"What's, uh, wrong?"
"I'm really having a hard time with chapter five."
"That's okay. I have some exercises here that will ignite your mind and enliven your senses, and..."
"I don't think I can." Pat wiped at his gender neutral face. He shook her head. "I'm just frustrated. I used to be really smart. I learned Swahili in three weeks. But that was before my brain injury."
"Swahili...? Wow. But anyway, let's..."
"My dad is a workaholic, and mom is a shopaholic. When they die, I'll probably become a ward of the state."
Pat, 40, lived with his parents. The house was more quiet than usual, both parents being gone. The starling with its long needle beak sat perched in its gold cage, watching us. A burst of profanity would have been nice.
"If I don't get my master's degree, I'll never get medical autonomy."
I was confused. We were trying to learn some basic Latin, and the conversation had veered into discussion of Pat becoming autonomous, medically. As a brilliant Rain Man-type and intersex person, he had been bullied a lot in school--even getting peed on (hmmmm)--and the people who once bullied him were now the school administrators who refused to release his transcript so he could get into St John's College. Which was bad, because he needed to get his undergraduate degree so he could then get his master's degree--it didn't matter in what--so he could prove to the court system that he could be on his own. And he needed to have all this done before his dad died.
"Is your dad... ill?"
"No, but he's seventy-seven. And I don't know how much time I have. I'm sorry for crying like this."
"It's okay. But let's..."
Pat told me he had been a vet tech and worked on a ranch for several years doing acupuncture on sheep--but now the Animal Acupuncturists Society of America was against him, they refused to employ him anymore. Worse yet, the Republicans were making it more difficult for people like him to succeed.
"Some of this sounds like a legal issue."
"We have a lawyer. And my dad's a Harvard-trained lawyer. But I hate the lawyer we have on retainer. He's a dweeb. Every time he talks, he makes no sense. I hate him. I've told Dad to get rid of the guy, but he won't. My parents never listen to me. They don't really care about me, and they'd like me to just go away."
"I'm sorry. Anyway, let's turn to page--"
"And this morning I was calling endocrinologists. I called 32 of them, and they all turned me down because I'm transgender. They just said no. How can they do that? But I was sending so much out there, I was on the phone for so long with them, that I think my phone is now tapped."
"Yes, now when I get on it you can hear buzzes and clicks, like this atmosphere coming over the line. Wait, are those helicopters flying over? GET DOWN!!"
We finished Chapter Five under the table with a flashlight and some tin foil.....
Maybe this will all make a good screenplay?
THE LATIN TUTOR--NEVER HAVE THE STAKES BEEN SO HIGH
Watch out for falling snakes!!