Issue 66 Nov 2018
The swimming pool was the hot spot of activity every summer. Kids from all over town would splash, and play, and prune, and turn purple if they stayed in the water too long.
But not you.
No, you had to stay inside and make sure that Penny was entertained. Mom worked late. Dad slept late. Your older brother couldn’t be any less enthusiastic about babysitting. So, that left you to be in charge of entertaining your seven-year-old sister.
Why not take her to the pool? That way, you both could have fun!
Well, that would be a great idea if it weren’t for the fact that Penny never learned how to swim. If you took her to the pool, you know you’d just end up holding her the whole time in the deep end because “Floaties hurt my arms!” and “I’m not a baby! I want to go to the deep end!”. So, instead, you stayed inside all summer long and tried your hardest not to resent your sister for being one of the reasons why you didn’t have any friends.
By the time I was fourteen I knew what pretty meant. And it had nothing to do with me.
Pretty meant knowing what to do with your stringy, oily, not-quite-brown, not-quite-blonde hair. Pretty meant never being caught dead in khaki cargo pants and your brother’s hand-me-down Hard Rock Café T-shirts, two sizes too big to hide the boobs you got in 5th grade. And pretty meant that, when you got the courage to sneak into your mother’s room to find the makeup she’d hidden from her previous life, you did not spray perfume into your eye.
But the very first hint at my un-pretty nature came at a fifth grade Girl Scouts meeting.
“Today we’re going to discuss puberty,” said my troop leader. “Let’s begin on page 34: menstruation. Kayla, can you read aloud please?”
Kayla obeyed, as Girl Scouts are taught to do. “Menstruation is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina.”
I burst out laughing. In what kind of sick world did every single woman repeatedly bleed from her hoo-ha? No way was that real.
“Is there a problem, Chris?” said the Troop Leader. I looked at my fellow Girl Scouts: none of them were laughing. Instead, their prim and pretty faces barely concealed smirks of superiority.
“No,” I said. “No problem.”