Tough Titties

I would like to be a badass whiner when I am undeniably under the weather. There are wimpy, limpy, poopy pants who are annoying and droopy when injured or ill, but they get themselves all of the rest and consideration that their bodies deserve. Then there are badasses who ignore their physical woes for so long that the denial and obvious discomfort become just as annoying to their spectators who, in the beginning, enjoyed that their super humans weren’t affected by such a trifling hurdle. Some things are obviously not trifling hurdles, so I want the sensitive, new-age-stud middle-ground. I want to acknowledge that I have some physical limitations while still playing it cool. Hercules with a broken arm instead of a hangnail.

Our species survived for bazillions of years, running around, practically naked on the savanna. If pregnancy was the huge impediment that we sometimes think it is, we wouldn’t ever have survived this long, so maybe I should stop complaining about it. Sure, the advents of obstetrics and nutrition were pretty key in our struggle for personal longevity, but mothers are built to be hardy conquerors. Just because I don’t entirely want to be a picture of curvaceous womanhood doesn’t mean I think women aren’t tough as nails. Ladies are some badass shit – constantly bleeding and surviving, killer muscles, stubborn endurance, wicked brain capacity and, often, emotional poise. So why does this very female condition have me reeling and simpering? Can’t I just woman-up and tap into some sturdy, robust, cellular memory of how to become a stout, yodeling, witch-priestess? I bet they would whine just perfectly.

“Look, I can lift and stir my cauldron, I will darn your socks, skin the beast for dinner and suckle the other four offspring, but after I milk the cows and make the cheese, I am taking a nap and I will spear anyone who wakes me up.” Farmwifery sounds so much more manly than dudehood. I aspire to that level of daily achievement while feeling, abdominally, like shit.

Rugged sensitivity – that’s what I’m going for here: Indiana Jones agreeing to a cup of tea, his bullwhip just visible under his maternity top. What would Batman do if he got knocked up? Would he institute scheduled rest times that he alternated with his prenatal Pilates practice, and would he take an extra, unscheduled nap if he couldn’t get enough sleep after getting home from the obligatory charity function the night before? Maybe I am aiming too high. I’ve always been more of a Shaggy or a Zander. Shaggy would chuckle while holding his expanding belly, sandwich in hand, foot on the harmless badguy in the meddling monster costume. Though, when Zander gets his eye poked out, he doesn’t even ask Buffy to stay by his bedside. Even the class clown doesn’t whine about forever losing depth perception. I grow a bit nervous that I am aiming for funnyman and landing sadly near the icky little sister, Dawn.

Maybe I should reframe whining as the badass thing to do – the verbal equivalent of a batarang to the leg: a pointed, sharp, high-pitched zinger that is hard to ignore, even if you are a Two-Faced, only semi-sensical metaphor. Whining’s just me letting the world know how it is and who’s on patrol. I’m in charge and today that is going to involve six naps, four smoothies and a marathon on the Cartoon Network.

I’m not really fooling myself here. I’d rather be G.I. Jane telling my expanding, wrenching uterus to suck my dick so that we can better function together in the trenches, but the standard issue jungle rot on my foot is actually pretty itchy, and if I am really in charge, I can totally mandate a few hours/days/weeks off. The commanding officers can shove it. Besides, I hear I’m going to glow like a happy, boppy Swamp Thing during the second trimester. That had better turn out to be true, or I’m going to take out how badly I feel on every holding cell in Arkham. Their ears will bleed from all the whining.

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Beer and I Are Gay for Each Other

Pregnancy is exhausting. I don’t mean a happy little fatigue that one is well-conditioned for, like walking around the neighborhood, lifting a couple of weights or running a marathon. I mean that the line between me an unconsciousness is thin, fuzzy and sneaky. Before getting squirted with semen I was already known to fall asleep on commuter trains, park benches or only half in my pajamas, bent at the waist over the bed with my feet still on the floor. But rarely were those naps at one, three, five and seven pm.

I now abruptly pass out and fall down asleep several times a day and can successfully konk out for an entire night of sleep at eight pm. These naps are not cozy, restful, invigorating layovers in an otherwise productive day. These are narcolepsy spells that can be brought on by eating, talking, typing, standing, breathing and drinking water. Naps sneak up behind me, hit me with a croquet mallet, kick me in the shins, inject me with ninja sedatives, bind one wrist and my ankles to my chair and then put Cool Whip in my other hand while tickling my nose. Last week they wrote “jerk” on my forehead with indelible ink. It’s only a matter of time until naps saran wrap my toilet and call to tell me the refrigerator is running. I would fall for that right now.

All of this exhaustion is not only making me whiny about how I can’t be my typical, neurotic, to-do-dedicated self, but it’s also not super helpful for meeting all of the new queers in the town that I have just moved to. At some point, I look forward to meeting all of the other queer parents that Portland has to offer, and admitting to good company that I can’t get a cheap high school baby sitter for every evening off that I would like. But I’m not even showing yet. I could currently pass for just pleasantly plump and I had rather hoped to appear a hip, young thing for a few months more. Hell, until it actually pops out, couldn’t I just be a hot, energetic go-getter whose midriff everybody wants to caress while I bat my eyelids and preemptively work the whole baby-as-a-cute-flirting-accessory thing? Nope.

Partner and I went to a drag king show at the local dyke bar. I napped right before we went, so as to be as far away from the next unconscious spate as possible. I sipped on ice water as a beverage prop and made token efforts to comment on who among the strangers was hot and who was the social butterfly, the event organizer or the not-very-funny comedian that further makes me doubt Curve magazine and any of the dubious awards they give out. The performances were endearing, the emcee was charming and the cover charge collector was ravishing, but I had dead eyes.

Look at that delicious beer walking all around me. Did somebody mention top shelf tequila? Why can’t gay standard time have eight o’clock events starting earlier than nine? Will my hotpants fit ever again? How much will it cost to buy new ones? How little above minimum wage can one get away with paying a babysitter for a night? Will any parent let their high school-aged child stay with my future progeny all night so that I can not just watch the mediocre drag kings lip sync for an unimportant cause, but also give myself a hangover and have somebody else get up with the little alien in the morning? And, seriously, just look a that delicious beer. No wonder I’m not really focusing on making eyes at any of these hot little things, even when they catch my eye. I’m struggling to maintain consciousness even without a cold, crisp, courage-building, anti-sleep, wit-inducing, tricking prop.

Fake, non-alcoholic beers are not very good. And being sober pretty much makes drunk people boring and annoying. Even the hot ones. As somebody who doesn’t have any historical problems with alcohol – only an abiding love for and healthy relationship with mild intoxicants – being the infinite, never-ending designated driver puts a serious damper on my already low energy levels and my ability to keep up with and enter into shiny, brand-spanking-new queer culture events. My inability to drink and stay awake with the drinkers is kicking me out of queer culture!

How would I recognize a queer event without the booze and the music that I can shake my booty to for hours? Ok. I guess there would still be the rainbows, the awareness raising and the fabulous outfits. But I would be sleeping through them. The Gay and Sober tent better have really amazing beanbag chairs and exceptionally gifted masseuses, because the illusion of paying more attention than everybody else to our health and well-being is one of the only perks to conceding alcohol. And, frankly, my body enjoyed getting flushed in the face, a little fuzzy in the head, a zap of energy that let me dance past my bedtime and a belly full of a nice, dark, malty brew.

Every great civilization has claimed food, drink and dancing as their own – the ancient Egyptians, the flappers, the gangsters, the protesters of the sixties and seventies, and, of course, the queers. How many flower and love children said “no” to weed and shrooms, and how much less fun did they have without the comradery of the rest of the rainbow-seeing Woodstock? How many mobsters got to be the godfather without the sweet stench of whiskey on their breath as they whispered threats to their underlings? How many pregnant boys can manage to work around their expanding bellies, lengthy sleep schedules and sulky libidos to get laid and enjoy the happening events that are in bars? Woe is me and every other pregnant chick or dude trying to function as a normative member of their out and about culture.

All I want are three to four cold, frosty pints, a pair of favorite pants to fit without a rubber band around my snap and button hole and to be wakeful long enough to engage in the mating dance of the other queers under the age of forty. I only have to wait another six months to give birth and as long as it takes until the cheap, high school babysitter is available for an entire weekend. This is going to last forever.

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Coming Out, Like a Leaky Faucet

Everybody knows that coming out as gay or lesbian in a continuous process. Every time you walk with that posture, that haircut or that outfit into the doctor/post office/airport/garage sale/gym/grocery store/library/tupperware party, you are coding for your sexuality as they are about to see it. Open up your mouth and your voice gives away your supposed gender relative to your visible body hair or lack there of. You can say the word “partner” to see who flinches and divide the knowing from the willing to try and the hilariously disdainful.

But these days, when I use the word “partner” I am not just noting that there is a person in my life who is worthy of being my peer, medical will executor and slutty cohort, I am, in fact, also trying to sound as gay as possible. With my haircut and posture and generally smart ass attitude towards straight people, it’s pretty easy to assume that I am the dyke I claim to be, until I flap my gums and reveal that my partner is a scrotum toter. A teste fest. Penis porter. Functioning sperm poisoner. Heat injection system.

When this little tidbit sneaks out and the eyebrows go up, depending on how much I feel like mollifying, I can either quip, “Don’t worry he’s gay, too” or “He’s pretty much a lesbian with a penis. He likes tea and processing even more than I do.” But rarely in these scenarios am I feeling feisty enough not to run back to him and sniff his neck for reassurance, as he gets the same gut tingles when he reveals my gender at the Men Who Love Shtupping Other Men clinic. At best, we are regarded by highly amused and accustomed San Francisco queers as a locally-bred anomaly to be patted on the head and trotted around at art openings. At worst I don’t stop myself before over-defending us and end up begging for inclusion into a group of lesbian moms.

“You see, we’re both queer, and I identify as a lesbian, or more often dyke, because it sounds dirtier, and he identifies as a gay man. We’ve always both been a little flexible. He identified as Bi for a while, before queer was the broader thing to be. But I didn’t. I think only once in a diary I said Bi, but even then I knew for sure that I was a lesbian. He’s my only exception. Well, almost, if we don’t include trans guys and all of the potential guys I would stick it into if they were interested and treated me more like a human than a girl. But seriously. I am totally a lesbian and you should include he and I in your mind, this very second, as very, very gay people. We have grown up in your subculture, make lots of jokes about straight people and, in fact, still frak lots of people of our own genders at tupperware parties, where if you attend and watch, you can, in fact, proof positive, see my skills in action. Banging the ladies. Rug munching. Please immediately agree that we are obviously one-hundred-and fifty-five percent homosexual.”

So, now I’ve come out as a dyke, as being in a lifetime skin-on-skin relationship with a man-milking sperm shooter and – drum roll please – as having an open relationship wherein my mammary-challenged beaux and I have tupperware with other people.

I don’t really see the big deal that we’re both such sociopaths that we don’t really care who each other shtup as long as we pay enough attention to each other and don’t get lube on my favorite chair. But, while I can use my continued sleeping with women to help convince the lesbian parenting group not to discount me, now my parents have read this, now the deans of future English departments where I want to teach have read this, now the future adoption agency that I’d rather use that physically popping out more kids has read this, now future elementary school teachers of my spawn have read this. I mean, I’d like to think that they’ll read this. Doesn’t their literary life revolve around Googling me and fine tooth combing through my vital works?

The desire to adopt and the desire to be a teacher and the desire to get hired as the over-qualified, extremely expert childcare provider that I am has already kept me out of porn – one of many jobs that I’d be really good at. Getting paid to look hot and a devilish in a sphere completely disconnected from daily life? Perfect. Dream job! Well, after the aforementioned actual, daily jobs that I may now never get again.

On the other hand, perhaps this defensive essay in favor of constantly coming out – as queer, as being in a potentially hetero-normative relationship, and then as a slut who has no difficulty separating my sex life from my duty as a smoothly functioning adult – will garner me understanding, support and sympathy. The dykes and faggots will accept me as their own. Adoption agencies will be happy to hand small creatures over to a successful and articulate writer. English Department Chairs will relish the chance to show their savvy by hiring not only a skilled lecturer but a militant queer. And my parents will not die of heart attacks when they inevitably skim this material for references to how they have further failed me as role models of ethical beings.

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A Bun in the Boy

Oh shit. I am pregnant. This annoying little biological fact makes everyone who achieves it feel that their life is more complicated than all the people next to them, and I am not about to break this pattern. This is a pattern I am happy to keep. Along with thoughts of changing diapers and sleepless nights, I shall be pleased to complete wordy diatribes on the topics of my amusement with and woes about my complicated gender.

It’s hilarious that I have found a way to become physically pregnant. I’ve been a boy forever. My Barbies rode ATV remote control cars and married Ninja Turtles while defeating the Shredder. I played hockey (badly) and softball (to stare at the hot backside of Jenny Dischler, the shortstop). I railed against the boys who wouldn’t let me join in their cool high school nerd cliques and then I hated them in college when I realized that I had always been your average boi dyke feminist in the making.

I came out. I cut my hair, listened to the Indigo Girls and used such a loud volume on my family that after years of disowning me, all of the important relatives turned into liberals to support me, their beloved, gay loudmouth who bullied them to the left. Many of them attended my outdoor, vegetarian commitment ceremony to the environmentalist woman of my dreams. They visited me when I moved to San Francisco and held their tongues when my lesbian marriage dissolved after nine years.

In the gay mecca of San Francisco, as a feminist boy with boobs and a penchant for balls-out rowdiness, it was impossible to resist the pretty, swishy, mischievous, highly homosexual guy who bit my lip after discussing Battlestar Galactica. The hankies in his pocket that indicated his interest in very lesbian activities that I was already skilled at implementing sealed the deal. I slept with a biological male. And enjoyed it. Repeatedly. To everyone’s chagrin.

I can count on one hand the number of times that I have slept with a biological male, the number of times that I have deigned to sleep with the same person more than once and the number of times that any partner has enjoyed it as much as I have. I’m often too boyish and toppy for straight guys and far too female and wet in the wrong places for gay guys. It’s hard to find humans standing opposite oneself with mutual attraction, a delicious alcoholic drink, plenty of free time and some flexibility to spare. But I snagged one.

After three years of art school and strutting around at queer Pride events as post-gay over-achievers, our good luck with birth control ended. We had already set a date for a commitment ceremony and had heartily agreed that we would be wonderful, thoughtful, socially conscious, post-gay, over-achieving, queer-as-fuck parents. Sometime in the future. Not now. We had not counted on me physically turning from a skinny, hyper, loud, 12-year-old boy silhouette into an exhausted, boobalicious, nauseous, bona fide female in the middle of our gay wedding next to the bust of Harvey Milk.

I couldn’t get my wedding suit pants altered until the week of the party, in case I changed shape again, which I did. My gorgeous partner suddenly had to be supportive not just of a crazy writer and staunch egotist, but also of a person sitting on the couch and looking pathetic until just-so crackers and sweatpants were delivered to relieve the stomach discomfort and acute dysphoria that follows from putting all of ones energy into not being cliché, expected or anything normative – and failing.

Of all the things to fail at. Being absurd has always come so naturally to both of us. And there’s a real chance that the absurdity will continue, but getting knocked up tends to make a rabid dyke and faggot couple who are addicted to following their own whims question some things. Do we still have the ability to confuse our friends and parents? We do, as it turns out. Their happiness over a potential baby to spoil is at least tinged with confusion over where our path is leading us, and, if nothing else, the perplexities of what they are or are not allowed to mention about the irony and hilarity of our situation.

It’s not that we don’t know what to do with a baby. I’ve been a manny/nanny/uncle forever, and Partner was a caring eldest brother who I’ve seen hold infants without dropping or otherwise maiming them. Our anxieties are not primarily about the physical care of a sweet little alien who will rob us our sense of passing time and any remaining semblance of sanity. But what will it call us? I’m certainly not going to be called Mommy, and I doubt he will want that role either.

How impractical will it really be to nab the titles of both “Daddy” and “Papa” and convince teachers, family and a naturally, genetically skeptical offspring to let them stick? And how the hell are we going to look gay enough when I have huge tits, a round belly, and no maternity clothes that I can find in the little boys’ department of any thrift, big box or boutique store? Will Partner’s swish be visible behind a stroller? What if the little alien who is currently sucking my life force doesn’t stick around? What if it abandons ship and leaves me hanging, now that I have become accustomed to the thought of holding it and ranting about its implied complexities? How can I be tough and mourn that potential loss at the same time? Would I secretly throw a little party over the joy of my returned ability to drink beer and steal a toke off of that hot stranger’s cigarette?

Oh geezus, that hot stranger isn’t going to return my affection, and even if ze did, will Partner and I have the time and energy to attend and remain conscious through … uhm, tupperware parties in late night dungeons? Will giving birth really make me easier to fist? Will either the lesbian parenting groups or the gay men’s parenting groups let us attend, or will they feel encroached upon by even our sliver of normalcy? We don’t want to encroach on the space of others who are at least as marginalized as we currently feel!

Can a neurotic writer and staunch egoist really fill entire pages with questions about gender, biology and parenthood without getting wildly over indulgent or academically, rhetorically stale? No! Definitely not! You the reader, I the writer and we all of us are doomed to fall into lives of gender role collapses, remedial diapering discussions and all-consuming circular debates that are steeped in normative sex roles and gonadotropic predestination failures that will bog us down forever in the swamp of post-queer reproductive futility! All because of this baby. Fetus. Potential tree-climbing buddy. Who could turn out to be queer. And articulately or artistically genius. Or average. Or conservative Christian to smite us all.

Oh shit. We are pregnant.

Posted in Introduction, You're a boy??? | Tagged , , | 3 Comments