What with all the recent news about Juno visiting Jupiter, Zane, Aidan, Papa and I worked a jigsaw puzzle depicting the solar system. As usual, I assembled the border while the boys pieced the planets together one at a time. Aidan worked diligently on Jupiter and Saturn, while Zane raced through the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and the asteroid belt. Within an hour he had gotten as far as Neptune, and announced that we were done.
This guy was not only adoptive, but gay as well?
On , the International Astronomical Union announced that Pluto was demoted from planet to “dwarf planet,” joining Eris (a rock in the Kuiper Belt that claims to be 27 percent bigger than Pluto) and Ceres, an asteroid that had also been thought of as a planet.
Alas, poor Pluto! Think about being Pluto for a second: There you are, a full planet for 75 years, only to get a letter telling you that size indeed does matter.
Why do I care? First of all, Pluto was my favorite Disney character. Second, Pluto has a quirky orbit, which sometimes brings it closer to Earth than Neptune. Third, I grew up with the mnemonic “Mary’s violet eyes make John stay up nights proposing.” Now no one knows why John is staying up, leaving his nocturnal activities to the imagination of my all-too-imaginative 12-year old.
I can compromise and fit in Ceres and Eris: “Mary’s violet eyes can make John stay up nights eagerly proposing.” In this age of political correctness, I intend to teach my children that even large ice rocks can be planets too.
The following Saturday, there were soccer tryouts in Crocker Amazon park. So on a foggy summer morning in the outer, outer, outer Excelsior, the boys got their cleats and shin guards on and dragged me down the field. And there I was feeling out of place, as 20 boys and almost as many dads all kicked balls around the grass, and me thinking that Starbucks would be a lot more fun.
As a man in his late 50s, I am exhausted just watching the thirtysomething parents play tackle with their kids. And it’s always awkward when one of these soccer dads walks up to me and asks me what the little woman is doing while I watch the game.
Did I mention that I am old and gay?
So I stood on the sideline and tried to look inconspicuous. This lasted until a jock standing next to me said, “This going great, eh?” I could tell by the accent that although he spoke English well, it was a second language, and I figured that I would have nothing in common other than the fact that we were both up on a Saturday morning watching our sons kick a ball across the lawn.
I nodded, not too enthusiastically, not really wanting him to mistake my answer for conversation. “Which kid is yours?” he persevered.
I pointed out the only black child on the field, and, as I am not black, I figured that he would then know that I was not a regular kind of dad, but instead he said, “That’s great! Another adopted father!”
“Yes, usually my husband takes them to these things, but he had a conference and -” wait. And here I had been wanting to feel marginalized when suddenly I had a quorum. He added, “Well, when my husband and I moved from France to California, we erican.”
“You see, Pluto is not the planet we think it is. When we finally got a good look at it, we found out that actually Pluto has a moon, Charon, and they are locked in an orbit together, which we could not see until now. In fact, Pluto has no barycenter. Pluto isn’t merely a dwarf planet, but a binary dwarf planet.”
The lesson? Never hold on to stubborn opinions. Just when you think the straight guy next to you won’t understand, he tells you that the planetoid that you’ve been defending is leading a double life.
Kevin Fisher-Paulson is the author of “How We Keep Spinning” and “A Song for Lost Angels.” Fisher-Paulson lives with his husband, Brian, their two sons, and pack of rescue dogs in the mysterious outer, outer, outer, outer Excelsior. When he’s not writing, he serves as commander of the honor guard for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.