever since my mother told me I would always be just a little bit different.
“Umm, also, we have to go by Danny's before we go back to the campus.”
“Oh, God. No. Why?”

Daniel Rollins was never someone I considered a friend. Acquaintance?
Yes.
Classmate?
Sure.
A person I would trust with secrets who would not stab me in the back?
Not on your life.

He was smarmy, had rat-like hair and was always either sitting at a computer or had a technical manual with him. He was someday going to be a successful entrepreneur or a criminal hacker, finally busted by the police while attempting to raid Heather Locklear's personal files. We knew each other from sixth grade until the eleventh, as he was one grade higher than Michael and I.

Mike would never admit it, but he kind of wanted to be like Danny, or at least know everything he did. Mike was a country boy. He knew he was and he had the cowboy hat, the farmer's tan, the fricking huge belt buckle and the body to prove it. He knew about fixing things around a farm; but computers, not so much, not until Danny got a hold of him. I suppose it was for the best: as farming equipment modernizes someone would have to know how to fix the new-fangled tractor that runs on Windows, right?

Danny's apartment was this much from what I would called a biohazard. It was a one-bedroom apartment a few miles from the campus and it reeked of guy who does not give a crap about hygiene but loves beer. I hated going over there--but I wasn't about to tell Michael to only spend time with me.

"How’s it hanging, Kris?"
Danny always asked that question ever since an incident in PE when I was struck with a dodgeball in the groin but did not fall to the floor. Danny had been the one to throw it and he threw it so hard that anyone with a normal biology would have had tears welling up in their eyes as they grabbed their jewels and wondered 'I may actually be able to sing that high note in "The Star-Spangled Banner'. I didn't have any...at least not ones that were vulnerable like that. Danny assumed they were made of steel and so, every time he saw me, he would ask 'how's it hanging?' A part of me thought he would eventually make a t-shirt that said that.

"Around," I replied as Danny sprawled out on the couch. He only had on a pair of boxer shorts--apparently his only pair of pants had finally disintegrated into fibers. Mike sat in folding chair while I sat in a large, but unconformable easy chair that was picked up from the curb of someone's house.
"You guys are still coming to the club next Saturday? Stone Ground Kelly’s playing."
"Don’t you ever get tired of getting slapped around?" Michael asked.
"At least I try to get some. The two of you just play pool."

This was true. Whenever Danny tried to take us to a club to search for the ladies...or something said to that affect, Michael and I always tried to find the pool table. I was an okay player but Mike could clear the table without thinking about it.

"You had that fine girl almost digging in your pants and you used the wrong cue stick all night."
"I got someone, Dan, at home," I replied as I shifted my butt off of what felt like a broken spring.
"What kind of guy wears an engagement ring?"
I looked at the gold band with a small diamond that I had on my left-hand ring finger.
"It’s the modern thing, Danny boy," Michael replied.

I had to adopt a metro-sexual kind of look at that time. Michael held back on giving me a ring because we didn't know how I would be able to wear it as it 'didn't look right'. However, I bluntly told him that there were was no way in Hell that I was not going to wear it on my finger and that I would think of something. Luckily, girls usually thought it was very romantic and sweet; causing them to chide their boyfriends on why they couldn't show their sensitive side.

"Let’s get some Madden underway!" Danny yelled as he tossed a controller to Michael.
I rolled my eyes as I sat back in the chair again. I would have brought my satchel if I had known I would be held prisoner at la casa de caca for a few hours and cracked open a book or homework.
“When are you going to show me that girl you keep e-mailing?” Danny asked Michael.
“She said she’s coming up next month.”
"I need to get someone. Novo just needs to get laid."
"He does. I hear about it all the time. When are you going to accept that?"
"I am right here," I said to no one in particular.
"So, you're not waiting until the honeymoon?" Danny asked me.
"I thought about it...but, when it hits you--" I avoided looking at Michael because at that moment I really wanted him to throw the controller down, run over to me and scoop me up from a spring that was now digging into my back. We really tried to hold back on doing anything in public--as it was difficult to explain the situation and Danny would have likely have had a conniption fit...or he'd ask to watch.
"So, when is the wedding?"
"I don't remember, I--"
"Didn't she say next October" Michael asked as he looked back to me.
"I thought it was June, after classes are out?"
"That's like in eight months, are you ready for that?"
"I think so...if that's what she wants. We're not going for the cathedral. Maybe a simple, country wedding"
"Good idea."

We created a way of talking about our relationship in mixed company, but I was about to blow my cover as Michael has just conveyed to me that he was actually agreeing with the date I thought about. The one I thought about after several surgeries and my regiment of pills to reverse the hormonal damage. Once again, I wanted him to toss the controller on the floor...scoop me off the chair, then throw me to the floor, and hold me against him.
"I assume you're the best man?" Danny inquired to Michael as he sipped at a beer.
"Yes, he is," I replied as I changed my seating position.
Michael looked back for a brief second and then looked back at the television.
"But with Karen English?"

I only nodded. One of the chinks in our armor-clad fairy tale was that I was "engaged" to Karen Anne English, a former classmate at Highland Academy in Cordova, Tennessee. Let me take the time to say right now that she was my girlfriend at one time, at least through eleventh grade. Granted, Danny never kept in touch with anybody back in Memphis and both he and Karen Anne left Highland after that year : Danny had graduated while Karen and her family moved back to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Our ruse depended on the fact that no one else from home knew Karen was my modern-thinking betrothed to be.

KA would be the one to think about having the guy in her life wear a ring...not to show how she loved him but more so to say "this is mine, so back off!" Danny didn't like her (that should read: she told him to go to Hell, countless times) so he'd have no reason to talk to her unless they were the last two survivors in a life raft out at sea and even then I think they would shout each other to death. I mean, Danny was....Danny and KA was the typical southern girl who really did wear three different outfits a day--four if on a Sunday.

She would most definitely would not have settled for a small wedding. Karen Anne's idea was BIG, HUGE, 'oh my Daddy's going to be paying on his credit card for YEARS' type of an affair. A large ceremony with people we didn't know; a reception at a place we'd never been or cared about and then off to some far-off secluded island off the coast of Africa, first class, of course.

She had our life planned out...until Michael arrived at our school. Karen didn't come out and say it, but she flirted with him...big time. She saw something in him...maybe not exactly what I saw in him but eventually Karen became my competition.
Anyway, if she had learned that I had chosen her as my surrogate significance other to-be, she would have issues with it, in so many different ways. I avoided the conversation when I could. Michael's cover story was that he was dating a girl named "Allie" Michael refused to make up a fake name or a fake person so we used my real middle name whenever someone, again, usually Danny, wanted to know about her.
We left Danny's apartment at 9:45 with only fifteen minutes to return to the dorm room before the doors locked for the night. I walked a few steps ahead of Michael until I heard the click of the door. I then took two steps back and took Michael's hand.

"So, June, huh?"
"Would you prefer April?"
"June's fine with me."
"How about on Saturday, in Starkville?" He asked. "I'm sure we could ask a referee to officiate."
"So instead of an organ or a piano...?"
"We'll have a choir of cowbells cheering us on."
"Looks like I need to get another dress."
"I'm for pants if you prefer."
"A pair of hip hugging Wranglers?"
"Either way is fine with me."

I had one dress...it was a mid-size, a pretty cute blue...and I had worn it once, but only in our dorm room as it would be hard to make up a reason for wearing it around campus each day. I wore it for Michael, just for one time...and he had it off me and on the floor in a matter of seconds.
"You still like the blue one?"
"I love the blue one."
"You like taking it off me."
"Guilty as charged," he replied as he opened the passenger side door.



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