Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Anger Management for the Transgendered

I have come to understand that a great many of the so-called transgendered feel that they were born into the wrong body. I’ve never had that feeling. What I have felt is that I was born with the wrong personality. I’d have thought gregarious and charming would have been nice complements for my ravishing good looks, but there must have been a mix-up in Santa Claus Village, or something, because what I am is venal, paranoid, cheap, vindictive, mean, arrogant, vain, snobbish, pretentious, smug, self-important, boastful, hubristic, duplicitous, condescending, dogmatic, bossy, arbitrary, egotistical, overbearing, cold-hearted, selfish, rude, dogmatic, imperious, intractable, gruff, demanding, impatient, bitter, cynical, misanthropic, glum, cheerless, churlish, greedy, curmudgeonly, petty, callous, ruthless, and spiteful. If it weren’t for my good looks and natural sexual charisma. I doubt anyone would give me the time of day!

But John, you say, surely you could tried to change the things about yourself you didn’t like? Well, the record shows that I have tried. Over the course of the past five decades, I’ve consulted more psychotherapists than there are calories in a cheesecake. I liked a couple of them, and almost always enjoyed getting to talk about myself for 50 minutes while he or she nodded empathetically, and occasionally murmured such phrases as, "So how did that make you feel?” and “John, what you have to learn is how to establish boundaries”. 

I didn’t cry very often, but was pre-emptively offered enough facial tissues to mop up the Red Sea. They prescribed just about every drug under the sun for me, everything from Valium to nitrous oxide to helium, the idea with the latter being that I’d find the sound of my own voice so hilarious that I’d giggle myself out of depression. One fellow, who had an obvious crush on me, theorised that my anguish all stemmed from my trying to repress my homosexuality. I reported him to the proper authorities. He got disbarred, but went on to develop a line of moisturisers that made him rich enough to have handsome young men with long eyelashes flown up from Brazil or even Peru whenever he craved ‘em.

I can’t say psychotherapy ever made me feel better about myself. It got to the point where, if one of my therapists told me I needed to Establish Boundaries, I’d storm out of his or her office and then tear up the bills they sent me. I’d call the representatives of the collection agencies who came after me awful names. Of course, they responded in kind after noting that my creditors were shrinks. They impeached my mental health, which I’ve never claimed to have a great deal of.

At one point, one of my girlfriends insisted I supplement the psychotherapy I was getting by attending anger management classes. One attends such classes with great trepidation. I was worried that one of my fellow students might punch me in the kisser just because he or she resented my good looks. During cigarette breaks, we’d go into the parking lot and let the air out of the instructor’s Volvo’s tires, or snap off his radio aerial.

None of my fellow students admitted to feeling as though born into the wrong body, and it wasn’t my business anyway.

On Masculinity

Even before I could walk, I knew I was 100 percent heterosexual boy, to whatever small extent a person that age knows what sexuality even is. I grew up in a typical Jewish family. Pop spent his days letting his beard grow and pondering passages in the Talmud or playing gin rummy with his fellow scholars, while Mom did her best not to let me and my sister Chantelle grow up to be cowboys. The triplets came along just as the civil rights movement was gaining momentum, and in solidarity with our African American neighbours were named Jamal, Rashid, and Rayshawn. I was never close to any of them, as they took after Pops,while I was more interested in stereotypically boy things, like learning to tie a variety of different knots and setting lady bugs on fire with a magnifying glass. 

Handiness came quite naturally to me. When the refrigrator, washing machine or even family car, a pre-owned Buick Regal, needed repairing, it was always me to whom Mom came with a hopeful look in her eye. By the time I was 10, I could fix just about anything you plugged in or used batteries if you gave me some chewing gum, a butter knife, and some ice. I lost my virginity at 11, though my principal erotic focus was on my Scoutmaster, Mr. Johnson, who was later sent to prison.

In high school, I excelled at all the masculine subjects — math, science, driver training, and auto shop — while doing terribly in the feminine ones, including English, French, home economincs, and drama queen. The fellows I hung out with all reeked of cigarettes and antifreeze. At lunchtime, we’d congregate in the student parking lot, where we’d open each other’s hoods and sniff disparagingly at what was revealed, or in the faculty parking lot, where we’d break off our favorite teacher’s aerials or side mirrors, or pour sugar in their gas tanks. 

I’d have been the quarterback of the varsity football team if Coach Thompson hadn’t been having an inappropriate relationship with Colt Collins, whom he felt had a more butch first name than my own. I got my revenge by having sex with his daughter, Connie, and getting her pregnant. We married at 17, and had four beautiful children together. Connie thought it would be cute to give all of them names that began with a K, but I said no fucking way and, because ours was a traditional household, of course prevailed. I bravely defended our American way of life in both Iraq and Afghanistan, while Connie homeschooled the kids, and have the missing limb to prove it! It’s mounted above the mantel. What a conversation-starter!

It was only after the youngest of the kids, Buddy, graduated from college that I allowed myself to admit that I’ve always felt as though born into the wrong body. Connie, of course, was discombobulated at first, but then the doctor explained to her that if my testes were surgically removed, I might be less of a hothead, whereupon Con got on board with the idea in a big way. 

Nowadays, you’re a lot more likely to find me arranging flowers or trying out new recipes than changing our cars’ oil, and even the next-door neighbour whose nose I broke back in ’09 for having an affair with our older daughter Shaniqua agrees I’m much less an asshole than before.  Ask your doctor if a gender reassignment surgery might be right for you.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Rich Are Different From You and Me

F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely misunderstood to have observed The rich are different from you and me. It was actually a French cocktail waitress who said it, though to Ernie Hemingway. Whoever said it or didn’t say it, truer words were never spoken. The rich have beautiful manners, Not a one of them hasn’t gone to something called finishing school, whereas you and I had to be content with just starting and continuing schools, ha ha. The rich smell nicer than you or I, as they typically don’t bathe in water, but in Dior cologne. It dries out the skin, but boy, does it smell good. Then they take their dry skin to a dermatologist or spa, and have it made all supple and moist on top of fragrant. I love to stand downwind of them at the bus stop.

When the rich travel by air, they don’t sit with you and me in the section in which the flight  crew spits on you if you ask for an extra pillow or a straw with which to drink the $4 can of soda pop you bought to enjoy while you laugh yourself hoarse, with an a, at Adam Sandler’s latest on-screen shenanigans. Yes, you’re surrounded in Coach by fellow passengers who think Adam Sandler hilarious. In their section of the plane, which is quite accurately called First Class the rich, meanwhile, are watching art films personally selected by Robert Redford and the ghost of Orson Welles. 

When they arrive at their destination, it isn’t some little bald guy from a country no one’s ever heard of with puddles of perspiration under each of us arms who meets them. It’s a dignified English as a first language type with silver hair, minty breath, and a tailored black uniform. Before allowing herself to be led to her limousine, our rich person might even do a little shopping in one of the airport boutiques, secure in the knowledge that everything will cost 20% more than at the nearest mall, or the farthest. Spending money wantonly makes a person feel so alive, and closer my God, to thee.

It might be fruitful, in the non-pejorative, non-homophobic sense, to pause here to consider the relationship between virtue and wealth. If we are able to agree — and who could demur in the face of overwhelming evidence? — that God is omnipotent and all-knowing, does it not stand to reason that the very rich must have pleased him with a capital H big time?  He could have made the unfragrant, ill-groomed, lazy, and stupid rich, but he, in his infinite wisdom, conferred wealth only on the talented, gorgeous, and hard-working. We diminish ourselves as Americans when we begrudge them their Dior cologne baths!

I love the rich, and I have to lose my medical insurance so that they can get themselves a Ferrari in a colour they don’t already have, it’s the least I can do.