I Am Rosemary's Granddaughter Chapter 8: Stupid Things

Stupid Things

"Kristopher?" My dad was the only person in the world who ever addressed me by that name. My mother would call me 'Kris' and my grandmother would refer to me as "Kristi" whenever he wasn't around. Not because she was afraid of him but because I asked her not to as it would only cause a scene with my father spouting out all sort of rhetoric on how I was the last of the Novoselic men and how I should be thankful and lucky to be the last male in the family--to know that the name and creed would live on.

There were nights that I wanted to come to dinner wearing a frilly dress and no shoes just to spite. No, maybe just to piss him off--preferably in front of a client or some old business acquaintance.
"It's yes, sir."
"Yes. Sir."

He gave up with trying to get a proper response from me, so it was to move onto pressing matter at hand: a letter had come from school.

"They said you have been skipping classes and that your hair is out of regulation."
I nodded as I moved my hair away from my face.
"Elizabeth, I thought he was getting a haircut over the weekend?"
"There were play rehearsals. Kris, you said your hair was for your part in a play?"
"Mmm-hmm," was my only reply.
"That head should be cut. You look like a lion with mange."
"I like it like this. Maybe I'll just dye it green and red."
"You'll do no such thing." Dad replied.
"I'll ask grandma to do it."
"Elizabeth. He needs a haircut."

I wanted to grab a knife from the table and and slice near the roots of my hair but instead I sat there.
"Why are you skipping class?"
"Didn't want to go."
"You have to go. What do you plan on doing with your life? Move to California and work in the movies?"

I didn't answer because it wasn't a question; more of a comment about how stupid my life choices were up to that point. As I said, my father never noticed my artistic side and for that I could play any part I wanted in front of him and he would never know. But at that point, the actor was tired of being typecast and wanted out of the role.

My parents continued with simple small talk with each other. Talking of social issues and business problems and not on how they didn't notice the lonely kid in front of them who was having issues that no one could talk about; not like before. I got up and ran to my room; making sure that the door was properly slammed shut. I wanted to slam it again but that wouldn't help me. I wanted to smash the things around me...but I would regret doing so later.

I could hear the seething in my breath as I paced back and forth in my room. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to me. I wanted to take out a knife and cut more than just my wrist or my legs. I wanted to slice through the costume I had on-the grotesque being that looked back at my in the window.

I sat down against the wall and leaned my head back in what could have only been the most uncomfortable position and looked at the speckled ceiling with tears in my eyes. I was a modern day prometheus...a freak of nature but no one else knew...I took my shoes off and kicked them across the room.

"Can't go on. Can't." I whispered to myself. "Not going to."
I removed my socks and then buried my head in my hands for am moment before standing up to take off my slacks and shirt.
I stepped into the closet.

"You could just hide in here," I whispered with an unsteady tone to my voice. "Just stay in character,"

I turned on the light and walked to a stack on plastic crates in the back. I removed the stack to reveal a hidden rack of clothes; there were a few long dresses, mostly in dark colors or black and red--all kept hidden as I knew my father would never venture into my closet, maybe for a fear of what he would actually find. In this case, he would have been absolutely right.

I quickly moved to put one of them on and then ran out of my room; to the hallway where I grabbed my father's set of car keys, slammed the front door on my way out of the house and into the driveway. I jumped into the driver's seat of my mother's car and started the engine.

I actually had no idea how to drive--I had only read a driver's safety handbook and watched others. Thankfully, it was an automatic. I backed out of the driveway with no lights on seatbelt...until I found the switch to turn the lights on. Running on pure emotion had its advantages: you don't' think too much about anything else except for what you're doing but in the moment, I really didn't know what I was doing.

I knew I would be trouble IF my parents found me.
I'd be grounded IF I ever came home.
I'd never hear then of it if I damaged the car.

The car screeched to a halt at a red light and I haphazardly clicked the belt--thinking for a moment that maybe I didn't want to connect it. If I could reach I-40 I could floor it into downtown, drive over the side of the Hernando de Soto bridge and plummet 109 feet into the Mississippi River.
Problem solved, right?

My mind kicked off and thought that should go by and say a kind of goodbye to Micheal. Nothing that would rouse too much suspicion; because you know, noting says nonchalance like driving a car in bare feet while wearing a small black dress. Nothing to think twice about, right?

I stopped the car in front of his house; opened the door and got out. The jagged rocks that made up the gravel road immediately stabbed my heels and arches. There was no use in running, I just slowly walked to the driveway so I could then brush the rocks away that were close to penetrating the skin. I brushed myself off--though it did little good to make me any more presentable.

I knocked on the door--wondering what if his uncle came to the door? It would be the biggest conversation we would ever have.

The locks on the door clicked and clacked.
There was a second that maybe I could 'ding-dong ditch' and run. My hair was dark enough and the front light wasn't on.
Until it was and at that moment I froze. If I was a deer, Mike's uncle would have had a great shot.
Mike opened the door front door and stood behind the closed screen door.
"Kris?" He had on a pair of jeans and socks, no shirt.
"Hey, I just came by to--"
"New play?"

He took a short glance at me and then turned around. I must have either looked like a freak or a sorry sack case wearing an ill-fitting dress But the ability to play the part of a sad clown was in my repertoire and so Michael would ask two questions: "New play?" And then "what's it called?"
"No, Why-why do you ask?"
"The dress."
"Yeah, yeah it's a part I tried out for."
"You never mentioned a new play. When is it?"
Damn me for always telling him when I had new tryouts.
"It's not. I-I didn't get the part, I--
He opened the screen door, closed the front door and stepped onto the porch.
"Something tells me you're lying."
"I'm not lying, I really didn't get the part, I--"
"Where are your shoes?"
"I...I left them At home."
"You drove yourself to a tryout without shoes?"
"Okay, well, I was just watching TV, so--You want to come in, tell me what happened?"
"Umm, yeah, thanks."

I had been to Michael's less and less since he started dating Karen Anne--as she demanded more and more of his time and decided to tutor him herself, at her house of all places.
He turned the TV off and we sat on opposite chairs in the living room.

"Uncle's out. He had a chance to go hunting. Took it. So--"
"It was a big production."
"Looks like it, since you're all dolled up."
"Funny," I replied as I stood up and straightened the dress out.
"I mean, you're...sorry, never mind, so what happened?"
"Didn't go too well. The director pissed me off and--"
"How'd he do that?"
"He wanted me to...you know what...it's not about a play."
"Okay. Not a play...Silly coy then?"
"Soliloquy, no." I stepped away from the chair and looked to the floor for a few moments.
"It's me."
"Lost your sheep there."
"Do you know what I plan on doing? I plan to take that car and...and...run it off a bridge."
"Which bridge?"
"Does it really matter?" I asked as my lips quivered.
"Well, yeah, a few of them you could survive a fall from. Maybe a broken ankle, rib or two--"
"-I don't want to survive it."
He stood up and stormed over to me.
"Look at me and you tell me why you think you gotta go and do something stupid!"
I turned my eyes away; I didn't want to look at him.
"Eyes! Here. Kris."
"You wouldn't understand."
"I've seen a horse give birth to a two-headed calf...I've toured Graceland. I can understand a bit more than ya think!"
I just shook my head.
"Did I also forget to mention that I've seen Bigfoot?"
"Now you're just trying to make lite of all of this."
"Nope. Tying to get you to smile. Is it working?'"
"Talk to me, let's hear it. Do it in a crazy accent if if will make you feel more comfortable." He moved close to me--about as close as we had been on the day we first met.
"Do you really know who I am?"
"Man, that sounds like a loaded question. How do I answer it?"
"I'm serious, Mike, this...it really hurts."
"All ears here," he replied as he continued to look at me.
"I'm...How do I say this?" I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "I'm intersex."
"Lost another sheep with that."
"I'm both."
"So, you're a girl and a boy, like all the parts and?"
I winced a bit, expecting the worst; but maybe it would be for the best if he laughed; I could then leave the world without feeling like he would miss me.
"Yeah, so, I'm sure you're not the only one."
"I don't know, not like there's a club I can pledge to, I--I'll go get into my car now."
"No, you're not. You're going to stay right here until you get over, umm, stop thinking about this bridge thing."
"What does it matter...my parents are going to kill me anyway."
"Well, let's tell them that Kris is dead--"
"Kris is dead.My name's supposed to Kristina. My parents...after my brother died...I became the replacement son No one calls me by my real name except for my grandmother."
"Even though--"
"--Yeah, even though."
"Is that why you don't take PE?"
"P.E., no slumber parties, God forbid if I tried to actually wear a swimsuit I'd want to wear."
"But you've been to Karen's...Oh-"
I nodded.
"So do you like guys and girls?"
"You know, for eight years of my life, I've been trying to figure that out."
"Two words: Jungle Room."

* *
"Good luck." I kissed Mike on the cheek and left the room, leaving him to explain everything else to Danny. I didn't feel like telling my life story and have to stop every few sentences to answer some stupid question like "When did you first know?" Or "what do you really use to go to the bathroom?"

Not that I'd answer either of them.

I walked into the lecture hall for Mrs. Peterson's History 101. We always had it there as Mrs. Peterson loved to talk. Sometimes we'd even talk about historical events that actually mattered outside of the state of Tennessee. A lot of people used it as a study hall or as extended break for lunch. A few used it for nap time and weren't ashamed to snore loudly. Fortunately, Mrs. Peterson used a microphone at the lectern and she must have been hard of hearing because she seemed to never hear the chainsaws in back.

I normally sat near the front but on that day I chose to sit near the rear of the hall. Not out of embarrassment but more on a not wanting to be front and center. I would have that chance two hours later with the drama department. The back wasn't in shadows but it did allow one to simply blend into the seats. I had doubts that would happen as I clearly heard the questionable whispering. I would make them look for me instead of putting myself on center stage.

I had my notebook ready to go so I looked up to see if Mrs. Peterson had arrived and instead locked eyes with Heathere--and they enlarged like saucers.

And why was she coming up to see me? And looking like someone had killed her grandmother?
“Ummm, Kris?”
“Huh?” I asked in shock as Heather had actually used my name.
"Umm, nice earring."
"Thank you," I replied. They were yet another thing I hoarded over the years until then: Amethyst with gold and a lot of dangling crystals.
"About the play."
"I can’t make it to practice this afternoon."
"What’s going on?"
"I--I need to do something."
"It's opening in a week."
“It’s just one rehearsal. The show will go on if I miss a day, you know?”
“Okay, let’s do one of your scenes, right now.”
I stood up and for the second time since the first day we met, she looked me in the eye.
“I…I can’t”
"The fellow is distract, and so am I; And here we wander in illusions: Some blessed power deliver us from hence!"
“I…I…” Heather's voice flustered.
“Some blessed power deliver us from hence!”
“You’re pressuring me!” She then took a deep breath.
“Some blessed power deliver us from hence!”

Heather looked at me and her expression changed to a slight smirk. She had made the transition form student to thespian...the switch just needed priming.
“Well met! Well met, well met, Master Antipholus. I see, sir, you have found the goldsmith now: Is that the chain you promised me today?
“Satan avoid! I charge thee, tempt me not!" I threw my notebook down and moved my hands back.
We had the attention of the lecture hall.
Heather crossed her hands as I recited the lines.

"Master, is this Mistress Satan? It is the devil. Nay, she is worse, she is the devil's dam; and here she comes in the habit of a light wench: and thereof comes that the wenches say 'God damn me;' that's as much to say 'God make me a light wench.' It is written, they appear to men like angels of light: light is an effect of fire, and fire will burn; ergo, light wenches will burn. Come not near her!”
“Your man and you are marvelous merry, sir. Will you go with me? We'll mend our dinner here?”
"Avoid then, fiend! What tell'st thou me of supping? Thou art, as you are all, a sorceress: I conjure thee to leave me and be gone."

Mrs. Peterson walked into the hall and the class pretty much ignored her.
"Give me the ring of mine you had at dinner, Or, for my diamond, the chain you promised, and I'l be gone, sir, and not trouble you."
"Some devils ask but the parings of one's nail, a rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin, a nut, a cherry-stone. But she, more covetous, would have a chain. Master, be wise: an if you give it her, the devil will shake her chain and fright us with it!"
"I pray you, sir, my ring, or else the chain: I hope you do not mean to cheat me so."
"'Fly pride,' says the peacock: mistress, that you know."
"Now, out of doubt Antipholus is mad, Else would he never so demean himself. A ring he hath of mine worth forty ducats, And for the same he promised me a chain: Both one and other he denies me now.

Heather threw herself completely into her character as she waltzed back and forth across the row.
"The reason that I gather he is mad, besides this present instance of his rage, Is a mad tale he told today at dinner, Of his own doors being shut against his entrance. Belike his wife, acquainted with his fits, on purpose shut the doors against his way. My way is now to his home to his house, and tell his wife that, being lunatic, he rush'd into my house and took perforce my ring away. This course I fittest choose; for forty ducats is too much to lose."

The rest of the students stood motionless for a second or two and then clapped.

“You know it better than I thought you did.” I said with a slight grin.
"Miss Asheman and Kris...? Stay a bit after class, please?"
"Yes, ma'am," I replied as I picked my book from off the floor. People were now looking at me--as if I had done something wrong. They seemed to have enjoyed the freak show but didn't like the freak afterwards.

Mrs. Peterson allowed Heather to leave after giving her a short lecture about how the hallowed hall was to be treated with respect and that an impromptu Shakespearean scene violated that sacredness. I snorted at that; which is the reason I didn't get to leave with Heather.

"Do you think this is funny?"
"No ma'am."
"What are you wearing?"
I really wanted to be sarcastic: "Clothes, ma'am," but, I went with a safer choice. "It's a dress."
"Why are you wearing a dress?" Mrs. Peterson reminded me a lot of my father. Not that I could put a wig on him and there she was; it was more in the tone.
"Why not?"
"You're a boy. Male. Adult male."
"You see, that's what you think. That's what my ID says. That's what society, the country says I should be. I don't...and I would like to think that an institution that enshrines itself on creative and personal thinking would applaud that I'm spreading my wings into the wild blue yonder."
"Are you through?"
I thought I kind of deserved a nomination for a Tony, actually. "Yes."
"That is a disruption to the learning process."
"It was a scene from Shakespeare."
"Your clothes."
"It's within the dress code."
"It's for a woman."
"Then I don't want to see any woman wear any form of pants," I replied with a bit of spite.
"Women can wear pants."
"And I can wear whatever the hell I want."
"Not to my class."
I really wanted to strip down but I feared that Mrs. Peterson would have a heart attack at the sight of a pair of matching underwear.
"I was only trying to help Heather; to see if she knew her lines. She's good but sometimes..."
"We are talking about you."
"No, you are talking about me. I apologize for the disruption at the beginning of class. It will not happen again."
I took a step to walk away and Mrs Peterson grabbed my arm. I had only been grabbed that way three times in my life: by a psychologist who said I had immense fantasies of cross-dressing; a doctor who scolded me when I refused to take my HRT drugs; and finally, my father--on every other day of my unnatural life.
I didn't know what to do at that point and time passed by so slow as I felt her fingernails dig into the flesh of my arm.

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