Charles and Charley rode along in companionable silence till they were out of town. Charley was obviously deep in thought but finally spoke. “Dad, I need a new name. How do I do that?”
“I’ve been thinking about that, already. I talked to your Uncle Louis about it. He thinks the easiest way would be to request a correction on your original birth certificate for your sex and name as though the original was wrong. He is a well-known lawyer with friends in the courthouse and won’t be questioned like the average citizen when he files the request. Think about what name you’d like and I’ll get back to Lou. We should be able to get this taken care of before you go off to college in the fall.” Charles was glad Charley had brought this up, now. It had been on his own mind for weeks.
”How about Charles Louis so I can go by Charley?”
”That ought to work. I’ll let Louis know.”
Charley hummed distractedly as he often did when thinking. “Son, what’s on your mind?” Charley was a bit startled at being addressed as “Son” for the first time. “I’ve been wondering what kind of life I’ll ever have. I can’t be a normal man. I never wanted to be a girl, but I’ll never be a real man. I can’t get married or go in the military. I probably can’t even get in college. Everybody is going to know I am a freak. What the point? I can’t have any kind of normal life.”
“Charley, I don’t have any answers, but I believe you’ll make a place for yourself. You’re not obligated to tell anyone your business. Folks don’t generally go around asking personal questions. I recommend you get familiar with the changes in yourself before worrying about getting too involved with the community. There’s no reason they would connect you with the little girl who used to visit the farm, even if they remembered a couple of little girls used to spend time there with their grandma. She and Cousin Frances both pretty much kept to themselves, never even going to church. I truly believe one day you will find someone who will care you, just for yourself. That’s soon enough to worry about explaining. You aren’t the only person who’s had to deal with such a thing. I have a patient in a similar situation. You’d be shocked if I told you who it was. She was married with children. She moved here a few years after you were born. I delivered her babies or I’d never have known.”
“I’ll bet it’s Jody Fischer, ain’t it?” He mentioned a very masculine-looking woman who drove the school bus in from the country. “She looks and acts just like a man.” he snorted.
“No, it’s not. I don’t know anything about Jody. I suspect she’s a homosexual, but that’s none of my business.” Charles answered.
“You mean it’s not the same thing?” Charley was surprised.
“Not at all. A homosexual is interested in persons of the same sex. A heterosexual is interested in persons of the opposite sex. It’s as simple as that.” Charles knew he was the only person Charley could ask, so he was anxious not to confuse him. “You have mixed genitalia. At birth, you looked more like a girl. As you grew up, you looked and acted more like a boy the older you got. You know as much of the story as I do from the time of your surgery. I never expected that to happen.”
Charley pounded his breasts “I hate these! I wish I could just cut them off! He wept with despair.
Charles tried to console him. “I know it’s hard, but some things we can’t change. You’re are already flatter since you got so thin while you were sick. I’m hoping, you’ll develop more like your brothers since you don’t have female hormones anymore. You’ll get more muscular working on the farm with Robert and the boys. That ought to help.”
Charley didn’t speak for a while. “Could you pull over? I need practice driving.” He composed himself before getting in the driver’s seat.
As he settled, Charles changed the subject to spare him. “You’re not going to have anything that drives like car this on the farm. Cousin Frances’s old Model A and the tractor are going to work you over. I know Robert is going to be careful about trusting you with the farm truck till he knows what you can do.”
“No problem. I like that old Model A.”
Charley’s mood brightened. “Hey, Dad! Did you hear the one about the traveling salesman and the farmer’s daughter?”
“Okay, I’m glad you’re feeling better, but I’m not quite ready to swap Traveling Salesman and Farmer’s Daughter Jokes with you. You got to give me a little time, too.”
“You big sissy!” Charley laughed. “I’m not the only one with something to get used to!”