I was in hysterics, but I was not crying. Instead, I was laughing my ass off. My wife, who was sitting at the other side of the kitchen table with puffy, red eyes and a glass of Chardonnay, was not. Instead, she was looking mortified.
What did she expect? I'm irreverent. Some would say an asshole. OK. That's not unfair. But I've always been like this. Can't take anything seriously. Heck, I can find something to make me laugh even at a funeral, and have. Maybe I need therapy. But my wife's known this about me for years. Ever since college, actually, when we were just dating.
But in the kitchen, all I knew was that my laughter had gotten so bad that I could no longer breathe. My ribs and abdomen were aching. On the upside, I would never have to wonder about whether any of my doubtlessly numerous personal flaws or inadequacies had led us to this point. On the downside, it was obvious that I really needed to work on being a better person going forward because I was being a total dick about the whole thing right now, even with the irreverence for a baseline. Oh, well. It's good to have goals.
You see, my soon-to-be-ex-wife had just announced to me that she had been having an affair for the past six months with another woman, a friend from her three-times-a-week Zumba class. I was clueless, of course. This woman was her soul-mate, she had announced. They intended to marry as soon as our divorce was final.
That wasn't the funny part though. I know. You're thinking that what was throwing me was the fact that, besides learning that I was clueless about having been lied to, I was stunned to learn that my wife was a lesbian, especially since she had once shot down a drunken suggestion I had made about a threesome with one of her hot friends. Shot it down with extreme prejudice.
But that wasn't it. You see, my wife insisted that, although she was dating another woman, she was certain that she was not a lesbian. That got me smirking and on the road to a total descent into assholishness.
I was going to argue that she was at least bisexual but, before I could, she told me that her "non-lesbian" relationship with another woman made my wife realize that, although she was assigned female at birth, she was wrongly gendered. She, or now he, had decided that she/he had "gender dysphoria." Thus, my wife was really a man. Or would be, after the appropriate gender reassignment therapies and surgeries.
I was clueless about all of this, too. Wonder what else I did not know about the person sitting across the table from me. Apparently, communication had somehow failed in the marriage.
It was after she told me about her new understanding of herself that I lost it. All I could think of was Monty Python's "Life of Brian," when Stan announces to the People's Front of Judea that he wants to be Loretta so that he can have babies, even though he hasn't got a womb, which was nobody's fault, not even the Romans. That movie made me laugh myself senseless in high school and college. Literal roll-on-the-floor laughing, except that I was so numb from the laughing that I lacked the strength to reach the floor. I guess that makes it figurative, not literal. Anyway, remembering that scene was making me laugh again now.
That and "South Park," where the gay teacher, Mr. Garrison, became Ms. Garrison and then a lesbian. I stopped watching so I lost track of what happened later, but that was the gist. But "South Park" was never as funny to me as Stan wanting to be Loretta. The serious look on Stan's face as he made his announcement nailed that scene for me. Good old Eric Idle.
My wife had that kind of intense look on her face now, which was not helping. Kind of like someone who suddenly wants to talk to you about Jesus and isn't going to leave the house unless and until you hit them with a stun gun.
I know, I know. It was insensitive of me. I'm probably sounding like my father. He says that nature only gave us men, women, and the confused. But then he thought Klinger wearing a dress on "MASH" was a hoot. And he also believes that there are only two types of coffee: real and decaffeinated. So, he's not the best model.
Personally, I have nothing against trans people. Or homosexuals. And don't I sound like a clichéd homophobe/transphobe right now? Kind of like Mr. Hilter when he was campaigning for Parliament in the North Minehead by-election: "Und I am not a racialist, but . . . ." That one made me laugh, too. John Cleese as Hilter and Michael Palin as Bimmler carried that one. Eric Idle was only in the introductory scene.
But, really, I think everyone should be able to live their lives and get married, if that's what they want, no matter their sexual orientation. (Hell, if you're a moral buttinsky and want gay people to stop having sex, the best way to do it is to let them get married. Any heterosexual married man could tell you that.) I also believe that you should be able to go to the bathroom whenever and wherever you need to. So, if you have the right equipment for the job, use the urinal. If not, use the stall. I don't care. Just wash your hands when you're done. And tell me your pronouns.
And, if you're the woman that I married, don't fucking change genders on me—or break your wedding vows in the process—years after we got together. Like it's too much to ask that you might have done some introspection and realized you were really a guy BEFORE we got married? I would have been less annoyed to have gotten this revelation at the altar than now, seven years into it. But, no. As I recall, my wife and her mother and sisters were more worried about the flowers in the church and what kind of cake to have than anyone's sexual orientations.
In any case, this was it for the wife and me. She was obviously considering divorce, but I have no clue what she really thought might be coming. As for me, I signed on for tits. That's why I started dating her. Sure, I told her it was her pretty eyes that had drawn me in, but get real. There was no scenario in which I was going to stay around to walk her/him through how to use jock-itch lotion, not even for the sake of the kids. That made the decisional flowchart easy in case any relatives started asking about reconciliation. I'd just tell them that, in any relationship, I wanted to be the only one scratching his balls in the morning on the way to the bathroom. If she wanted a divorce, that would suit me fine, although she was the one cheating, so I would be going for adultery.
I suppose it was the surprise. If there had been time to process the news, I would not have been such a cunt about laughing at her. But here was my wife—a woman who got weepy over all the heart-string-tugging scenes of chick-flicks, a woman who practically begs for foot massages and was willing to trade blowjobs, which she hated, to get them—telling me she wanted to be a guy because she was not getting the proper leverage and stability with the strap-on dildo to pound her bitch like her bitch really needed to be pounded. I just could not help myself.
For one thing, if she had come to me ahead of time, I might have been able to rig something sturdy in the basement with my tools so she could reliably pound her bitch and still easily replace the worn dildos. It would probably have to be some kind of larger leather bathing suit bottom with padding instead of just a harness. Sure, it would take a little effort to get on because it would have to be tight, but the stability premium you'd get should make it worth it. Something like that would probably have worked just fine, at least until the doctor got her clitoris stretched out until it was a dick. But all that would have been me just being a guy, trying to solve the problem instead of dealing with the complex emotional subtext. We'd probably have wound up in the same place. I just wouldn't have laughed so much getting there.
Then there was the discussion of their future as soulmates: they were going to have children together. That's nice, I thought. Except we already had two right now. I didn't know where they were going to get a Y-chromosome. I didn't ask about the mechanics. I didn't really want to know. Maybe when I was seriously drunk.
Speaking of drinking, it occurred to me that this whole story would be a great ice-breaker during Happy Hour when I got back into circulation, as long as I wasn't dealing with sensitive snowflakes. I'd be able to ask the girl if she was really a man just like my ex-wife and dare her to prove that she wasn't. I'd probably get slapped a bunch but would likely have a decent enough positive response rate to make the question worthwhile.
That's when it hit me that one way to look at this was that I had apparently been in a gay relationship for nearly a decade. Except that my partner didn't like giving blowjobs or receiving anal sex. Guess she would have imagined herself as a "top."
Thinking about that, it also dawned on me then that I actually knew when my marriage had started to end. It had been maybe two or three years ago on New Year's Eve. We had both had too much champagne, and she was frisky. She wanted to know if I would let her peg me. Heck no, I had said. It was bad enough when the doctor stuck his finger up my butt for my prostate exam once a year. No way did I want a dildo up there. Clueless me. I had not thought at the time to ask why she had a dildo anyway.
That made me start laughing again, that and remembering Sibling Reg, leader of the People's Front of Judea, asking Stan where the fetus was going to gestate when he became Loretta and had babies—in a box?
"IT'S NOT FUNNY!" my wife yelled as she burst into tears.
Then she complained that I was just being cruel. That shocked me. Comparatively speaking, I was giving her the benefit of the doubt, due to our entire decade together, including the frankness that comes with that kind of relationship. What did she think would happen in the real world?
"Hold it right there, honey," I said. "If you're going to go down this path, you need to man up."
That made the crying even worse.
It was at this point that our five-year-old son and four-year-old daughter came in the door from playing with the kids who lived next door.
"Daddy, why is Mommy crying?" asked my daughter.
My wife tried to get it together, rubbing her eyes and nose with the back of her hand, and biting her lips.
My laughter was now over, and the anger was coming to take its place. The timing sucked, obviously, but she had lied, and cheated, and never bothered to tell me about any of this. She had let me live a farce for who knows how long. I saw no need to be polite or civilized or kind. I'd probably regret it later, but was beyond caring now. I'll probably be much nicer whenever my next partner tells me they, too, are wrongly gendered.
Fuck it, I thought. We never lied to the kids before, and I wasn't going to lie now. My wife was obviously at a loss for words, expending all her effort on getting her weeping under control, so I fielded the ball, just like a man would. Years later, at least, my kids would have something interesting to tell their therapists.
"Mommy just told Daddy that she doesn't want to live with Daddy anymore because she's in love with a new lady. And Mommy wants to change into a Daddy, too!" I announced with the kind of happy parenting voice I would use, if I had told them we were going to Disney World.
My wife, who had been trying to think of something to say, was shocked back into silence and just stared at me, wide-eyed with her mouth hanging open. Apparently, the conversation was not going to plan.
"Why does Mommy want to be a Daddy?" my son asked.
"I guess she wants to be able to do pee-pee standing up and not have to do a lot of housework," I suggested.
"I want to do pee-pee standing up! I don't want to do housework either!" my daughter announced on the verge of tears. "I want to be a Daddy, too!"
"I love to pee standing up!" my son announced. "I can even write my name in the snow."
Thankfully, he did not learn that from me, although I was proud that he could handle the spelling at his age. And the penmanship, or whatever you called it, considering the writing instrument. I wondered where he had picked up that skill. Maybe from the neighbors' kids.
But I had to get back to parenting.
"Kids, why don't we let Mommy try it first and see how it works? And don't worry. I'll be getting a younger, prettier, and thinner Mommy who will live with me and give you cookies when you come stay at my new house. I'm just going to have to find a lady who doesn't also want to be a Daddy."
At that, my wife howled in despair, fled the room, ran up the stairs, pounded down the hall, and slammed the master bedroom door shut. The kids and I silently watched her flee.
If she was going to be a guy, I wonder if I could get alimony?
But seriously, though, I thought. She's going to have to learn to man up.