Easy As Falling Off A Bike.
James Bond was on the telly but I wasn't watching it. I was sat nursing my misery and a cup of instant soup. I had seriously thought of killing myself with an overdose, but it was the last of the chicken and vegetable left. The irony of 'chicken' wasn't lost on me.
So I was officially a coward, it would say so on my medical notes - wonder if they just glued in some white feathers, rather than writing it. I was sort of ashamed of myself for being such a wimp but probably more angry with others for not understanding me. Yes they were offering me things on a plate, but shouldn't it be my decision not someone else's no matter how well meaning they were.
It was so bloody stupid, I could see that, to be arguing about the colour of the menu when the food on offer was all my favourites, so to speak. But it really rankled with me.
Then I had the problem of talking to my parents. I ran through the evening when the matter was raised for the first and only time. I had been staying at home for a weekend and was rather listless. I had taken some embroidery home with me, having been teaching myself how to cross stitch from a book and from the instructions in a kit thing I bought. It was all quite small and fitted in a small bag, and it was something I could do in my room when I went to bed, especially if I couldn't sleep.
My Dad, is a man's man, whatever that means. Personally, I suspect it means insensitive, homophobic arsehole. He often made anti gay remarks if someone who looked camp appeared on the telly, and I remember him railing on and on about a pair of gays he saw in a pub one night. I had to go to bed before I said something.
Anyway on the night it all happened, I had been doing some embroidery and in rushing to hide it all before my mother saw it, managed to drop a couple of the silks on the bedroom floor. From the bed they weren't visible but they were from the doorway, and of course she saw them when she came in to ask if I wanted a cuppa.
"What's that?" she pointed at the floor.
"My shoe, I expect," I replied unaware of what she was on about.
"No, it looks like..." and she walked forward and picked up the little skein of silk, "..I thought so, an embroidery silk. How did that get there?"
"Dunno, maybe it apported here," I tried to act stupid.
"What is that?" she asked.
"You know when things are transported from another dimension or place, that Indian holy man, does it with ash all the time. Maybe my bedroom is a portal to another dimension."
"Don't be so silly Charlie, now where did it come from?"
"How do I know?" I huffed, "Honestly Mum, you'd think you had just found half a joint."
"What has a cut of meat got to do with anything?"
"Not that sort of joint, a spliff, you know pot or dope." I rolled my eyes in disbelief, surely she had heard the expression, it appeared she hadn't.
"You mean marijuana or whatever you call it?"
At last daylight, "Yes, what did you think I meant?"
"I didn't know what you meant, since you went off to college you've been a different boy."
"Boy, I'm nearly twenty two Mum, in case it passed your notice."
"So where did this come from, it isn't a girlfriend's because I know you haven't got one. You worry me to death, you're not gay are you, because I heard about these weird parties at universities?"
"No, Mother, I am not gay." I felt indignant as well as undecided, I didn't know what I was except a girl inside.
"Your father wouldn't like it if you were."
"Who cares what he likes?" I said as a throw away and regretted it as soon as the words were out of my mouth.
"Oh, how can you be ungrateful, he paid quite a lot of money to help you through university for your bachelor's degree."
"I'm not ungrateful, but it's not as if he's exactly short of money is it?"
"He's got a good job," she agreed.
"For a homophobic moron," I muttered.
"That's unfair, he just thinks it's wrong for two men or two women for that matter, to be together. It says so in The Bible."
"I don't think there's any mention of lezzies in The Bible," I corrected, "but it also says, 'Jesus wept' and he'd never met Dad."
"That is both blasphemous and disrespectful of Jesus and your father."
"What are you on about? How can you be disrespectful of some old Jew who died two thousand years ago, if he ever lived in the first place."
"Charlie, may God forgive you, of course he lived, it says so in The Bible, and Reverend Peabody believes in him, and he's nobody's fool."
"That silly old fart, honestly Mum, he's a senile old git who wouldn't know Jesus if he gave him communion on sunday." The image of that happening almost made me laugh out loud.
"Just because you have a degree doesn't mean you know everything, Mr Peabody has an MA from Oxford, which I'm sure is better than a bachelor's from Sussex."
"Shows how much you know, they used to sell them at Oxford and Cambridge once you got a BA. Mine's a science degree, worth two of his. I had to work for mine, not just punt down the fucking Thames." I blushed, I never swore in front of my mother.
"How dare you use language like that in front of me? I shall tell your father."
I hung my head sheepishly, she was right, I shouldn't have sworn. "I'm sorry Mum, I got carried away."
"Too late Charlie, I shall tell your father. Now where did this come from and I want the truth this time?"
"Okay, it's mine. I've been teaching myself to sew, okay? It's no big deal."
"This is embroidery thread."
"You don't normally sew with embroidery silk."
"I do, okay?"
"Charlie, I can see you're lying, what are you embroidering?"
"All bloody right, this, I'm embroidering this, okay?" and I pulled out the sampler and threw it at her.
"Your grandmother made one of these."
"Whoopee, did you tell her father?"
"I've had about as much of your cheek as I can stand," with that she turned abruptly and left my room, shutting the door not too quietly. She still had my sewing.
I heard words down below and knew that before long my father would be up ranting and raving at me. It took half an hour, longer than usual.
"Right young man, or should I say young lady?" he spat throwing my cross stitch on the bed.
"Please yourself," I said back.
It was the wrong thing to say and he walked over and picked me up by the collar of the shirt I had on and half strangling me, pushed me against the wall.
"Who do you think you are talking to?"
"A big bully, that's who!" I managed to croak before he almost completed the asphyxiation, and dropped me on the bedroom floor.
"What sort of unnatural creature have we raised?"
"What are you on about?" I croaked, peering up at him through watering eyes.
"You're supposed to be a man, not some bloody nancy-boy who does sewing when she's not playing with her dollies."
This was a reference to the fact that I had several 'Action Man' toys which I played with when I was about twelve or thirteen. I just used to dress them up and carry them around, he called me, "a sissy" and never forgave me. I still had them until I went off to uni, when they all mysteriously disappeared.
"It's better than beating people up."
"At least real men do that!" he glared at me.
"Yeah fucking Neanderthals!" I sneered back and he delivered the first kick.
The beating went on for some little while, it had been years since he'd given me one so thorough but I had managed to keep my face from damage.
"You bloody big queer!" he spat at me.
"I'm not," I protested tasting blood, so I must have bitten my lip.
"What are you then, nancy-boy?"
"If you must know, I'm gender dysphoric."
"Gender what? What's that supposed to mean?"
"I have a female brain in a male body."
"I have female brain in a male body, I need a sex change doctor," he mimicked and ad libbed in a falsetto voice. Then his whole face turned as dark as thunder and he said in his normal voice," I'll give you a sex change," and kicked me hard in the groin. I passed out with the pain.
I left there that night, and had not been home since. It took days for me to get over the beating and it would possibly take a lifetime to forgive my father. At the same time I wanted to please him and part of the cycling thing was to achieve something physical just to prove I wasn't a girly-boy. However, I was and the cycling club, or more correctly the men's cycling team, rejected me for being too slow and girly on hills.It was after that I got the Scott and the serious leg muscles.
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