Jeffrey Eugenides

{EN} Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

Recenzie Middlesex

1. „To the extent that fetal hormones affect brain chemistry and histology, I’ve got a male brain. But I was raised as a girl.”

2. „In any genetic history. I’m the final clause in a periodic sentence, and that sentence begins a long time ago, in another language, and you have to read it from the beginning to get to the end, which is my arrival.”

3. „In other words, I operate in society as a man. I use the men’s room. Never the urinals, always the stalls. In the men’s locker room at my gym I even shower, albeit discreetly. I possess all the secondary sex characteristics of a normal man except one: my inability to synthesize dihydrotestosterone has made me immune to baldness. I’ve lived more than half my life as a male, and by now everything comes naturally. When Calliope surfaces, she does so like a childhood speech impediment. Suddenly there she is again, doing a hair flip, or checking her nails. It’s a little like being possessed. Callie rises up inside me, wearing my skin like a loose robe. She sticks her little hands into the baggy sleeves of my arms. She inserts her chimp’s feet through the trousers of my legs. On the sidewalk I’ll feel her girlish walk take over, and the movement brings back a kind of emotion, a desolate and gossipy sympathy for the girls I see coming home from school. This continues for a few more steps. Calliope’s hair tickles the back of my throat. I feel her press tentatively on my chest—that old nervous habit of hers—to see if anything is happening there. The sick fluid of adolescent despair that runs through her veins overflows again into mine. But then, just as suddenly, she is leaving, shrinking and melting away inside me, and when I turn to see my reflection in a window there’s this: a forty-one-year-old man with longish, wavy hair, a thin mustache, and a goatee. A kind of modern Musketeer.”

4. „They passed the voyage playing out this imaginary flirtation and, little by little, they began to believe it. They fabricated memories, improvised fate. (Why did they do it? Why did they go to all that trouble? Couldn’t they have said they were already engaged? Or that their marriage had been arranged years earlier? Yes, of course they could have. But it wasn’t the other travelers they were trying to fool; it was themselves.)”

5. „We Greeks get married in circles, to impress upon ourselves the essential matrimonial facts: that to be happy you have to find variety in repetition; that to go forward you have to come back where you began.”

6. „I’m the descendant of a smuggling operation, too. Without their knowing, my grandparents, on their way to America, were each carrying a single mutated gene on the fifth chromosome. It wasn’t a recent mutation. According to Dr. Luce, the gene first appeared in my bloodline sometime around 1750, in the body of one Penelope Evangelatos, my great-grandmother to the ninth power. She passed it on to her son Petras, who passed it on to his two daughters, who passed it on to three of their five children, and so on and so on. Being recessive, its expression would have been fitful. Sporadic heredity is what the geneticists call it. A trait that goes underground for decades only to reappear when everyone has forgotten about it. That was how it went in Bithynios. Every so often a hermaphrodite was born, a seeming girl who, in growing up, proved otherwise.”

7. „Historical fact: people stopped being human in 1913. That was the year Henry Ford put his cars on rollers and made his workers adopt the speed of the assembly line. […] But in 1922 it was still a new thing to be a machine.”

8. „The new country and its language have helped to push the past a little further behind. The sleeping form next to him is less and less his sister every night and more and more his wife. The statute of limitations ticks itself out, day by day, all memory of the crime being washed away. (But what humans forget, cells remember. The body, that elephant …).”

9. „Like most hermaphrodites but by no means all, I can’t have children. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve never married. It’s one of the reasons, aside from shame, why I decided to join the Foreign Service. I’ve never wanted to stay in one place. After I started living as a male, my mother and I moved away from Michigan and I’ve been moving ever since. In another year or two I’ll leave Berlin, to be posted somewhere else. I’ll be sad to go. This once-divided city reminds me of myself. My struggle for unification, for Einheit. Coming from a city still cut in half by racial hatred, I feel hopeful here in Berlin.   A word on my shame. I don’t condone it. I’m trying my best to get over it. The intersex movement aims to put an end to infant genital reconfiguration surgery. The first step in that struggle is to convince the world—and pediatric endocrinologists in particular—that hermaphroditic genitals are not diseased. One out of every two thousand babies is born with ambiguous genitalia. In the United States, with a population of two hundred and seventy-five million, that comes to one hundred and thirty-seven thousand intersexuals alive today.   But we hermaphrodites are people like everybody else. And I happen not to be a political person. I don’t like groups. Though I’m a member of the Intersex Society of North America, I have never taken part in its demonstrations. I live my own life and nurse my own wounds. It’s not the best way to live. But it’s the way I am.”

10. „Some nights I tell people I’ve just met. In other cases I keep silent forever.   That goes especially for women I’m attracted to. When I meet someone I like and who seems to like me, I retreat. There are lots of nights out in Berlin when, emboldened by a good-value Rioja, I forget my physical predicament and allow myself to hope. The tailored suit comes off. The Thomas Pink shirt, too. My dates can’t fail to be impressed by my physical condition. (Under the armor of my double-breasted suits is another of gym-built muscle.) But the final protection, my roomy, my discreet boxer shorts, these I do not remove. Ever. Instead I leave, making excuses. I leave and never call them again. Just like a guy.”

11. „Just like ice, lives crack, too. Personalities. Identities.”

12. „Milton got good marks at school, Zoë above average. But Desdemona wasn’t reassured by any of this. She kept waiting for something to happen, some disease, some abnormality, fearing that the punishment for her crime was going to be taken out in the most devastating way possible: not on her own soul but in the bodies of her children.”

13. „Inside my mother, a billion sperm swim upstream, males in the lead. They carry not only instructions about eye color, height, nose shape, enzyme production, microphage resistance, but a story, too. Against a black background they swim, a long white silken thread spinning itself out. The thread began on a day two hundred and fifty years ago, when the biology gods, for their own amusement, monkeyed with a gene on a baby’s fifth chromosome. That baby passed the mutation on to her son, who passed it on to his two daughters, who passed it on to three of their children (my great-great-greats, etc.), until finally it ended up in the bodies of my grandparents. Hitching a ride, the gene descended a mountain and left a village behind. It got trapped in a burning city and escaped, speaking bad French. Crossing the ocean, it faked a romance, circled a ship’s deck, and made love in a lifeboat. It had its braids cut off. It took a train to Detroit and moved into a house on Hurlbut; it consulted dream books and opened an underground speakeasy; it got a job at Temple No. 1 … And then the gene moved on again, into new bodies … It joined the Boy Scouts and painted its toenails red; it played “Begin the Beguine” out the back window; it went off to war and stayed at home, watching newsreels; it took an entrance exam; posed like the movie magazines; received a death sentence and made a deal with St. Christopher; it dated a future priest and broke off an engagement; it was saved by a bosun’s chair … always moving ahead, rushing along, only a few more curves left in the track now, Annapolis and a submarine chaser … until the biology gods knew this was their time, this was what they’d been waiting for, and as a spoon swung and a yia yia worried, my destiny fell into place … On March 20, 1954, Chapter Eleven arrived and the biology gods shook their heads, nope, sorry … But there was still time, everything was in place, the roller coaster was in free fall and there was no stopping it now, my father was seeing visions of little girls and my mother was praying to a Christ Pantocrator she didn’t entirely believe in, until finally—right this minute!—on Greek Easter, 1959, it’s about to happen. The gene is about to meet its twin.   As sperm meets egg, I feel a jolt. There’s a loud sound, a sonic boom as my world cracks. I feel myself shift, already losing bits of my prenatal omniscience, tumbling toward the blank slate of personhood. (With the shred of all-knowingness I have left, I see my grandfather, Lefty Stephanides, on the night of my birth nine months from now, turning a demitasse cup upside down on a saucer. I see his coffee grounds forming a sign as pain explodes in his temple and he topples to the floor.) Again the sperm rams my capsule; and I realize I can’t put it off any longer. The lease on my terrific little apartment is finally up and I’m being evicted. So I raise one fist (male-typically) and begin to beat on the walls of my eggshell until it cracks. Then, slippery as a yolk, I dive headfirst into the world.   “I’m sorry, little baby girl,” my mother said in bed, touching her belly and already speaking to me. “I wanted it to be more romantic.”   “You want romantic?” said my father. “Where’s my clarinet?””

14. „Tears were running down her face, she was already berating God for taking her husband from her, but on the other side of these proper emotions was an altogether improper relief. The worst had happened. This was it: the worst thing. For the first time in her life my grandmother had nothing to worry about.”

15. „Death always makes people practical.”

16. „Middlesex! Did anybody ever live in a house as strange? As sci-fi? As futuristic and outdated at the same time? A house that was more like communism, better in theory than reality?”

17. „A woman’s life was over once her husband died.”

18. „As far as Desdemona was concerned, death was only another kind of emigration. Instead of sailing from Turkey to America, this time she would be traveling from earth to heaven, where Lefty had already gotten his citizenship and had a place waiting.”

19. „Lowering my book, I looked down at my own body. There it was, as usual: the flat chest, the nothing hips, the forked, mosquito-bitten legs.”

20. „My mother avoided bodily matters, too. She never spoke openly about sex. She never undressed in front of me. She disliked dirty jokes or nudity in movies. For his own part, Milton was unable to discuss the birds and the bees with his young daughter, and so I was left, in those years, to figure things out for myself.”

21. „Except, with me, it didn’t. Gradually, as most of the other girls in my grade began to undergo their own transformations, I began to worry less about possible accidents and more about being left behind, left out.”

22. „Beginning in January of seventh grade and continuing into the following August, my previously frozen body underwent a growth spurt of uncommon proportions and unforeseeable consequences. […] Because along with my new height, something else was finally happening. Hair was beginning to appear in the required places.”

23. „My parents’ love for me didn’t diminish with my looks. I think it’s fair to say, however, that as my appearance changed in those years a species of sadness infiltrated my parents’ love.”

24. „From then on, Sophie Sassoon took care of my facial hair. I went in about twice a month, adding depilation to an ever-growing list of upkeep requirements. I started shaving my legs and underarms. I plucked my eyebrows. The dress code at my school forbade cosmetics. But on weekends I got to experiment, within limits. Reetika and I painted our faces in her bedroom, passing a hand mirror back and forth. I was particularly given to dramatic eyeliner. My model here was Maria Callas, or possibly Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. The triumphant, long-nosed divas. At home I snooped in Tessie’s bathroom. I loved the amulet-like vials, the sweet-smelling, seemingly edible creams. I tried out her facial steamer, too. You put your face to the plastic cone and were blasted by heat. I stayed away from greasy moisturizers, worried they would make me break out.”

25. „It was perfectly acceptable at Baker & Inglis to get a crush on a fellow classmate. At a girls’ school a certain amount of emotional energy, normally expended on boys, gets redirected into friendships. Girls walked arm in arm at B&I, the way French schoolgirls do. They competed for affection. Jealousies arose. Betrayals occurred. It was common to come into the bathroom and hear somebody sobbing in one of the stalls. Girls cried because so-and-so wouldn’t sit by them at lunch, or because their best friend had a new boyfriend who monopolized her time. On top of this, school rituals reinforced an intimate atmosphere. There was Ring Day, where Big Sisters initiated Little Sisters into maturity by giving them flowers and gold bands. There was the Distaff Dance, a maypole without men, held in the spring. There were the bimonthly “Heart-to-Hearts,” confessional meetings run by the school chaplain, which invariably ended in paroxysms of hugging and weeping. Nevertheless, the ethos of the school remained militantly heterosexual. My classmates might act cozy during the day, but boys were the number one after-school activity. Any girl suspected of being attracted to girls was gossiped about, victimized, and shunned. I was aware of all this. It scared me.”

26. „And when I got tired of Homer, I started reading the walls.   That was another selling point of the basement bathroom. It was covered with graffiti. Upstairs, class photos showed rows and rows of student faces. Down here it was mostly bodies. Sketched in blue ink were little men with gigantic sexual parts. And women with enormous breasts. Also various permutations: men with dinky penises; and women with penises, too. It was an education both in what was and what might be. Over the gray marble this new, jagged etching of bodies doing things, growing parts, fitting together, changing shape. Plus also jokes, words to the wise, confessions. In one spot: “I love sex.” In another, “Patty C. is a slut.” Where else would a girl like me, hiding from the world a knowledge she didn’t quite understand herself—where else would she feel more comfortable than in this subterranean realm where people wrote down what they couldn’t say, where they gave voice to their most shameful longings and knowledge?”

27. „“The only way we know it’s true is that we both dreamed it. That’s what reality is. It’s a dream everyone has together.””

28. „My mother bowed her head to pray. I did, too. Tessie prayed for Chapter Eleven to come to his senses. And me? That’s easy. I prayed for my period to come. I prayed to receive the womanly stigmata.”

29. „Sickness, reverie, devotion, deceit—they all came together. If God doesn’t help you, you have to help yourself.”

30. „I started faking my period. With Nixonian cunning, Calliope unwrapped and flushed away a flotilla of unused Tampax. I feigned symptoms from headache to fatigue. I did cramps the way Meryl Streep did accents. There was the twinge, the dull ache, the sucker punch that made me curl up on my bed. My cycle, though imaginary, was rigorously charted on my desk calendar. I used the catacomb fish symbol.”

31. „Here’s a question I still can’t answer: Did I see through the male tricks because I was destined to scheme that way myself? Or do girls see through the tricks, too, and just pretend not to notice?”

32. „Before I knew what was happening he was kissing me. Kissing the girl who had never been kissed. (Not since Clementine Stark, anyway.) I didn’t stop him. I remained completely still while he did his thing. Despite my lightheadedness, I could feel everything. The shocking wetness of his mouth. The whiskery feel of his lips. His barging tongue. Certain flavors, too, the beer, the dope, a lingering breath mint, and beneath all that the actual, animal taste of a boy’s mouth.”

33. „Ecstasy. From the Greek Ekstasis. Meaning not what you think. Meaning not euphoria or sexual climax or even happiness. Meaning, literally: a state of displacement, of being driven out of one’s senses. Three thousand years ago in Delphi the Oracle became ecstatic every single working hour. That night in a hunting cabin in northern Michigan, so did Calliope. High for my first time, drunk for my first time, I felt myself dissolving, turning to vapor.”

34. „While I’d been off inhabiting Rex’s body Jerome had taken the opportunity to undo my shoulder straps. He had flicked open the silver buttons at my waist. Now he was pulling down my overalls and I was trying to wake up. Now he was tugging on my underpants and I was realizing how drunk I was. Now he was inside my underpants and now he was … inside me!   And then: pain. Pain like a knife, pain like fire. It ripped into me. It spread up my belly all the way to my nipples. I gasped; I opened my eyes; I looked up and saw Jerome looking down at me. We gaped at each other and I knew he knew. Jerome knew what I was, as suddenly I did, too, for the first time clearly understood that I wasn’t a girl but something in between. I knew this from how natural it had felt to enter Rex Reese’s body, how right it felt, and I knew this from the shocked expression on Jerome’s face. All this was conveyed in an instant. Then I pushed Jerome away. He pulled back, pulled out, and slid.”

35. „Jerome was sliding and climbing on top of me and it felt like it had the night before, like a crushing weight. So do boys and men announce their intentions. They cover you like a sarcophagus lid. And call it love.”

36. „So that was our love affair. Wordless, blinkered, a nighttime thing, a dream thing. There were reasons on my side for this as well. Whatever it was that I was was best revealed slowly, in flattering light. Which meant not much light at all. Besides, that’s the way it goes in adolescence. You try things out in the dark. You get drunk or stoned and extemporize. Think back to your backseats, your pup tents, your beach bonfire parties. Did you ever find yourself, without admitting it, tangled up with your best friend? Or in a dorm room bed with two people instead of one, while Bach played on the chintzy stereo, orchestrating the fugue? It’s a kind of fugue state, anyway, early sex. Before the routine sets in, or the love. Back when the groping is largely anonymous. Sandbox sex. It starts in the teens and lasts until twenty or twenty-one. It’s all about learning to share. It’s about sharing your toys.”

37. „The crucial feature was this: the crocus didn’t have a hole at the tip. This was certainly not what a boy had. Put yourself in my shoes, reader, and ask yourself what conclusion you would have come to about your sex, if you had what I had, if you looked the way I looked. To pee I had to sit. The stream issued from underneath. I had an interior like a girl. It was tender inside, almost painful if I inserted my finger. True, my chest was completely flat. But there were other ironing boards at my school. And Tessie insisted I took after her in that department. Muscles? Not much to speak of. No hips either, no waist. A dinner plate of a girl.”

38. „My parents and I were leaving in an hour. We were going to New York City to see a famous doctor. I didn’t know how long we’d be gone or what was wrong with me. I didn’t pay much attention to the details. I only knew I was no longer a girl like other girls.”

39. „While he chatted, speaking primarily to my parents, gaining their confidence, Luce was nevertheless making mental notes. He registered my tenor voice. He noted that I sat with one leg tucked under me. He watched how I examined my nails, curling my fingers into my palm. He paid attention to the way I coughed, laughed, scratched my head, spoke; in sum, all the external manifestations of what he called my gender identity.”

40. „In twenty-five pages of forthright, high-toned prose, Luce argued that gender is determined by a variety of influences: chromosomal sex; gonadal sex; hormones; internal genital structures; external genitals; and, most important, the sex of rearing. Drawing on studies of patients at the pediatric endocrine clinic at New York Hospital, Luce was able to compile charts demonstrating how these various factors came into play, and showing that a patient’s gonadal sex often didn’t determine his or her gender identity.”

41. „In a decade of solid, original research, Luce made his second great discovery: that gender identity is established very early on in life, about the age of two. Gender was like a native tongue; it didn’t exist before birth but was imprinted in the brain during childhood, never disappearing. Children learn to speak Male or Female the way they learn to speak English or French.”

42. „That was how it went. Every day for an hour I sat in Luce’s office and talked about my life, my feelings, my likes and dislikes. Luce asked all kinds of questions. The answers I gave were sometimes not as important as the way I answered them. He watched my facial expressions; he noted my style of argument. Females tend to smile at their interlocutors more than males do. Females pause and look for signs of agreement before continuing. Males just look into the middle distance and hold forth. Women prefer the anecdotal, men the deductive. It was impossible to be in Luce’s line of work without falling back on such stereotypes. He knew their limitations. But they were clinically useful.”

43. „Luce put his hand on the small of my back. Men have an annoying way of doing that. They touch your back as though there’s a handle there, and direct you where they want you to go. Or they place their hand on top of your head, paternally. Men and their hands.”

44. „“As I explained, any determination of gender identity must take into account a host of factors. The most important, in your daughter’s case”—there it was again, confidently proclaimed—“is that she has been raised for fourteen years as a girl and indeed thinks of herself as female. Her interests, gestures, psychosexual makeup—all these are female. In utero, she followed a primarily female line of development. Especially in terms of the external genitalia. That, coupled with her being brought up as a girl, resulted in her thinking, acting, and looking like a girl. The problem came when she started to go through puberty. At puberty, the other androgen—testosterone—started to exert a strong effect. The simplest way to put it is like this: Callie is a girl who has a little too much male hormone. We want to correct that.””

45. „Tessie asked, “Will she be able to have children?”   Luce paused only a second. “I’m afraid not, Mrs. Stephanides. Callie will never menstruate.”   “But she’s been menstruating for a few months now,” Tessie objected.   “I’m afraid that’s impossible. Possibly there was some bleeding from another source.”   Tessie’s eyes filled with tears. She looked away.”

46. „hermaphrodite–1. one having the sex organs and many of the secondary sex characteristics of both male and female. 2. anything comprised of a combination of diverse or contradictory elements. See synonyms at monster.    And that is where I stopped. And looked up, to see if anyone was watching. There it was, monster, in black and white, in a battered dictionary in a great city library. A venerable, old book, the shape and size of a headstone, with yellowing pages that bore marks of the multitudes who had consulted them before me.”

47. „she stared down at that word. Monster. Still there. It had not moved. And she wasn’t reading this word on the wall of her old bathroom stall. There was graffiti in Webster’s but the synonym wasn’t part of it. The synonym was official, authoritative; it was the verdict that the culture gave on a person like her. Monster. That was what she was. That was what Dr. Luce and his colleagues had been saying. It explained so much, really. It explained her mother crying in the next room. It explained the false cheer in Milton’s voice. It explained why her parents had brought her to New York, so that the doctors could work in secret. It explained the photographs, too. What did people do when they came upon Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster? They tried to get a picture. For a second Callie saw herself that way. As a lumbering, shaggy creature pausing at the edge of woods. As a humped convolvulus rearing its dragon’s head from an icy lake. Her eyes were filling now, making the print swim, and she turned away and hurried out of the library.”

48. „But coming closer to Milton, she learned something about medical reports. The more people smile, the worse the news. Milton grinned at her, perspiring in pinstripes, and once again the tragedy cuff link glinted in the sun.   They knew. Her parents knew she was a monster.”

49. „He explained the estrogen injections would induce my breasts to grow. “You won’t be Raquel Welch, but you won’t be Twiggy either.” My facial hair would diminish. My voice would rise from tenor to alto. But when I asked if I would finally get my period, Dr. Luce was frank. “No. You won’t. Ever. You won’t be able to have a baby yourself, Callie. If you want to have a family, you’ll have to adopt.”   I received this news calmly. Having children wasn’t something I thought much about at fourteen.”

50. „As the girl’s gender identity was firmly established as female at the time her condition was discovered, a decision to implement feminizing surgery along with corresponding hormonal treatments seems correct. To leave the genitals as they are today would expose her to all manner of humiliation”

51. „Stephanides, an American, grandchild of Greeks, admires this Turkish immigrant to Germany, this Gastarbeiter, as he bakes bread on Hauptstrasse here in the year 2001. We’re all made up of many parts, other halves. Not just me.”

52. „The swearing, the straight razors, the shaving brushes, all these were my welcome to the masculine world. The barber had the football game on the TV. The calendar showed a vodka bottle and a pretty girl in a white fur bikini.”

53. „He turned me to face the mirror. And there she was, for the last time, in the silvered glass: Calliope. She still wasn’t gone yet. She was like a captive spirit, peeking out.”

54. „My grandparents had fled their home because of a war. Now, some fifty-two years later, I was fleeing myself. I felt that I was saving myself just as definitively. I was fleeing without much money in my pocket and under the alias of my new gender. A ship didn’t carry me across the ocean; instead, a series of cars conveyed me across a continent. I was becoming a new person, too, just like Lefty and Desdemona, and I didn’t know what would happen to me in this new world to which I’d come.”

55. „The suit was only part of my new identity. It was the haircut that mattered most. Now, in the barbershop, Ed was going at me with a whisk brush. The bristles cast a powder in the air and I closed my eyes. I felt myself being wheeled around again and the barber said, “Okay, that’s it.”   I opened my eyes. And in the mirror I didn’t see myself. Not the Mona Lisa with the enigmatic smile any longer. Not the shy girl with the tangled black hair in her face, but instead her fraternal twin brother. With the screen of my hair removed, the recent changes in my face were far more evident. My jaw looked squarer, broader, my neck thicker, with a bulge of Adam’s apple in the center. It was unquestionably a male face, but the feelings inside that boy were still a girl’s. To cut off your hair after a breakup was a feminine reaction. It was a way to start over, to renounce vanity, to spite love. I knew that I would never see the Object again. Despite bigger problems, greater worries, it was heartbreak that seized me when I first saw my male face in the mirror. I thought: it’s over. By cutting off my hair I was punishing myself for loving someone so much. I was trying to be stronger.”

56. „It would be a lie to tell you I understood everything I was feeling. You don’t, at fourteen. An instinct for self-preservation told me to run, and I was running. Dread pursued me. I missed my parents. I felt guilty for making them worry. Dr. Luce’s report haunted me. At night, in various motels, I cried myself to sleep. Running away didn’t make me feel any less of a monster. I saw ahead of me only humiliation and rejection, and I wept for my life.”

57. „At a Woolworth’s in Nebraska City I bought a three-pack of boxer shorts. As a girl, I had worn size large. As a boy, medium. I trolled through the toiletries section, too. Instead of row upon row of beauty products there was only a single rack of hygienic essentials.”

58. „At restaurants I began to use the men’s rooms. This was perhaps the hardest adjustment. I was scandalized by the filth of men’s rooms, the rank smells and pig sounds, the grunting and huffing from the stalls. Urine was forever puddled on the floors. Scraps of soiled toilet paper adhered to the commodes. When you entered a stall, more often than not a plumbing emergency greeted you, a brown tide, a soup of dead frogs. To think that a toilet stall had once been a haven for me! That was all over now. I could see at once that men’s rooms, unlike the ladies’, provided no comfort. Often there wasn’t even a mirror, or any hand soap. And while the closeted, flatulent men showed no shame, at the urinals men acted nervous.”

59. „I understood at those times what I was leaving behind: the solidarity of a shared biology. Women know what it means to have a body. They understand its difficulties and frailties, its glories and pleasures. Men think their bodies are theirs alone. They tend them in private, even in public.”

60. „An existentialist is someone who lives for the moment.”

61. „Women were becoming more like men and men were becoming more like women. For a little while during the seventies it seemed that sexual difference might pass away. But then another thing happened.   It was called evolutionary biology. Under its sway, the sexes were separated again, men into hunters and women into gatherers. Nurture no longer formed us; nature did. Impulses of hominids dating from 20,000B.C. were still controlling us. And so today on television and in magazines you get the current simplifications. Why can’t men communicate? (Because they had to be quiet on the hunt.) Why do women communicate so well? (Because they had to call out to one another where the fruits and berries were.) Why can men never find things around the house? (Because they have a narrow field of vision, useful in tracking prey.) Why can women find things so easily? (Because in protecting the nest they were used to scanning a wide field.) Why can’t women parallel-park? (Because low testosterone inhibits spatial ability.) Why won’t men ask for directions? (Because asking for directions is a sign of weakness, and hunters never show weakness.) This is where we are today. Men and women, tired of being the same, want to be different again.”

62. „Unlike other so-called male pseudo-hermaphrodites who have been written about in the press, I never felt out of place being a girl. I still don’t feel entirely at home among men.”

63. „Which was where, obviously enough, I was now working. Five nights a week, six hours a day, for the next four months—and, fortunately, never again—I made my living by exhibiting the peculiar way I am formed.”

64. „Beautiful or not, Zora didn’t want to be a woman. She preferred to identify herself as a hermaphrodite. She was the first one I met. The first person like me. Even back in 1974 she was using the term “intersexual,” which was rare then.”

65. „Remember, Cal. Sex is biological. Gender is cultural.”

66. „Hermaphroditus’s parents were Hermes and Aphrodite. Ovid doesn’t tell us how they felt after their child went missing. As for my own parents, they still kept the telephone nearby at all times, refusing to leave the house together.”

67. „When it was time for my act, I plunged into the pool. I was high, drunk, and so that night did something I didn’t normally do. I opened my eyes underwater. I saw the faces looking back at me and I saw that they were not appalled. I had fun in the tank that night. It was all beneficial in some way. It was therapeutic. Inside Hermaphroditus old tensions were roiling, trying to work themselves out. Traumas of the locker room were being released. Shame over having a body unlike other bodies was passing away. The monster feeling was fading. And along with shame and self-loathing another hurt was healing. Hermaphroditus was beginning to forget about the Obscure Object.”

68. „“Well, hello there,” said the officer when he came to me. “And how old might you be?”   From the police station I was allowed one call. And so I finally broke down, gave in, and did it: I called home”

69. „“Don’t tell Mom and Dad,” I said.   “I can’t,” said Chapter Eleven. “I can’t tell Dad.” And then in an interrogative tone that showed he could hardly believe it himself, my brother told me that there had been an accident and that Milton was dead.”

70. „Most important, Milton got out without ever seeing me again. That would not have been easy. I like to think that my father’s love for me was strong enough that he could have accepted me. But in some ways it’s better that we never had to work that out, he and I. With respect to my father I will always remain a girl. There’s a kind of purity in that, the purity of childhood.”

71. „My body was reacting to the sight of home. Happy sparks were shooting off inside me. It was a canine feeling, full of eager love, and dumb to tragedy. Here was my home, Middlesex. Up there in that window, on the tiled window seat, I used to read for hours, eating mulberries off the tree outside.”

72. „Tessie Stephanides, who in a different lifetime when space travel was new had decided to go along with her husband and create a girl by devious means, now saw before her, in the snowy driveway, the fruit of that scheme. Not a daughter at all anymore but, at least by looks, a son. She was tired and heartsick and had no energy to deal with this new event. It was not acceptable that I was now living as a male person. Tessie didn’t think it should be up to me. She had given birth to me and nursed me and brought me up. She had known me before I knew myself and now she had no say in the matter. Life started out one thing and then suddenly turned a corner and became something else. Tessie didn’t know how this had happened. Though she could still see Calliope in my face, each feature seemed changed, thickened, and there were whiskers on my chin and above my upper lip. There was a criminal aspect to my appearance, in Tessie’s eyes. She couldn’t help herself thinking that my arrival was part of some settling of accounts, that Milton had been punished and that her punishment was just beginning. For all these reasons she stood still, red-eyed, in the doorway.”

73. „You will want to know: How did we get used to things? What happened to our memories? Did Calliope have to die in order to make room for Cal? To all these questions I offer the same truism: it’s amazing what you can get used to. After I returned from San Francisco and started living as a male, my family found that, contrary to popular opinion, gender was not all that important. My change from girl to boy was far less dramatic than the distance anybody travels from infancy to adulthood. In most ways I remained the person I’d always been. Even now, though I live as a man, I remain in essential ways Tessie’s daughter. I’m still the one who remembers to call her every Sunday. I’m the one she recounts her growing list of ailments to. Like any good daughter, I’ll be the one to nurse her in her old age. We still discuss what’s wrong with men; we still, on visits back home, have our hair done together. Bowing to the changing times, the Golden Fleece now cuts men’s hair as well as women’s. (And I’ve finally let dear old Sophie give me that short haircut she always wanted.)”

74. „The funeral did what funerals are supposed to do: it gave us no time to dwell on our feelings.”

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