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Just One of the Guys (Part 1)

Issue Date: Thursday, Apr. 29, 2004

When I was a little girl I played with bugs and snakes. I caught a toad every summer day. Their names were all Simon. And every breezy Georgia night when my father came home from work we would eat together as a family. After supper, my father would take me out to the bottom step of our porch, him carrying me and me carrying my bug-catcher. The warm Georgia air cooling down from a humid day, smelling of freshly cut grass and earth. Daddy would explain to me in soft words, his strong arms around my tiny back, that I needed to let Simon go so he could go find his family and have dinner with them and sleep in his own bed that night. Every night, I would cry.

My sister had the Barbie Dream House™ and the baby dolls to play house and play mommy with. I preferred Lincoln Logs™ and my stuffed animals. I would build shelters for the stuffed animals with the Lincoln Logs™ and then cause them to mate and complete the circle of life.

My sister would set up shop and rope her sweet friends into playing school. She always had to be the teacher [and is one today]. I preferred to careen around the bonus room on a rope swing my father hung from the rafters, bouncing off of the rough wooden planks lining the A-frame that was above our garage.

When I was old enough to make friends of my own I preferred the boys. Although my mother would say that I would play with whoever rang our doorbell. I guess I wasn’t that picky, but I liked Paul. Paul was my best friend. His family moved in across the street from us when I was about five years old. Paul was a year younger than I was but he had no qualms about playing with a girl who could ride a big wheel like a bat out of hell. Mark, Paul and Ricky were my favorite play time pals from kindergarten up through 2nd grade.

When Paul got into the 2nd grade one of his buddies alerted him to the fact that it wasn’t cool to be friends with a girl. He decided not to be my best friend anymore… and… I cried. Then I kicked his ass in every race the swim team held until we were 11 and 12 years of age.

As a sweet and gregarious child, I made friends easily with the people that I was exposed to on a regular basis. The nice men at the back of the church who were ushers? Yep, Loved them. I decided that one of them would be my boyfriend. His name was Charlie. Charlie was 67 years old and I was six. It was quite the January / December relationship, but Miss Charlie (Charlie’s sweet and cuddly wife) did not seem to mind my adoration of her husband.

When Charlie died, I was 8 years old. I was not allowed to go to his funeral and yes, I cried.

I have always preferred the company of men to women. Boys to girls. Pointers to setters… whatever. Anyway, I have always reveled in my bond with the men in my life. I thought that girls were snotty, petty and could really hurt your feelings. I was mostly correct seeing as how I lived with an older sister and her gaggle of girlfriends. They would poke and prod at me. Teasing and hurting me only to spurn the only thing I ever asked from them. “Can I play too?”

Girls are vicious. I’m not kidding. Go into a middle school and approach a group of thirteen-year old girls. Try and break into their clique, make pleasant conversation, offer a cookie… a gift certificate to Claire’s… a blood sacrifice, whatever. It won’t work. They will tear you and your measly self esteem to shreds like a pack of rabid hyenas.

I didn’t have trouble with girls.

I just wasn’t as comfortable around them as I was with the guys.

I didn’t have any sort of affliction, I didn’t stutter, I was slim, I was pretty, I wore passable clothes and the girls asked me to hang out… but whenever I trusted one, it was only a matter of time until I knew my feelings would get hurt.

With guys I never worried. I liked the same goofy shit they did. I enjoyed practical jokes, action movies, belching contests, cartoons and the WWF. Ric Flair? One of my best guy friends from high school named his first son after him.

Of course I formed lasting friendships with several girls who have grown into amazing women. But one of those girls, she broke my heart.

When we moved to Texas it was at the beginning of my 6th grade year. I was… the New Girl. Being either gutsy (or stupid) enough to go up and talk to random people was never a problem. I made friends with the guys in my neighborhood. And then she moved in.

Karen.

Karen was a year older than I was, but in the same grade. She hailed from California and seemed so worldly. What I mistook for worldliness, my mother pegged for ‘tramp!’

I had several circles of friends that spanned school, dance and church. Within short order, Karen had dated most of my guy friends. But in private she mooned over some guy named Diego or some such shit. He was her first*, he was her only love, he one true passion.

*Yes sir ladies and gentlemen, she was 13 and already sexually active.

She knew things I could only imagine. She introduced me to Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil and bootlegged Eddie Murphy tapes.

As I grew older I tried bringing Karen into my church youth group. I invited her on ski trips and to lock ins. I wanted to show her that she didn’t have to be sad and depressed.

It just gave her another pool to pull boyfriends from like shooting fish in a barrel.

She wasn’t terribly attractive, but she wore black eyeliner and her hair feathered perfectly. It was commonly known that she would go all the way.

I was almost embarrassed. Not by what she did, none of us are perfect, but by her blatant advertising of the things she did.

I remember her stealing the most popular guy from the most popular girl in 8th grade with the promise of ‘doing it’ out by the pipe. The pipe was behind the school. It spanned across a small creek and cut the walk to school for some (of the kids) in half.

I couldn’t understand why Karen would do that. I didn’t see what was so special about that Hunter guy, and I definitely couldn’t see what was so romantic about the patch of bald dirt out behind the school at one end of the pipe.

I remember hearing about it as I came out of Spanish Class. My Spanish teacher, Mrs. Murano had almost caught on fire by walking quickly across the room. The Lycra™ on her thighs was bound to combust sooner or later. Even when wearing a dress, she had that distinct sound of corduroy coming from her legs as they rubbed together. Zootzootzootzoot.

One of the popular girls ran up to me and all but screeched, “You best friend, that slut has promised to do it with Hunter after school at the pipe!!!!” And she ran off to tell everyone else.

I just stood there. Not wanting to hear anymore. It was unfathomable to me that Karen would do this. Was it a rumor? Was it a stunt? I saw Karen on the walkway up by our lockers; she had a crowd gathered around her. Boys mostly with a few girls on the outside. The boys were looking at her with what seems like wonder and horror mixed with revulsion and jealousy. The girls looked on in disgust at the attention Karen was receiving.

I found my boyfriend, Terry, and asked him about what I had heard. He confirmed that it was true and that Chad and Scott would try to meet up with me on my way home to let me know what happened. I walked to and from school everyday and Chad and Scott both lived in the neighborhood as well.

Terry hugged me when he saw the confusion in my eyes. I asked him, “Why would she do that?” He shrugged and said, “I guess she just wanted to.”

That phrase was how Karen lived her life. She did what she wanted to.

That’s why a year and a half later, as a freshman, I should not have been surprised at the view I saw at the Collin Creek Mall that day after school.

Terry and I dated for over two years. In high school that is almost an eternity. We started dating shortly before Karen’s foray into Nasty. [I didn’t see Karen too much after her experience with Hunter, I didn’t seem to have anything in common with her.]

Terry was a sweet boyfriend. Kind hearted, sensitive, tall, thin, looked a bit like a young Tommy Lee from Motley Crue. He was my first. We waited over a year after we made that decision to actually go through with it. We wanted it to be perfect.

We wanted a lot of things to be perfect.

The day we all went to the mall I had to stay after school to complete a project. I had called my mother to okay it with her that I wouldn’t be home right away. Bryan said that he could wait for me and give me a lift. I agreed and told Terry I would meet him at the mall. It was a hot day and the asphalt was burning through the bottom of my high-top Reeboks™ as I waited for Bryan to come back from the 7-11. He picked me up and we drove over to Collin Creek Mall. Terry said that he would meet up with us outside of the toy store. When Bryan and I walked into the mall and found Terry… I was taken aback to see that Karen had showed up… and she was holding Terry’s hand.

She turned to me with a triumphant grin.

He turned to me with the most pitiful expression that seemed to (all at once) say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I’m not sure what I’m doing, and Please don’t cry!”

And in fine form I turned to Terry and asked, “What in the fresh hell is this?”

Karen spoke up, “We were going to tell you…”

I am proud to say, I didn’t cry. I looked at the two of them and realized that I didn’t have anything left to give them. That they deserved each other. Good riddance to bad rubbish… and all that.

I called my mother to come pick me up from the mall, and I didn’t speak a word about it.

I figured if someone like Karen could take something so special from me, and pull it off so … so fucking nonchalantly. Well, say hello to brick number one of this wall around my heart. I wouldn’t feel that way about anyone ever again. I wouldn’t give my heart and myself away.

I would be just one of the guys.

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To understand this dear reward (above) at all, you must hie thee on and read gatsby’s grape ape entry and my comments.

And because of said comments he sent me my very own dream turtle in an email titled wee gift with these words attached, “my purple monkey is booked solid so i ordered you a tangerine turtle. hope he proves helpful.”

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