Deep in the heart of Dullsville, at the end of a cul-de-sac, behind a lawn of scratchy brown grass dotted with giant plastic butterflies, three flaking cement deer, and a philodendron the size of Bob Hoskins though with fewer decorative parts, lives Heather Thompson.
Heather has a mommy and a daddy. Heather’s daddy is an accountant. Her mommy is a homemaker. Before Heather was born they met, fell in love, and got married.
“I love you very much and I’m having your child,” Heather’s mom said.
Danitra is Heather’s best friend. One of Danitra’s dads is an empowerment facilitator. The other is an aura consultant. Danitra doesn’t know what they do at work, except they don’t need briefcases. Before Danitra was born her daddies met and fell in love, and after seventeen years spent discussing caring and support, handling acceptance, and negotiating intimacy, they had a commitment ceremony.
“I love you very much and I’m designing the rings,” Danitra’s Daddy Mike said.
One day in school Heather’s teacher, Mrs. Weinberg-Lopez, tells the class to draw pictures of their families.
Danitra draws two men, Julio draws two women, and Heather draws a man and a woman.
Keanu points at the woman Heather drew, with squiggly yellow hair, a crude red dress and simple brown shoes. “This dad here’s got some ugly drag going on,” he says.
At lunchtime Danitra sits on the bench next to Heather and pulls a sandwich out of a brown paper bag.
“Want to trade?” Danitra asks. “I’ve got grilled eggplant and goat cheese on marjoram foccacia.”
“Um, I didn’t bring lunch,” Heather stammers, kicking her brown paper bag out of sight. “I’m . . . uh . . . on a diet.”
“Diet?” Danitra asks. “Haven’t your dads told you not to buy into that patriarchal looks-based chauvinism? And anyway, what’s this then?” she asks, holding up the bag with “HAVE A SUPER DAY!” written in sparkle marker on it.
Julio, who was listening nearby, runs up and grabs Heather’s lunch. “Yeah, what’s this? It’s somebody’s lunch!”
Heather jumps at the bag but Julio holds it out of reach. “You give that back!” Heather yells.
“Try and make me!” Julio chides. He pulls Heather’s sandwich apart and drops it like it was electrified. He wobbles away, holding his stomach.
“Oh my God!” he cries. “There’s like dead stuff in there!”
Danitra looks at the sandwich lying on the cement. “Is that MEAT? Is that like SPAM?”
Claudia, sitting quietly at the other end of the bench, bursts into tears. “Heather’s eating BAMBI!”
“It’s friggin’ Wonder Bread!” Julio scoffs.
Keanu walks toward the bread and peers at it. “And it’s got LUBE all over it!”
“You idiot, that’s MAYONNAISE.”
“It’s like goat cheese for heterosexuals.”
“Heterosexuals?” Keanu asks. “Heather’s mommy and daddy are heterosexuals?”
Heather starts to yell. “No! I don’t have a mommy and a daddy. I’ve got two daddies!”
“Hell-OOOO!” Danitra says, drawing the word out to twelve syllables. “We can see your clothes!”
“Um . . . “ Heather stalls, “then I’ve got two mommies.”
“And we’ve seen you play baseball,” Julio answers.
Heather, unable to think of a response, sits on the bench and starts to cry. Danitra pulls a robin’s egg blue bandana from her pocket and dabs at Heather’s face.
“Maybe your mom’s not really a woman,” Danitra offers.
“Well,” Heather says, sniffing, “she cleans the house, and cooks, and does the laundry.”
Danitra fumes. “We’re trying to establish that she’s female, not that she’s an idiot.”
“Maybe your dad’s not really a man,” Julio suggests.
“Well,” Heather answers, wiping her nose. “He’s big and strong and he’s got a moustache.”
Several of the children wonder what this proves but nobody says anything.
“So let’s say you’ve got a mom and a dad,” Keanu says. “Then where did you come from?”
Heather thinks for a minute. “They went to bed together, and then I was born.” Some of her friends express further interest, but Heather doesn’t have a brochure. “Daddy put his thing in mommy -- “
“Oh, man,” Keanu interjects. “Is that legal?”
“HelLLLLO!” sings Danitra, who gets the word up to eighteen syllables this time. “We’re in CaliFORnia!”
“And nine months later I came out of my mommy’s tummy,” Heather adds.
Several of the children wonder why they didn’t hire a surrogate with a vagina but nobody says anything.