Saturday, May 16, 2009

Daily Story 31: Gender Issues

Samuel sat down at his computer, head pounding, and prepared to update his Trip Log. He had started the log when he was sixteen, saving information about his various drug-induced states for posterity, and this one had been a doozy - he had taken the Universal Aptitude Test while high out of his mind.

Everything was based off of the UAT. Everything. What college you could go to, what jobs would hire you, what position you would hold in the military if the United Americas went to war again. Even his friend Les had sobered up to take the test, and when it came to getting stoned Les had some serious dedication.

As Samuel typed, his memory slowly returned - at least as much of it as ever would - and he recalled Les putting down his test and going to the restroom. The proctor technically shouldn't have let him go in the middle of the test, but he also should have been paying attention instead of hitting on the blonde in the first row. Had the proctor not been so entranced by her cleavage he might have noticed Samuel taking Les' test and copying the answers down for the entire math section.

There had been something else... Samuel froze as he remembered what he had done. He had given his friend a hard time about having a girl's name a hundred times through the years, and while stoned it had seemed like such a fantastic idea to change his test... with a name like 'Leslie' nobody would even think twice about the fact that the bubble for female had been filled in.

In the sober light of day, this didn't seem funny at all. The bureaucracy was impenetrable. Samuel had heard stories of people who misspelled their name on the UAT and had to have them legally changed to match. What would this do to Les? Would he have to get a sex change?

Samuel got his results back before Les, and was assigned to a college in Sacremento. He sobered up - mostly - and studied, always distracted slightly by the image of Les being arrested for falsifying records… being forced to wear a dress… being unable to get a job and ending up on the street, and then eventually bleeding to death in a filthy alley after going insane and cutting off his own penis.

Years passed, and still Samuel went back to these thoughts every time the uncaring machinery of the system made a nuisance of itself. Every government form filled him with guilt, every mandatory career change made him envision Les in some new hell. Samuel developed an ulcer and named it Leslie. He broke down crying at work eventually, and was forced to fill out a Mental Health Assessment form.

When he was released from Human Resources he went on a bender, and some time later awoke in a gutter to Leslie shaking him.
"Oh, God, I'm hallucinating."
"Sam? It's me, Les!" It did look real. Samuel clumsily reached out to touch Les, and he felt real, too. He also felt… expensive. The fabric of his suit was certainly something exotic.
"You… you're not dead or drunk or homeless or anything."
"No, I… well, I don't want to brag because you… anyway, I've done pretty well for myself. Something happened with my UAT, and I got entered into the system as a girl. Turns out Yale was out of mandated averages for some demographics, and they were forced to enroll a woman from our financial background to meet quota. I never would have gotten in otherwise. It's all been smooth sailing from there."
"You're… everything is… I need a drink. Let me buy you a beer."
"I have to go, Sam. I have a lunch meeting - but look me up sometime, okay?"

Leslie dropped a ten dollar bill in Samuels' lap and walked away.