Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jack and Jill and John and Jo

Jack and Jill and Jo and John Jo Anne seemed more interested in the hospital food than the impending dangers of surgery and hospitals. She had informed me casually on Facebook that she would be going into the hospital on Friday, December 7 to clean out a few polyps which looked suspicious during a routine colonoscopy and maybe remove her appendix if the surgeon deemed that necessary. Instead Jo would never come home. She would be dead in 48 hours. We exchanged several messages on Facebook in what would be the final days of her life. The shock of her death wouldn’t hit me until Xmas neared and I realized I hadn’t heard from my one time working buddy. We had raised money for Obama in the 2008 presidential. Of course, I turned to her Facebook page and came face to face with REST IN PEACE! I asked for an explanation. A day later her sister Julie put this on her page: “Jo Anne was my sister. She went into surgery on December 7 and there were complications. She passed on December 9.” And the shocks kept coming. The following week after tracking down Julie by phone, she almost whispered to me. “Did Jo Anne ever tell you her little secret?” I had no idea what she was talking about. I had enough shocks about Jo for one person. Still, she went on. “Jo Anne was not my sister. She was my brother.” What are you talking about, Willis? Jo’s little secret was she was really John. At one point in her life before sex change, he had three sons and a life far different than the one which brought us together as friends. I would miss her. It reminded me of my adventure with Jack and Jill. Jill was my only speech professor at Hofstra University. Since high school, I had been a speaking dynamo and haven’t shut up today.—but I found out in Jill’s class that I stil needed polishing in front of a live audience. And Jill gave me that polishing. So I returned to my suburban campus the following year to thank her. Instead of a petite woman in her 40’s, I met a 40ish diminutive man who smiled when I inquired whether Jill was teaching Speech this semester. He asked for my name . After a few pregnant moments, the replacement professor spoke: “Steve, I am surprised you don’t recognize me. I am Jill. Last summer, I had a sexual reassignment.” As I sagged, he continued. “Now I am known as Professor Jack.” A wave of nausea almost floored me. Just as my knees had turned to jelly in Jill’s classroom a year earlier, I was transported back in time in front of Jack. As I reached out for something to grab onto in case of pending passing out cold—I detected the gleam in the deceiving professor’s eyes. It was all a hoax. Jill was on a sabbatical and Jack was a fraud. Still, he had me going---for one moment in time.

No comments: