Friday, September 12, 2014

How Clever Girl Learned The Difference Between Girls and Boys

I am taking a week "vacation" from the 200 Things List, due to a heck of a lot of insane traveling that I am doing this week that will take me far out of cellphone range from Monday through Wednesday. This nuts week will be concluding on Friday with a 24-hour, 200 mile "Reach the Beach" relay race I am running from Franconia Notch in New Hampshire to the ocean. I am running 24 miles for my team. I will definitely give you a run-down of the crazy race afterward!

In the meanwhile, to entertain you, I will still be updating this week, but with some fun essays about ridiculous things that have happened to me. I hope you enjoy.

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My little brother wasn't born until I was 8, which means it was just my sister and I for a long time. Though I was always friends with boys, it never even crossed my mind that there was anything fundamentally different between genders. Likely, this is why I could be friends with boys in the first place, while my female counterparts were using words like "icky" and "cooties". Thus, when I learned that there was a difference between boys and girls it was startling, and also very embarrassing.  

The first friend that I really remember was named Andrew. Andrew was my first introduction to the boy/girl dividing line, but was not the source of my dawn of understanding. Andrew and I were in Kindergarten together. I was the only girl he played with, but I never really noticed until the Harvest Festival. Andrew and I had plans to play tag after the festivities. We were all getting our faced painted; Andrew became a dog, I became a dragon (complete with orange and red "flames" painted around my mouth that made it look like I'd barfed fruit punch kool-aid all over myself).  

Later on, I went to find Andrew to play tag. He gently put a hand on my shoulder and shook his puppy-painted head.

"Sowwy," he lisped, "I have to pway with Siewwa... She's a cat. I'm a dog."

I looked over, and there was aryan Sierra, face fiendishly painted like a cute little kitten. Making eye contact with Andrew, I make my best sad, pitiful face, which was either helped or hindered by looking like a liquor-addled dragon (depending on your perspective). He said nothing, but simply shook his head, tearing his gaze away from mine. Taking his hand from my shoulder, he scampered off to play with Barbie's little sister.

I spent recess sitting in a corner of the playground, darkly watching Andrew chase Sierra around the yard. He barked, she meowed. It was love. And I was pissed... but I couldn't understand why. There was some dim understanding that I had been outmatched by another girl, but I couldn't grasp what that meant. Grappling with such issues was beyond my realm of comprehension. I had other things to think about, such as whether or not my dragon rage breath would set the entire playground ablaze.

After being abandoned by Andrew, a while later I took up a friendship with a boy named Caleb. Caleb was red-headed and covered in freckles, his family was friends with my family, and he was 5 years old, just like me. He had the coolest marble-works set, a bright green slide-whistle, and was just generally fun. At his house there was a gigantic backyard with surrounding woods to explore, as well as a fantastically constructed tree house. 

One time, Caleb and I were up in said tree house when he announced that he had to go pee. He put down his bubbles and climbed down to the ground.  

I stood up to blow more bubbles over the wall of the tree house, and to my surprise, I saw that Caleb was not walking back to the house to use to bathroom as I had expected. Instead, he simply walked a short distance away into the woods and stood with his back to me. I slowly titled my head to one side like a befuddled puppy, completely baffled. What in the world was he doing? A few moments later, he climbed back up into the tree house.  

I stared at him.

"What?" he asked.

"What were you doing?"

"Peeing."

"Oh... Well... I have to go pee too. I'll be right back."  

I climbed down from the tree house and took about 15 determined steps into the woods. This was as far as I had understood in terms of the instructions. From my vantage point, Caleb had simply stood there and somehow relieved himself without taking his pants off. I figured that there must be something magical about the woods that allowed such miracles.  

And so, without abandon, I simply stood there with my hands on my hips, looking out proudly into the majestic woods, and totally peed my pants.  

After I was finished, I looked down at urine-soaked self, utterly flummoxed. Why? Why would the miracles work only for Caleb but not for me? Did I have to pay the magical forest gnome toll?

Regardless of the reason, the end result was that I was wet and cold and already feeling the creeping sensations of shame. I turned around and walked back to the foot of the tree.  

"Caleb?" I called up.

"What?" he responded, poking his head into the hole in the floor of the tree house and looking down at me.

"I peed my pants."

"Why?"

"Dunno."

"Let's get my mom."  

I explained to Caleb's mom what had happened, and my resulting confusion. She gave me a fresh pair of pants (black wind-breakers with a neon-splatter paint pattern), sat me and Caleb down, and gently explained to us the difference between boys and girls. Caleb and I stared at his mom, then at each other.  

As a 5-year-old, there's not much you can say in response to this other than:

"Oh."    

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