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  • Writer's pictureJoia

Today's rhaps is on ... The Identity Police

Updated: Jan 28


Helen Frankenthaler, Moveable Blue, 1973

The other night I went to St. Mary's ER down the street, coughing up a storm. Good news came with the test results—not pneumonia or covid or even the flu! Though there's a black spot on my lung that will need determination at some point.


This was temporary certainty worth paying for, since US Medicare is not available yet for this wandering soul. I'm legal over on the other side of the world in that other land under that birth name. (Hey but you can't be in two places at once, right, Rodney Dangerfield?!)


At the discharge desk I was asked a lot of questions, likely over my lack of legitimate insurance (Medicare A but not Medicare B?) by someone who would have preferred Spanish, my Portuguese not helping the situation. In fact, even if I had Portuguese blood I would still be non-Hispanic, right? Am I non-Iberian then? Negations can be tricky, especially if they're the complement of what you're not. And ethnicity or race? Is the disjunction inclusive or exclusive? You know, race is not biologically defined...okay, white then, a total nordic Euromongrel—German, Welsh, French, Dutch, Swiss—i.e., the absence of all other races. And then sexual orientation, the full alphabet soup of LGBTQIA, I'm supposed to know this at 1:00 in the morning, slumped over in my Worten walker that Carlos assembled for me when it arrived during the pandemic from Cascais Shopping in Alcabideche.


I started to cry. Who cares, I'm 68, an old ungendered multicultural mess. Historically bisexual, organically two-spirited, indigenous to some broken asteroid belt out there in the Universe. And marital status? Divorced thirtysome years ago, am I single yet? All of the above, none of the above. Please.


So who am I and do the demographics help? I forgot the US cares so much about my in-di-vi-du-al-ity, bless its foxy self. At the Cascais Jazz Club, nobody cared who you were hanging with. But here! I fail all the subgroups—by class, sex, jargon, dress code, music lyrics, football stars (futebol?)—you name it. Clearly my hair will never stay properly under the hijab for any of you.


Claro que não. Clearly not.


So shoot me.


As the Snake Island soldier said to the Russian warship, русский корабль, иди нахуй. Go f*** yourself.


19 JANUARY 2023


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