Pigtails Are for Girls -- Part 8

Pigtails Are For Girls — Part 08
Chapters 17-18 
 
By Katherine Day
 
Wearing pigtails, Jarod, as Jane, wins the attention of a nice boy but gains the anger of his mother, as she continues to worry about the fate of her pretty son.

(Copyright 2008)
Chapter 17: A Boy Friend for Jane?

By the time he entered the 7th Grade at Harriet Tubman Middle School, Jarod had learned how to avoid confrontations, largely by trying to remain lost in the back rows of the school. Thanks to his friendship with Wanda and her interest in physical activity, Jarod had toned up his body so that he was able to survive gym class without being a notable failure. He even created for himself a mild swagger, something he had learned in the self-defense class he attended in the 6th grade.

“Girls,” the instructor had said addressing the class in which was he was the only boy, “When walking in tough areas, never show fear, even if you’re scared stiff. Walk erectly and proudly and with a sense of purpose.”

“You mean, like a tough boy walks?” one of the girls had asked.

“That’s right. Like a boy,” the instructor said, realizing Jarod was the “boy” in the class. “I don’t suppose Jarod could demonstrate.”

He blushed openly and wanted to crawl into the floor, but Wanda came to his rescue. “You mean like this,” his friend Wanda said quickly, marching about the room in a military-like manner.

“That’s it!” the instructor said.

Jarod never forgot incident, as humiliating as it was for him since he doubted he could have demonstrated the boy-like walk. It left an indelible mark in his mannerisms and he soon adopted this firm, almost manly step in his routine at school. Anyone looking closely at Jarod would see this masculine motion was not natural to the boy, that there was just a hint of a lilt and flittering that was held under wraps.

On their walk home from the self-defense session, Jarod thanked Wanda for stepping in so quickly, saving him from trying to demonstrate manliness.

“You’re my girl friend, Jane,” Wanda said, reverting to using his girl’s name. “I knew you were shy about it.”

‘Yeah, and I wasn’t sure I could do it right like you did.”

“Oh I’m sure you could, but I can do it easier,” she said.

Jarod nodded, knowing that was the case. His mother had chided him many times: “You’re walking like a girl,” or “Quick flicking your hair like that.” He was trying so hard to provide a masculine demeanor, but often found himself falling back into his feminine habits.

Others at school, mainly boys, noticed this, and every so often he was greeted with choruses of “fag,” “sissy, “femme boy” and the like. So far, after the initial attack, and with constant reminders by the school that it was going to be tough on bullies, Jarod had been spared any physical attacks. Nonetheless, Jarod experienced a constant dread about how he was being viewed by other students.

It helped that Wanda’s nagging and work in strengthening his body, since he was able to at least keep up minimally with others in gym class and in sports. His friend, Wanda, of course was growing more and more athletic; she led the coeducational 7th Grade basketball team in scoring, easily beating out all of the boys. She was a natural athlete, and Wanda said her coach had told her that at least one college scout had been to a game to watch her play.

Despite all this, Wanda had her girly moments, and those she liked to share with Jarod. Most of the time, Jarod would be Jane, dressed as a girl in whatever style fit the occasion. If they were riding bikes or playing tennis, as they did often during the warmer months, For such activities, his hair was tied in a ponytail and he wore a pair of girl athletic shorts, a short sleeved tee-shirt with a scoop neck, anklets and Keds. They pair looked like two girls, with Wanda being larger and more muscular.

Their tennis matches soon became fairly competitive, but Jarod thought Wanda was maybe letting up on her effort so as not to discourage the boy.

On the summer before 7th grade, Jarod and Wanda had been playing tennis one June morning at Douglas Park, when their game was interrupted by a women in a tennis outfit: “You’ll have to quit now, girls. This court is for the girls’ tennis club classes beginning now.”

“Can we finish this set, coach? We’re nearly done,” Wanda said.

“Ok, girls, you have five minutes.”

It was a game in which Jarod enjoyed a slight advantage, leading 5-4 in games and with the game at “deuce.” Jarod, who had the serve, was aware that the woman was watching, and, with his usual insecurity mounting under inspection, promptly double faulted, giving Wanda the advantage.

“Take your time, young lady,” the coach said kindly. “Don’t press.”

“Bring it to me, Jane,” Wanda yelled, in a teasing mode, from across the court.

Jarod bounced the ball a couple of extra times to intensify his concentration, and then let fly a serve, applying spin that truly fooled Wanda. It was “deuce again.”

Jarod won the next two points, scrambling to hit back Wanda’s more assertive hits. Jarod struck the ball more gently, but usually with more precision and that turned out to be a successful weapon against his more powerful friend. Too often, Wanda in her aggressive style would hit too hard and the ball would go astray.

They had 7 volleys in the final point and Jarod won; both exhausted, they rushed to the side of the net, hugging each other and beginning to giggle.

“I hate to lose to a girl,” Wanda whispered in his ear as they hugged, their sweating bodies linked together.

The woman coach interrupted their hugs, and said: “You two girls play pretty good. Would you like to stay in join our tennis club?”

“I dunno,” Jarod responded. “What’s the cost?”

“Just the normal recreation fee, dear. $15.”

“Oh, I don’t know. My mom is not working this summer,” Jarod said.

Jarod knew how difficult times had become for his mother, since she still was not a fulltime teacher at the community college, being paid only when she taught. There were few classes at the college in the summer, so there was no regular income.

“What’s your names, girls,” the coach asked, again in a gentle tone.

Wanda answered quickly: “I’m Wanda and my friend is Jane.”

“Well, Wanda and Jane, it just so happens I have some openings for slots that would be free, paid for by the Douglas Park Tennis Club. How about it? Wanna stay now and see what we do?”

Jarod and Wanda both nodded yes, as they saw about 15 girls, all about their age, come onto the court.

“Oh, Wanda and Jane, this is an all girls’ club, so we don’t need to deal with boys. They sometimes ruin our classes.”

Jarod blushed, and wondered whether he should go through with this charade, being “one of the girls” on the club. Wanda, sensing his hesitation, said to him: “Jane, you’ll do fine here.”

“Yes, you will Jane,” the coach added. “You play a very nice game of tennis. You two may be as good as any of the other girls.”

*****
And so it happened: Wanda and Jane became members of the Douglas Park Girls Tennis Club, which met every Tuesday and Thursday morning for instructions and competition. The only complication came when Jarod needed to provide a permission slip from his mother. She signed it without carefully looking at it and before Jarod had filled in his name as “Jane.”

Many days when they had tennis club, he’d sneak out of the house with his hair in pigtails, violating his mother’s rules. He would always win Wanda’s praise when he wore pigtails. “Aren’t you the sweetest thing?” she’d say in admiration.

The other girls in the class liked Jarod’s pigtails, and several began to copy the style as well. He was both embarrassed and pleased to be told by several of the other girls that he was “cute” or “pretty.”

“We want to be as pretty as you are, Jane,” a slender, dark-haired girl named Lauren told him one day after she had fixed her dark hair in pigtails.

As the classes continued, the coach sought to team the girls up according to skill, so as not to put a struggling girl up against a more accomplished player. “That’s no fun for either of you,” she said in ranking the girls. “I’ll try to set it up so you’re all competitive.”

Once Wanda had several tennis lessons, she learned to hit the ball more precisely and she soon became the best player in the club, without a doubt.

Jarod, however, fit pretty much in the middle, with about half the girls ranked higher than he was. With his slender arms, he realized his strength was that of a normal girl and that he couldn’t hit the ball hard.

Throughout the summer season of the Douglas Tennis Club then, he became Jane. None of the other girls ever suspected he was anything other than a girl. He used the girls’ bathroom without question, with Wanda usually going to the toilet with him, as is typical among girl friends. His voice still hadn’t changed and he spoke in the soprano register.

At the final session in early August, the boys and girls clubs combined for several doubles matches, each team having a boy and a girl in competition. It was to be a fun day, ending with a short graduation ceremony complete with lemonade and cookies.

As the teams gathered for the competition, Jarod noticed the boys eyeing the girls, giving them a close look. He noticed several of the boys, seemingly looking in his direction, then smiling. One, tall gangly boy, even seemed to wink at Jarod.

“That tall one’s got his eyes on you, Jane,” Lauren said, sidling up. Lauren and Jarod had been teamed together, since they both played at about the same skill level.

“Nah,” Jarod said. “He’s looking at you.”

“At me? No, Jane. You’re the looker here.”

“I guess. He looks kinda goofy to me,” Jarod said.

“I think he’s kinda cute,” Lauren said.

To be sure, the girls were doing the same, eyeing the boys. Jarod enjoyed the giggling and flirting that was the nature of a group of young teen girls. He felt so natural being among the girls, rather than trying to compete as a boy.

*****
It turned out the tall boy,
whose name was Jake, was teamed up in doubles with Jarod, and the two made for a surprisingly winning combination: Jake turned out to be an erratic but powerful player and Jarod, with his patient, almost dainty way of hitting the ball, had become precise and even a bit crafty, learning to spin the ball or to place it in locations that would handcuff the opponents.

Though Wanda was easily the best among the girls, her male teammate was temperamental and their team, expected to win, lost as Wanda’s partner blew up in the semi finals of the matches, leaving Jarod and Jake in the championship, facing a team of a short Hispanic boy and tall blonde girl.

It was a tight match, and as Jarod and Jake struggled, he could hear Wanda’s yells, “Play it, Jane . . . spin it, Jane . . . go girl.”

Jarod was wearing white tennis shorts, a pink trimmed sleeveless tennis shirt and the pink girls’ tennis shoes, with pink anklets. His hair was in pigtails, tied in pink ribbons, and they bounced as he played.

Early on in their double play, Jake began issuing quick praises when Jarod made a good shot: “Great play, Jane.” Soon if became a steady refrain, sometime accompanied by a light tap on Jarod’s back, and even once, a tap on his butt.

It was clear Jarod and Jake were outmatched from the start, since their opponents, a team of Jorge and Susan, were infinitely better trained and skilled. Yet, Jarod and Jake made a battle of it, losing a close match in a final point that involved many volleys. As Jarod’s final shot fell inches short of going over the net, he collapsed in frustration and exhaustion to the hot asphalt, panting and sweating. He was surprised to find Jake’s hand on his back, and he looked up to see the anxious eyes of the awkward, gangly boy.

“Are you all right, Jane? You played so good, we almost made it.”

Jarod was overwhelmed by his obvious concerns about “Jane,” and he got up, smiling at him, saying, “Oh Jake, I’m so sorry I lost this for us.”

“Jane, Jane, you played great; I lost points too,” he said.

Jarod leaned down to pick up his racket, saying only, “I guess.”

“I liked playing with you, Jane,” the boy said, slowly.

Jarod looked over. The boy was actually blushing now, as they walked off the court.

“I liked playing with you too, Jake,” and Jarod did something on the spur of the moment that surprised himself. He got up on his toes and gave Jake a quick peck on his cheek.

Shocked at his own action, Jarod turned on his heels and ran off the court, ending up in Wanda’s company. The girl was giggling slightly, as Jarod arrived.

“That was so lovey-dovey, Jane,” she kidded. “I thought you said he was goofy.”

Jarod didn’t know how to respond; he knew the sight of a pigtailed girl reaching up to kiss a tall boy must have been a sweet sight.

“He’s nice, Wanda.”

“I think he’s hot for you,” she said.

Jarod reddened, and was about to say, “No,” but he realized the tall, gangly boy had been excited by watching him play, as he bounced about the court, pigtails flopping. To avoid any detection that he was a boy, Jarod had indeed run about most girlishly. During the previous weeks, the boys often arrived at the courts before the girls were finished, lining the fences, watching the girls play. Jarod had seen them laugh and point at some of the girls, and it soon became apparent that their pointing often was aimed at him.

“I suppose,” was all Jarod would say.

“Well sweetie, with those pigtails, you are the cutest girl on the court,” Wanda said.

*****
The group assembled for the brief graduation ceremony which basically involved passing out paper certificates, signifying they had completed the course. Both the coaches of the boys and girls teams gave brief speeches and then the lemonade, cookies and ice cream was brought out.

As might be suspected, the two groups separated, girls with girls and boys with boys, but that soon began to break up; some of the girls split off into side conversations, as did the boys. Wanda, Lauren and Jarod held fast at a picnic table, where the conversation quickly turned to Jarod’s kiss on Jake after the match.

“That was so sweet, Jane,” Lauren said.

“Oh, get ready, Jane, here he comes,” Wanda said.

Jarod looked up to see Jake approaching. His face was red, and he was moving slowly.

“Oh hi, Jake,” Jarod said, using a sweet, soft voice.

“Hi Jane.” The boy stood there awkwardly, alternately putting his hand at his side, and then at his back, almost hopping from one foot to the other.

“Jake, these are my friends, Wanda and Lauren.”

Both girls responded with smiles to the boy’s tentative “Hi.”

“Sit down,” Wanda said. “You and Jane fought hard out there. Too bad you couldn’t win.”

“They were too good, and I was so bad,” the boy said.

“Oh no you weren’t, Jake,” Jarod said, putting his slender hand on Jake’s sinewy forearm. “You were great. I just loved playing with you.”

“Wanna play again, Jane,” the boy asked.

“Now?”

“Oh no, I thought maybe we could play here again some time.”

“Really? Could Wanda play too?”

Jake hesitated. “Oh, I guess.”

Wanda quickly interjected: “No that’s OK. You two can play sometime.”

Jarod coyly cocked his head, and in a timid tone said, “Oh I’m afraid you’d beat me so bad, Jake.”

“No Jane, you play good for a girl. I would have trouble beating you, I bet.”

“Yes, you do, Jane,” Wanda said, encouraging the conversation.

It was finally agreed that Jarod (as Jane) would meet Jake on the following Tuesday at the park at about 10 a.m. to play.

“Did you see the smile on Jake’s face when you agreed to meet him again?” Wanda said as they turned to head for the bike rack and head home.

Jarod smiled in agreement, realizing that his girlish flirting had melted the tall, awkward boy’s heart and mind.

“I think he’s bragging to the other boys that he’s going to see you again, Jane,” Wanda continued.

“I don’t think so. He’s so shy.”

“You know, Jane, all of those boys were eyeing you up as the hottest girl here,” Wanda added.

“You think so?” Jarod asked, even though he too had noticed how often he’d see some boy ogling his as he pranced about the tennis court.

“And those pigtails, Jane, they make you so cute.”

*****
They rode their bikes to their favorite spot along the river, a quiet spot where the water rippled through minor rapids. Sitting next to each other on the mossy bank, tossing twigs and small stones aimlessly in the water, they said nothing for a while. They were used to long silences when together. Wanda took Jarod’s small hand, and with her thumb caressed his palm gently.

“Oh, you’re getting calluses, Jane,” the older girl said. “I love how soft your hands are. Don’t let them get too rough.”

“I won’t, but it’s the tennis that does that. I have nice lotion at home I use.”

Wanda gave Jarod a kiss on his cheek, as sisterly as ever.

“Oh Jane, you’re my best and sweetest girl friend,” she said now bringing Jarod to her in an engulfing hug.

Their bodies were damp and smelled of stale sweat but to Jarod it was intoxicating, as the two girls (yes, he felt he was a girl) embraced.

“I am so happy you want me as your girl friend, Wanda,” he said, running his hand through her short-cropped blonde hair.

“I think it must be the pigtails that I like,” Wanda said, with a giggle.

“And pigtails are for girls, right?”

Chapter 18: The Punishment

Jarod, still in his pigtails, and wearing the girls’ tennis outfit, was astonished to find his mother home. She was supposed to be at school preparing for an orientation session. As he placed his bike in the garage, he noticed she was watching him from the kitchen window.

Terror filled his heart; for the entire tennis club sessions, he had been able to sneak out in the girls outfit without being caught, violating his mother’s order never, never to wear girl stuff outside the house. Now, on the last day, he was caught.

He opened the door into the kitchen and tried to walk past his mother quickly, silently.

“Where do you think you’re going, Jarod?” His mother spoke in a firm, authoritarian tone not typical for her.

“For a shower, mom,” he said, trying to move through.

“Aren’t you going to call me, mommy, like a good little girl?” his mother said in sarcasm.

He began to cry and between the sobs, mumbled. “I’m sorry, mother.”

“Oh, it’s ‘mother’ now? You don’t know what you are, do you?”

She took his arm and led him to a chair opposite her at the table. His crying continued and grew more intense, his whole body now rocking.

“Jarod, listen to me!”

“Yes, mom,” he said, his crying dissipating as he tried to get control of himself.

“You disobeyed my direct orders, didn’t you?”

He nodded in agreement.

“Say it out loud. You disobeyed me.”

“I disobeyed you, mom.” He said, the tears ended.

“Was there really a tennis club? Or were you and Wanda doing something naughty?”

“No, mom. There is a tennis club and that’s where we were. And Wanda would never be naughty with me.”

“Why do you dress in that outfit?”

“Well . . . mom . . . ah . . . ah . . .”

“What? Tell me,” she persisted, her voice growing angrier.

“It’s a girls’ tennis club.”

“Oh my God, how did you pull that off? Didn’t I sign something?”

“Yes, mom, but it was for ‘Jane.’”

His mother was speechless for a moment. She looked out the window, her eyes not focusing anywhere.

“Jarod Pinkerton,” she said firmly. “Not only did you disobey me, but you were dishonest, and that’s terrible.”

“I know, mom, but I just felt I had to. You know, so I could play there with Wanda. We were invited to the club when coach saw us play.”

“I see.”

“And she thought I was a girl.” He blushed now.

“Because you were in pigtails that day? Right? Against my orders?”

Jarod nodded.

“You disgust me, Jarod. I can’t trust you and now you’re a liar too. Go get your shower and get cleaned up and come back totally dressed as a boy. I’ll have no more of this nonsense.”

“I’m sorry, mom.”

“Just go.” Her tone was dismissive, almost cruel.

He began crying again.

Her voice grew more derisive: “Go, cry like a girl now. That’s the last time we’ll tolerate it. I deal with you later. Get your shower.”

*****
Jarod had betrayed his mother, he knew; yet, he couldn’t help but feel her anger was wrong. How could she be so mean now? He always felt that his mother understood how much he needed to be a girl, but thought her reluctance in accepting that fact was due to her love for him, for her fear about his future. He cried in spurts as he took his shower, dried himself off, and returned to his room to put on boy shorts, his rarely worn New Balance runners and a Green Bay Packer tee shirt.

When Jarod’s mother saw that Wanda’s mother had arrived home, she called her and asked if they could talk for a minute.

“Of course, Nancy, let me get comfortable and I’ll be over in about ten minutes. OK?”

“Great, Helen.”

Helen arrived about 15 minutes later, wearing a colorful, print shift with her hair pulled back in a pony tail.

“You look so bright and happy, Helen,” Nancy replied, offering her a glass of iced tea.

The other woman smiled, and commented that she had acquired a boy friend, a professor, slightly younger than herself. It was her first attempt at developing a male friendship since her husband left her.

“Oh Helen, I’m so happy for you,” Nancy said, noting that in the last few weeks that her neighbor had been dressing in brighter clothes and fixing her hair more stylishly.

“Thank you, but what you need to talk about, Nancy?”

Jarod’s mother took her time, reaching over, touching the other woman’s hand.

“Helen, I’m so worried about Jarod,” she began.

“I know, honey, and we have talked about this before. What’s happened now?”

“Well, I found out today that Jarod has been playing for the last six weeks in a girls’ tennis club, along with Wanda.”

“Oh, my,” Helen said. “I knew Wanda was doing that, but I thought Jarod was in the boys’ group.”

“Well, Jarod, disobeyed my strict orders. He was not, never to wear girl stuff outside of the house, and he snuck and then lied.”

“Nancy, please don’t think too harshly of the boy,” Helen said. “He’s such a sweet boy, and I think he’s confused.”

“I know, but he disobeyed me and I’m only worried about his safety. He even had his hair in pigtails.”

“Oh Nancy, I know you’re worried, but Wanda was with him and you know she’ll be there.”

Nancy nodded, realizing how ironic it was that her son had to turn to a girl for protection; she was hoping as he grew older he might become stronger and more masculine, but that didn’t seem to be occurring.

“Helen,” Nancy began, a bit tentatively, “Do you think those two are the best influence for each other?”

“In what way, Nancy? I know Wanda really isn’t yet thinking about boys in a sexual sense, and I don’t see Jarod much aware of such things, either.”

“Oh no not in that way. I just think Wanda is encouraging him to be like a girl,” Nancy said. “Like going along with this girls’ tennis club deal.”

Helen thought for a minute. “They do seem to act like girl friends when they’re together, don’t they?”

“I know when they’re together they’re always giggling. They sound like 3rd grade girls when they’re together.”

“I guess you’re right. I even hear Wanda refer to him as ‘Jane’ so often now.”

Nancy then provided the zinger to the conversation. “Look, Helen, I hope you’ll talk to Wanda and tell her I’m trying to keep Jarod less exposed to being a girl. Somehow I got to get him through this school without being hurt. He really can’t defend himself, Helen, since he’s so fragile.”

Helen agreed she’d talk to her daughter, indicating how they’d like her to soft-pedal the girly behaviors with Jarod.

“I hope Wanda can help in this, Helen,” Nancy said, hugging her friend.

Nancy began to tear up a bit, finally saying, “Helen, you’re such a sweet friend. I only hope I’m doing the right thing.”

“I’m not sure there is a right way to handle this, Nancy, but your love for the boy will help.”

Nancy Pinkerton smiled, realizing too that even if she loved her child completely could she be ruining his future. Yet, she pictured him now in her mind as he was dressed that morning in a girl’s tennis outfit, and said, “He really is so cute in pigtails, isn’t he?”

“Yes, Nancy, he really is so cute. My Wanda keeps saying that he’s so much prettier than she is.”

And, she knew, too, that her child was happiest as Jane.

*****
Jarod sobbed that night in bed, wearing his Green Bay Packer pajamas for the first time in months. The pajamas felt rough and hard against his skin and he yearned for the sweet feel of his satiny pink nightie as well as the subtle hint of lilac that they emitted. His mother had removed his female nighties and all his panties and lingerie from the drawers of his dresser.

“I’ve got them well hidden, Jarod,” she announced. “You’ll not wear girls stuff again, unless I said it’s ok. You understand?”

“Yes, mother,” he said through his sobs.

“All your dresses and skirts and blouses are still in the closet, and I’ll take care of those tomorrow, Jarod,” she added. “You’re not to touch them tonight.”

Jarod cried sporadically that night, and sleep was slow in coming. His thoughts ranged from: “Why doesn’t mommy love me?” “Is she mad because I lied?” “Why doesn’t she like Jane?”

He wanted so badly to please his mother, and now she was showing disgust with him, almost a rejection. He loved it when she let him lay down next to her and he could smell the sweet scent of perfumed soap she loved so much. It had been several months since she had permitted him to share her bed, and he missed that greatly. His mother loved to hold him tightly, caressing his long hair and treating him like he was her daughter. Those were magical nights, but they ended when she noticed his tiny penis would grow stiff.

“I’ll never be the boy she wants,” he told himself that night. “I’ll never have muscles and be strong and manly.”

“Why can’t mommy see that I am Jane?” That was his last thought as he drifted into sleep.

*****
Nancy Pinkerton, too, cried that night, hating what she had done to Jarod. The boy was the most important thing in her life, and now, she reflected, I had been mean and nasty to him.

“I had to do it,” she reasoned, almost saying the words aloud. “He had been sneaky. He had violated our rules even though I had let him be Jane often at home.”

She wanted, too, to bring him to her bed, all fresh from a bubble bath and dressed in a nightie so that she could hug him and caress him as her daughter. She loved to reflect what a slender, smooth girl she was.

As she imagined him lying next to her, her sobs ended and she felt a sweet contentment sweep over her. She felt the body next to her was that of a young girl, a warm, lovely slender girl. The girl had a dreamy quality; that was how she pictured her Jane as sleep came.

What an image!

*****
“I guess I’m grounded, mother,” Jarod said the next morning as he appeared in the kitchen still in his Green Bay Packer pajamas, his eyes still red from the night of crying.

It was already 10 a.m. and since it was still summer vacation, Nancy let Jarod sleep in; it was a rare thing for Jarod to stay in bed much beyond 8 a.m., since he loved to spend time in the bathroom each day when there was no school, taking a prolonged bath, washing his hair and applying lotion to his body. “I need to keep my skin soft and smooth, mommy,” he said many times when Nancy would object to his continual use of cosmetics.

“I’m sorry I ever let you put on makeup,” Nancy said many times, exasperated at how the boy would linger in the bathroom.

He always applied lipstick, eyeliner and a little mascara. At first, he chose to put on the most garish red lipstick he could find in his mother’s vanity until his mother put a stop to it.

“No, honey, if you go outside like that, you’ll be teased and beat up,” she warned. “Here, if you must put on lipstick, use this neutral color so no one will know you’re wearing it.”

Jarod agreed to his mother on this, since what he enjoyed most was the act of putting on makeup, of rubbing his lips together, and of putting polish on his finger and toe nails. He usually used clear polish, again so as not to draw attention.

When he took too long in the bathroom, which was nearly everyday, his mother would pop into the room (she had forbid him locking the door) to hurry him up.

“Let me see how you’re doing, darling,” she would say.

“Mommy, don’t I look pretty?”

“Yes, you do. Now hurry up.”

Jarod loved to pose in the mirror, loved to watch himself put on the makeup. Usually he would already be in his little girl panties (his mother had provided him cotton panties decorated with pink bunnies or flowers or even angels). He also wore a light peach colored slip, exposing his pencil thin arms and narrow shoulders.

Nancy found this sight too sweet to resist and she’d sit down on the commode, helping him tie his hair in his beloved pigtails.

“Mommy, we look like mother and daughter,” Jarod said more than once, always ending it with a smile and a light kiss on her cheek.

For both, these were magical moments, as both smiled in sweet satisfaction at the lovely view in the mirror.

Now, those days were ended. Jarod’s mother had banned the use of makeup, and said he must henceforth take showers like other boys did. “No, Jarod,” his mother said firmly, “you are not grounded.”

“But, you are no longer to be using makeup, wearing girls clothes and acting like a girl,” she said. The words came out tentatively, without conviction, but she meant them. Or, at least she hoped she meant them.

Jarod knew that he had to be Jarod, at least for the time being. He wasn’t sure how long he could handle that.

*****
The first day of staying totally within his “boy mode” dragged on for Jarod. He dutifully took a shower, but felt a moment of welcomed girlishness when he donned his mother’s shower cap to keep his long flowing hair dry. He let the warm water flow down his body, and toyed with using the perfumed soap he so loved, but thought the better of it, knowing his mother would smell the sweet scent, and punish him even more.

He dried himself, using one of the fluffy pink towels he always loved. He dried around his balls and penis, looking at the tiny appendage with disgust. He knew from gym class and the locker room that his penis may have been one of the smallest in his age group, a fact he tried to hide in the locker rooms by keeping his back turned to the other boys.

As the fog cleared on the bathroom mirror, he looked at his naked upper body, so white and slender. He removed the shower cap, and began fingering his hair most girlishly, yearning to again feel his mother’s hands working his hair into pigtails. Was this only to be a memory now, never to be done again?

“I am a girl,” he said aloud, looking at his face, hair and pretty arms and shoulders.

He looked down at his penis, now slender and tiny, almost retracted. That ugly thing, he thought, makes me a boy; yet, he thought again, “I am a girl.” In all other ways, he felt, he was a girl. He wondered about what would happen if he cut it off, but rejected the idea quickly, realizing he’d make a bloody mess of the job.

“What are you doing in there, Jarod?” It was the stern voice of his mother. “Get moving. Your breakfast is getting cold.”

“Yes, mommy,” he said, his voice still in its high register, and then realizing his mistake, he said in a lower tone, “Yes, mother.”

“Ok, hurry, and I don’t ever wanna hear ‘mommy’ from your lips again.”

Jarod felt it was only natural to call his mother “mommy,” but she had told him only little girls used the term; he was to call her “mom” or “mother.” He took one last look at himself in the mirror, draping the towel about his shoulders like a shawl and enjoying the sight of what appeared to be a lovely girl.

*****

“Mother, may I call Wanda up? I need to ask her something,” Jarod asked as he completed lunch that day.

“Yes, you may, as long as you talk only for three minutes and don’t cook up anymore schemes to hide from me.”

“I won’t mother,” he said rather stiffly.

She frowned, noting a bit a rebelliousness entering his attitudes, something that hadn’t been within his character in the past.

He had been restless that morning after breakfast, since he was trying to resist doing his usual summer morning activities that included straightening up the house, doing the morning dishes and sometimes even the laundry. His mother had become used to this, since she still needed time to prepare her curriculum for the coming school year. As a new teacher, Nancy was still unsure of her ability to be a good teacher and her need for time to prepare was critical.

His mother had let Jarod dress as a girl during these moments, particularly if he was not going to leave the house. Sometimes, he stayed in his nightie as he worked; other times he wore mini denim skirts and tank tops or maybe, on cooler mornings, a pink girl’s sweat outfit. Always, he tied his hair in pigtails as he did the chores.

His mother would marvel at how happy her son was on those mornings as he flitted about the house, sometimes singing in his soprano voice.

When he finished the chores, Jarod often would station himself at the sewing machine, working on a dress he might have designed. Currently he was about to complete a skirt he had designed for Amy, the young mother in the next-door unit.

“I want to make Amy look so sweet,” he told his mother. “It’s for her birthday.”

“Oh, darling,” his mother said. “She’ll love it, I’m sure.”

“I feel so bad that she lost that boy friend because of me,” he said.

“Oh honey, it wasn’t to be for her,” his mother said. “When she found he wouldn’t accept you as you are, she realized how narrow-minded and selfish he was. Your being there just seemed to give her a warning of what kind of a man he was.”

“Still, mommy, I feel bad for her.”

Jarod had overheard Amy’s conversation with his mother, explaining why her budding romance with Jim ended.

Yet, even though only a few hours work would be enough to finish the skirt, Jarod felt too listless to work on it. Besides, he wasn’t sure his mother wanted him working on dresses and skirts, since he was now to be a boy.

Thus, on this morning, the dishes remained unwashed in the sink and the house was cluttered as Nancy retreated to her bedroom office to work on her curriculum.

*****
Having been given permission to call Wanda, but also feeling a bit sorry that he had not helped his mother out that morning, he quickly washed the breakfast and lunch dishes and did a quick pickup of the living room.

He was about to make his call to Wanda when his mother, coming out of her bedroom, noticed what he had done.

“That was nice of you to do that, Jarod. You may call Wanda now, but no more than three minutes.”

Her tone was kinder now; yet, he knew she still was firm about his remaining in a boy mode and about keeping the phone call to a three-minute limit. He was able to make the call out of his mother’s earshot, most likely because he felt his mother knew the two friends needed some privacy.

“Oh Jarod, I’ll miss Jane,” Wanda said when Jarod called.

“I know. Mother has been firm on that,” he said, beginning to choke up, afraid he was about to cry.

“Is this forever, Jarod?”

“I guess. She’s taken all my clothes away.”

“Well, I guess you’ll have to be a cute boy then, Jarod,” she said, the two forcing a slight giggle.

“I would rather be a cute girl.”

“I always said you were cute and we’re such good girl friends.”

Jarod didn’t answer, but began sobbing audibly into the phone.

“But, we’ll always be friends, Jarod,” Wanda said quickly.

“Wanda?”

“Yes, Jarod?”

“What’ll we tell Jake? He expects Jane to play tennis next week.”

“Oh yes, I forgot about that.”

“I can’t go there as Jarod.”

“No, you can’t. Look, I’ll go instead. You stay home. I’ll tell him that your mother doesn’t want you dating or being with boys until you’re older.”

“Would you do that, Wanda? Would you do that for me?”

“Oh yes, honey, I will. We’re girl friends, right.”

“Yes, we are and we are . . .”

He was interrupted by yells from his mother: “Jarod, get off that phone. It’s five minutes now. Off that phone!”

“Gotta go, Wanda. Thank you, I love you.”

“Love you too, Jane.”

Jarod smiled as he hung up the phone. At least Wanda still thought of him as “Jane” and he still felt the two would be girl friends forever.

*****
In the last week before school began as Jarod was to enter the 7th Grade, he worked hard a becoming more of a boy. His mother had softened on her prohibition of him doing anything feminine, permitting him now to wear nighties to bed, sleep with his favorite bunny and even to occasionally braid his hair into pigtails, as long as he would remain in the house.

Wanda’s mother’s new boyfriend was becoming a fixture at their house, and he purchased a basketball hoop, which he set up on the Highsmith garage on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. He and Wanda played hoops there, and Wanda wasted no time in inviting Jarod to join them.

“No, Wanda, you know I’m no good,” he protested when she came to the door.

“Oh come on,” she pleaded. “We’re just having fun.”

“I can hardly shoot the basketball,” he added.

But Wanda was persistent and grabbed the boy’s slender forearm and dragged him to the hoop.

“Bill, this is Jarod,” she said to a fairly short man in jeans and a white Milwaukee Bucks t-shirt.

Jarod gave a diffident wave to the man, who quickly tossed him the ball, which Jarod, of course, fumbled badly, finally awkwardly picking it up just as it was about to enter the flowerbed.

“Bad pass by me, Jarod,” the man said a bit condescendingly. “Shoot, boy.”

Jarod tried to dribble, approaching the basket, but the ball bounced out of his grasp. He fumbled after it, finally picking it up just a few feet short of the hoop, where he stood, taking an awkward two-handed shot that missed even touching the basket, bouncing to Wanda who took a quick jump shot that pierced the net perfectly. Jarod watched the ball go through the hoop and nearly began to cry; he felt so totally pathetic now.

“You’ve never played much, have you, Jarod?” Bill said, approaching with the ball.

“No sir,” he said, looking down. “I’m no good.”

“Yes you are,” Bill said. “Everyone can do good with a little practice.”

Wanda added: “He got good at soccer last year, too, Bill.”

Jarod knew that was a slight exaggeration, knowing that he had become about as good as half the girls on the coeducational 6th Grade team, but was still probably the poorest player among the boys.

That afternoon, however, Bill was able to teach Jarod how to dribble so that he didn’t kick the ball away; he also showed Jarod how to shoot the basketball so that he got the most out of his limited arm and body strength. Where Jarod did seem to thrive again, was in defending other players, just as defense had been his forte in soccer.

After nearly an hour of playing hoops, Wanda’s mother came out with lemonade and cookies for the three. Bill was winded, largely due to being a bit overweight; yet, it was obvious that he must have been a good athlete in his youth. Wanda, while sweating profusely, still seemed fresh and ready to go. Jarod felt total exhaustion and he laid back on the grass, breathing heavily.

Bill excused himself to go to the bathroom, and Wanda moved next to Jarod, still laying on his back, and whispered with a glint in her eye: “You play pretty good for a girl, Jane.”

Jarod smiled at the reference, wishing the girl would lean down and kiss him with one of her sisterly touches. It was not to be because Bill was soon back, along with Mrs. Highsmith, Wanda’s mother.

Nonetheless, the basketball hoop proved to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, even attracting the Modjeska twins to join them. Jarod had successfully avoided them after some early teasing from the two bullies. Fortunately, they both went to the Catholic school, so they weren’t around much.

They came over a day after the hoop had been set up, asking if they could shoot baskets, too.

Wanda looked at Jarod, who wanted to say “No,” since the boys had grown bigger and stronger that summer. He was sure they’d play rough and that he, with his slight, fragile body, would be overwhelmed, and maybe even hurt.

“Sure, but you two have to play fair,” she said. “No roughhousing.”

One of them, it could have been either Michael or Milton, said, “Oh we’ll be nice. We don’t want to hurt your girl friend here, Wanda.” He looked squarely at Jarod as he said this.

“You won’t play here if you talk like that,” Wanda said. “Jarod’s my friend.”

The other boy quickly interjected, “Oh he’s just teasing.”

“That so?” Wanda said, grabbing the first boy’s arm and twisting it behind his back, her strength too strong for the boy to resist.

“Okay, Okay, Okay,” the boy said, suppressing squeals of pain.

As it turned out, Jarod was able to play fairly competitively with either of the twins, largely because they were slow afoot and Jarod was able to steal the ball from them several times. After a bit, the played two-on-two basketball, Wanda and Jarod against the twins, and they beat the twins, even though Jarod made no baskets, his arms too weak to give him the ability to shoot the ball well when challenged. His role, he discovered, was to play good defense and to feed Wanda, whose shot always seemed to go in.

When the game finished, the four sunk to the ground, and Jarod began laughing, giggling loudly and unable to stop.

“What’s that for?” one of the twins said.

“See, we girls can beat the boys,” he said, giggling.

“You’re no girl,” the twin said. Soon he was laughing, seeing the irony in the situation in which a real girl and a weak sissy boy could combine to beat these two muscular boys.

It was a delicious time, and helped Jarod to be ready for the coming year in which he would have to be a boy.

*****
“I saw you out there playing basketball,” his mother said when he came in. “You didn’t do too badly.”

“Oh mom, you know I play like a girl,” Jarod said, still flush-faced from basketball.

“No, I saw you steal the ball a few times. You play fine. Didn’t you and Wanda beat those boys?”

“Yes, mom, but Wanda scored all the points. I still played like a girl.”

His mother looked at him: “I really wish you’d get over that. Many boys don’t play sports well.”

Jarod had enough of this talk. “I’m going to take a shower.”

As he left the room, his mother said that she laid out the clothes for him on the bed. When he got there, he saw she had put out a new pair of jeans (boys’), a tee shirt and a Milwaukee Brewers sweatshirt. What was with his mother’s desire to identify him with sports?

That night, wearing his nightie again, he pranced about eyeing himself in the bathroom mirror, flirting with himself, and dreaming of the time he can be a girl again. His mother rapped on the door, telling him to hurry up, no doubt suspecting that he was performing in his effeminate manner.

He tried to find sleep that night, but instead began wondering about how he would handle 7th Grade in his urban school. He looked forward, however, to seeing Latoya and Terri again, the other two people in his life who knew of Jane other than Wanda and the adult women in his life. He had little contact with them through the summer, and smiled when he thought about how Latoya had accepted him as a girl and how he and Terri had enjoyed their brief time together as girls. Would those joyful times ever come true again?

In the 6th grade, he had shown he could survive in the urban school, winning top grades and getting involved in some activities. He gained a few friends, all girls, except for Terri, and avoiding being beat up. Yet, it was a time of despair; the demands of entering 7th Grade and his mother’s restrictions meant that the time available for him to enjoy his feminine pursuits or to be “Jane” was growing more and more limited.

He cried that night before falling asleep.

(To be continued)



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