Friday, February 21, 2014

What's That?

Since Mother has expressly told me to stop blogging about her, I will now write about you, the American public.

And by public, I mean my latest tutoring student. I will call this person Mother. Uh... I mean, Reggie. No, no. Pat! Pat, that's it.

Anyway, Pat. Pat lives in a very nice home in the Park Hill neighborhood. Pat is interested in learning Latin in order to read the ancient philosophers, for some crazy-ass reason. Pat has Asperger's, something I know nothing about beyond Wapner at 4. When I first met Pat, the ornate grandfather clock in the parlor chimed and Pat started rocking back and forth on the couch, holding its ears and waiting for it to stop. Already I felt I was in waaay over my head. Not only was Pat of ambiguous gender, looking like a masuline lesbian type, but also of indeterminate age. Pat talked about high school, but also said things that made Pat seem older. Greg was confused. But it wasn't my place to ask too many personal questions. It was just my job to nod politely and decline mad nouns.

The next time we met we started learning Latin in extenuo extremis. At one point I noticed a bird in a very large birdcage with a very long needle-thin beak. Pat told me it was a starling, and that you needed to trim the beak every so often like a fingernail. But it had been a while, hence the long beak.

"I hope you don't mind bad language," Pat said.

"Uh... you mean the c-word?"

"That one, and all the others. Sam picked up a lot of swear words when I used to live next door to a heroin addict. When he didn't get his fix, he'd slam down the phone and yell goddamnit. Stuff like that."

"So now Sam curses?"

"Yes. Just ignore him when he goes off."

I looked over at Sam and his filth-spewing beak. Maybe he just needed a woman bird.

We returned to the lesson. Pat was rocking back and forth, waved his hands about, and looked altogether uncomfortable. Finally, Pat brought up how Pat had about a pint of blood taken out from under Pat's armpit.

"It's pretty common after an efftoem surgery."

Efftoem. I stared. Was that a part of anatomy I needed to know, like the seventh lumbar or the duodenum?

Then I realized: Female to Male surgery! AH HA.

"It's weird having a tit again," Pat said. He squeezed her chestal region. "But it should go away in a month or so."

"So... uh, can I ask how old you are?"

"I'm forty."

Stunned, I said, "You're forty. As in years?"

"Yes. Some people think I'm around fourteen. Hormone drugs make it so you don't age. Until I suddenly look like a little old woman."

Feeling like a little old woman, I resumed with the lesson. I started talking about gender in nouns, completely unconscious of the implications of what I was expounding.

"Poeta is a masculine noun, though it declines feminine. Which is funny, I suppose," I prattled, "because most people would think of poetry as more of a... uh, you know, more of a..."

Pat stared at me. Blood warmed my craggy, middle-aged face.

"A feminine thing. But anyway..." I hooked a finger in my non-existent collar. "Who's to say what's masculine or feminine these days?"

"The Romans."

"Yes! Well done! And that concludes today's intensive Latin lesson! Good day to you, Ma'am! Sir! Aw hell....."

Genders are indeed so limiting. And confusing. Maybe I should call Pat Pit Pat instead?

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