[I dug this up tonight while looking through old writing. It’s a hoot. Written July of 2015.]
My daddy looks up from the couch across from me, graying stubble and a questioning glance. My dad sits next to him reading the newspaper.
“When you were little, did you still have Mother’s Day?”
He motions me over to his lap. I snuggle against his chest—he smells like lavender.
He’s silent for a moment, then speaks. “Honey, where did you hear about that?”
“Um, my American History teacher mentioned it. But then he shut his lips really tight and wouldn’t say anything about it. He said we should never talk about it because some people find it offensive.”
“That’s right. Those were the days of the past; we don’t need to go back there.”
“But what was Mother’s Day? What was it like?”
Daddy hugged me closer and said nothing. I begged and begged until finally he responded—
“Honey, a long time ago, Mother’s Day was the day everybody talked about their mothers, and they would send their mothers gifts and flowers and cards thanking them for raising them and ‘loving’ them and meaningless stuff like that. That was before society became more accepting—I mean, imagine how awful and left out those poor kids without a mother must have felt. And how stressed out the people with two mothers would be. Same with Father’s Day.”
I picture my homeroom class in my head. Those terms would apply to most of my classmates—that is, if you’re counting human parents.
“Well, you can imagine the public got madder and madder. Finally, there was a petition by the GRA to get rid of Mother’s and Father’s Day—which, of course, passed with no trouble—and that’s when Congress decided to make Parents’ Day.” He paused for a second. “Now, that’s Parents’ with an s-apostrophe. The LOSA immediately petitioned to change it to Parent’s with an apostrophe-s, because of course it would be more fair to the self-loving parents. And so Congress eventually figured that Parent’s apostrophe-s could technically apply to both a single parent and two parents so they changed it, finally. And that’s the holiday you know.”
“And I made you an ‘I love Daddy’ mug and I made Dad an ‘I love Dad’ mug.”
Dad looked up from next to us and grinned, and lifted up his mug of evening tea.
Mike waddled up to the ball, tail wagging, as fast as he possibly could, howling ferociously. He eyed the goal—all clear—and drew one arm back, giving it a strong kick! He eyed it excitedly… the ball limply rolled forward and stopped a few feet away, and a human from the opposing team ran up and started dribbling it the other way.
“A-woo-woo-oo,” he sighed dejectedly, tail drooping. He watched as the human team easily overpowered his human-dogman team as usual and scored a goal.
Screeee! The recess whistle blew, signaling all the children back in. Before they left the soccer field, both teams shook hands and paws and looked into each other’s eyes. Mike loved that part, because that’s when he felt most accepted. Of course, no one would dare to act a smidgen unaccepting towards anyone, but he still felt deep inside him that he was different.
Mike had once gone home crying to his mom and dad—his mom had jumped on him and licked his face while his dad tried to ask him what was wrong. Mike only managed to splutter out that he felt like he wasn’t normal and all the humans were always better than the dogmans at everything, and it wasn’t fair.
Mike’s father had looked at him seriously. “Mike, when I first met your mother and fell in love with her, it was only legal to marry inter-species in a few states. We moved to California and got married there, and it was only a few years later that the Supreme Court legalized inter-species marriage and that many caninophiles like myself came out of the closet. Imagine how much disgust the public used to have towards a truly loving relationship between a human and an animal back before society became so accepting. I love your mother more than many men love their husbands or wives.” He paused for a moment. “Anyway, dogmans may not be as common or, as you call it, normal as humans, but we are making a new normal. We’ve fought hard for you to be able to exist. Make the most of it, son.”
Since that talk, Mike had felt a little more appreciative of his classmates’ acceptance of him. Also, he noted wryly, there were a lot fewer catmans than dogmans in the school. They probably felt even worse than he did.
Sarah skipped along the trail, laughing, cool wind rippling through her hair. She skidded to a halt and looked back, watching her mom emerge from the bend pushing her year-old brother in a stroller. Sarah grinned at her mother and spun around, taking in the lush greenery and majestic trees so thick around her.
“It’s so pretty, Mommy!” Her mom reached Sarah and patted her on the head.
“Yes, sweetie, it’s gorgeous.” They peered in wonder at the trees of all different shades of green that surrounded them, a gentle light streaming in through them tainted a little green onto the trail. Suddenly Sarah saw something strange through the brown trunks—it looked like a man in the distance taking his clothes off and talking to a tree.
“Look, Mommy! What’s he doing?” The man was caressing the tree as he continued to take off his pants, then underwear.
Sarah’s mom caught sight of the spectacle and looked at her six-year-old daughter, who was watching the man intently, eyebrows drawn in curiosity and confusion. Heck, this would give Sarah a head start on reconditioning her mind to acceptance. She allowed her daughter to watch the entire lovemaking scene. When the man was spent and fell to the ground, resting his cheek against the tree and hugging it, Sarah’s mom gently pulled her daughter away.
“Let’s keep going, honey.” Sarah was glancing at all the trees around her as if she was seeing them in a new light. Her mom sighed. It was just recently that the law had passed allowing nudity and sexual acts in national forests—the newest addition to the complex of laws that ensured full acceptance of all sexual orientations. Even dendrophilia. Sarah would have to be exposed to all of these different orientations sometime, so she’d know that there were different choices and she didn’t have to just marry a boy or girl—and even if she did, she would be more accepting of those who didn’t.
Sarah trotted up to her mom and they moved on along the trail wordlessly.
Sarah lept up the bus stairs, grinning back at her mother with her phone up, videotaping her. “First day of second grade!” her mother sang into the phone. With that, she was off.
The first day went smoothly—LA, math, specials, lunch, recess, social studies, science. Days, weeks went by without a hitch.
One day at lunch, she sat with her regular friends with a tray of mashed cauliflower and sloppy joe.
“So A-man-da, who do you have a crush on?” Sarah teased.
Julie snickered. “I’ll bet you she likes girls! Do you have a crush on Sarah?”
“Or maybe she likes cats! There’s a fluffy one living in the dump down the street.”
Sarah giggled. “You know I think that for now I’m a little bit graysex-oo-al but when I do like someone, I’m definitely pansex-oo-al.”
Julie grinned. “You know Sa-rah, I think I’m an andro-sex-oo-al. My brother says that means that I like guys sometimes. What about Amanda? Are you a cis-woman? Are you straight?”
Amanda glared at them. “I’m NOT a LESBIAN! I’m NOT an AIL-OO-ROH-PHILE!” Her face boiled red. “I’M NORMAL!”
A hush fell over the table.
They gaped at her.
She used the n-word.
Suddenly she began to cry. “Please-hic-don’t tell-hic-on me!” she choked between sobs. “I’m-hic-graysexual too and-hic-I like-hic-cats too and-hic-also I love my dog-hic-Jack, and-hic-PLEASE don’t-hic-tell Ms. Newey-hic-I used the-hic-n-word! Please!”
Sarah looked at her seriously, then got up to go find Ms. Newey. She shook her head as she trotted down the hallway. Heck, she probably even believed in binary gender and binary sex. Amanda really had a lot to learn.