In first grade, I got in a fight with a boy who said I shouldn’t point to things using just my middle finger. I was angry because I thought he was calling me weak or unskilled. I thought he was saying middle fingers were just for boys to use.
On the bus in fifth grade, a girl told me, “you look like you really like horses.” She also said, “Do you want to know about sex?”
I said “yes” to the second thing. The first thing was not true, but I didn’t want to get into it. Horses are terrifying. She told me what she knew about sex, which was basically what my mother had read to me from her old college textbook weeks before. Eventually though, the girl said “cum” but I heard “come” and then we were at a stand-still.
I just remembered: I was wearing my hair in a weird, severe bob back then. I liked peasant shirts too, which might have informed my appearing like a horse-lover.
“You don’t know what cum is?” she asked, like I had admitted to not knowing what year it was. I waited, hoping she would explain it to me. She laughed and turned back around.
In middle school, a girl sat down next to me in gym class and sighed. We were sitting on the football field with our backs against the huge mat used to catch pole-vaulters. “Don’t ever let anybody have anal with you,” she said. “He’ll tell you it’s going to feel good, but it doesn’t. It hurts.” I nodded like I knew what she meant, like I was saying amen sister in my head, but I wasn’t in danger of anyone asking to have sex with me for another six years or so.
I was 17 when a boy kissed me for the first time. He let me wear his sweater during our whole date. When he pulled away, I wiped my mouth and asked, “Does it feel like you’re kissing yourself?”
When he didn’t say anything, I added, “You know, because… I’m wearing your sweater?”
On my first day of school at Bryn Mawr College, my hallmates and I were sitting in our bras in the freshmen hall because it was hot and our dorm wasn’t air conditioned. We played “never have I ever” and someone said, “never have I ever kissed a boy.” I gaped at the girl who said it. She was wearing cute cat-eye glasses and had choppy, 90s-alt hair. “But you’re so pretty!” I offered, wondering if she was going to be my first college friend.
“I don’t like boys,” she replied. We ended up liking each other a lot, but she never stopped teasing me about that.
I went to Disneyworld once and stayed in the Animal Kingdom resort. The man that took us to our hotel room said that most employees in the resort were from African countries because Disney wanted a resort that was culturally accurate. He said employees who spoke Afrikaan and Swahili had a great time working there. He encouraged us to ask employees how they were doing, if they liked America, and what life was like at home.
That night at dinner, our waiter was wearing a yellow and black box-shaped hat and matching robes. He was in a dance group that performed on stage. After he was done, he came to ask what we wanted to drink. I put off ordering a Sahara smoothie and asked, “Where are you from?”
He said Pittsburgh.
I had a crush on an intellectual Philosophy major during my sophomore year of college. He was walking me out to his car after our comedy group’s rehearsal, and we were discussing what colleges we had decided not to attend. I told him I had thought seriously about Hampshire (thinking it would appeal to his cerebral sensibilities). I said I had been interested in joining the “five-college consortium” but pronounced it “five college con-sor-TEE-um.”
He didn’t correct me, but weeks later I heard someone pronounce the word correctly and realized why he had never invited me back to his dorm room.
I majored in Creative Writing.
I worked at a girls’ camp this summer, and I ended up fooling around with one of the male counselors. My girlfriends told me things like “he really gets around” and “you need to lock it down.” I heard rumors that he was sneaking other girls into his cabin after taps, but I never saw anyone head that way myself. I tried not to believe the gossip, and decided I’d ask him if he ever texted me again.
The job at the camp ended four weeks ago. Last night he texted me, “do u kno where the marshmellow stix r at camp? thanx dawg.”