Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gender bender ...

I came eyeball to waist with an out-of-place adolescent boy wrapped in white taekwando-ware in the women's locker room today at the YMCA. I was, thankfully, leaving and not, for instance wearing my sauna costume. We both just stood there dumbly starring at each other. I was pretty sure he was a boy, but he was at that age where he might have been a creatively coiffed girl. I am sensitive to this sort of thing. I don't remember doing this, but the Pista family photo albums indicate that I briefly used Bobby Brady as my hair inspiration. 

"Is this the boys' locker room?" he asked me.
"No," I said.
"CRAP!" he said, frustrated.
Definitely a boy. 

I did a huge wallop of a laugh, and immediately felt bad. I didn't want to embarrass him. In one of my shiniest memories, I am a fourth-grader with a feathered mullet, wearing a purple Lourdes T-shirt and Pollack-flavored jams, not-so-fresh from basketball camp at the high school. I'd run into my dad's workplace to use the public bathroom quickly while we waited for him. An old man was pushing a mop in the hallway and damn-near tackled me when I tried to go into the women's restroom.

"No! No!" he said, and waved me toward the men's bathroom.
When I turned and looked at him full on, he must have noticed my soft feminine features* because he slunk away.

"No biggie," I said to the kid. "There's no one in here." Then I directed him to the men's locker room.

That could have been really terrible. I'd hate to be the image of a naked woman that some kid holds on to until some weird Aftershock and Dr. Pepper incident in college lands him, finally, in a dorm-sized bunk bed where a frisky coed rips off her shirt and he says "Oh! So that's what naked girls are supposed to look like!"

* I actually don't have soft feminine features and never did. But maybe this is your first time reading this site, and are willing to suspend your disbelief. 


chuck said...

Um. Don't be hard on yourself for being androgynous in the 1980s.

Steve said...

Last summer, I saw was a woman in the group shower in the boys locker room at the Y waiting for her son after swimming lessons.

Mary said...

My mom always made me cut my hair short when I was a kid (mostly because I was too lazy to take care of it if it got long)...I can remember a lot of awkward "hey, little boy, can you help me find the such-and-such?" from old ladies at the grocery store. I guess the pixie cut didn't always work so well with my un-pixie-like features.