Okay, so I like kids’ stuff. No surprise to any of you. I like things that come in Fischer Price colors. I like fairy tales. I walk into a Claire’s Boutique and I would wear 90% of the stuff they sell, and not to prove how totally ironic and hip I am, but because I genuinely like sparkly pink objects. I’m 30 years old and I haven’t yet started to refer to myself with the word woman. I mean, I acknowledge that, technically, it’s true. I just don’t really believe it. The word makes me kind of uncomfortable.
This isn’t a new thing. I’ve always been kind of reluctant to grow up. I don’t really like moving from one part of life to another. This story takes place during one of those moving-from-one-part-of-life-to-another times, in the summer between sixth and seventh grade:
When I was growing up, I spent all my summers taking classes. I was an extra-curricular over-achiever. I played the violin, then I played the guitar, then I played the piano and took voice lessons. I took theater classes and calligraphy classes and writing classes and paper making classes and computer classes and drawing classes and dance classes and even a chess class. My parents even got me to do gymnastics and soccer, although those didn’t last very long. I think it was a combination of my mother making up for all the things she didn’t get to do as a kid, and a good way of getting me out of her way after school and during the summer.
This summer, besides the usual arty kind of stuff, I also signed up for a fencing class. This was kind of an odd choice for me, because it was a sport, sort of, and required physical activity and coordination, which I suck at. But it was fencing. I was going to learn how to use a sword.
See, the thing is, I was a nerdy, socially awkward kid. (I like to use the past tense there, as if I wasn’t still nerdy and socially awkward.) Anyway, like every other nerdy, socially awkward kid, I read a lot. I read a lot of fantasy books. The kinds with swords and people saying m’lady, and ideally the kind with magical horses that formed special, magical bonds with their riders. I’m not sure if anyone here is familiar with Mercedes Lackey or Anne McCaffery? That’s kind of the thing I read. So I thought that learning to fence would be the coolest damn thing in the world. After learning how to use a sword, I would be, like, a step away from having a horse companion to kick ass with.
So I show up to the first day of class, and, like every other first day of class, we meet the teacher and introduce ourselves, and we go over what we were going to learn. The teacher tells us a little bit about the sport of fencing, different styles, and goes over the equipment we’d be using to poke at each other with swords, and the equipment we’d be wearing so no one got injured while we’re hitting each other with swords. There were the white suits and masks that I’d seen on TV. There were metal plates that went inside the suits. There were also metal bowls that I was supposed to put inside my bra. They looked kind of like the things that she-ra wears, except it wasn’t a cartoon, and I was supposed to wear them!
The problem was, I didn’t wear a bra. I was not early bloomer. To be fair, I wasn’t a late bloomer, either. What I was, was a very late acknowledger. I got boobs at the same time as everyone else, but I completely ignored their existence. Acknowledging them would involve buying, you know, holders for them, which would require going shopping with my mother, who would probably use the word brassiere, and hearing my mother use the word brassiere was something I was definitely not prepared for. I was willing to put it off as long as possible, and I would have been perfectly happy if “as long as possible” was actually “forever.”
So here I am, bra-less in fencing class where, apparently, I need a bra. I have three choices. I could go bra shopping with my mother. I could tell the teacher, when he handed out the white outfits, that I didn’t wear a bra, and wouldn’t need the whole she-ra bit. Or I could quit fencing. So, obviously, I quit fencing.
And so if you’re ever wondering why I’m not a demon-fighting, sword-swinging, heroine on a magical horse, that’s why. I was too embarrassed to buy a bra.