My Horrible Treatment For The Inevitable Film Adaptation Of That One "Save The Children From Becoming Trans Men" Book: Do It Father Of The Bride Style

Previously: How I Caught My Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria and So Is The Flesh A Problem Or An Opportunity In The Eyes Of God Or What?

You know the one I mean, I think. The book with the Kewpie-doll kid on the front with a hole through its stomach, the one that looks like a Little Golden book like the Little Poky Puppy, about saving our daughters from getting cannonballs tossed through their midpoints during the Napoleonic Wars — you know the one I mean.

It’s bound to get a movie adaptation at some point, I think — if God’s Not Dead was funded for not one but two sequels, then ROGD is going to get a streaming-only something or other, directed by some director’s kid, and we might as well all have a good time while we’re at it, and I think it ought to be shot Father-of-the-Bride style. You must admit to yourself that it works. The early-90s Uncle Buck aesthetic suits this particular brand of transphobia down to the ground (which is not to indict John Candy, of course, the patron saint of many a trans man). You can see it already, can’t you? I’m sorry for that, of course, but we might as well see it through to the end, now that we’re here.

The poster (“poster”) is a 40-something Steve Martin, affable, guileless, wearing sneakers with his suits years before Ellen stole the idea from him, arms thrown out in a shrug, face screwed up in a question mark that earns $250,000 a year. The title below him reads:


And so on. We open in the traditional fashion, as in both the Spencer Tracy and the first Martin versions, panning over the remains of an obviously expensive (but tasteful — well, the kind of tasteful that’s produced by someone who’s concerned about seeming tasteful, which is to say both vulgar and durable) part until we reach Steve Martin grimacing in a tuxedo. That man doesn’t belong in that tuxedo, the viewer will instinctively feel. I’d like to have a beer with that man. Sensible. He tugs off his tie — sensibly — and takes us into his confidence:

“I used to think a a transition was a simple affair. College graduation — a boy or a girl shows up to enough classes on time to receive a mortarboard, a handshake, and a gold watch. A wedding — Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say, “I do.” A tomboy climbs a tree, she wears some pants, scuffs her knees, everybody keeps their shirt on about it. A transition means a new job or a new baby or letting your mother-in-law move in over the garage. I was wrong. That’s just change. A transition is an entirely different proposition. I know. I’ve just been through one. Not my own, my daughter’s — sorry, my son’s. Annie Banks—no, sorry, MacKenzie. That’s his transition name: MacKenzie. No last name. I’ll be honest with you. When I bought this house years ago, it cost less than this blessed event, in which Annie Banks became MacKenzie. I’m told that one day I’ll look back on all…this…with great affection and nostalgia. I hope so. You fathers will understand. Sorry, mothers. You’ll have to excuse me. I’m still getting the hang of all this.”

Diane Keaton remains too, of course, as a good example of what a non-traditional woman can look like, turtlenecks and so on, rare breed and not bowing to pressure and aging gracefully, idiosyncratic style icon, fingerless gloves, becoming a mother at 50, but also deciding what kind of mother she wants to be on her own, Kieran Culkin also reprises his role as a five-year-old (“I wish I didn’t have to walk Mom down the aisle. I wish I could just be a kid.”), and we replace the wedding announcement at the dinner table, right after no one wants to go to the Paul Simon concert, with MacKenzie’s transition announcement, complete with hallucination that a four-year-old girl is breaking the news:

“I met somebody in Rome. Um, he’s an American — he’s from LA, actually, just like me. And his name’s Bryan MacKenzie, or just MacKenzie actually, and he’s this completely wonderful, amazing man — actually we have a ton in common, and we started spending a lot of time together — and, well, actually, he’s me. Which means that…I’m transitioning!”

Obviously we keep the scene where Steve Martin gets arrested for tearing apart bags of hot dog buns at the supermarket and screaming how they don’t manufacture the right amount to eat hot dogs with. Don’t change the dialogue a whit, just move things to a surgeon’s office and watch the money roll in. He’s just saying what we’re all thinking, folks! It’s just good common sense! There are hot dog buns, and there are hot dogs, and what kind of world do we live in where everyone’s swanning around, costing money, looking like Franck, and hang on a second, and when did we all get so, and another thing, and I’ve got something to say, and it’s simple math. It’s just simple math! He’s just saying what we’re all thinking — so why are we putting him in jail for it?

And who’s this smarmy little creepy? Who’s this smooth-faced hot-dog jockey, name tag covered in some gibberish like CANTON or CRALLEN — that’s not a name, son, George is a name, Chief is a name, Ref is a name — what kind of a man wears an apron and a tie at the same time, Cabbie, and who is he to tell me what to do? I am removing the superfluous buns, and if anybody in this surgical center had an ounce of common sense they’d have done the same thing twenty years ago! [Pause for standing ovation from the audience.]

GEORGE: I thought — I thought you were a feminist. I thought you thought transition meant a woman lost her identity. I thought you wanted to get a job before you — so you could earn some money, be your own person —

MACKENZIE: I didn’t think I believed in any of this until I met some of the other guys. And MacKenzie’s not like those guys you didn’t want me to date in high school. I want to be him. I’m not gonna lose my identity, because he’s not some overpowering, macho guy. I mean, he’s like you, Dad—

GEORGE softens.

MACKENZIE: Except he’s brilliant.

GEORGE grimaces.

Keep all the Franck and Howard scenes (“It’s not that I think he’s gay, Nina, my cousin is gay and he doesn’t act like that”) for the timeless sissy panic, throw in a borrowed Underworks binder for the scene where Martin tries on his old tux and rips it (“What did we spend all that money on training bras for, then, Nina?” / “Keep your voice down, George. I don’t like it any more than you do, but you’re making a scene”), throw in a Love & Basketball-style twist at the end where George finally comes around after MacKenzie beats him in a game of Horse and it snows in LA for the first time, and they get Matty to promise he’s never going to transition. One in the family is enough!!!

I predict, opening weekend — a million dollars.

How To Kill A Man, According To Amadeus

Isaac Fellman beat me to some, but not all of it:

“But what [Salieri’s] really doing, by railroading [Mozart] into a place of lonely illness, is forcing him to see only Salieri and recognize the million-watt intensity of his fandom. They haven’t invented the lamp yet that could be a good metaphor for Salieri’s fandom. He can only express it in candles, which must be frustrating.”

ANTONIO SALIERI, GROTESQUE WITH REMORSE, TRIUMPH, AND TIME: twas I who killed Amadeus Mozart, Padre, ‘twas I who brought down the curtain on the last and greatest concerto Europe ever hist – I killed him.

A SHIVERING PRIEST, TERRIFIED OF THE REAL: mein Gott…how did you do it

SALIERI: I befriended him


SALIERI: I gave him a job when he needed money

PRIEST: I see, pray continue

SALIERI: One time I did not do him a favor even though I said I would do him a favor

PRIEST: yes, yes, go on

SALIERI: One time we stayed up all night and hummed together

and we talked about what happens after you die and I helped him with a project he was working on and we were perfectly in sync and we sang to each other for hours and appreciated one another perfectly and I told him to rest when he was pushing himself too hard and he told me I was his best friend and I watched him sleep


SALIERI: My humming was sometimes quite full of resentment


Every Time Someone Dresses Like A Boy In Daphne Du Maurier




The compatibility of writing and femininity was always a treacherous issue for du Maurier herself, who often said that she wished she had been born a boy, a wish her father Gerald confessed to sharing in a poem he wrote for her as a child. Daphne felt ambivalent about her roles as a woman and a writer, an ambivalence that was reinforced in later life by her sexual feelings for Ellen and Gertrude. The first time she met Ellen, Daphne confessed that she felt “a boy of eighteen again with her nervous hands and a beating heart.” “Again” is the telling word. As a child, Daphne had apparently convinced herself that she was a boy, and her biographer Margaret Forster comments on the devastating psychological consequences of puberty on this belief.

—Lisa Hilton, foreward, in Daphne Du Maurier’s Mary Anne



“I want you to tell him that his presence is urgently required on board his ship. Make up any story you like, play any part you have a fancy for. But keep in the shadow. You are a passable enough cabin boy in darkness, but a woman under the light.”

She went towards him a little nervously, feeling small and rather lost in Pierre Blanc’s breeches, while his shoes cut her heels, a secret she must keep to herself. He ran his eye over her and then nodded briefly. “You will do,” he said, “but you would not pass in moonlight,” and she laughed up at him, and climbed down into the boat with the rest of the men.

Pierre Blanc himself was crouching in the bows of the boat like a monkey, and when he saw her he closed one eye, and put one hand over his heart. There was a ripple of laughter in the boat, and one and all they smiled at her with a mingled admiration and familiarity that could not offend, and she smiled back at them, leaning back in the stern thwart and clasping her knees with a lovely freedom, no longer hampered by petticoats and ribbons. Dona trailed her hand a moment in the water, which was warm, with a velvet softness about it, the phosphorescence gleaming like a shower of stars, and she thought, smiling to herself in the darkness, that at last she was playing the part of a boy, which as a child she had so often longed to be, watching her brothers ride off with her father, and she gazing after them with resentful eyes.

She wished suddenly, and with passion, to be a fisherman, burned black with wind and sea, dressed in red sailcloth trousers and wearing clogs.

“Come below,” he said quietly, and she followed him, feeling subdued suddenly like a pupil who was to receive chastisement from his master, and she wondered how she would answer him should he chide her for her fear. It was dark in the cabin, two candles gave a feeble glow, and he sat down on the edge of the table considering her, while she stood in front of him, her hands behind her back.

“You have remembered that you are Dona St. Columb,” he said. “Yes,” she answered. “And you have been wishing, up there on the deck, that you were safe home again, and had never set eyes on La Mouette.” There was no reply to this, the first part of his sentence might be true, but the last could never be.

There was silence between them for a moment, and she wondered if all women, when in love, were torn between two impulses, a longing to throw modesty and reserve to the winds and confess everything, and an equal determination to conceal the love forever, to be cool, aloof, utterly detached, to die rather than admit a thing so personal, so intimate. She wished she were somewhere else, whistling carelessly, hands stuck into breeches pockets, discussing with the captain of the ship the schemes and possibilities of the coming night, or that he was different, another personality, someone for whom she felt no concern.

So you see, my Dona, there is no escape for a woman, only for a night and for a day.”

“No, you are right,” she said, “there is no escape for a woman. Therefore if I sail with you again I shall be a cabin boy, and borrow Pierre Blanc’s breeches once and for always, and there will be no complications of a primitive nature, so that our hearts and our minds can be easy, and you can seize ships and make your landings on the coast, and I, the humble cabin boy, will brew your supper for you in the cabin, and ask no questions, and hold no conversation with you.”

“And how long would we endure that, you and I?”

“For as long as we pleased.”

Back in the bedroom Maria was changing feverishly. She had taken off her party frock and hidden it in the dirty clothes basket, and she was dressing up in the velvet suit that she had worn for fancy dress at the New Year. It was a page’s costume, hired at great expense, and Truda had packed it in a dress-box, tied and labeled, ready to return to the shop. There was a striped doublet and short, puffy trunks, and a pair of long silk hose, and best of all a cape that was worn thrown back from the shoulders. Round the waist was a sling, and stuck into it a painted dagger. The suit fitted perfectly, and as Maria stared at herself in the glass all her excitement returned. She was happy, nothing mattered, and she was not Maria any longer, a dull little girl in a stupid party frock. She was a page, and her name was Edouard. She paced up and down the room talking to herself, stabbing the air with her dagger.

Smiling to herself she drew out the rough stockings, the worn breeches, and the patched though gaily colored shirt. She remembered his look of embarrassment as he had given them to her, and his words: “These are the best Grace can do for you, my lady, they belong to her brother.”

“They are perfect, William,” she had replied, “and Pierre Blanc himself could have done no better.” For she must play the boy again, for the last time.

She looked very pale, very thin. She began walking up and down the room, her hands in the pockets of her trousers. She looked like a boy in her sailing kit, a boy with a face like a Botticelli angel.

We stole along, in our nightclothes. Maria, her fair hair short and curling like a boy’s, wearing her own nightgown tucked into a pair of Niall’s striped pajamas.

“The Lady St. Columb,” she said, “will become a gracious matron, and smile upon her servants, and her tenants, and the village folk, and one day she will have grandchildren about her knee, and will tell them the story of a pirate who escaped.” “And what will happen to the cabin boy?” he asked. “The cabin boy will vigil sometimes in the night, and tear his nails, and beat his pillow, and then he will fall asleep perhaps, and dream again.”

“Play your own game by yourself, then, and leave me to play mine,” he told her. “If you must be a boy, I can’t stop you.”











© Du Maurier, Cabin Boy Hypnosis Productions, HypnoHism Studios, 1944

Frenchman’s Creek, Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, The Parasites

That USS Indianapolis Scene From "Jaws" But It's The Boys In The Band

I was showing the Indianapolis scene from Jaws to Grace last night and I was struck by how much the first few minutes, where Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw (5’5 and 5’10, incidentally) roll up their sleeves and pant legs to roll around with one another in a banquette gleefully petting and displaying various scars and scrubbed-out tattoos, felt like watching two roughly contemporary trans men becoming instant best friends at a house party at 2 in the morning.

BRODY: What I am, Hooper, is a 32-year-old—ugly—pockmarked—Jew fairy, and if it takes me a little while to pull myself together, and if I smoke a little grass before I get up the nerve to show my face to the world, it’s nobody’s god-damned business but my own. And how are you this evening?

QUINT: Yes, you’ve got scars on your face, but they’re not that bad. And if you’d leave yourself alone, you wouldn’t have more than you’ve already awarded yourself.

HOOPER: You’d really like me to compliment you now, for being so honest, wouldn’t you? For being my best friend, who will tell me what even my best friends won’t tell me. Slut.

HOOPER: You know, I can’t take all this let’s-be-faithful-and-never-look-at-another-person routine, because it just doesn’t work. If you want to promise that, fine. Then you do it and you stick to it. But if you have to promise it, as far as I’m concerned, nothing finishes a relationship faster… Brody, in my own way, I love you. But you’ve got to understand that even though I do want to go on living with you, that sometimes there may be others. Now, I don’t want to flaunt it in your face, and I know if it ever happens, I’ll never mention it to you. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you.

QUINT: Now, it’s my turn. And ready or not, Michael, here goes. You'‘re a sad and pathetic man. You’re a homosexual, and you don’t want to be. But there’s nothing you can do to change it. Not all your prayers to your God... not all the analysis you can buy in all the years you’ve got left to live. You may very well one day be able to know a heterosexual life... if you want it desperately enough. If you pursue it with the fervor with which you annihilate. But you’ll always be homosexual as well.

BRODY: Now, look, uh, everybody. Uh, this old college friend of mine is in town, and he’s on his way over here, for a quick drink on his way to dinner or someplace. But, now, look, he’s straight. Now, it’s not that I care what he would think of me. Really. It’s just that he’s not ready for it, and he never will be. [Also he is a shark]

It works in reverse pretty well too, in case you’re wondering:

Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies! Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain. For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so never more shall we see you again.

LARRY: I’m not talkin’ about pleasure boatin’ or day sailin’. I’m talkin’ about workin’ for a livin’. I’m talkin’ about sharkin’.

HANK: Well, I’m not talkin’ about hooking some poor dogfish or sand shark. I’m talkin’ about findin’ a Great White.

LARRY: Porkers? Ya talkin’ about Porkers, Mr. Hank? Tie me a sheep shank. 

HANK: I haven’t had to pass basic seamanship in a long time. [Ties rope expertly] You didn’t say how short you wanted it. [Tosses rope back]

LARRY: Gimme your hands...Dogfish? You've got city boy hands, Hank. You been countin’ money all your life.

HANK: All right, hey, I don’t need this! I don’t need this working-class-hero crap!

LARRY: Maybe I should go it alone.

LARRY: Well it proves one thing, Hank. It proves that you wealthy college boys don’t have the education enough to admit when you're wrong. And I’ll drive the boat.

"In Case I Have To Go Off T Someday"

Three trans men of a certain type (were Mary McCarthy writing The Group today, they’d have featured prominently in at least the Vassar flashbacks, say. By which I mean: yes, of course they are) sit down at a table. Before them is a loaf of bread and three syringes. They wait politely. There is a long silence, followed by an even longer one.

MAN 1 [brightly]: Does anyone want some?

MAN 2 [even more brightly]: Sorry, what?

MAN 1: Some T? Testosterone? I don’t need any — I found an old patch in the bedroom trash can last night, that still had a little gel stuck to the foil that I guess I didn’t absorb last time, so I’m good for another month at least. But if you want some, please, go ahead, by all means, I don’t mind.

MAN 2: No, sorry, what’s “wanting”? I’ve never done that. What’s wanting? I don’t happen, personally, to have ever done that, or experienced that, or met her, or whomever. But if you guys want stuff, go right ahead, by all means, I don’t mind.

ALL THREE MEN, IN UNISON: Go right ahead! I don’t mind. You seem hungry.

MAN 3: We don’t have to keep shining a spotlight on it. Obviously maybe someone wants a little testosterone but feels self-conscious about taking it in front of everyone because of—

MAN 2: Don’t say it!

MAN 3: I wasn’t going to say that.

MAN 1: You looked like you were going to say “female socialization.”

MAN 3 [stiffly]: I wasn’t going to.

MAN 2: Well, you looked as if you were.

MAN 3: I was simply going to say that not all women go to the bathroom together, and not all trans men have to wait for their friends to go on T before they’ll try it, too.

MAN 2: So you might as well have said it, then.

MAN 1: If you want some, just go ahead and take some. You don’t have to displace it onto “the group.” You can just say you want some, and take it.

MAN 3: I’m perfectly aware of what I can say and what I can take, thanks very much.

Another silence. MAN 2 tears off part of the bread loaf and alternates between uncomfortable bites and making little bread pills.

MAN 2: I would have some, but I really did just do my shot this morning. Also I’m thinking of decreasing my dose, anyways.

MAN 1: Which is fine.

MAN 2: Which is fine!

MAN 3: Which is fine!

MAN 1: It’s about whatever works for you.

MAN 3: I’ve been cutting my dose in half every two weeks and filling up the rest of my plate with leafy greens. It’s important to fill up on leafy greens, and most of us don’t even know what a serving of testosterone looks like.

MAN 1: Plus, you know—I think it’s important to go without sometimes, because there’s always the chance I might have to go off T someday.

MAN 2: Right, I might have to go off T someday.

MAN 3: I might decide to go off T someday, or something might happen to society, so I think it’s better to be on the safe side, in case I have to go off T someday.

MAN 1: Honestly, I don’t even know why I take it. Because I know I’m going to have to go off it someday, after the total breakdown of society.

MAN 3: Oh, do you take it? I just went off it, myself.

MAN 2: Which is fine.

MAN 1: I would be down to split this, just as sort of a fun “goodbye” thing before I go off it too. I mean, I know I haven’t technically started it, but I think it’s important to go off testosterone before you start it, in case you have to go off T someday. I don’t planning on going on testosterone, personally, but I do want to be prepared in case I have to go off T someday, just in case.

MAN 2 [brightly]: If there’s a joke here, I’m still waiting to understand it.

MAN 1: Yes, what’s the joke here?

MAN 2: It feels like someone wants there to be a joke here.

MAN 3: I think a joke would feel very appropriate, just now. If our only other options are bread and testosterone, I for one would appreciate a joke.

MAN 1: And that little “yes, of course” line before—that was about whiteness, right? I don’t understand what the point of the coyness was, there. Was it supposed to be cute? It felt like it was trying to shrug something off.

MAN 2: A particular type of whiteness, certainly.

MAN 1: Okay. Which type?

MAN 2: I don’t know!

MAN 3: Well, maybe I really do just want a little bit! Am I supposed to apologize for that?

MAN 2: We all just want a little bit!

MAN 1: I knew a guy who wanted a lot once.

MEN 2 & 3, IN UNISON: Really?

MAN 1: Yeah.

Another pause.

MAN 3: I just want someone to explain to me whether there’s a joke here or not, whether the joke is supposed to be at my expense or not, whether the syringes are a joke or whether I can take mine home for later in a doggie bag because I might get hungry at like, nine, and whether the joke is supposed to be what I want, or the way I want things, or because our host doesn’t believe me when I talk about the things that I want or the way that I want things, or if the joke is that we’re just all nervous about the same things, or what type of white person I’m supposed to be—

MAN 2: The type who doesn’t know the type—

MAN 3: If one more person accuses me of wanting something, I’m going to lose it.

A fourth trans man walks onto the scene from stage right. He has his hands in his pockets, and a frog and a slingshot, too.

ALL THREE MEN, IN UNISON: Hi! Hi, welcome! Are you hungry? Do you want something? We just finished, but if you—

[Image via]

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