I’ve decided you’re an interesting boy. You remind me of Scott, the magician I worked camp with one summer. You remind me of Anand, the clown behind some of the most entertaining discussions I’ve ever had earning minimum wage. You remind me of my high-school art teachers (who surprised everyone and got married – to women). You remind me of them because you’re one of them, this small collection of really nice boys I’ve come to admire for their quiet ability to penetrate the fortress I’ve built up against their big bad gender.
I never gave a shit about boys as a child. I had two sisters and a cottage full of cool girl cousins. Boys were nonexistent in the scope of my sight, a nonfactor in my world. When my friends got their periods and started to pursue them in giggling groups around the intermediate yard, I took it as proof that aliens really existed. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. They were boys.
They were like the zucchinis in my grandfather’s garden that occupied space between the lettuce and the tomatoes. They grew in dull, predictable patterns. The differences between boys were imperceptible. I was a faster runner, a better pitcher. I was taller and stronger. They had nothing on me, except the attention of girls, which I could also have – as long as I was willing to endure their tedious, endless talk of boys.
Thinking back, I did have a crush on Jamie Murdough in the second grade, but that was because he had long hair and he could draw. I was always into kids who could draw, it didn’t matter if they had two heads, or if those heads wore barrettes or baseball caps.
Was I threatened by boys? I was jealous of the attention they got from girls. I was jealous of the shit they got away with at school. Did I want to be one? I definitely didn’t want to look like one (or smell like one, once we hit grade seven). I only wanted to cut my ponytail off and dress like one. I wanted what they had: the freedom to check out girls and ask them on dates to the KFC on Birchmount. The freedom to be rude and dirty and still be called “a good kid.”
I slept with a small sample of boys, just to say I’d done it. I didn’t expect to like it, and there were no pleasant surprises. I never felt sexual, desirable or excited with boys. I felt silly, like I did in my first karate class when everyone else was seven and I was 15 years old. I felt overgrown, like I should know better, too hip for the room somehow.
I grew to mistrust boys. They turned my love for women into something that put me in danger. They cheated and lied and fought over everything. They beat their girlfriends and raped Mrs Hudson while she was sleeping. The number of bad examples is overwhelming. There’s a reason why no one knows the opposite word for misogynist. At one point I thought it was “smart.” It takes more than a few good men to trust more than a few good men.
People like to blame a queer woman’s mistrust of men on her father. For the record, I love my father. He was, and still is, the most accepting member of my entire mixed-race family. Still, he bugs my mother about her weight and discourages her from cutting her hair above her shoulders. Both fortunately and unfortunately, he has different standards for his wife than he does for his daughters.
Technically, I’m your boss. You speak to me like an equal, and listen as often as you open your mouth. You don’t bring up my sexuality more often than I do (even when the jokes are laid out on the table). You’ve never asked why I won’t sleep with men (hell, you won’t either, so I think you get it). You don’t walk on eggshells around me or punch me in the arm every day and call me dude. You don’t ask me ignorant questions about my girlfriend and I, or pretend to know “the scene.” You don’t go out of your way to profess your affection for every other queer woman (real or Hollywood) in your life. You mostly remember not to say, “That’s so gay.”
When I make a big deal out of reprimanding my coworker for saying, “Be a man” when a six year old gets hit in the head with a dodge ball, you get it. When I jump on you for saying, “Don’t throw like a girl” you apologize without getting defensive. You’re a straight, white, male comedian from the Prairies, and you get it.
What are the odds? I would say one in a million, but they’re actually changing all the time.