“In this picture,” my mother says, “you can see how grandma dressed him. I think he’s about two years old–what do you think?” She doesn’t wait for my response. She slides her glasses down her nose and peers over them. She rubs her hands around the picture’s edges like she was feeling the lace on his gown.
“What’s he sitting on?”
“An old wicker chair that sat in their living room for decades. They picked it up on one of their summer road trips to California. Someone must have put him up on a pillow, he’s a little king on his throne. Grandma dressed him in lace and even scotch-taped a pink bow to his head until he went off to school. She treated him like her baby doll because she wanted a girl.”
“Mom, ” I say, my voice turning whiny and thin. I know where this is headed. “It wasn’t grandma’s fault, cross-dressing didn’t make him gay, that’s a myth mom.”
“Well I’m not sure,” she says, taking a big breath and exhaling forty three years of resentment.