Tuesday, December 7, 2010
One of the Boys
Nope, this isn't some big statement where I now announce that I want to become the man that I always felt that I was, but merely an ode to boys, and the role that they've played in my life.
Don't get me wrong, I am a girl, I have all the bits and pieces to prove it, but I've always felt more comfortable around males.
For me it goes back to my childhood, I am the youngest in my family and the only girl, and with 3 older brothers. Let me tell you, that dynamic became the building blocks to who I would become. I mean, no matter what your situation, to some extent you adapt to your environment, must go back to caveman days I'm thinking.
So I learnt very early on, not only how to survive amongst this tribe, but also how their brains worked, or often, didn't work.
In general, guys call it like they see it and for the most part, I love that. There is no time wasted in guessing, 'what do they really think?' If they think you look stupid in something, they'll tell you - and usually without any of that ol' female softening of the blow. I mean I've never been a girly-girl, I was always happiest wearing jeans and a t.shirt, but there were those occasions when my mum would ask/force me to wear a dress. Already feeling completely out of sync with the whole look, I'd make an appearance in the living room, wearing some lame dress, and my brother's reaction would be....'haaaa, Mel's wearing a dress,you look hilarious!'
A fact that frankly, I already knew.
My poor mum, she was so happy to have a girl after having 3 sons, someone she could dress up all pretty, and she gets a girl who was much happier in jeans and climbing trees! Thinking of it, she did collect dolls for awhile when I was a kid - maybe she was compensating for my lack of doll-like qualities?
The thing that I do admire about boy's frankness is how they deal with their other male friends. Only guys can greet each other by saying things like, 'you f**ker, where have you been?' and really mean that as a sentimental statement of 'I've missed you.' Love that!
Men are great at the whole, 'cut to the chase' thing.
So living with, and having the opportunity to observe these creatures up close for years, I've come to understand how to converse with them on a level that often has them forgetting that I actually am a female!
Even my play habits were shaped by having brothers. I hung out mostly with the youngest of my brothers, who was 3 years older than me. My mum always said, it was like having 2 separate families, because of the age difference - my other brothers are 7 and 9 years older than me, so it's not exactly like they were going to hang out with me as a kid. I'm sure most of the time, David, the youngest of my brothers didn't want to hang out with me either.
Personality wise, David and I are about as opposite as 2 people can get - he fears nothing - and I'd fear and analyze almost everything! I had to adapt to him as much as I could though, otherwise I would've been without a playmate. So I climbed trees and roofs!, rode mini bikes, built go-carts, set-up bike ramps so he could pretend that he was Evil Knievel, jumped from stairs(complete with sound effects)in Six Million Dollar Man fashion, assembled model cars and many other boy activities. On occasion, I did stuff with my middle brother as well, most likely when none of his friends were able to hang out. From him I learnt how to play crib and black jack and how to properly shuffle a deck of cards. I remember at one point he was taking Tae Kwan Do and when he came home from class one night, he said to me, 'Mel, stand right there'....then he proceeded to practice kicks, using my head as a height marker - oh, brother/sister bonding, there's nothing quite like it! I also was allowed to play soccer with my brothers, well kinda play....actually, it was more of a 'Mel, you stand in goal while we kick balls at you.' At least they wanted to play with me, right? We played basketball almost daily at times, 21 being the game of choice, quite funny really, considering we're a miniature sized family! This was the only time that any exception was made to the fact that I was a girl - though not much of an exception! I was allowed to take my free throws from the front of the flowerbed as opposed to from the back, where they'd free throw from - big woop! That gave me about a 16" advantage, but no matter where I got a rebound from, that's where I had to shoot from!! Sometimes, it'd hit the rim and rebound 40 feet away!! Too bad for you, you're playing with the boys now! Good lesson to learn really, no exceptions meant that I worked harder.
I mean, you take what you can get. It's not like any of them were going to volunteer to play Barbies with me. It even affected my alone Barbie time, while other girls were dressing their Barbie's in wedding dresses and princess get-ups, my Barbies were in riding gear and behind the wheel of this awesome pick-up truck/horse trailer combo that I had - now that was sweet. No pink Corvette and no lazy Barbie! Even my Barbie was a tomboy! She had a cool ride and did stuff. She wasn't sitting around the pool with Ken and his molded hair, no siree, my Barbie was attached to the washing line with clothes pegs, right beside my brother's G.I. Joe and his real hair/beard as I reeled them back and forth across the entire backyard!
My TV time was filled with Spiderman, Batman, The Hulk, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Fantastic Four and other equally cool shows.
The result of all of this boy-ness was that I've always had males as friends, even when I was a little girl. I can remember in elementary school I'd go to my friend Steven's house and we'd sit in his room looking at Mad magazines and then head to the alley to kick a soccer ball back and forth. Being able to get along with boys so well did pose one problem though - I think sometimes they forgot that I was a girl! Sheesh, I had a crush on Steven for years - not that he'd ever clue into that fact, to him, I was just one of the boys.
I actually feel very grateful to have had this insider's view to men. It has always served me well in my relationships, it has made me more understanding and able to view things from both sides. I've been very lucky to have many close friendships with men and they have trusted me with their thoughts and feelings in a way that women often aren't privy to.
Ha, I'm not sure if I give off some kind of dude vibe, but they seem to know that they can open up to me.
I am a girl, make no mistake about it - I'm scared of spiders, I love chocolate, and although I'm still not a girly-girl, I do love clothes - but my fashion choices always lean more towards menswear inspired/fitted cuts. Clothes with a sexy edge I can do, but I can't pull off the super girly look - no bows, or ruffles or pink - no pink!
Not knocking those who love that, I just happen to know it's not for me. If I saw myself in a pink flouncy number even I'd say, 'Mel, you look hilarious!'
So this is my ode to boys. Your influence has greatly contributed to the person that I am today, quirky as heck, goofy as can be, straight forward, and with a very low tolerance for head games and BS. I thank each and everyone of you that have shared your friendship with me, I really do feel in many ways, like one of the boys. Now I need to figure out women - I think that's going to be much tougher for me, but I'm starting to learn. I can tell you this one difference right now, though your male friends may dig it, women are not impressed that men can burp the entire alphabet. A tough lesson for my brother to learn back in the day - I mean, sure if you could burp all the letters with the same burp strength that might be impressive, but if your letters start to weaken mid-alphabet....meh. Not to worry boys, I still think you're f**king great! See, I am one of the boys!!