I Am Rosemary's Granddaughter Chapter 12: Faze

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Our Senior Prom was different.
I didn't get to have a dress—even though my grandmother swore that she would make sure I could wear one—we nixed the idea of renting tuxedoes and buying corsages but had no plans for that Saturday in late May.
Michael was at the front door early on Saturday morning. I answered the door, possibly looking like death warmed over. He was wearing a cowboy hat, something he did on occasion and I loved the way he looked in one.
"Good day, sunshine."
"You're too happy for--what time is it anyway?"
"Seven. It's great that you're up."
"I'm up now, since you've been banging on the door for so long."
"Where are your parents?"
"No idea," I shrugged as I stepped forward and hugged him.
"I have a surprise for you, but you need to get ready."
"How so?" I asked as I stepped away.
"Jeans, loose shirt, or whatever you're comfortable in. I'll wait down here."
"Can I get a hint?"
"Nope," Micheal replied with a smile.
"You know, just for that. I am going to take a long shower." I said as I walked to the stairs.
"I can turn the faucet on in the kitchen."
"Different piping system," I smiled back.
"You can't blame me for trying."
I took a quick shower, not trying to keep him waiting for too long. Micheal stayed downstairs the entire time I got dressed: we had agreed that it was best to keep up the appearance of two friends to my parents, even though mom was aware as Micheal didn't want to be on their bad side. He wanted to the gentleman but I would lead us astray-sometimes.
An hour later, I had written a short note that I had gone out with Michael and would be back soon.
"Where are we heading?" I asked as Micheal opened the passenger side door.
"Franklin, Tennessee."
"Where is that?"
"Nashville, ma'am," he replied with a tip of his hat. "Remember when you said I should take Mels to a rodeo?"
"Well, I thought, why don't we go instead? I mean its like the Prom with the crowds but with better music."
"No tuxedos."
"There are a few rodeo clowns who wear suits."
"Sounds like fun. Yahoo!"
"More like, a Yee-haw, but its a good first try."
"I think I might need a hat."
"As you wish. We'll look for one for you."
"Thank you," I replied as he closed the door.

The trip took over three hours as we stopped at various locations that looked interesting. It could have been a train station, an odd rock formation or some person doing a handstand on the side of the road. He wasn't asking for money, just performing, I suppose.
We arrived at the Williams County Fairgrounds a little after one o'clock in the afternoon to a parking area with so many trucks that Mike commented there have to be a few empty bars out there. I felt kind of out of place as the only shirts and jeans I had were boyish. I tried to do something with my hair earlier but it didn’t happen . I figured that we would just walk around like friends but Micheal took my hand and kissed my cheek.

"You're about to enter into a whole new world."
"Of cows?"
"Bulls, horses, maybe a goat or two."
"You're sure you want to hold my hand?"
"Of course I do. It's a rodeo, not high school. The craps on the ground, not walking around."
I squeezed his hand as we stood in the line to get.

I had never heard more songs that had a steel guitar and fiddle than that afternoon. It wasn’t too hot as the clouds masked the sun at just the right point to make the cool breezes feel even better. We watched people of all types riding horses as fast as could around what looked barrels and instantly change direction, i guess a time trial. We saw some crazy guy on bull that tried to get him off its back les than a second after the chute was opened. The rider stayed on for a few tense seconds before he was thrown to the side of the bull ; and, yes, a pair of clowns—one in a suit and the other in a dress—worked to distract the animal as the rider struggled to get up.

“They’r the real stars,” Micheal said as he clapped.
“The clowns?”
“Oh yeah. They stand in front of a bull with a bad attitude to distract him from the guy he threw off. They have to be one step of it or they get the horns too.” He pointed at the two as they waved their hands and moved in tandem in front of the bull that was calming down.
“They’re in wedding attire?”
“Yeah, they’re married. They’ve been doing this for years as a couple. We should take their place.”
“We’d have to get married first, right?”
Micheal looked to the arena and then took a step away from me.
“Well, since you mentioned it-“
He reached into his pocket with one hand and took my left hand with the other.
"Kristina Allie Novoselic?"
"Yes, Michael Thomas Nelson?"
"I've loved you since I first saw you. Since that day I wanted to know all about you as there was something special about you. You’ve been my best friend, we’ve gotten me out of some pretty stupid situations and I want to thank you for being there for me and I promise that I will always be there for you, however or whoever you want to be. You make my days brighter and I can't think of anyone else I would want to spend my life with. "Kristi, will you marry me?
* * *
The lecture hall was half filled. The ones who were there didn't look at me; they seldom did anyway except for what happened the previous day. I sat in the middle of the fourth row--and true to my word, I had on the camisole--which allowed the bruising on my arm to shine like the sunrise. No one asked about it, but I wasn't expecting them to, nor was I going to tell anyone how I got it.

Mrs. Peterson walked into class and looked at me for a brief second before she scoffed and walked to the podium. I avoided looking at straight at her, seeing her only through my peripheral vision, a la Perseus versus Medusa.
Mrs. Peterson called roll and took a pause when she said my name. "Kristopher Novosellic."

I knew she did it on purpose and as much as I wanted to throw it back in her face--it would be thrown back at me in spades so I just kept on reading my textbook, hoping that her animosity would tone down a bit. I mean, it wasn't like I brought an army into class with me or had a sign or a flag unfurled in protest.

It took Mrs. Peterson less than half the period to bring me into the conversation by .
"Class," Mrs. Peterson returned to the lectern and pointed at me. "What was said about the fall of the Roman Empire and what would befall nations all over the world, including our own when we allow people to do whatever they want without looking into the social construct."

My face was burning in anger and I couldn't hide it. She had the nerve to use me as form of scapegoat object lesson.
"When societies gave in to hedonism, they gave a blank check out to the leaders of those nations to not care about lawfulness. One day in America we will see men wearing dresses and proclaiming "I'm a woman! You. Must. Respect. Me."
"Everyone should be given respect, regardless of how you feel about them."
"Should I respect, say, Charles Manson, a mass murderer?"
"He is a person, even if he committed a crime."
"So, he should be punished for his crime?"
"You're equivocating me with a murderer?"
"I am only saying there are rules that a society must follow and the ones who cannot follow that, should be dealt with."
I picked my books up and placed them into my bag. I didn't look at anyone, not even at Mrs. Peterson as I stepped up onto the platform. "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone. I hear it's in this great book of historical literature. Look it up!"

I left the lecture hall and walked across campus, back to the quad area in front of the dorm.
I wanted to scream, lift the bench off of its concrete supports and throw it in anger. It was like how I had to deal with a child psychologist who insisted that I act like my true self, a young man.

A young man with a rather conspicuous part of anatomy that did not match anything on any other boy. To look at the world as a male. I couldn't...for I didn't really understand what he meant by that. I always wanted to ask if my treatment had anything to do with the extra payments he received form my parents? Was there something extra in all of the medications they gave me? Some of the ones I ceased taking years before or in such small does that the effects were hampered by my already out of control natural hormones?
I always had some adult tell me that something was wrong with me and it was like, "thanks, that so explains why I slice at my arms and wish to throw myself off of a building." I could fool the students and teachers at school; I acted out my part with my parents and the rest of the world but I could always see my crappy performance and would heckle myself that it wasn't working out. I wasn’t trying o reinvent the wheel, just trying to make the ride smoother for everyone, but especially for me.
Why shouldn’t I be happy in whatever I did?
Why was I trying to wedge myself into some mold that wasn’t me—I was different and I liked being that way. The rest of the world would think less of me.
Fine, people do that to all the time to others.
The could pretend I didn’t exist-- and I’d just raise my voice.
They could try and harm me, extend the trial out past college and into forever or kill me.
Yeah, that did scare me a little.
Fear times ignorance squared.

I decided to put it all to the apex—and maybe get some direction on where I would be for the rest of my academic career at UT: I would go and have that “meeting” with Richard.

I walked into the front room of the dorm and hoped that this “meeting” would only take a few minutes. I walked to the office and saw that, for the first time since ever, it was closed. Dicky wasn’t wasn’t keeping his watchful eye over all that he surveyed.
I knocked on the door.
“Come in.”
I took a deep breath and opened the door, expecting to find Rick along with some school officer, or at least our floor monitor—who never seemed to be around—but it was just Richard. I didn’t feel perturbed, at least I didn’t want to give off that vibe but I felt this fear, like a shark underneath the waves, just below the surface, ready to break out.

“Please, have a seat.” Richard said as he held his hand out over his desk to one of the two chairs set in front.
“Thank you for coming to this meeting, Kris.”
“So, you say.”
“I do.”
“As dormitory master I have to abide by the rules set forth by the school administration regarding the health and safety of the students within--”
“So they finally fixed the central elevator?” I asked.
“As dormitory master I have to abide by the rules set forth by the school administration regarding the health and safety of the students within the confines of the building. Safety and well-being implies that we abide by the rules and to courteous and conscientious to our fellow dormitory persons.”
“You have that memorized well.” I said as Richard handed the envelope he tried to give to me earlier in the day.
“Kristopher Novosolic, you are in violation of behavior un-becoming of a University of Tennessee student and in accordance to the dormitory rules you are to be removed from student housing.”
“Show me the rule.”
“It’s in your handbook.”
“Then show it to me, you have to have one in order to quote it.”
He nodded as he lifted a stapled pack of photocopied paper and handed it to me.
“This is from 1968. Where is the current one?”
“I am able to use whatever information I have available to keep order in this hall.”
“According to this, I should be shocked we’re de-segregated.”
“Unfortunately,” Richard replied with zero emotion.
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
“I’m the person who holds onto your chances of staying in this dorm.”
“So, what, do I need to pay a fine? Write out a confession? Do I need a lawyer?”
“You just need to answer a few questions.”
“Fine, whatever. I have practice to get to.”
“What are you trying to do, with the dress?”
“Besides to piss you off?”
“I’ll let you know if it’s working. Go on.”
“I don’t have to answer that question except that I want to wear it.”
“Not acceptable.”
“I don’t recall having to care what you think.”
“You should.”
“Because I know what you really are.”

I tried to look at anything else in the room EXCEPT at him but his eyes—those beady, soul-sucking eyes that made you feel like he could open your head and rip out your brain with just the power of his mind. I eventually locked eyes with him.
“Which. Is?” I asked trough gritted teeth.
“You’re a deviant.”
“That’s it? Coming from you, that’s sounds like a badge of honor.”
“And a perversion of nature.”
“Says the guy who wants to know so much about my sex life.”
“You deserve to die.”
“And now you’re threatening me? Get in line, Dick.”
“I don’t need to. I have the power of picking up this phone and telling the administration everything I know.”
“You don’t know anything about me.”
“I know you’re gay.”
“You know what, Richard, I am not gay. I do know there a lot of people on this campus who are and it doesn’t matter. They’re not bothering me, we shouldn’t bother them.”
“They’re not in my dormitory.”
“McCarthyism much?”
“He was on to something,” he replied.
“I’m a girl, Richard.”
“That’s the dress talking.”
“No, it’s me. My name is Kristina or Kristi if you like. And I have been in this hallowed dorm as you call it for the past few months. Now, that being stated, you are now in violation of the rules of not having a female administrator or representative in the room with you. Now, if you excuse me I have a rehearsal to attend.”
Richard pushed his chair away from the desk as I got up and walked out the door.
I again fought back the urge to flip him off him.

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