Calcium Carbondale

Credits

Coral Baxter-Ellis – Tal Minear
Brad Colbroock – Dale

Written by David S. Dear
Opening music “Coffee” by Cambo
Closing music “Life Illusion” by Ketsa


COR

Hi everyone! It’s me, Coral, and this is Deconstructive Criticism. Minus the parentals. Technically we’re on hiatus while they figure out their stuff, but I figured I’d take an opportunity to talk about something, so I have with me my friend Dale. Say hi, Dale!

DALE

Hi everyone! I’m kinda nervous.

COR

Don’t be. Technically no one’s listening right now, so you’re safe.

DALE

Yeah but they will be eventually.

COR

Yeah but not right now. It’s not like anyone is here to boo you, right?

DALE

I guess. That makes me feel a bit better.

COR

Well, I might boo you.

DALE

Thanks a lot! You invite me on your little show just to boo me?

COR

Hey, I have to boo somebody! Paul and Allison aren’t here, so…

DALE

Okay, so you know who I want to boo? That Thelma woman at the wedding? On the last episode?

COR

You mean Farah? Yeah I can’t hate on her. She don’t know. But that’s one reason I wanted to do this episode.

DALE

She was all kinds of rude! She wasn’t even trying!

COR

Well Farah, if you’re listening, which I’d bet Dale’s car that you’re not-

DALE

Hey!

COR

-consider this the article I was going to send you…

Okay, so even though we’re not live, you’re okay with sharing?

DALE

Totally.

COR

So I asked my BFF Dale here to come onto the show today to help clarify some things. Or we’ll at least try. So first off, Dale… what are your pronouns?

DALE

They/he.

COR

So you’re also nonbinary, right?

DALE

That I am.

COR

This is so weird, huh? I’m not trying to sound like I’m interviewing you or anything.

DALE

It is a little weird…

COR

Okay, so think of this not like you’re talking to a bunch of people. Think of it like you’re talking to Farah.

DALE

Ooh, so I get to put on my rage hat!

COR

No, no raging. Just informing.

DALE

You’re no fun. Just kidding. Or am I?

COR

Try to be nice for a change?

DALE

Maybe you should try not to be so nice all the time. Like once you had told her you’re enby she needed to move her pantsuit clad framework somewhere else. Asking if you’re gay? That’s none of her business.

COR

To be fair, I don’t think she knows there’s a difference between identity and orientation.

DALE

She probably doesn’t know the difference between escargot and escabeche.

COR

Actually, I don’t know the difference between escargot and escabeche.

DALE

Spanish fish and French snails.

COR

Yeah, no help.

DALE

Well I don’t want to talk about pantsuit.

COR

Okay. What do you want to talk about then? Oh, let me guess… Bobby Embrak.

DALE

(simultaneously)

Bobby Embrak. Heavy sigh.

COR

Uh oh. What happened?

DALE

Well we went out and it was all fine. Then he gets totally hung up on me being nonbinary. He’s all like, if you don’t consider yourself a guy then you can’t say you’re gay and I said I never said I was gay I said I was queer.

COR

What are you talking about? I’ve heard you say you’re gay numerous times.

DALE

Well yah! So when I realized he just doesn’t get it I thought I would mess with him a little bit. I was like, so is it the blouse? He said, it’s the beard and the blouse. I said, you know different shades of brown go together just fine. Now if I was a redhead and this was a red blouse…

COR

Yeah, he doesn’t get it. I’m sorry, I know you really liked him.

DALE

I wish the feeling was mutual. I mean I guess it was when he thought I was purely the boy for the boy. It’s just that he was so hung up on how he thought I should refer to myself versus how I do refer to myself. Total turn-off. But enough about B.E. How are things with your mom?

COR

Oh. Well, ever since we got back from the wedding she and dad-

DALE

No, I mean how is she dealing with your identity?

COR

Well, she’s trying. She still catches herself referring to me as “she” instead of “they”. I think it’s hard for her because it means if I don’t consider myself female she can’t really do any girl bonding with me.

DALE

I can’t picture your mom doing any girl bonding. She’s not the girliest girl at the cotillion. Seems the bonding she likes to do is between two pieces of plywood.

COR

What are you my dad? That’s a total dad joke.

DALE

I’m practicing for when I become a dad. Or a mom? I guess I would be more of a “mad”, huh?

COR

Or maybe a “dom”?

DALE

That sounds better. “Dale the Dom”. I like it. I’ll get my own tv show: The Dale the Dom Rom Com!

COR

I don’t think the world is ready for that. Actually, I don’t think I’m ready for that.

DALE

Well, you’ll be famous before I am when you break out from this little podcast of yours. You’re going to be the next Greta Thunberg.

COR

Wait, does Greta Thunberg have a podcast?

DALE

I don’t know. I’m just saying cuz she’s famous. That’s what you should do: Channel your inner Greta Thunberg. Whenever someone misgenders you, just say “How dare you!”

COR

Yeah, no.

DALE

Say it! Try it out, see how it fits!

COR

(sighs)

How dare you!

DALE

No, you gotta do it with the accent!

COR

(sounding more British)

How dare you!

DALE

Okay, now you sound like James Corden.

COR

I think it’s more on brand for you.

DALE

“How dare you! How dare you! How-“

COR

Okay, okay. Go practice on your own time. Not on my show.

DALE

Ooh, it’s your show now?

COR

As long as the parents aren’t here, yes. So what I say goes. Now. Let’s get back to it. Nonbinary.

DALE

Nonbinary.

(beat)

Is Greta Thunberg nonbinary?

COR

Dale!

DALE

Just wondering. Sheesh.

COR

We were talking about how my mom seems to have trouble recognizing my gender identity. Dad seems to get it and he tries really hard, though he does slip on the rare occasion.

DALE

Did you tell her that gender is a spectrum-

COR

Yes-

DALE

-and that you feel you fall somewhere in between the binary gender roles-

COR

Yes-

DALE

-and that gender is a construct based on how you feel, that it’s not static to what you were assigned when you’re born, that it’s fluid and can’t always be put into a neat little box?

COR

Of course! You don’t think I already told her all that? Like five hundred times?

DALE

Maybe she’s a product of her time, like it’s a generational thing. I mean, she’s an 80s child, right? So the closest icon she had to nonbinary was Boy George.

COR

Boy George? Ew! He’s such a hater. Plus irrelevant. Who’s the one crying out for attention?

DALE

Maybe if she had Sam Smith back in her day. Ahh…

COR

I’m sorry, nobody gets “that’s how it was in my day” as an excuse. It’s a matter of respect and common decency. I don’t want to be referred to as “she” or “her” and I wish she would just honor that. It’s not that hard.

DALE

I don’t want to sound like I’m defending her, but it’s hard if for most of your sixteen years she’s considered you her daughter. Plus, you have to admit that Coral is not the most gender neutral name in the world.

COR

How do you figure?

DALE

Coral is pretty. It comes in nice pastel colors. And it’s made by those little frilly creatures.

COR

They’re polyps. That live in calcium carbonate structures. Neither of which sounds pretty. Trust me, as it’s my namesake I inadvertently learned a lot about it.

DALE

Calcium carbonate, huh? You could go by Cal…

COR

(pause)

You know what? I think you’re on to something…

DALE

No, don’t do that. I was just kidding.

COR

No… I think I’ll go by… Cor!

DALE

Phew! I thought you were going to say Calcium Carbonate!

Afterword

COR

So there you have it! I now go by Cor. I have to say, the euphoria I get from shortening my name… it’s like discovering binders all over again! Hopefully this will make it a bit less challenging to get Mom to embrace who I am. It’s more likely I’ll spend half the time correcting my name for her instead of my pronoun. Let’s just hope I don’t end up doing both. But for now, I’ll take this. It feels like such a win for me, it feels right. It’s nice to finally try something on and feel how well it fits.

Well I hope you enjoyed our summer bonus special. Thanks for letting me and Dale share a bit of time with you. So keep your eyes out for the start of our next season. Until then, this is Cor, signing off.

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