It was almost dinner time and Jeremy and I were on my parents’ couch. I was chatting on Facebook messenger with my friend Lenny while Jeremy played around with the panoramic setting on zir new phone. Light streamed through the living room window, highlighting Jeremy’s hair. Zie looked lovely. I quickly snapped a picture before we got up to make our plates.
“You look beautiful,” I said as I stood on tiptoe to kiss zir cheek. Jeremy usually smiles at that but today zie didn’t.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Don’t you like being called beautiful?” Zie shook zir head.
“Would you rather be called handsome?” I was surprised when zie nodded.
“Oh, okay,” I replied. “I’ll start calling you handsome.”
I was going to say more but zie’d walked into the kitchen with the rest of the family and I didn’t want to embarrass zir. Discussing gender and terms of affection in front of family would be embarrassing for everyone but I’m more concerned about Jeremy. I figured the conversation could wait until later.
Later didn’t come until we got back home.
“Do you remember the conversation we had about beautiful and handsome last month?” I asked almost as soon as we walked in our door.
Jeremy finished pulling off zir shoes then shook zir head.
Jeremy’s face had been cheerful and animated that autumn afternoon as zie gestured, describing something I can no longer recall. I’d watched for a minute then said zie looked handsome. Jeremy’s hands stilled and zie winced.
“I asked you if you’d rather be called handsome or beautiful and you told me you’d like to be called beautiful.”
Jeremy squirmed with embarrassment. “I’m allowed to change my mind sometimes,” zie pointed out. “I’m still sorting stuff out.”
“That’s fine,” I replied gently.
Maybe I’ll just call zir cute and fabulous.