I changed schools a lot in elementary school, mostly just because my family moved around a lot. When we arrived in Prince Albert, a town in Northern Saskatchewan, I ended up at this small elementary school where one of my classmates was a kid named Todd. Now, this was in the fourth grade, when secondary sexual characteristics aren’t really, er, apparent yet. Todd had a somewhat girlish face, but was built big, and had short-ish (but not quite short) curly hair.
And I guess it was for this reason that Todd was often ridiculed by classmates as a “girl.” I remember being quite confused by this — Todd had asked to hold my hand while we were ice-skating, maybe because I obviously was a terrible skater who obviously needed help — and I remember classmates calling him a “faggot.” I didn’t know what the word meant, so when I got home and said to my mom I met a kid at school, and she had helped me ice skate, and she was a faggot, my mother sat me down and explained that “faggot” was not a nice word, and besides a word describing boys, and maybe this Todd was a boy?
Which might seem obvious, but we’d been living in places where the genders of names were not always, er, a major consideration in their application to children. I’d been in school with kids whose names did not fit their gender before, and so I was confused. But I was sure no boy would want to hold another boy’s hand, so I was, therefore, sure that Todd was a weirdly-named girl.
Imagine my shock when I discovered otherwise. Eventually, I asked someone in the room quietly, in confidence, whether Todd was a boy or a girl, and the truth came out: he was a boy, but, someone say, a kind of girly sort of boy. I think the person I talked to even suggested he might be gay, something I did understand, though I didn’t at the time know that “faggot” was a pejorative for gay. After that, I was a little more leery of Todd and his offers of help. We ended up not being friends, not even years later when we’d both gravitated towards artistic/creative pursuits, and maybe that’s because I was moving around from school to school — and only knew met him again briefly, and in passing, in tenth grade, but maybe some of my unease also had to do with, well, you know.
What does this have to do with Peanut?
Longtime readers of this blog know that Lime and I adopted Peanut this summer. Peanut has grown up quite a bit since we took her in.
Wait, let me rephrase that: Peanut has grown up quite a bit since we took her him in.
Now that you’ve stopped laughing, let me explain. We took in Peanut knowing basically nothing about cats. I’d never had one before, and I wasn’t as into cats as Lime so I didn’t think much about it. We rolled the cat over one day and looked, saw no penis, and figured, huh, it must be a girl.
Yes, I know now that cats have an internal penis, and I know how to tell, but at the time, we figured, well, we’d see something if it were a boy. That scrotum? We didn’t think that was a scrotum.
You’re probably thinking we’re idiots, but wait, wait. We asked the veterinarian. He said, “Yes, it’s a girl.” I swear! Even as recently as a week ago, when Peanut was ill, Lime and I asked, “So when can we get the cat spayed?” Now, yes, you could say, “Language barrier!” and all that, but that’s not it, because Lime specifically asked about what the process was in Korean, and the vet’s response began with, “Well, you see, because Peanut is a female, it’s a much more involved process for her…”
So imagine poor Lime’s shock when the cat, sleeping, rolled onto her his belly and this little red… organ… crept out from inside her him. Oh my. It was like a major shock for Lime. Suddenly, the cat’s new name — Buffy — became totally inappropriate, which is why the cat is now 100% Peanut. Which is a funny pun, indeed, because a cat’s testicles are sometimes referred to (by cat enthusiasts) as “peanuts” in Korean.
Yes, a shock. Doubly so, since we’d gone to some trouble just the day before to make sure we got a female playmate for Peanut:
… a one-month old stray from Suwon who has yet to be named. (When we thought Peanut was Buffy, we began to think that Willow would be a good name for the new kitty, but now, the name seems to remind us of our idiocy, so maybe we’ll find another name.)
Anyway, as it is, they seem to be getting along:
… so we’ll probably just be keeping the new kitty and letting them hang out. We’ll have to get them both fixed, but we were going to anyway.
As for the new kitty, she seems pretty good-natured — less finicky than Peanut, less hypersensitive, more personable, as well as a good eater and quite patient with Peanut’s aggressive mode of play. In other words, she’s a keeper.
But we remain slightly surprised, though, in another way, a lot of things about Peanut suddenly sort of make more sense.