Saturday, 17 October 2015

There's No Place Like Home

Four months into the Bit-ler’s Real Life Test, she has to go sort out her mother. 

Raise your hands, all you who had an involuntary shudder at that sentence.  I'd need a pint of damson gin myself, with a baby sham chaser.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to go.

The last time these two women were together, one presented herself as male and told her mother she planned to transition.  That’s when her Disinterested Mother confessed she’d always thought the Bit-ler’d been switched at birth with some queer folks’ chillen, then followed up the visit with phone calls about whether or not the Bit-ler should absent herself from Disinterested Mother’s funeral, or the funeral itself be moved to some other city, possibly some other country so no one would know about the transition.

‘You’ll be dead, Mam.  What’s it matter, so?’

With this sympatica between them, the Bit-ler trots off to Dublin to pry her mother out of a geriatric ward against her will and settle her into a nursing home.  The Bit-ler’s hair extensions mean she presents as female but travels with a male passport, hair pulled back, inciting a curious look or two from Border Control. 

Her mother’s delighted to see her, says the Bit-ler’s looking well.  It transpired that Disinterested Mother didn’t recognise her daughter, and the next hospital visit produced a litany of improvements the Bit-ler should make about her hair, her clothing, and jaysus, didn’t the Bit-ler’s school chum drop by wearing a three piece suit and why wouldn’t he, since he works in the hospital? 

‘Which is why he did, Mam.’

The Bit-ler tells me all this on the phone, thinking it’s funny that said chum described her hairstyle as U2 Roadie and I’m all, What-er you on about, your hair’s gorgeous, and then she admits she’s spent her whole Dublin visit with her hair tied back. 

No curling iron. 

No straightener. 

No hair spray. 

Gargoyle Possom (RIP)
I don’t understand.  All those mornings up at stupid o’clock so she wouldn’t look like Gargoyle Possum dragged backwards through a hedge.

It’s because she’s home, she says.  Her mother, her porcupine aunt, the neighbour’s chillen, her school chum, there’s no place like home to show you that the longer you know someone, the more you have to lose. 

My Butler-in-Transition with her suede boots and turquoise jewellery and lemon shoulder bag, the look of pure joy on her face when she got her hair extensions, and she ties it all back so people’ll still love her.  My heart cracks a little and a small animal inside it, keens. 

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