I was born with a fatal flaw, I had no penis. I was reminded of this on a daily basis by my four brothers. My twin and the younger brother would flash me after their bath, whipping their wet towels at each other's butts, whipping their penises like flagpoles while running up and down the hall. My older brothers would always let me know that I was an inferior being, barely acknowledging my presence in the room. My mother and father were complicit in this. My mom made me wear dresses, and panties, white socks with patent leather buckled shoes. My father lorded it over us all at the table, in every way our superior, as he delegated me to the high chair long after my feet touched the floor, as he denigrated my eating habits by nicknaming me, "Piddle."
I did not hang out with any other little girls before entering school. If I saw some, while in the company of my brothers, I probably sneered at their pitiful status just like my brothers were doing. I knew how to hold in tears, trek over rough ground, climb trees, catch crawdads and frogs, keep away from snakes ... silently, in case you didn't know. If we ever saw a woman on television catch sight of a mouse or lizard and see her scream and climb a chair, we all laughed at her total stupidity.
Even though I could blend, I could not hide. I knew what I was, they made sure to remind me, and it was something I was stuck with. I didn't necessarily want a penis, I just didn't want to be so damn inferior. I wonder if this is something like a Jew feels in a room full of Christians. like the black child feels in a class full of white kids? Is this what it feels like to be gay when everyone around you is straight?
There was a day when I switched genders.
I had all the skills of male assimilation as my weapons in this world. I knew how to look someone straight in the eye and tell them whatever I wanted them to believe. I knew how to speak with a certain bark in my voice that made people jump to compliance. I knew how to throw up shields before the opponent even knew there was going to be a contest. All this came to my aid one day.
After moving to the country to help my mother with the death of my father and the life thereafter, I needed to get a job. Lots of people might like to live in wide open spaces, but the thing keeping that from happening is the lack of paying jobs. I found a help wanted ad in the newspaper and got hired at a nearby nursing home as kitchen staff. I cooked eggs for breakfast, then made vegetables for lunch, for 200 people. I had to be at work at 5:30 in the ungodly morning. By the time I got home around 4pm. I was worn out. The horrible hours, the hard work, and the minimal pay were not the only troubles with that job.
We were required to wear so-called scrubs as our work uniforms. If you have never worn these abominations, you may not know they are tied at the waist with a cotton string, which is never ever going to be untied before you wet your pants trying to make it in the bathroom stall. The shirts are shapeless, almost seamless sacks, which are enlivened with prints and colors usually found in a daycare facility. Really lovely. Especially attractive, and convenient for those who do not need to pee. I found that I could wear cotton or polyester pants with elasticized waists and stay nice and dry. No one would know unless they lifted the tent top to peek. Problem solved!
Nope. Others in the kitchen were also experimenting with various forms of trousers. There was this big guy in the dishwashing area who always wore jeans. Some of the other women wore whatever they had, knit pants, capris, etc. The Kitchen Boss decided to put a stop to it.
She pissed me off, first, by calling the meeting to take place after we had clocked out for the day. We were not being paid, but we had to stay to hear this BS.
She pissed me off, second, by announcing that, hereafter, all kitchen staff would be required to wear SCRUB PANTS. The only exception would be the men. They could wear what they want.
I gave her the hairy eyeball, and announced, "Then, I am a guy!"
Poor Olga, the Mexican lady with limited English, was so confused. She fiercly whispered to Lola, "¿Qué dice ella????"
The Kitchen Boss dropped her jaw, stunned into silence. so I drove it home, just like a man. "Yep! That's it! I am a guy, and I don't have to wear scrub pants!" I had done it then. I dared anyone to prove me a liar. Say it with enough conviction, and they begin to doubt their own minds.
The meeting was adjourned without a final deliberation, and the Kitchen Boss was later told by the Human Resouce guy that her rules would not fly in the real world. Olga gave me some funny looks, but the others just thought I was crazy. I lasted there 11 months, crazy is right.
image © diana ani stokely 2011