*Don't miss out on Part 1, here!
Recently, an older Chinese lady stopped me on the trails near my home. She said my 16-month old son was beautiful. I said, thank you. She added that he looked like a hermaphrodite. I returned the compliment. She looked askew at me.
I am glad that my son looks like a cute hermaphrodite (zhong-xing). I have nothing for or against hermaphrodites or transgender humans. But then I just saw a transgender prostitute in the park, just now, and I wondered if that was the fate of my son in a world that discriminates against hermaphrodites and transgenders.
And then I remembered that my son was not a hermaphrodite nor a transgender, yet. And then I asked, what if it becomes a trend, trends and fads are unpredictable, and then I told myself that I was being transphobic, and that if it were a trend, then it might actually be an advantage to be hermaphroditic, and maybe my son could compete in women’s tennis when he grew up and wear one of those cute tennis skirts.
And then I told myself I was being transphobic, somehow, how exactly I didn’t know, and it didn’t matter.
And I reminded myself that whatever happened my son would have many friends to support him, even if I died early. But if I did not die early, I would have to help my son hold the hands of beautiful ladyboys who were saddened by various soap operatic events in their lives. And then I reminded myself that I was a pervert. And that’s not good. An old pervert is not good, and I would probably not be allowed to hangout with my son’s ladyboy friends when he grows up and moves to Thailand.
And then I reminded myself that my son was not a hermaphrodite, and I went home and took a deep breath.
And my son started calling everything “grandma” in Chinese. My mother-in-law had become concerned that my son could say “Mama” and “Baba” but not “Grandma.” So she started drilling him 24 hours a day to say “Grandma” in Chinese. Pretty soon, that was the only thing he could say.
Rice was Grandma. Sleep was Grandma. Walking was Grandma.
My son pointed at the poop in his diaper and said, “Grandma.” And I smiled and looked him, “Grandma is a hermaphrodite.” And that’s cool. I mean, Everyone should have a hermaphroditic grandparent. It breeds understanding. And I thought that’s stupid.
I wondered if my mother-in-law went to the men’s or the ladies’ bathroom. It must be difficult to make that decision.
And I thought, I am being transphobic and I thought about the monks from the earlier part of the “Hollering Zen Cones” story. I thought about how they returned to their monastery and called everything “Grandma” and called the Zen Master a hermaphrodite.
And the Zen Master told them that he knew they were humping ladies across streams.
“Rivers,” said the short one. “And I was simply witness,” said the tall one.
And the Zen Master believed them both and put the short one on a tall branch of a tree. Actually he was not on the tree branch. He was hanging onto the tree branch. By his teeth.
He held the tree branch by the grip of his teeth and far below was a stream, or a river if you will, and in the river was a hungry crocodile.
And the tall one was on shore waiting to see what would happen.
And the Zen Master told the short one, “Say the one thing right now that will save your life.”
And the short one said, “Is this some kind of joke?” And he fell into the open mouth of the crocodile.
And the Zen Master said, “Now you understand Zen.” And the short one screamed in pain.
“Yes, you may live and die in peace now,” said the Zen Master.
The short one pleaded to the tall one, who watched in horror, and then the short one turned to me and said, “I should have said Grandma! Everything is Grandma!”
And I laughed. And I was not at peace.