Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13th - Blonde

When I was seven years old there was a girl in my class who had my name.  She had pin-straight blonde hair, always dressed in neat, clean clothes, and was something of an object of envy within our second grade society.  I was a messy kid; I bathed only when forced to, wore overalls, played with messy, dirty boys, wouldn't play dolls with my girl friends - only stuffed animals, and had a pile of dark tangled hair on my head.  It seemed impossible that I shared anything in common with the blonde, gossamer creature who had my name, much less something as central to our identity as what people called us.  I'd never had the experience of being in a classroom with someone who had my name; in fact, up until that point I may have never met anyone else with my name at all.  By the time I got to the fourth grade there were three of us, but in the second grade I might have thought I was the only one.  Unsolicited, I approached my teacher and asked that she start calling me by my much less lovely and somewhat androgynous middle name so there would be no confusion in the classroom.  As an adult I find this sad and astonishing, but at the time it seemed like a perfectly sensible solution -- I couldn't possibly be called by the same name as that willowy creature, clearly she possessed powers of girliness that I could only dream of.  I relinquished my name to her unbidden, like a sacrifice.

That same year my friend Annie, who also had pin-straight hair (although it was brown, so she wasn't as revered) convinced a boy who was developmentally delayed that I was a boy too; my hair had been cut short, and at the time that was really the only recognizable sex characteristic I had, what with the overalls and the dirt and the company I kept.  We went into the boy's bathroom where he pulled down his pants, showed me his hairless member, and said "see?"  The deal was I was supposed to show him mine too, but somehow I was able to get out of revealing myself.  I may have simply left the bathroom before anything could be asked of me, but I distinctly remember leaving with him; we went into that bathroom as two boys, and as far as that kid knew, that's the way we exited.  I'm quite sure nobody ever questioned the sex of my blonde doppelganger.

No comments: