When the doctor told my parents I had an extra part, they performed their best version of nonchalance. They then proceeded to cut a little hole in the backside of each tiny outfit they had received at their non-gendered baby-welcoming event. They could have been saying that this appendage was no more significant than a washing instruction tag, something that might itch, just a little bit. So well-played was this ruse that they convinced not only themselves, but everyone around us, of their good fortune.
We made our way through my youth going to the How Berkeley Can You Be parades, cheering on Pink Bodysuit Guy as he unicycled past, and swimming at Lake Anza, where half of the kids and an unsettling number of pruney grandparents frolicked unhindered by clothes. We wore my onliness as if it were an Olympic medal, collectively won.
Highly selective preschools fought over me. I was a flavor of unique that could not be categorized.
“And it doesn’t seem to have affected her intelligence at all!” one principal said, surely salivating over what I’d do to their demographics.
“We think it has enhanced it,” answered my father, perhaps going too far.
“Special, my ass,” said the parent of one unmemorable child. “I bet it’s a prosthetic just to grab that kid a spot in The Park Day School.”
And another, “I heard the parents are actually brother and sister—fraternal twins!” It went that far.
Things could have gone either way. I was lucky. The clothing line for the tailed, celebrity revelations, the guest spot on Letterman—I kicked it, by the way—much of my success was just timing. The bubble that my family chose for itself was kept intact by surface tension. Self-contained, we floated of our own accord. On the inside, were all things peculiar and therefore magical, and on the outside was the mundane—and not of our concern.
But you find things out. History is usually just one drunk uncle away. The truth is, my father made the appointment for his vasectomy from the in-house phone in the neonatal ward, and my mother soon after had her tubes tied—just to be sure.
'Tail' was first published at Black Heart in their January 2014 issue.
Saturday, 6 June 2020
'Tail' by Linda Michel-Cassidy
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