I Worry About Him –
Alan was a phenomenal sound engineer at age twenty-two. Not only did he understand the electronics he worked with intimately, he had perfect pitch too. That would make him highly sought after in his field in time. Being able to tune electronic recording and playing devices to being spot on was critical to analog and digital technology. Alan knew how to make sound systems sound fantastic. He understood the physics of sound. So, when he was paired up with the famous and popular artist Tam Melendez, it was an electronic marriage made in heaven. Tam was a brilliant musician in addition to being a pop music star. For instance, he could play anything by Chopin with such passion that even his biggest critics in classical music cried when he played. Tam was also interested in introducing a new generation of Rock and Rollers to the glorious works of past giants so they would raise the level of their music too. He finally decided to use his fame to convince up and coming artists to develop their talents first in classical music.
A special arrangement with Tam’s record company was made after three successful years on tour. He got their support in allowing him in the fall to do a twenty-four city concert tour for high schools where he would demonstrate how to play the classics on modern equipment. No rock and roll. Just him and a sound engineer talking music. Tam hired Alan, who looked after his younger brother on occasion. Alan then talked his mom into letting his brother Timothy come along on that tour. It helped that Timothy was home schooled and could take his school on the road. It gave him the advantage of being able to study on the tour bus and be a roadie when setting up in a school auditorium. And, it would mean that he would get music credit for one of his classes.
For their first gig, they pulled into Marietta, GA, to perform at the local high school. They had recently built a nice auditorium and it was the perfect venue for what Tam wanted to do. The bus settled in and hooked into the power of the school. The driver began repairs of the engine that were pretty easy. Tam came out and went into the auditorium to find Alan already going over their equipment and layout.
“What are we looking at?” Tam asked Alan.
“Pretty easy sound set up. Their equipment isn’t at all bad for new stuff. They have good digital equipment. It isn’t top of the line. I have some equipment that will enhance their sound system and give you what you want.” He handed a list to Timothy who was helping him. “Get this equipment out of the bus onto the dolly while I show Tam the stage and we plan his instrument layout.” Timothy nodded and eagerly went off to perform his assigned task.
Alan watched as his brother walked off. He sighed heavily and shook his head. “I worry about him.”
As they walked around the school auditorium checking out the layout, Tam asked, “Why? Your brother seems like a good kid.”
“Oh, he is. Maybe too good. I just don’t seem to understand him.” Alan said expressing a little frustration.
Tam asked with curiosity in his voice, “Understand him how?”
In a moment of openess, Alan declared, “He isn’t like most boys his age. I mean, he seems normal and pretty open. But, he is soft. Or rather, he just isn’t aggressive. For example, I play tennis with him. Instead of trying to beat me, which I know he can do, he lets me win.”
Tam thought for a moment and said, “Well, maybe he just enjoys hanging around you. He might figure if he beats you that will mean you stop wanting to play him.”
After setting up on the brand new stage, they began their sound checks. Alan walked around the auditorium checking the sound quality of each section until he was satisfied it was tuned to its best sound. He sent Timothy onto the bus to let Tam know everything was ready. Their school concert would start in a couple of hours. He watched the kids milling about going from class to class. The staff had been told about Timothy and he had a special pass so he was left alone. Part of him ached to be with the kids going to class who were his age. Another part was excited to be with his brother and being on the road for a month and a half learning about life on the road. Timothy climbed into the tour bus and found Tam curled up on a couch reading a book. He was wearing baggy gym clothes. His hair was let down and if he hadn’t known better, he would have said he looked more like a woman than a man. He was even reading a book Timothy knew was a modern romance novel.
“Mr. Melendez, my brother says everything is ready. Is there anything else you need, sir?” he said politely and graciously.
Tam relaxed and closed his book. He looked Timothy in the eye and said, “No. Timothy, please call me Tam. I see you working hard and I want you to know I appreciate your work ethic. Is there anything you would like to do on this tour?”
“Thank you sir … I mean … Tam. I can’t think of anything right off hand.”
“Please sit down Timothy, then. Tell me about yourself. Maybe we can think of something that would be educational like visiting the air museum in Sevierville, Tennesse.”
Timothy sat down feeling uneasy. Having someone of Mr. Melendez’s stature and fame want to talk to him was scary and intimidating. However, finding out that he was a caring person was a serendipity. “I don’t have much to say really about myself. I am just a thirteen year old kid. The air museum sounds fun. I think I would enjoy that.”
“Good. We will do it then. What do you like to do for fun and entertainment when you aren’t studying or being a roadie?”
“I don’t know. I am the runt of the litter. I just follow everyone around. I guess I am a follower.”
“And when you aren’t following and it is just you, what do you enjoy?”
Timothy laughed and said, “I like to stay up and watch movies on television. I turn on Netflix and just watch old movies.”
Tam asked sincerely, “What kind of movies?”
“Oh, I like the classics. ‘His Girl Friday.’ I enjoy Bob Hope movies. They make me laugh. Or, ‘Gone With The Wind!’ I enjoy ‘My Fair Lady’ or ‘Meet me in St. Louis.’ Those kind of feel good movies.”
Alan came in and sat down at the table next to Timothy. “Looks like you are going to have a nice crowd here of about 1,500 kids the staff tells me. Not your usual ten thousand at a concert, Tam.”
“Maybe not. But, if I can turn them onto learning how to make good music, it will be worth it to have such small crowds.”
“Makes for good PR, too, I bet.”
“There is that. But, that is not why I want to do it.”
“Fair enough. I am going to lie down in my bunk so I can be rested for your performance.” Alan added. “Let me know if you need anything.”
“Thank you Alan.”
The driver poked his head in the door and said, “I have finished my work on the engine. She is good to go for the rest of the tour Tam.”
“Thanks so much Jim. I don’t know what I would do without you and your talents.” Jim smiled at Tam’s acknowledgment of his skills. It was his experience that most celebrities showed little interest in their staff and their needs. Tam was an exception over the years. He had worked for Tam ever since this wunderkid came onto the scene as a young teenager with his mother ten years ago. Tam was little older than Alan. On one occasion, he allowed Jim to take a detour to see his oldest graduate high school. Tam came over and personally talked to his kid and his friends. Jim liked how down to earth Tam was.
The concert for the students was incredible. Tam took them through his music and showed where he developed his skill to play a particular song. In one case, he walked them through a fugue by Bach to illustrate the construction style he used to build the music for his most famous hit ‘I Walk With You Forever.’ Timed to last just fifty minutes, he got ten minutes of applause. The music teachers all came over and thanked him. He talked about bass, melody, rhythm, and harmony. He packed an incredible amount of teaching into a fifty minute lecture on music that the students really enjoyed. He made the process of making music tangible and reachable. A Mr. Janson came over afterwards and said, “For the first time, my students have heard how what I teach them will help them play better music. I can’t thank you enough.”
As they were packing up, Tam came over to help. “Tam, I really liked your performance today. Thank you for letting me come along and help my brother start his career.” Timothy said excitedly.
“You are welcome Timothy. I couldn’t do this without his help or yours.”
Later, in the bus, before they hit the road, Timothy began to cook something for dinner. Tam and Alan looked on.
“He is a good cook. He spends time helping our Mom in the kitchen.” Alan said proudly.
After they all had eaten, Tam pronounced, “That was a wonderful meal, Timothy. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Timothy blushed and got up to clear the dishes.
Tam stopped him. “No, you let me do that. I have to do my fair share too.”
“Can I dry the dishes at least?”
“Yeah, I would enjoy the company.”
Alan and Jim excused themselves to go work on repacking the bus for the trip to Chattanooga. As Tam began to wash the dishes and clean them, he would hand them to Timothy who would dry them and put them away. “What did you really think of the performance today? Did I lose you?”
“Super. You are going to inspire a lot of students. No, you didn’t lose me. I learned a lot from you.”
“Well most of the students just want to get out of class and I am a good excuse. I want to make sure they learn something too.”
“Still, not many stars come and talk to them about how important school is to their future. I really admire what you are doing. I wish more artists would take time to do that.”
“Thank you. And it will be a nice way to end my touring career. After this, I plan to do only studio work and composing. I am stepping out of the limelight.”
“Why, you seem to like performing so much?” Timothy was shocked to hear that he was ending his performing career.
“I am not sure that people will want to come see me perform anymore once I make the changes I want to make.”
“Changes? Are you getting married or something.”
“Yes, something. I think you already can guess what that something may be. The way you looked at me when I was on the couch I think you already suspected.”
“I was just surprised to see you curled up the way you were. I thought you looked more like a woman than a man.”
“And you would be right since I will be becoming a woman. I plan to finish this tour and then begin a year long transition to womanhood out of the spotlight simply announcing that I am retiring from touring to focus on producing and writing. I am going to keep my transition hush hush.”
“Don’t you want to be like Caitlyn Jenner and teach people about being transgender? Wouldn’t that inspire people too.”
“No. Surprisingly, I don’t like reality television because there is nothing real about it. And, she could end up hurting more people than she helps. The struggles of each transgender is different. It isn’t fair to someone having to make hard choices to feel that all transgenders are alike ending up in a glamorous transition. Then there is the misinformation. For example, some know they are transgender from a very young age. I knew myself knew at the age of five. Others realize it earlier than I did and some much later. In telling my story for a reality show, I could do more harm than good by letting some video editor sensationalize my story at the expense of good advice for someone with the condition. And then there is the reality that I have the money and means to do the transition right. Many transgenders struggle to get the funds they need to transition in a way that they pass for the sex they have chosen.”
Timothy was flabbergasted with Tam’s frankness after having just met him. Well, her. He softly asked, “Why are you telling me this? Aren’t you afraid I will tell the world or sell your story to a tabloid?” Timothy expressed his genuine concern for someone who was clearly becoming a friend to him.
“Not at all. And I bet you know why too?” Tam said confidently with a smile.
“How would I know? You just told me.” Timothy looked uneasy as though a spotlight had been put on him somehow. He grew quiet.
“I just told you a lot about me. About when I realized I was a girl.” Tam said it rather as a matter of fact and continued washing dishes. He stopped talking and let Timothy think more about what he just said.
Timothy kept drying the dishes handed to him and putting them away. He was quiet for what seemed like the longest time. Finally, as if a screaming question had been asked him in the silence, he said, “All right. I figured it out when I was nine. How did you know?”
“Just a feeling when I met you. The way you behaved. I knew you weren’t gay. I have been around many gays in this business. I also knew you weren’t trying to act feminine, but I had the feeling you were.”
Timothy said with a little panic in his voice, “Are you going to tell my brother that I am transgender?”
“No, I think I will keep him on as a sound engineer. That way he learns about you through me. Alan is a good man. A little macho for my tastes, but a solid sound engineer. He knows his equipment. He is a dedicated and hard worker. And, I know he has trouble understanding who you really are.”
“Tell me about it. I can’t tell you how many times he tries to get me interested in girls in ways that make me want to vomit.” Timothy was feeling more comfortable talking to him. He looked out the window at his brother and Jim working on repacking some equipment.
“Let me guess. When you started home schooling, he decided he needed to augment your education and give you a lesson on how to pick up women?”
“Yes. And in totally gross ways too.”
“Well, by the end of this tour, you will have a chance to teach your brother about me. In so doing, you will be able to educate him about what transgenders go through and how to help them. Deal?”
“Deal!” Timothy smiled.
“I also want you to be part of the process. I don’t know if surgery is right for you. I know it is for me. About three out of four transgender boys grow out of it. You could be just fine in a couple of years and continue on as Timothy. Or, you could realize like I have, that you need to be on the outside what you are on the inside.”
“And, that is why you don’t want to go public. Because you could harm some kid and they later regret choices they make.”
“Precisely. There are some who get surgery and later regret it. Some kill themselves. Some try to undo the damage. It isn’t pretty. This condition we have is a serious one. We need to work with professionals who are trained to look out for our best interests and do us no harm. I have those professionals and they have led me to the point that I will do a year as a woman and then get the surgery.”
“So, you could decide you are okay as Tam and not Tammy?”
“Yes, theoretically. By being private this next year, I will have a chance to make sure I make a good choice. I know it will be to become Tammy. But doing it right is like how I make good music. By learning from the best of the past, I have written music that will stand the test of time.”
“And, if I learn from you how to do it right, I won’t make mistakes when I transition.”
“Spoken like a good follower. Just be wise. Learn from me. I can help you and will help you. But, you have to do it right. I have some people I would like you to meet along the way.”
Timothy started to cry. “Thanks Tam. For everything.”
With a few tears in his eyes, Tam said, “My pleasure.”
After everything was done, Jim and Alan came on the bus. They locked up things and headed down the road to their next gig. Tam went into his rear compartment to relax while Alan and Timothy sat together.
“This is such a great chance for me to get started in the field. So, what do you think of our benefactor?” Alan said.
Timothy was ready to start his brother’s education. He smiled and said casually, “I worry about him.”
Copyright © 2017 by AuP reviner
[Author's note: Yes, for you biscuit lovers, I love Tim Tams! -- AuP]
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