Until I was thirteen, I had lived mostly as a boy. Oh, dresses were okay on rare occasions, but I would have really rather worn my jeans and red hooded sweatshirt. When I saw the movie Cochise I wanted to be Cochise. I loved to climb trees and find creepy insects in the dirt. I had to be forced to bath and comb my hair. I loved playing war and dreamed of owning a motorcycle and maybe driving an eighteen-wheeler truck.
My ultra-feminine mother would chastise me because I cared so little about my appearance. She would point out girls my age in the neighborhood who would walk past our house, beautifully turned out with a touch of “Persian Melon” lipstick on. I thought they looked fine, but then I thought I did too. Why get dressed up to go throw rocks or climb in trees all day? Also, what was the point of cute clothes and lipstick when you get good and dirty playing? A girly girl, I was not.
I wore the same jeans and red hooded sweatshirt every day. I pulled the hood up so I could save time by not messing with my hair. When I was very young, my Mom would put pincurls in my hair at night so I would have curls the next day. I rebelled against this torture when I was about nine. No more “setting my hair.” I had stick straight black hair that stuck out in all the wrong places, but that red sweatshirt hood solved that problem completely.
By the time I was ten, I had matured enough to realize that just playing was for kids. My girlfriend and I would sit on my front porch for hours hoping to see a big truck come by. When one did, we waved, yelled and generally acted like fools, hoping all the time that the trucker would blow his “oogah oogah” horn for us. Sometimes they did! Oh bliss! If we could get three truckers to blow the horn for us, we figured it was time to get back to playing.
To say I got dirty is an understatement and kind of like saying President Lincoln got a headache during that play. I got filthy. I had tree sap, dirt, sweat, food, dog and cat hair, and other even less attractive traces on my person and my clothing. My mother would plead with me to let her wash my clothes, but I really didn’t trust her not to throw my uniform away.
Playing war I was never a nurse. I was a soldier. Playing cowboys and Indians I was a warrior, not a squaw. I identified with my father, much more than with my mother. My dad would take me fishing and never bothered me about “looking pretty.” I didn’t want to “look pretty.” I know Mom worried about my lack of femininity, (but I really didn’t understand what her real concern was).
When I was thirteen, something changed. I grew moody and stopped playing with my motley crew of boys and girls. I got a bra and a tube of “Persian Melon” lipstick. I stopped waving at truck drivers. I started curling my hair and my eyelashes. It was like an alien being was taking over my life. My mother’s relief was palatable. I became a girl.
When I was seventeen, the first James Bond movie came out and I was overwhelmed and captivated. I loved this movie and I loved James Bond. No, I wanted to be James Bond.