Gender, Nostalgia

Punching Bag

I had a crush on Tiffany when I was 12. All my friends knew, but half my friends also had a crush on Tiffany. We were supposed to have a crush on Tiffany, and many of us obliged.

We were getting ready to do long jump and me and Tristan were talking. I was good at long jump for my size, but bad at long jump by any other measures. Including the length of the jump. Stretching out included punching each other and letting our feet wander as we still hadn’t grasped the concept of being still. “You like Tiffany?” I was asked with a punch to the shoulder. I watched the runners start the 100 meter race. I wanted to race the 100 meters but only the fastest kids got to do that. I was not the fastest kids. I got relegated to the 800 meter and the long jump. The events no one else wanted to do. When someone wanted to do the 800, I got pushed back to doing the 1600. This was the first meet I was actually going to be competing in the 800, and that was exciting because it meant half as much running so that I could hang out eating vending machine food and talking about girls.

“No. I mean, what do you mean?” I refused to commit to an answer.

“Do you want her body?” My shoulder was getting sore from all these questions.

I was confused. I knew that my subconscious desires to take the female form out for a test drive just to see what it would be like were desires that we didn’t talk about. There was no way that his question was trying to pry deep into my psyche to see if we had similar questionings of our gender. But, what if he was? Or, what if he somehow knew that my gender was under assault by my thoughts, and he was just waiting for me to slip up and he would tell the whole school that I wanted to be a girl. Half of them already thought I was.

When I was 9 I was playing basketball in the YMCA gym. My parents came to pick me up by asking for a staff member to find out where I was. A train of questions led to one member bringing another into the gym where I was sprinting across the court to chase down a loose ball. “That’s the girl. She’s (My Name).” The first member pointed at me with my long bowl cut flowing gently behind me. I got a buzz cut the next year.

“No. Gross.” I responded as though the mere suggestion was blasphemy. “I don’t want to be a girl.”

“That’s not what it means, it means do you want, like, her body. You know. Do you want to be able to …” Tristan had found himself at a loss for words in mid-swing. I was simply embarrassed to have misinterpreted a question about my desires to fuck and didn’t realize that Tristan was himself going through a painful self-realization that he didn’t quite know what he wanted. He knew vaguely what he was supposed to want, but to actually put into words what specifically was desired, was proving impossible. My shoulder received another blow and Tristan ran off. “You’re gay.” He screamed back from across the field.

Man, if I had been, things would have made more sense.


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