We had just sat down and were all only about halfway through our first bite when my brother broke the silence.
“I think I might be transgender.”
I glanced over at my father to see his reaction.
His fork was in mid-air and as I watched, the piece of broccoli on it dropped back onto his plate.
He didn’t notice.
His face turned a pale shade of white before slowly turning red. I could see the vein pulsing in the side of his head.
Hmm, I thought, this was more interesting than any drama I’ve watched lately on YouTube.
In fact, it was already interesting. I couldn’t remember a single word being spoken at the table since our mother had died. We didn’t want to rock the boat so we kept our mouths shut.
“What do you mean, ‘I think?'” my father finally replied.
I looked at my brother.
He swallowed hard. He was clearly very nervous and rightly so. My father was an ogre at the best of times, but this… I’m fairly sure this had just pushed him over the edge.
“I… know… I mean. I know I’m transgender. I’ve known for awhile.”
The silence as he finished speaking was deafening. I thought of clearing my throat, but knew it would probably result in my death so I kept quiet. I felt like I watching a train wreck happening right in front of my eyes.
My father licked his lips. He was trying hard to control his anger, but I knew it was only moments away from being released. This was not going to end well.
“And what do you want me to do about it?” he began and followed up with, “And why did you choose now of all times to bring it up?”
My brother didn’t reply. I don’t think he knew what to say.
I don’t know what made me do it, but I suddenly found myself saying, “I think I might be gay.”
I saw my brother start in his chair and give me a look as if to say, “Jared, WTF?!”
I couldn’t explain why I would say that, only that I knew my brother was in trouble and I knew despite our fights at times, I would always help him out.
Our father stood up. He clenched his fists down at his sides and walked out of the dining room.
Both my brother and I let out a collective sigh of relief. But it was short lived.
He marched back in, sat down, went to say something, paused and then said, “Actually, I’m not your real father.”
He’d topped us both.