Someone once asked me if my parents were angry with me when I came out to them. I must say I’ve heard and seen horror stories but I can honestly say that both of my parents accepted my news quite well. Neither one of them seemed shocked either. This got me to thinking; were there signs during my childhood or maybe there was one defining moment in which I could have worn a tag that read ‘Baby Dyke’ or ‘Future Lesbian?’
Well to begin with by the time I came out to my Mom I hadn’t had a boyfriend in over 10 years, 15 when I told my Father. The only person to ask about a boyfriend was my paternal grandmother. I usually refer to her as the manipulative racist grandma. She would ask me if I had a ‘special man’ in my life. When I answered no she went on to tell me that it was okay, I had plenty of time for that after I was finished with my education. However, she did explain that once I did find a guy she expected me to bring him home to meet her. . . as long as he was white, otherwise he would have to wait outside. Needless to say we weren’t very close.
Then there was my interest in sports. I had a sport for every season to obsess over. I was somewhat active in at least one sport up until a few years ago. I last played for an all female softball squad in Chicago. Our sponsor was a pet grooming place called the Bark Bark Club and we had shirts that read “Love that Doggy Style” on the back. Let me tell you one thing, there is nothing scarier than a pissed off softball dyke. Not even the front line butches on a flag football team can scare me more.
I also played softball on a co-ed team, mainly for fun and the beer. It was one of those leagues where each team was required to play at least three girls. Our catcher didn’t show one game so I substituted. It was during this game in which I found myself standing there watching a guy from the opposing team round the bases as the softball he just crushed sailed over our left fielder’s head. He was almost to third base when the ball suddenly materialized in the shortstop’s glove. He rounded third; the shortstop turned and fired the ball to me at home plate. I can still see the look on the guy’s face as he’s chugging towards home, towards me as I’m blocking the plate and bracing myself for impact. He dipped down a bit and turned his torso to the left in order to lead with his right shoulder. He plowed into me. My feet left the ground and somehow I ended up a couple of feet on the other side of home plate. I landed, shook my head a bit to clear some cobwebs, I showed my glove with the ball still in it to the umpire. Oooooouuuuuuut! Even that wasn’t scarier than those women on the softball field.
I don’t want to toot my own horn but I was good, not great but I was a decent little player. I made numerous all-star teams but none of my teams ever won anything. My sister played just about as many sports as I did but even in that area, I knew we were different. For heavens sake she played right field. At that level, the worst player on the field is sent out there because no one ever hits the ball in that direction, at least not on purpose. I was the shortstop/ pitcher. She played basketball but she was a reserve forward. I was the starting point guard and free throw champion. Volleyball; she was a reserve and I was the best server. In the end, my sister was more interested in how she looked while playing (or sitting on the bench) while I was more concerned with getting that next out or knocking in the go-ahead run.
Before sports took up so much of my time, I was busy playing and using my imagination. I would be out climbing trees or playing bank and robber with my cap gun rifle. If I got tired of doing those, I always had my bike to ride all over working on my wheelies and trying to make the most awesome ramp. The worst days of my childhood were those days in which I had to stay inside. Oh, I tried to entertain myself with my Hot Wheels or my tractor and plow. My Mother would tell me I had the neatest plowed rows of carpet she had ever seen. If I was really bored, I would play Monopoly by myself. You think it’s a long game when you have four players, try only one. On the upside, I never lost.
I knew I was a tomboy, my sister even called me one. When she said that word to me for the first time I didn’t know what it meant but I knew she wasn’t saying it in a positive manner so I went crying to our Mom. I went up to my Mother, who was in the kitchen, and through my tears said, “Mommy, W keeps calling me a tomboy!”
My Mom looked down at me, peered directly into my eyes and said, “R, honey, when I was your age I was a tomboy as well.” My tears stopped immediately. I figured if my Mom was one then there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. I turn around and went off to go slug my sister.
Looking back though I think there was a definite possible butch flag thrown when my Mother took away my only baby doll I ever had. Now I can not remember if this doll had a name but it was one where you could give it a bottle with whatever liquid you wanted, that was a bonus but only for so long. I soon ran out of fluids to try. After you fed the baby, all you had to do was hold it upright and it would ‘wet’ it’s diaper and you could change it.. This was supposed to be fun? And then a voice in my brain told me to take that doll into the bathroom. As a rule, we were not allowed to have squirt guns in the house. . . no one said I couldn’t have a squirting doll. I rammed that dolls little head under the sink facet and filled her up. Once that was accomplished, I could aim the dolls crotch area, diaper free, then squeeze the crap outta her middle section. The water shot out of her. She was better than any water gun I ever owned. I had a great time. . .until my Mom came in to check on me. That was the day she took my doll away from me for playing with it inappropriately.
It’s no surprise my parents didn’t overreact. I’m sure at least one of them probably wondered why it took me so long to discuss it with them. I mean all the signs were there. . .