Sucking Lemons

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Gay and Lesbian  |  House: Booksie Classic
How to tell your doting Daddy that you haven't always been a girl.

(A vignette riffing off Russel Gold's online novel, "Take A Lemon", which I wrote as an exhibit in a discussion elsewhere of certain aspects of many magically handwaved MtF transgendering stories, with special reference to Chris Hazelton's webcomic, Misfile. It will make more sense if you've read enough of Russ' story to get the characters and setting. If you are here for the Good Squishy, I no got, which is why I didn't post this in Erotica. I include some notes relevant to my correspondents. Oh, and a brief table saw adventure. Neither Russ nor Chris are responsible for my ravings, and I mean no infringement on their copyrights.)

Submitted: February 21, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 21, 2011



A brief excerpt from Russel Gold's online novel, Take A Lemon, chapter 76: "Posing on Command", to set the scene. Marshall, a college boy who has been magically handwaved into Marsha, a girl, is sitting in an ice cream shop with her Dad, following a disastrous prior attempt to explain the situation to her parents. This is not self-contained, but shows a critical turning point in a much longer story.

Dad sighed. “Marsha, I’m a bit disappointed in you. You really upset your mother. Did you think that this little hoax was funny?”

I shook my head.

“And did that… that boy really proposition you like that?”

“Yes, he did,” I said. “And I really did… overreact. I was really upset about that.” He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “But,” I admitted, “It had nothing to do with the Strangers in the Mirror thing.”

“Oh. OK.”

We sat silently eating our ice cream for a moment. I wasn’t quite sure where he was going with this.

Suddenly he grinned. “Princess, that is about the lamest hoax I have ever heard of! I’m glad you weren’t involved in thinking it up, but seriously. It wasn’t funny the first time they did it, and bringing it home to spring on your mother didn’t help. Tell me, did this group tell you what to say? Are they the ones who came up with the ‘missing cousin’ bit?”


“If you want to have a good hoax, I’d say that the first rule is that you not make your mother think you’re cracking up, OK?”

[story note]

So, I'd been reading Russ's perfectly good story, nodding, going along to get along, sort of thing, but then I read this, and something snapped. Oh, it's been brittle and cracking for a long time now, fueled largely by my notorious discontent with Chris Hazelton's Misfile webcomic (pretty much the only other TG story I follow), but this was the last straw. I'm tired of magically and unwillingly transgendered guys, strongly het before their change, suddenly deciding that it's okay to get all girly for no better reason than, well, being a girl is better than being a boy, obviously. Or, as in the case of Ash in Misfile, just going neuter, taking all the fun out of the setup. Or simply being too passive about what seems to be an intolerable situation. With that thought, the whole scene went through the wood chipper, and this spewed out: a different path taken at the crossroad.

...And something snapped. The idea that my father, my good old Dad, could possibly think I would hurt Mom by letting her think I was cracking up over a boy taking advantage of me was bad enough, but that I would do it to her deliberately for a joke? No. Hell no. More than I could take. It was a mortal insult, it blackened my honor, and his, and I could not let it stand. That snap had set the fire to the fuse, and I had to get out of the public eye before the explosion. A rage had been building in me since Marsha had first woken up that morning weeks ago, and I'd been too busy to notice. I couldn't miss it now; it was consuming me.

"OK, Princess?"

It took every ounce of my stage training to deliver my next lines as Daddy's sweet little princess.

"No, Daddy, not OK, not by a long shot. I need to go home and show you something."

He frowned.

Maybe I should've used a touch more sugar, there.

"Marsha, stop this. Finish your ice cream, and tell me...."

Oops, sorry, all out of sugar. How about some piss and vinegar? I stood up.

"I mean it. Take me home. Right now, Dad, or I will walk home without you."

I had never, in my life, seen Dad's mouth hang open in shock. It would have been funny except for the ugly I could hear in my voice, low and snarling.

"Marsha! Sit down!"

OK, up the ante. I upended my cone in the middle of the table.

"Home, Father. Right now, or you will never talk to me over ice cream again."

I couldn't look at the open wound of his face after that. I just walked to the door. As I opened it, I heard his chair scrap, and the flap on the trash bin swing. I almost looked back, but quelled the impulse.

I didn't look at him, or say one word, for the whole drive home. My rage built, and I hoarded and savored every drop; I'd need it to face him down.

We pulled into the driveway. Dad turned the car off, but instead of getting out , touched my hand so I'd look at him.

"Now, Marsha, before we go inside and upset your mother even more, what's this about? You're scaring your Daddy, girl."

I snorted.

"Oh, I've been a tad scared myself, Dad, terrified is more like it, and right out the other side to spitting mad. Let's talk in the shop."

"Now, Princess, you know...."

"'No girls allowed in the shop'. Fuck that shit in the ear."

I got out and slammed the door. Actually, it was more like, nobody in the shop that Dad hadn't checked out on the power tools, but.... Well. Like I'd said.

Mom came out on the back stoop. Dammit.

"Did you have a nice talk, dear?"

"Great, Mom! But I need Daddy to make something for me in his shop. For the school play. OK?"

Moms always know. Worried doubt clouded her face. She looked at Dad. Whatever she saw there made her step back.

"I'll...I guess...Dinner at six, OK?"

I hated to see her like that, but she would have to wait.

"OK, Mom."

"We'll be fine, dear." Dad's voice was grim, but firm, and Mom retreated back inside.

Dad's shop shed, built as a lean-to against the back of the garage, didn't look quite the same as I remembered. Of course not. In Marshall's timeline, I'd helped Dad build it over summer break. I hoped it still had one or two features I remembered, but it at least had the same rough barn doors. There was one particular feature missing, and I aimed to fix it.

As soon as the door closed, I put my face as close to his as my diminutive height allowed. I felt like a kitten puffed out at a German Shepherd, but he stepped back in surprise. My stage training did serve me well here, keeping my voice down in my chest as a challenge, rather than up in my throat as a scold, or, gods forbid, a whine.

"I am not your fragile cutie pie stage-struck little daughter Marsha, Dad. I am your hulking dickheaded son, Marshall. This is not a fucking hoax, and I am not cracking up over fucking school, or some worthless little shitstain pawing my unwanted tits at a party! This is the serious shit, Daddy," and I put every bit of withering contempt into that word I could muster, "and you need...."

The slap hurt when it came, snapped my head to the side. My nose stung, and I begged it not to start bleeding. Dad froze, mortified at what he'd done. He reached out for me, but I just grinned and stepped back, not letting my hand rise to my cheek. All going according to plan, then. Good thing I wasn't wearing a hat, because I'd certainly have lost it, und ve all know vot dey say about any plan vere you lose you hat.

"Princess, Marsha, I'm sorry, baby, but"

"Shut up, Dad. Don't worry, you didn't hit your precious perfect Princess doll, only your shit-head son. It's not the first time, and it's not fucking important anyway."

Shame on me; the look on his face still stands as one of the most satisfying moments in my life.

"Marsha, if you want to convince me you're not going insane, running your mouth like an open sewer is not working. You've never talked that way in your life."

"Actually, Marshall talked like that all the time, when he wasn't around Mom. And working on the shed with you last summer didn't help."

Blank stare, followed by narrowed eyes and a flank attack:

"Are you using drugs?"

I rolled my eyes. Is that the only possible reason for kids to go off the rails these days?

"Dad, I'm trying to convince you that I'm not who you think I am. I may well be going crazy, and I need your help, but..."

I threw my hands up and turned away.

"'Words are useless! Gobble, gobble, gobble! That is why I show you my work! That is why you are here!'"

I stalked over to the stock rack and pulled out an eight foot 2x2. I grabbed a tape and pencil from over the bench, and marked off six feet, offset a little from one end. I set a thirty degree angle on the table saw blade, dropped it so it would just clear the stick, and squared the fence. All while barely glancing at the saw; I'd been afraid that, like trying to play guitar, my new slighter build might trip me up, but my hands knew exactly where to go. Just for show, I checked the blade angle with the protractor, although it really didn't matter. Goggles and ears, check. I fired up the dust collector and the saw.

Two cross cuts made sloping ends. Two rips left the stick with a diamond cross section.

There were a couple of, "Now Princess, be sure to..." "I know Dad, OK?" moments at first, but then he just watched in silence, and had the decency not to try to take things out of my hands, although it was clear he thought I was going to feed myself across the table like a distressed damsel in the villain's sawmill. Yes, of course I used the homemade feather stick to push the last few inches through the blade, since Dad and I both hate blade guards; it's a high speed saw blade, don't fucking touch it. However, Dad did automatically come around to catch the workpiece as it came off the table; Marsha apparently hadn't convinced him to spring for the outfeed rollers.

I shut it all down, pitched the waste into the burn bin, and handed my work to Dad. Fifteen minutes, start to finish, not a wasted move.

"Paint this and put it up over the doorway, Dad. It'll make a nice visual lintel and provide a bit of a drip edge to protect the raw edges on those crappy plywood doors. I couldn't get them right either, by the way."

He turned the piece over and over in his hands, even stepped outside and held it up over the door. Finally, he came back in, his face set in a way I hadn't seen since I'd turned Marsha. It was the way he looked at Marshall when our talks turned Serious.

"I'm listening, Marsha. I don't remember teaching you how to run a table saw. What, did you learn this from building stage sets?"

Sigh. Still couldn't let go of the mundane, but I admit, it had been hard for me, too.

"No, Dad, you taught me. Taught Marshall, and taught him well. Now, let me tell you something I'm certain you didn't tell Marsha. Sally Anderson."

He blushed, actually blushed, but then shook his head.

"No, I told you about Sally. I told you...."

Shit. No, wait, right, that had to be it. That was how his talk with Marshall had started out, too.

"Let me guess: You told Marsha I had to be careful with boys, you'd been one yourself, once, and if it hadn't been for old man Anderson coming down into the rec room at just the wrong moment, you might have ended up having to marry her and not Mom, right?"

The blush got redder.

"Well, yes, but...."

"But I bet you didn't tell Marsha that when Mr. Anderson was politely explaining how he'd consider it an honor to shoot your balls off with his grand-dad's 12 gauge Purdy if you ever touched his daughter again, the only reason you held your fudge was because Sally's panties stuffed in your back pocket made you, and I quote, 'too smug to shit'."

Beet red. I'd only seen him beet red once before. I was getting to that.

"How the bloody..."

"You kept those panties as a trophy, both for surviving your little lesson in explosive deportment with Mr. Anderson, and for getting Sally to slip 'em off her sweet little fifteen year old ass for you in the first place. And I know god damned well you didn't tell Marsha that because you never even told Mom — you burned 'em the day after she accepted your ring. But you told Marshall after your golfing buddy Glen Garrett caught your son with his daughter Erica."

His face was white, now, and he almost fell into the canvas chair he kept at the end of the bench.

I let him process. The color started coming back to his face.

"You... you said I'd hi...hit you? Marsha, I'd never...."

The old guy was sharp, I'll give him that. Never missed a trick.

"Never hit a girl. Yeah, I know, you taught me that too. But one day your snot nosed punk ass teen aged son simply Would. Not. Listen. to his good old Dad's stern but excellent advice, and finally he tried to just push around you to go out smoking and drinking and doing god knows what with god knows who, and you pushed him back, and he punched his doddering old fool of a father in the gut, and for about a second got all puffed up with hisself thinking he was the man of the house now, until you gave him a very well deserved black eye."

Stunned, Dad shook his head, very much as I had after that punch.

"And his lip got all trembly, and his throat got tight and his eyes got wet, and then, Dad, you reached out to that little shit, put your hand on his shoulder, looked him in his remaining eye, and said, 'Now you're a man, Marshall, because now you know you'll have to eat...'"

"'...Whatever you dish out,'" he finished in unison with me. He'd lost the dazed look, and his well-honed curiosity finally shone through.

"My old man had to say that to me, too. I never, ever, told you that, Marsha. Why would a father need to tell that to his daughter?"

I relaxed. But now my throat got tight and my eyes got wet again, and it was a moment before I could finish to set the hook and reel him in.

"And then, Dad, then you hugged me, hugged me like you've never hugged me before or since. Hugged me like a man.

"Daddy, Mom treats Marsha just like she treated Marshall. I'm not her son or her daughter, I'll be her sweet darling baby either way till we lay her in her grave, and I'm fine with that. That's what moms do.

"But, you, Dad...Daddy, you treat your precious little Princess Marsha like a china doll. I know you love her, and would die to protect her, but Daddy, I miss my Dad, who hung a right proper mouse on me when I needed it the most, kept me from falling in with evil companions and a life of crime and debauchery. Well, I guess I'm still working on the debauchery, but anyway, I miss my Dad something terrible."

I turned away, because the damn girly tears were about to start again. Marshall hadn't cried in front of another human being since that day. Marsha, though, sweet delicate flower that she was, cried at every slightest emotional breeze.

To fend the tears off, I reached under the bench, pulled two beers out of the mini-fridge, and chucked one at Dad's head. He caught it, of course. Never, ever missed a trick, even through the shock.

Then my eyes fell on the piles of Taunton publications next to the fridge. I pushed them aside, and sure enough, there was the neat stack of magazines in plastic slip covers behind them. I counted up five from the bottom, and handed it to him.

"October, 1970. The Collinson Twins, Mary and...Maddy? Right, Madeleine. This copy probably doesn't have the stain on the foldout like the one in Marshall's timeline, sorry about that, Marshall's Dad, but Jesus God those two babes are smokin' hot, big hair and all."

"You jacked off over my mint...?"

The grin took hold as he caught the absurdity of his outrage. He snorted, then laughed, and then we both were roaring like Viking pirates in Valhalla. He couldn't hug me like Marshall, I was too damn short, but he near cracked my ribs picking me up so I could put my arms around his shoulders. I wasn't his delicate china doll Princess anymore, that was for sure. Now that Daddy was gone, I kinda missed him, too, but getting my old Dad back was a true blessing, and I was stronger with him watching my six than I'd been since this whole thing had started.

We talked, really talked, as we hadn't done since Marsha — too many things, "since Marsha" — and even for a year or more before that. My grandpa's 1955 Les Paul Special guitar going to my idiot tin-eared cousin who sold that gorgeous family heirloom, not knowing what he had; my other beloved cousin, who now had never existed ("Those murdering bastards!" Dad spat), kid sister Tina losing her leading role in the high school play because Marsha had been cast as lead three years running (but Marshall had never once been lead), the casting committee not wanting to appear to be favoring our family; the constant strain of trying to be someone I didn't remotely know; having to learn to sew all over again to make living expenses at school, but picking it up with unnatural ease. Even The Curse.

We began to fall into our old father-son rhythm. It was easy for me, but Dad picked it up almost as quickly as I "remembered" sewing. I mentioned that, and he immediately wondered if there wasn't some kind of leakage across timelines, and if maybe there wasn't some way to exploit that. The shed lintel was a good example, he said; he knew there'd been something missing, but couldn't quite figure out what. When I made it, it slipped into his understanding of the structure like a piece of a chinese puzzle block. We talked over a few other tweaks I'd come up with; some would still work as retrofits.

"I love my Marsha," he eventually confessed, "but I love having a son, too. Even if he wears makeup and has tits." We both snorted.

It began to flow the other way, after that: he talked about Mom, my sister Tina, other family staying with us over the holiday, some family friends.

I discovered that there'd been a lot going on I hadn't noticed, wrapped up in myself. Hey, Erica had joined the Navy.

We traded stories about our unshared memories, and found that in fact, we shared quite a lot. Marshall and Marsha had a great deal in common.

The best thing, though, was that the more we talked, the more comfortable I was, not just with Dad, but the whole situation. The panic that had been shrieking in the back of my mind every waking minute for weeks began to break up.

As it dissipated, I found myself calling him "Daddy", and he called me "Marsha" again. (Although never "Princess". I think Mary and Madeleine had pretty well taken care of that.) It felt good, natural. We moved easily back and forth between Dad and Son, and Daddy and Daughter.

Knowing that Dad believed in Marshall was enormously liberating. I didn't have to be on guard every second, and I didn't have to worry that if Marsha did something girly, it might mean I couldn't ever be Marshall again. I was free to play with being a girl, even enjoy it, maybe. Although the whole kissing another guy for real thing — as opposed to Mollie Ralston's Mousetrap stage kiss with husband Giles, which had been hard enough — still seemed disgusting and wrong.

Dad would figure out how to tell Mom, he said, and again, the relief was enormous. With Mom and Tina helping me to be the best girl I could be, and Dad letting me beat the drums with him when I needed it, there was nothing I couldn't try. There would always be this safe haven to come back to, where I was just...Marsh.

Finally, Dad glanced at his watch. "We'd better be getting in. Mom knows she's not allowed in the man cave, but I'm sure she's worried about her baby being trapped in here with Mr. Grumpy Bear."

He stood up. I slipped off my perch on the bench, and put my arms around his ribs as he put his arms around my shoulders. No bone-crushing fierceness this time, just the steadying rock of his love. Just a girl and her Daddy, who would die to protect her. And suddenly, that was fine.


"Yes, honey?"

("Honey." Yeah, I liked that. That felt a lot better than "Princess".)


He laughed and crouched down while I climbed onto his shoulders. Marshall had gotten too heavy for horsies around eight or nine. But Tina had loved them until she was thirteen and too sophisticated a lady to accept Daddy's somewhat plaintive invitations, and Marsha was so tiny and light that Daddy could manage her easily. I reached down to turn out the lights as we stooped through the door, laughing and giddyaping and neighing across the yard to Mom, who stood at the back door smiling in relief and no small puzzlement at our ruckus.

Daddy bent down to let me slide off, and I kissed his cheek, rough with stubble. He kissed the top of my head, and it felt like, I don't know, a promise. A seal of protection. A benediction.

Then Dad straightened, and stuck out his hand. Firm and solid as his word.

Mom didn't miss much either. That was not how he shook hands with the ladies.

"So, everything's OK?" she ventured.

"It's complicated," we said in unison, the universal guy answer to women's questions, and grinned at each other.

"I'll explain later," said Dad, kissed her on the lips, swatted her on the butt so she yelped, and went in.

I hugged Mom.

"It's all good, Mom. It's weird, but good. Mom?"


"I love you, Mom. No matter what, I love you, and need you, and Dad, and Tina, and I'm not, not, going to lose any one of you."

I squeezed the oof out of her, kissed her cheek, and we went in to dinner, arms around each other's waist.

I slept, really slept, that night, spooning my kid sister. I woke up, still spooning, thoroughly refreshed, eager for the day. Oh, this was going to be fun.

My old Dad and me, somehow we'd figure this out and make the bastards who did it fix it, or we'd shoot their fucking balls off.

Have I said what a relief it is to be able to cuss again after sugar'n'spice and everything nice for far too long?

Shitpissfuckcuntcocksuckermotherfuckertits. Bleeding asshole son of a bitch, that feels good.

[Story note]

Talk about feeling good, I've wanted to get something like that out for a long time, and I appreciate Russ doing the ground work that gave me the hook I needed.

I don't mean this little vignette as criticism of Russ' story (Chris' is something else again.) I'm just not capable, it seems, of working up my own story from scratch, and Lemon gave me a good setup to play with.

This is pretty much all I want to do with this. It accomplishes my goal of giving the TG protagonist an opportunity to confront his situation as the male ("with tits", as Marsh's Dad says) he remembers being, and I've tried to portray certain traditionally male and currently deprecated traits as strong positives in context. I don't have the patience to work out what happens next.

I have not carefully checked my little riff here against Russ' original, although I've made a casual attempt to keep my characters consistent with his. I hereby decree any discrepancies to be irrelevant, because it's, all together now, "not Russ' story", even though it is, obviously, sorta. Gah. Now I'm all confused.

The writing here is very rough; this really did pretty much just spew out. It displays several very annoying author's ticks that I am unable to cure myself of. I'm preaching here, not storytelling, and the work suffers for it.

I should also say, Marshall is not me, and his Dad is not my Dad, not even close. I have, for better or worse, managed to get through life without ever giving or getting a black eye, and that's largely due to my Dad's peaceable influence. Also, when I cut Marshall's faux-lintel for my Mom's potting shed, it took me about an hour and a half of cussing, fussing, marking, adjusting, and searching for things that I'd had right here a second ago, dammit, although I will say that in the end I only had to cut one stick, and got it exactly right the first time.

"Taunton", for those not in the know, is a publisher of glossy how-to magazines for thumb-fingered twits with tools they never use who think Norm isn't practical enough. (That is, doesn't hold their hands enough.) My bathroom and bedroom are littered with them. The magazines, that is; I'm the only fumb-thingered twit here. Thank you, Fine Homebuilding, for many happy hours of fantasy reading in the royal library.

I haven't finished reading Lemon, by the way, but I have read far enough on to know that what I've done here would change a lot of what comes after; this is, perhaps, the crucial turning point. Skipping ahead, it seems that Russ does deal with some of my points, but in a very different way. Again, this is not a criticism of the Lemon story overall, and I don't mean this to be a prod as to how Russ "should" end his story.

Oh, one last thing for any booksie readers who have stumbled into this: I do not pretend to know a single thing about naturally transgendered folk, their trials and rewards.This is a fantasy, not intended to reflect anybody's real life.

Russ, back to you, and I'm looking forward to sucking all the juice I can get out of your Lemon.

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