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. 

3 comments:

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.