Can you still write this?
Editor’s note: It was in the days when the cancellation culture did not exist and you could just say what you wanted that the history writer Heere Heersema jr. knocked on the Joop.nl inn. There were his pub stories Welcome, but just making a joke about transgender people was of course not allowed. Heere then moved on and ended up in the GeenStijl stable, where they will put the story ‘Man is man, woman is woman’ online. And benevolence towards men.
Man is man, woman is woman
“Have you ever sat on a gender neutral toilet?” Tony asked.
“No,” Rose said, using the spatula to scrape the foam over the rims of six beer glasses in one motion. ‘How?’
“Just, I suddenly wondered what someone like that looks like.”
“I don’t know,” Rose said. “I think like a regular bolt box.” She carried the beer glasses to the large round table, holding the tray above her head with an outstretched arm as she maneuvered between the tavern patrons, graceful as a fish among aquatic plants.
“Well,” said Harko, sitting next to Ton at the bar, “I think he looks very complicated. You have a lot of new families these days and it all has to fit.”
“L, H, B, T, Q, I…” Ton spoke on his fingers. “What else do you have?”
“Plus,” Harko said. “It includes all the new manifestations.”
“How should I imagine it, such a toilet?”
“Well, with all kinds of hoses and pipes, eh.”
Ton squirted it into his beer glass.
“And suction cups and clutches!”
The beer ran out of the corners of Ton’s mouth. He choked and started coughing like a dog. Harko watched with a satisfied grin and bit his inseparable toothpick.
“Are you okay, Ton?” Rose asked, returning with a tray full of empty glasses. “Don’t die.” She patted him on the shocking back a few times.
‘Jesus,’ Ton laughed with watery eyes, ‘I can’t recover!’
“Here,” said Rose, “a glass of water.”
Ton took a sip and wiped the tears from his eyes. Roos again sat behind the bar alternately tapping and rinsing. Despite the thick, loose-fitting sweater she wore due to the low heat, the size of her breasts clearly showed. And her jeans were tight as usual and closely followed the shape of her thighs, hips and buttocks. Ton tried not to look too conspicuous at it. Okay, she wasn’t one of the youngest anymore, but she still looked amazing. Truly a woman at her best. He could still imagine a future with her in the years they had left. But how was he supposed to do it? The longer he sat here on that stool and didn’t dare say anything, the harder it became. He had to lay his cards on the table. But what if it didn’t go well? Then he couldn’t show himself here anymore. What were her feelings for him? The pat on the back and the glass of water from earlier, they showed some affection. Or was it just a random gesture? No, he better not take any chances. He knew what he had, not what he could have.
“What do you think of this gender thing?” Tony asked.
“Okay,” Rose replied professionally. ‘Live and let live.’
“Of course,” Ton admitted. “To each his own.”
“‘What makes me sick as hell,’ Harko interjected, ‘is the woke news talk. That you should no longer say woman, but that you should say people with a uterus’.
“You can still say woman, can’t you?” objected Rose. “It’s not forbidden, is it?”
“Well, you have to be careful,” Harko said. ‘Before you know it, you’ll be cancelled.’
“On the train they no longer say ladies and gentlemen,” said Ton. “At least that’s what I heard, because I never ride the train,” he quickly added.
“So what do they say?” Rose asked.
“But they are also travelers.”
“It’s not meant to be,” said Ton. “It’s about not talking about men and women anymore.”
“Call me old-fashioned,” said Harko, “but to me there are only men and women. Everyone can imagine what they want of me, but they remain men or women.’
‘Do you know what it is? It is the terror of a very small minority trying to impose its will.’
‘Yes, take the transsexuals. They have reportedly changed sex. But did you know that a man who has been transformed into a woman is still treated as a man if he gets a serious illness? Logically, it’s just a man!’
‘That is it. We have gone completely mad in this country. All over the West, because that nonsense is blown over from America.’
“Look, I want to treat everybody with respect. Really. If a man’s got himself turned into a woman, I’m quite willing to say madam to him, excuse me, her. I don’t care! But if you ask me if I really think he’s a woman, then I say no. I keep seeing things as they are.’
“Do you actually know transsexuals?” asked Roos, who had stopped his work to follow the discussion.
“Not that I know of,” Harko said. “Or I must have rocked one without knowing it.”
“Such a Thai ladyboy, for sure,” laughed Ton.
“Well,” Rose said, “I can tell you, you’re going to have balls, you know, to get your dick cut off.”
“I’d like to think so,” Harko said. “But then you’re still not a woman. Then you’re just a man without a dick’.
“You know who isn’t bothered by that nonsense?” Tony said. ‘The Muslims. We can learn something from that. They simply say: man is man and woman is woman.’
“Yes, and goat is horny!”
‘In reality you don’t have to take it up with Muslims. Then you’ll be thrown off the roof in no time’.
“So,” said Rose, “so you think I should get off the roof.” Her face had taken on a menacing hardness.
‘You?’ Tony asked startled. ‘Why you?’
‘Because I used to be called Rob!’
Ton almost fell backwards from his stool. A whirlwind swirled in his head and blew away all his certainties. He looked at the body he had desired for so long, the breasts that couldn’t be hidden by the thick, loose sweater, the hips that practically popped out of the tight jeans, and felt sick to his stomach. ‘Let’s have a smoke,’ he managed through clenched teeth and worked his way through the bar patrons to the door with increasingly wild crawling.
“Jesus, Rose…” Harko stammered, almost swallowing his toothpick. “I never thought you…”
Rose sighed tiredly. ‘Just for fun!’