In hindsight, my first clue to walk away should have been the sight of my brother and cousin, both three years my senior, including me in… anything.
These were the perpetrators of Tabasco sauce in the Kool-Aid pitcher, of usurping TV time by switching the channel (by walking up to it and actually switching the channel dial) then standing in front of the 13″ TV set for the entirety of Gilligan’s Island, and these were the boys who invented “Hey, c’mere and smell my hands! They smell like lemons. No really they do. No REALLY!”
They did smell like lemons. The first time. The second time they smelled like adolescent boy-ass. And I know you won’t admit it but you know what that smells like. Somehow we all have that unfortunate thing in common. Boy-ass smell gets around.
I was barely six and not yet savvy to the duplicities of persuasion.
We huddled (they huddled) in the hallway just outside my grandmother’s 1950’s style kitchen adorned with formica table and yellow floor tiles.
“Go in there and ask Aunt Betty what that is.”
They spoke of her vagina.
We understood it to be that “V” space between her legs that met her torso.
So I walked into the kitchen where my mother, my grandmother and my aunt sat talking and smoking as they did. My aunt sat casually, legs uncrossed, facing my mother. She wore polyester slacks.
I knelt before her, leaned in with my pointer finger, zoned in toward the “V” and recited my line:
Before I could finish the final “T” I felt my body flying through the air by right forearm.
I landed in the bathroom face-down over my mothers knee as she held her second favorite instrument: the pink plastic hair brush, for a hoedown swatting of the butt cheeks. First fave was the fly swatter.
There was an added cruelty in the color of the brush. Pink was reserved for princesses and party dresses. To be spanked by the back end of a pink plastic 1970’s bristle hair brush had an added touch of betrayal.
When it was over I could hear adolescent boy-snickers coming from the living room.
I’d been framed! Oh! The consequences of persuasion. Why hadn’t I read Jane Austen at six?
Truth be told, I knew what I was doing and that I probably shouldn’t be doing it. But I wanted to be one of the boys. I was the youngest. And the only little girl in the family. I wanted to play with my big brother. This was only okay when he was alone with no chance of being caught being nice to the “shrimp.”
So in part (very small part) I deserved what I got. But as far as I can remember they never got theirs. That day anyway.
I finally stopped trying to play with the big boys.
I have found playing full woman is far more rewarding.