The Frog King

Wer ist Rudi Elsner? Oh, und er ist ein Mann.

Zoe sometimes brings her German work to English class, because she has it right before, and so I get to look at the bizarre pamphlets and worksheets with lines of text where things are randomly capitalized, if I want to. Today she brought a worksheet and I was fascinated by the dopey little pictures of German people on a family tree (Die Familie, it was called) – and one of the dopey little faces was called Rudi Elsner. He had a mustache, but for some reason I didn’t notice and assumed he was a girl; so I have to remind myself he’s not. Rudi ist ein Mann. Rudi is a man. Good.

I was reading the text bubbles, and actually understanding it, through the random snippets of German I’ve learned from being around Zoe for a few months while she’s learning it – and somehow I was able to decipher that the guy was asking where Rudi Elsner was, while the other replied that he’s Daniel’s cousin. (Er ist Daniels Cousine. Or something.) It was very simple, so I got it down, and decided to read aloud their conversation to her. She was very impressed, and went on to teach me a couple of small things, like how “he” is “er”, and “ze” is she, but sometimes not (also it’s “sie”, right?), and that in German you’ve got to capitalize all the nouns. Probably not the language for me, then. But at the end of it all, we were laughing about where Rudi Elsner was, and I told her it was a thing I was going to say from now on. Also, on the way home, forging through the bitterly cold winter paths, and being hit by a particularly nasty burst of frigid wind, I said, half-jokingly, “Wer ist Rudi?”  instead of swearing. Then I giggled because apparently I find myself hilarious.

And by the way, I bet somewhere out there he exists. If I’m ever in Germany, I’ll just walk around lamenting “Wer ist Rudi Elsner?” to the air until somebody comes up and tells me. Or brings me off to the mental ward, where I’ll keep repeating it because it’s the only German phrase I know (that and “Er ist ein Mann”).

So, now that I’ve got the important stuff down, I’ll move on to whatever else is floating around up in my head. In English class we had the most amazing substitute teacher in existence. I love her! She was thirty-ish and kind of dorky, and opened up the class by telling us about how her parents had met each other – her dad was a hippy who didn’t wear any shoes for a few years and her mom was a swim instructor, and I guess that’s a good basis for a cheesy independent romance movie – and she also told us that one of her legs is mostly made of metal because she ran into a rock skiing once, and that she can speak some Japanese. I immediately put up my hand to ask if she’s watched Fullmetal Alchemist (which is a Japanese anime); and she said she has. She HAS. And then I said that she’s got a metal leg and so does the guy in the anime, and she said jokingly “Yes, I’m Edward Elric.”

Oh my fuuuuucking God. I’d kick Mrs. Nutting off a roof if it meant we’d get Mrs. Harrison forever. Well, not really, I love Mrs. Nutting – but holy shit, Mrs. Harrison is just angelic. She knows Japanese, she knows Fullmetal Alchemist, there’s just everything right with her. I absolutely adore her, and if I was not a high school student I’d ask her to marry me. Then we’d watch Fullmetal Alchemist and ask Wer ist Rudi Elsner together for the rest of our lives.

At one point in class I got a call up to 201, which is the student resource room. Two others were called up too, Nick, who is a fantastic writer, and Brooke, the girl who looks at me when I talk and I sneakingly suspect continues to like me. I went out of my way to make a friendly joke or two while we were heading back down to class, but I’m no conversationalist, and the extent of my comic appeal was when Nick asked what time it was and I said “Well, it’s some time in the afternoon”, which trust me, is funnier in context. Or I hope it is. Anyway I’ve been in 201 a handful of times lately for whatever IEP-related reasons, and that’s where my wonderful student-helper-lady is, who’s been helping me figure out my classes for next term, among other things. She knows about the LUBR (Large Uncomfortable Boy Revelation) and the fact that I’m transgender – and today while we were talking she actually shot me a male pronoun, which surprised me. But it was a good surprise, even if it was a bit uncomfortable in a way – and I smiled, and then I ran away. For some bizarre and nice reason the other two were waiting outside for me, and I was so amazed by it that Brooke smiled, and that’s a small but certain victory.

All that largely balances out the fact that the girl who sits next to me in History class (NOT called Stephanie, as it turns out) snubbed me today and went to sit with a friend instead. And that in itself wouldn’t have bothered me, if she hadn’t left her bag on her seat so I was sitting there with an empty desk next to me while she sat on the other side of the class. I understand, and I don’t expect much more out of people who I’m not actually friends with. But it hurt my feelings a little bit.

After school, on the walk to the bus, I had to duck into the record store for a bit just so I wouldn’t turn into an icicle mid-stride. I looked idly through the records and listened to the guy there talk over the phone – it’s also a smoke shop, and there’s a lot of intricate-looking pipes sitting in glass cases; and so his conversation had something to do with appropriate amounts of weed that one should smoke, if I heard that right. I thought I’d drifted into a 70s movie for a second, and it was slightly weird. When I turned to ask him if he had any mewithoutYou records I felt strangely, crushingly small (because he was tall), standing there at a poor diminutive 5″5, furry-hatted and high-voiced, trying to get across that I’m not twelve and perhaps failing. I don’t know.  But he replied in a serious adult voice so I figure I did okay. You have to understand that in my mind I’m slightly taller and more impressive.

In German class Zoe watched something about a frog king – I assume it’s some obscure German cartoon, that’s what it sounded like, anyway – the kind you happen across in buckets of cheap-sale “nobody will buy this” foreign DVDs. Or something. Anyway, apparently in the frog king, you throw the frog against the wall and that’s how it becomes a person. (Common sense tells me she was missing something.) So, she compared me to the frog king, and don’t ask me how that comparison was made, but it didn’t exactly bother me – I’ll take being the frog king. Even if people are throwing me against walls, at least I’m the king, and not the queen or the princess. That’s something, anyways.

rudi elsner movie poster

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About thecellarboy

17. I write, play music, and have a cat that likes to bang his head against doors until they open. View all posts by thecellarboy

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