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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Man, or woman, or does it matter?

Funny thing about blogs: you don't know if you're being read or not, since so few comments are left. But every so often, a surprise.

This blog is focussed on education in general, math in particular and how this is being impacted by the new technologies appearing daily.

But, why not? How about a little, inoffensive insight into this author's life?

Living in uberliberal SF presents itself with a whole set of interesting challenges, even as a gay man of an adopted, Spanish speaking boy.

Here is a small anecdote I wrote over the summer for the Bay Area Writing Project.

And yes, I am a math teacher, a geeky one at that, but I LOVE writing:

Bright, sunny day, strangely hot as I walked with my son up Mission St. in search of an appropriate gift for Tieto’s birthday. The pavement always seems so steamy on those very few days of San Francisco heat. The old gum on the sidewalk feels sticky, the crowds pressing, the colors are harsh.

The Mission Street sidewalks were, as always full of people walking up and down, checking out the price for oranges, fish, socks or Chinese trinckets.

Of course, Emanuel, with his 8 year old vision, wants to buy Tieto a set of Pokeman cards. “Who says an old man can’t like these cards, Daddy?” Always the lawyer and I, as usual, in the witness stand and wondering what my perfect response would be to allow for his vision of diversity to remain while staying true to what I know Tieto would want.

We cross the steamy pavement of 23rd Street and I know that just up ahead are several clothing stores that may appeal to Emanuel’s vision for Tieto’s gift. On the other side of the crosswalk is sitting a man, or at least I think he’s a man, asking for money from the passerbyers. He is dressed in a somewhat dirty blouse that hangs low off his chest. The blouse has a vague flowery pattern. I notice that there are the what seem to be two small breasts. His hair is long and he is talking to everyone who passes by in Spanish from Central America, maybe El Salvador.

Emanuel notices him as well, but in silence. As we approach him, I now see he is definitely a man dressed as a woman. Three young Mexican guys are passing in the other direction. The man asks them for money and they respond in joking tone “we don’t give our money to men”.

“I’m not a man, call me señora”

The three men gather around the man for a minute, laughing. My throat tightens slightly as I decide what my next step should be with my 8 year old son in hand. The three guys move one just as we pass.

“Daddy, why did that guy want to be called señora”

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