24 June 2008

Pizza (with a side of house)

Woman of Many Talents was here last week, and we saw her briefly. She was on a business trip, attending lots of meetings involving people from various community, state, local, and federal agencies or organizations. You'll be shocked, I know, at her reports that so many agencies trying to cooperate to solve some complex problems were having a hard time. The agency she works for is a pretty high-up-the-bureacracy federal office, and she and her colleagues realized that it wouldn't do for them to be caught criticizing the ineptitude of some other federal agencies. So rather than discussing the poor decisions they witnessed, they would talk about pizza. It's a great code word for something you want to criticize without other people knowing what you mean.

We all went to the Post Office yesterday to get Curious Girl and my passports renewed (both parents need to sign a child's passport application form). The clerk reviewed our paperwork, and said, "I'll need her birth certificate." I pulled it from my wallet, noting that it was actually a delayed record of birth (which is the only thing our state issues for children born outside the US). This record has Politica's name in the father line and mine in the mother line. Politica's real name is pretty darn gendered. The clerk just looked at the document for the longest time, as though she needed to memorize every single piece of information on it. The document has all the same info as appears on a birth certificate, but it's a different size and color, and of course, some of CG's information may appear a little exotic, what with the female name on the father line and the far away in a city many have never heard of birthplace. The clerk never asked us anything, but she just stood here, turning the document over, feeling the raised stamp, reading and re-reading.

I turned to Politica and mouthed, "Pizza."

Politica thinks that she may never have seen evidence of a lesbian family before, and she just needed time to process the information before she could fulfill her legally-appointed duties with the passport application. She pointed to Politica's name on the certificate, and said, "Would this be you?" (even though she was holding Politica's driver's license at the time; easy to see that the names matched). She asked me for my license, and I said, "Here's my passport." It was already out on the counter. "I prefer the driver's license," she replied. I'm fixating on this as the most irritating part of the encounter. Parents need to prove their identity on the child's passport application, but the form lists several appropriate IDs, passports being one. But I passed her my license, since it never pays to upset a bureaucrat. Still, pizza.

Norway legalized same-sex marriage earlier this month. Eventually, the United States will, too. And eventually, legal institutions will be adept enough at recognizing the range of families that exist without leading to awkward moments that leave me muttering about pizza. We got CG's passport application mailed in, even with the clerk's odd reaction. She'll get her new passport, and we'll have plenty of happy travels, during which thoughts of this particular pizza probably won't cross our minds. But still: pizza, today.


And the side of house: we reached an agreement with the seller yesterday on the inspection issues (she'll fix the small things like the slow drain and broken garbage disposal and give us cash back at closing for everything else we asked for). So we're just waiting on the appraisal now. So far, so good.

Update: so far, even better! The appraisal came through at higher than our sale price. Onward to the closing!

And my father continues to improve--thanks so much for all the good wishes, everyone.


kathy a. said...

hooray about dad's improvement! and about the house!

and "pizza" is a wonderful code word! the clerk at the Department of Motivating Revenge was so confounded by a birth certificate from another state that when son applied for a learner's permit, she put down the date the BC was filed as his date of birth. there is nothing we like as much as two trips to the DMV.

Ianqui said...

I take it she eventually did what you needed? I was half waiting for this story to end with the clerk saying she couldn't process CG's passport since she didn't have a father listed on the certificate.

susan said...

Yes, she did do what we needed, in this kind of haze. She was, on the surface, polite about it all, but it was all rather awkward.

I have (lesbian) friends, though, who presented a post office clerk with their second parent adoption paperwork and birth certificate for their son, to get a passport. The clerk read through it all and said, "Is the father available?"

Songbird said...

Well, pizza.
Glad to hear about your father. And your house!

Magpie said...

I usually tap my head and say "kidneys", but "pizza" accomplishes rather the same thing.

Arwen said...

OH, I love that. "Pizza". Going to have to use that.
I'm sorry to hear about that pizza application. I'm glad she didn't ... refuse to deliver. Because then I'd have to come down and talk with her, and I'm plum out of my restaurant budget.

If there's any hope for me in your story, it's this: if you were her first obvious example of a real world family with two moms, one that she had to process officially, that experience will get her more used to it when she sees the next family with two moms (or dads). I think sometimes this is how we measure and make progress, in little moments of humanity, where she sees a beautiful kid and her two moms going on a trip and no one's breathing fire. Who would remark on people of different races marrying, anymore?

Okay, take that back - of course, in some places. Racism is alive and well. But *legally*, no one's going to triple check the marriage certificate application when Ng marries Brown, because this isn't rare. My mom's got the green eyes and freckles and complexion of an Irish woman, but she's not challenged that her last name is legally Lopez, even if some racist might have something to say about it.

What Now? said...

Pizza indeed. I'm glad that there was a happy ending, both for the passport and for the house!

Phantom Scribbler said...

Laughing at Maggie's comment, because I also use the kidneys line. But either pizza or kidneys are better than what I would have been all too tempted to say. Gah!

(Glad about the house, though. And hoping that people are slightly less prone to pizza -- with a side order of kidneys -- in Germany.)

susan said...

So how widespread is this "kidneys" usage? This is fascinating!

And yes, we're hoping for less pizza, and less kidneys, in Germany.

liz said...

My sister, who lives in the same state as Germany, tells me that that particular state is known for its lack of pizza...but it has a plentitude of flatbread made from organic, locally-grown ingredients.

elswhere said...

We had a similar experience with MG's passport renewal a couple of years ago. The Post Office clerk took a loooong time with our application, and then we heard her mutter to another clerk behind the counter, "well, I can't refuse it..." which she clearly wanted to do. I was worried she was going to "lose" the passport and birth certificate, but indeed everything came back fine.

Mary Beth said...

Man alive.

Not that I'm surprised to hear it but golly.

You all rock

LilySea said...

Ugh. Nat's first passport was something like this--as was taking her out of the country for the first time. We haven't done Selina's yet. I'm kinda dreading it.

The worst part about this stuff is that there you sit with all your perfectly legal documents lined up like ducks in a row, and are asking for a perfectly legal--and routine--service, and just because your family is rare, the officials don't necessarily give you what you are there for. At least not without a fuss. In some ways, having the law on your side doesn't really matter when an official just decides to be a pain in the butt.

I know a couple of (both legal) gay dads who were refused entry on the same landing card into the country because the official said the state in which they landed "doesn't recognize that." "That" being that they were both dads to one kid. The official was wrong. But they had to go redo all their paperwork and stand in line again anyway.