June 18, 2015
“So here’s a question for you,” the Class Clown said. “Can a trans-furry be abused, neglected, abandoned – even be owned as property?”
“Or laundered?” I said that.
“That’s right. How can you live your authentic reality as a stuffed animal if you can’t be laundered? Are the trans-furry to be forevermore mislabeled as ‘Dry Clean Only’?”
I laughed at that idea. I’ve always been able to laugh with the Class Clown.
“There’s a marriage problem, too,” he said. “Plus a trans-furry polygamy problem. Who has just one stuffed animal? But when things don’t work out as planned, who gets the toy box?”
“And what happens to the little furries? I wish that were funnier.”
The Class Clown shrugged. He said, “None of this is funny. It’s just hysterical.”
We were sprawled into the back corner of a vast, empty sports-themed bar at Skyharbor Airport in scenic, historic Phoenix, Arizona. I had blown one stand-by flight and I was hanging out to see if I could snag a seat on another when he happened upon me and dragged me off for a pop.
He’s pushing forty by now, but I’ve known him since he was an acne-avenging teenager, a real-life class clown making his reputation by mocking the absurdities of the powerful. People love that stuff.
That’s not really true. I make my way by never wanting anything anyone else can take away from me, but normal people don’t have things that easy. The Class Clown is the kind of guy who gets fired from his job for muttering the wrong joke or for making the wrong political contribution or for having the wrong cartoon on his computer screen. I’ve worried about him since we met, just because this is no safe world for a man who knows when to laugh.
“I love the trans-racial idea,” he said. “It explains so much! When John Fogerty was ‘chooblin’ on down to New Orleans,’ what race was he? Can white people chooble? And can you ever be trans-racial if your first thought is to conjugate the verb ‘to chooble’?”
“I had much the same thought. Who would you say has had more influence on black, female gospel singers, Mavis Staples or Tom Waits?”
“‘Temp-TAY-tion!’” he sang in a growling falsetto. “‘I can’t resist!’ And don’t forget Joe Cocker. He turned the Beatles into a soul act. If an over-the-hill track star can be a disturbingly ugly woman, why can’t a disturbingly ugly Englishman be a black chanteuse?”
The answer to that question is: “SHUT-UP-RIGHT-NOW-GODAMMIT!” Nonsense is nonsense until it’s holy writ. That’s the difference between a joke and blasphemy.“I’ve got a better one for you: Consider the plight of the trans-aborted.”
I said: “…?”
“To be aborted is a horrible fate, but it’s over in a heartbeat, as it were. But what would it be like to spend your whole life feeling like you could have or should have been aborted? Feeling like you wish you had been aborted? What would it be like to feel that your every living moment is just another indistinguishable episode in an endless, excruciating abortion?”
I said: “I wish that were funnier.”
“Yeah. Trans-racial is a new word for something that’s been around for a while. And trans-aborted explains way too much, doesn’t it?”
I smiled, but not happily. “Way too much.”
“What is that sour attitude you wear everywhere, young man? Oh, I see. You’re trans-aborted. Miss, why do you weigh twice what you should? Oh, your abortion is still aborning. Why do each of you sleep with a different cockroach every night? Just waiting for the forceps…”
“Pajama Boy should be the poster boy of the trans-aborted,” I said. “‘My mom went to the obstetrician, but instead of a new brother, all I got was this onesie.’”
“His auto-biography will be entitled, ‘My parents didn’t even care enough to kill me.’”
“So how does he answer the inevitable question: ‘If you’re so miserable in your trans-aborted state, why don’t you just off yourself?’”
He grinned. “It’s not the same thing. You or anyone else can kill you, but only your parents, ultimately only your mother, can abort you. If your parents didn’t care enough to pull the plug on you, and yet you feel they never plugged you all the way in, either, you’re trans-aborted. Never all the way alive. Never all the way dead. Never all the way anything.”
I said: “I wish that were funnier.”
“Here’s the funny part: I’m going to be a dad.”
To this I said, “…!”
“Twins. Due any day. It would be funny if they were born on Father’s Day.”
I said, “Congratulations. To be honest, I’ve never thought of you as a father.”
“I put this bet off for as long as I could, but as Uncle Willie says, ‘Everybody’s gotta take a side.’”
I smiled at that. “I can give you a joke for that idea: It takes guts to have children – intentionally.”
“Same risks, by plan or happenstance. The risk that I could burden the world with more sullen malcontents. Or worse, the risk that some dumbass thing I say now could make trouble for them later.”
“And yet you press on regardless.”
He shrugged. “Other people can’t own you if you won’t let them. I’m going to teach my children how to make jokes. I’m going to teach them how to be rebels.”
“Trans-obedient,” I said. “Trans-conforming.”
He smiled, from confidence more than mirth. “Just intransigent. Funny would be nice, but firm is plenty.”
“And what will you say on that fateful day when one of them bellows, ‘I didn’t ask to be born!’?”
“I’ll just smile and say, ‘That’s a correctable nuisance.’”
A father is simply a man with a plan. If there is a factor that unites all of the trans-aborted – all of the adult-babies all around us – it’s that man’s absence. He’s absent from all the other trans-rational ‘news’ stories, too, if you read between the lines. But that’s why I have hope for the Class Clown’s kids: They will grow up with the man and his plan – and all of those rude jokes.