By Katherine Day
Jarod’s mother begins soul-searching on how best to treat her son, who seems only to want to be Jane;
meanwhile, Jarod is accepted as ‘one of the girls’ among his teen girl friends, who share their laments about love.
And, then, there’s his little girl’s diary.
“You know, Nancy, you’re my closest friend.”
The words came haltingly from Helen Highsmith, who was Nancy Pinkerton’s neighbor and the mother of Jarod’s best friend, Wanda.
“I know you are, and I love you, Helen, and I know you’re dying to say something I won’t like.”
It was the summer before Jarod was to enter the 9th at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. The two women were sitting on the patio behind the Highsmith home, enjoying an early evening margarita, as became their usual Friday night custom.
They were attractive women: Helen was tall, prematurely gray woman with straight short hair. She had a trim figure that belied her age in the early 40s. She wore light grey Capri pants and a navy blue tank top, revealing firm slender arms. She wore rimless glasses that gave her a professorial look, fitting since she was a professor at the local university. Her light blue eyes sparkled, much like her daughters’ eyes did, giving out a warmth and welcome that was inviting.
Ten years younger, Nancy was a softer woman, somewhat shorter than her friend. She was quite pretty, with a round face that might have been strikingly beautiful if she did not have such a serious demeanor. Her brown hair was light in texture and flowed in straight strands to the neck, sometimes looking a bit wild and unbrushed. She wore a yellow and green summer dress with fat straps, exposing her fleshy shoulders and arms. She wore no makeup.
The two women had much in common: both were without husbands, Helen’s having left her for a younger graduate student at the university where they both taught, and Nancy having never been married, having conceived Jarod in a brief fling with a musician who left, never again to be found.
Both had some brief relationships with men in the last two years, but none of them lasted. Either the men faced serious challenges of their own, such as guilt over the breakup of their own marriages or alcoholism or both, or the women lost interest in the men when they realized they were only interested in bed partners.
Thus, many of these Friday night margarita sessions, degenerated into semi-drunken confessionals, in which dinner became an afterthought, made necessary only by the need to provide a meal for their children, Jarod and Wanda.
“Do you think Jarod’s happy, Nancy?” Helen began. She started this line of conversation only after the two women had begun on their second drink, knowing that discussing the topic was not good when under the influence, yet failing to have the courage to bring it forth in a totally sober moment.
Nancy sipped her drink before answering; she knew she was not much of a drinker, so she always drank slowly, particularly after the first drink. The first drink was so exhilarating, following a warm day of teaching, that she nearly wolfed it down, and she felt her head a bit light now.
“I don’t know, Helen, to be honest.”
“He’s such a lovely boy, Nancy, and so smart.”
Nancy knew exactly where Helen was going with this conversation now; she knew that her friend would be urging her to get counseling for the boy, something she had avoided doing partly because she had no health insurance until recently and partly because she wasn’t sure it would help.
“Don’t you think I know that?” Nancy asked, a bite to her voice.
“Of course, you do, Nancy, but it’s just that I think he’s unhappy.”
“How would you know that, Helen? I live with him. All I know he has been very quiet in the last year or so. In the 7th and 8th grades, you know, he became not the same joyous child he had been.”
“And you thought that was just the fact that he was in those troubled years all kids go through?”
“Yes, partly, but I know what you’re getting at, Helen. So say it. Don’t hold back.” Now her voice raised in a testy tone, and she stopped to take a larger sip of her drink, which no longer tasted as inviting as it did earlier; now there was sourness in the taste, as if there had been a bitter lemon added.
“OK, I will,” Helen said, noting the defensiveness in her friend’s voice.
“Nancy,” she continued, reaching over from her lawn chair to old her friend’s empty hand. “You know full well the only time that boy is happy is when he is Jane. Wanda confessed to me last night that she is very worried about Jarod.”
“Oh?” Nancy removed her hand from under her friend’s grasp. For some reason, she did not welcome her friend’s touch at this moment.
“Let me confess something first, Nancy.”
“Ok, what is it?”
“I pretty sure Wanda is a lesbian,” Helen said.
“Oh, Helen, just ‘cause she likes sports and is as strong as a boy doesn’t mean that.”
“Well, there are signs, Nancy,” the other woman said slowly, her face growing red with apprehension.
“I know Troy . . . ah, you Troy Huggins, the boy on the soccer team . . . well . . . Troy has asked her out on dates, and she’s refused him,” Helen continued. “And I like Troy. He’s very much a gentleman.”
“Oh maybe Wanda doesn’t like him,” Nancy said, trying to bring some balance to the topic.
“No, she likes him a lot; he’s been over to the house, shooting baskets and even playing Scrabble with us. They have fun together.”
“Well, maybe Wanda’s just not ready for the boy-girl thing, yet, Helen. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“Well, she’s almost 16 now, Nancy, but the other thing is this: she considers Jarod as her best friend.”
Nancy smiled: “Well, they are best friends, Helen.”
“Yes, Nancy, but they’re best girl friends, I’ve learned. That’s girl friends.”
“Oh, I was afraid of that,” Nancy said. “Did Wanda tell you that?”
Helen paused for a minute, took another slow sip of her margarita. “Well, yes, but only after I overheard her talking on her cellphone to Jarod earlier. I heard her calling him “Jane,” and finishing up with a noisy kissing sound.
“Oh, my goodness.” Nancy took a long sip of her drink; she was feeling flush now and maybe a bit light-headed.
Helen continued: “I asked her what that was all about, and of course Wanda said it was nothing. But then she started to cry; my Wanda who never cries began to cry almost hysterically. I couldn’t believe it.”
“Over a phone call with Jarod?” Nancy asked, puzzled. “Did she say why she was crying?”
“It took a while, she was crying so, but finally she blurted out: ‘I love Jane so much . . . I love her so much. Why can’t she be girl?’”
Nancy took her eyes off her friend, looking into the darkening sky, with the sun now down below the horizon. She said nothing at first, an actual panic beginning to attack.
“Oh this is too much,” she finally said. “She looks at Jarod as a girl and as a girl friend? This is too much.”
Helen reached over, grabbed her friend’s hand, and continued: “I had told Wanda to begin treating Jarod as a boy, as you wanted. She said she did that, and as you know she did get Jarod doing lots of sports and stuff.”
“I know, and I was so happy with that, Helen. It seemed to help Jarod so much.”
“But, I’m afraid there was more going on. It seems Wanda thought of Jarod as a girl friend, not a boy. I’m so sorry Nancy.”
“I was afraid of that,” Nancy said. “But Jarod always seemed to want to be with Wanda. He was always so happy with her, and I felt he needed some friends, since he has so few. And she was always making him do physical things and he so needed strengthening.”
The two women grew silent for a moment, a silence that was finally broken when Nancy inquired of her friend: “But there’s something more you want to tell me, isn’t there?”
“Yes, when Wanda got done with her crying spell, she told me something very troubling,” Helen said.
“Yes, go on.”
Helen took a deep breath, pausing momentarily to take another sip of her drink. “Jarod’s been very depressed, she told me. He’s trying so hard to put up a good front for you, Nancy, because he loves you so dearly, but he just can’t seem to rid himself of the notion that he should be a girl.”
“I’ve known that for some time, but I just don’t think it’s right to consider seriously now. He should get through school first,” Nancy said, quickly and a bit defensively. “And he rarely seems sad to me: we still do lots of things together and I do let him wear a nightie to bed at night. That should satisfy him for now.”
“Oh Nancy, Jarod is holding all of his feelings inside of himself,” Helen said. “He won’t tell you because he knows you’ll be disappointed or mad or something.”
“Oh I love that boy so much, Helen. He’s all I have.”
“He knows that, but he’s really bottling things up inside himself now. Wanda told me he writes long entries into a diary. She says his entries read like he’s a girl; he’s shown some of those entries to her. She says it’s a little girl’s diary he found somewhere and hides every night.”
“Oh dear,” Nancy said, putting her drink down on the patio table. She brought her two hands to her face for a moment, as if to hide from the truth.
“Nancy, you should have that boy see somebody again, even if it costs, dear. I know it’s been tough on you, not having any health insurance.”
“I know you’re only thinking of Jarod, Helen, and by August I should be covered by health insurance, now that I have been accepted as a regular teacher at the college.”
“Oh that’s so good to hear, Nancy. I knew you’d make it. I had several transfer students who had you at the community college, and they thought you were a dynamite teacher.”
“Thank you, Helen. You know I’m not ignorant about this business. I’ve been reading on the Internet and I talked with my friend at school, the psychiatrist, about transgenders. I just didn’t think we should move so fast until we’re sure.”
“Oh darling, please don’t mention the diary business to Jarod,” Helen said, grabbing her friend’s two hands, looking her in the eye. “I know Wanda would be mortified if she knew I told you that, but I felt I had too.”
“Of course I won’t, Helen, and I know little girls keep their diaries secret. I won’t touch Jarod’s.”
“I think the time is now, dear,” Helen said. “Wanda is worried Jarod might do something drastic.”
Nancy nodded, removed her hands from Helen’s grasp, and said: “I need to go home and get something for Jarod for supper.”
“OK, but where is Jarod? I haven’t seen him all day.”
“In the house, mainly in his room. I’ve let him do some sewing again; maybe he’s doing that. You know he promised he’d make a dress for Amy?”
Helen rose as Nancy got up to leave. She hugged her friend, giving her a quick, sisterly kiss on the cheek, saying: “You know, I love you, Nancy. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.”
“I know that, Helen.” She returned the kiss and she noted there were tears beginning in the eyes of her neighbor as they broke up.
Jarod did a lot of day-dreaming that summer; he was sleeping much later in the morning than he had ever done. Maybe it was because his mother had given in and let him wear nighties to bed and he wanted to stay in them as long as he could. He would lay awake in the morning, content to think of himself as a girl, perhaps to stay there all day.
Only his mother’s threats to take away the nightie privilege would get him up many days. It was the best time of day for him, since he rarely had much he wanted to do that summer once he got out of bed.
Perhaps the highlight of the summer was the renewed friendship with Amy, the young mother in the next door unit of their side-by-side duplex. It turned out that Amy’s ex-husband gave up his attempt to regain custody of the two girls, Emily now age 7, and Angela, now 5.
It was now possible for Jarod to be hired as a baby-sitter for the girls, which he did at least once a week when Amy went shopping and at other special times.
Jarod, of course, always dressed as a boy when baby-sitting the children, and they no longer called him “Jane,” their recognition of that name long gone in the memories of young children.
He joined in playing dolls with them, showing them how to dress them, but in any games he was always the “daddy.”
Amy, who was only 26, was still young enough to remember her teen years, and found a great joy in sharing some of her experiences as a teen girl with Jarod. He relished those conversations.
“I must be boring you Jarod,” she said many times.
“Oh no, Amy, I love your stories.” And, he did. So often he imagined himself as a teen girl, flirting with the boys as Amy said she did.
“I was not so fat then,” she said. “I had a nice figure.”
Jarod imaging that she likely did look cute and appealing to teen boys.
“You’re not fat, Amy,” he would argue. “You’re still cute.” Jarod meant that; he thought Amy was particularly fetching.
About halfway through the summer, he volunteered to make a dress for her 10th year high school reunion which would be coming along the next winter.
“Oh that would be fun,” Amy said. “And I’ll pay you.”
“Let’s go through the fashion books together, and see what we can find, and then I’ll design one just for you. It’ll be an exclusive.”
He giggled with excitement.
“It’ll be a Jane Pinkerton Exclusive,” Amy announced, joining in the excitement of the moment.
It took them several weeks to decide on a design, finally selecting a knee-length cocktail dress, of a dark violet satiny finish, a square bodice and wide straps over the shoulders; he would finish it off with a light crá¨me colored wrap. The dress would flow loosely from a high belt.
Jarod’s mother at first balked at this idea when Amy approached her.
“I really was hoping he’d get away from this feminine behavior, like sewing, Amy,” she said.
“Oh the biggest designers are men, you know, Nancy,” Amy argued.
Nancy Pinkerton thought it over for a while and finally agreed that it would be okay. At least, she reasoned, working on the outfit would give the boy something to occupy his time that summer. Jarod had been moping about the house, basically doing nothing, except for the times he babysat for the girls or visited with Wanda, which was happening less and less as the summer progressed.
Wanda had become active on two girls softball teams and, having turned 15, began working at Burgers ‘r Us. Besides, in their reasoning, the two had become too old for bike riding, having ridden to their favorite spot along the river only once. On their only trip together that summer, Jarod went completely as a boy, hair cut shorter and in boy shorts and tee-shirt.
They sat on the shore, aimlessly tossing stones and twigs into the rushing rapids. They even held hands and kissed lightly a few times. Though neither one said it, they both felt that somehow it wasn’t the same. Now, dressed as a boy, he found his penis failed to become aroused as quickly as it did in the past.
They talked about Wanda’s job and how she was doing on the softball team.
“I guess I’m doing pretty good,” she said, reluctantly. “I’m playing shortstop and hitting cleanup.”
“You always were so good at sports,” he agreed. “You helped me so much and I’m still no good.”
“Oh, but you’re so smart, Jarod, and so talented,” she said, now using his boy’s name. “By the way, how’s the dress coming, the one you’re making for Amy?”
“Pretty good, but I can’t seem to get moving on it. I’ve hit a wall, I think, and can’t decide on the hemline.”
Wanda took his hands and engulfed them with her own. Jarod felt the calluses on the girl’s hands as they gripped his smaller, soft hands.
“Jarod, Jarod, Jarod, you have the prettiest hands. I so envy you.”
“Wanda, you are still my friend, I hope,” he said, sensing that there was a strangeness enveloping their friendship.
“My best friend,” she said quickly, reaching over to kiss him on the cheek. “You’re my best friend, Jane.”
The sound of “Jane” now excited him as it was obvious Wanda was now thinking of him as a girl. The realization of her thinking of him as being feminine now hardened his penis; he smiled.
The two friends had never done anything more than hold hands, hug and kiss lightly. Both in truth were naíve and frightened about sexual relationships, but they were aware that, as two girls, they had a special feeling, a rare, wonderful sensation.
They had done that bike trip in late June, but Wanda soon was too busy to repeat it; besides she had found some budding friendships with many of the girls with whom she played softball.
“Oh mama, oh mama, who is me?
Oh mama, oh mama, can’t you see?
A girl, that’s me!”
The refrain popped into Jarod’s head one summer morning as he lay in bed, unable to rouse himself. Being summer, he wore a pale yellow shorty nightie that bare covered his butt. It was a light cotton with thin shoulder straps and trimmed in tiny embroidered flowers of blue and pink.
He lay on his side, hugging himself, with his hands caressing the soft skin of his arms, so slender. As he did this he squeezed his penis between his thighs, and it grew hard as he imagined himself in a pretty summer dress looking dainty and feminine. In his mind, he pictured his hair tied into short pigtails that poked upward. He was a beautiful young girl.
That thought made his penis grow painfully hard, ready to discharge its white ooze, staining the nightie, the sheets and himself. He tried to withhold the ejaculation, knowing his mother would be mad when she noticed the hardened stain on the sheets. This was happening more and more regularly, and Jarod always tried to resist the ejaculation, thinking that it was an evil act, that he was giving away to temptation. To hide this act from his mother, he had been volunteering to do the laundry, something he loved to do; after all, it was women’s work.
But the joy provided by this exercise of masturbation was becoming harder and harder to ignore. During those moments before the wetness, he was in sheer ecstasy in his dream world of being Jane. That morning he held back, his body still tense with excitement as he rose from bed. He looked at himself in the mirror seeing only Jane looking back.
He skipped to the closet, finding the game “Clue” among the stack of games on his shelf; carefully removing it (since it was third from the top in the stack because he hardly ever played it). In side the box was a pink book, entitled “My Diary.” He removed it, opening the title page, he looked longingly at title page:
It was Jarod’s most prized possession, a book he bought for 25 cents a year ago when he and Wanda stopped at a rummage sale while on one of their bike rides; its previous owner had never used the book.
“Every girl should have a diary,” the woman at the rummage sale said, barely noticing the Jarod was not really a girl, a mistake easily made when looking at his long hair and slender body and androgynous clothes.
“Don’t write naughty things about me,” Wanda kidded.
“No this will be my own private diary,” he said as they walked to their bikes. “Just my own thoughts for no one’s eyes but my own.”
“Why don’t you use the computer, like all the other kids do these days?” Wanda asked, suggesting he set up a My Space site.
“Mommy won’t let me,” he said. “She monitors my use of the computer, besides I like doing a diary, just like girls did in the old days.”
He planned on entering something everyday, but that soon became burdensome, but rarely a week went by without him spending time writing something. The truth was he loved to write; he always scored high in school when it involved writing and he won great praise.
Jarod had perfected a tiny, precise handwriting, which carried over into his writing for school, often bringing wonder to teachers who wondered if it was a girl’s writing. His 7th Grade English teacher quizzed him on his first submission in her class: “Did someone else write this, Jarod? The handwriting is so . . . ah . . . precise. Not many boys write so neatly.”
He blushed and quickly demonstrated how he writes, convincing her that he indeed did the paper.
That morning, he dated the paper “August 14, 2005” and wrote:
“Oh mama, oh mama, who is me?
Oh mama, oh mama, can’t you see?
A girl, that’s me!”
Chapter 20: An Encounter in the Park
“It’s for you, Jarod,” his mother yelled up to him as he was thinking about what to write in his diary a few days later. It was only a little after nine in the morning, and Jarod was still in his nightie; he had heard the phone ring but knew his mother would answer it, since he never got any calls.
He bounded down the stairs, the fact that he was still in the nightie drawing scowls from his mother, and picked up the phone.
“Hi, Jarod. It’s Latoya.”
“Latoya,” he answered surprised. He hadn’t seen her since school term; the two lived over a mile apart, and as the school year had ended, Latoya seemed to have gotten in tight with a group from her old neighborhood.
“How are you, Jarod?” the girl asked. Her voice was tentative.
“Ok, I guess.”
“Good, but it’s kinda boring here.”
“I know what you mean,” Jarod said. “It’s kinda boring here, too, now that Wanda’s so busy with her job and softball.”
“Wanna do something?”
There was silence on the other end of the line, but before Jarod could think of something to say, Latoya answered:
“You know that park where we first met? When I thought you were a girl?”
Jarod smiled, remembering the incident in the summer before he entered 6th Grade when he accompanied Amy with her two small children to the tot lot.
“Sure. You wanna meet there?”
Jarod got to the park a few minutes before their appointed time of 11 a.m.; he told his mother that he and Latoya were going to meet and ride their bikes a bit; his mother agreed.
His hair was growing long again, but still was acceptable for a boy, and he wore a pair of shorts, old running shoes without socks and a tee shirt.
Latoya was a few minutes late, wearing light blue sport shorts and a halter, showing the bronze color of her trim body. Jarod could see the summer had changed her, as her breasts seemed fuller and her hips a bit wider. She had always had a waif-like body, slender and under-developed; yet, now at 14, she was becoming a woman.
“Jarod, oh Jarod,” the girl said excitedly as she rode up. “I’m glad you came.”
“Let’s go over here,” he suggested, leading the girl to a park bench set up on a hill, away from the park walks.
They sat side by side on the bench for a minute, before Latoya began:
“I think you’re the only person I can talk to, Jarod. You’re so nice.”
Jarod nodded. “I’ve always thought we were honest with each other. Well, after you found out I was a boy.”
Latoya laughed. “I know that was something.”
“And thank you for never telling anyone you knew me as a girl.”
She smiled. “I still like to think of you as a girl . . . ah . . . that is, like a girl friend to me so that I can talk to you . . . ah . . . girl to girl. You know.”
“Hope you don’t mind I said that, Jarod, since you’re really a boy?”
“No, I like being like a girl friend to you.”
Latoya grew silent, and Jarod looked at her, seeing the girl’s eyes moisten, as if she was fighting back tears.
“What’s the matter, Latoya? I know something’s bothering you.”
The girl sniffled, and then began: “You know Demetrius?”
“Yes, he was hanging around you, Demetrius Walker, I know him. He’s in high school.”
“Yeh, gonna be a junior this year,” Latoya continued, her eyes clearing. “He’s two years ahead of us.”
Jarod sensed where this was headed. “You like him, don’t you?”
“Yes, and he’s ignoring me. Nearly all summer.” The girl almost started crying again.
“Has he got a new girl friend?”
“I don’t think so. He’s just hangs around with all the guys, calling themselves ‘bro’ and all that stuff. They play basketball and when we walk by they just laugh at us.”
Jarod took Latoya’s hands in his, held them. The girl was quivering; she really liked this boy, it was obvious. But Jarod was mystified as to why she came to him; what could he do for her?
“He’s just doing the boy thing, Latoya,” he said. “He’ll come around to you. You’re so pretty.”
“Oh I don’t know Jarod. I think I lost him.”
“Why? Did something happen?
The girl nodded. She explained that on the Fourth of July she and Demetrius went to the park to watch the fireworks.
“We found a nice quiet spot, somewhat private, where were couldn’t really see the fireworks,” she began. “We had a blanket and we sat together on the ground. We kissed and hugged a bit, and he began touching me all over.”
Latoya paused. Jarod sat silent.
“I’ve never been touched like that, Jarod, never in my life. I liked it.”
She paused again: “Oh, why am I telling you this? You won’t understand, how can you? You’re a boy.”
“I’m your friend, Latoya. You know that. I’ll listen to whatever you want to tell me. It’ll be our secret.”
“Oh Jarod, you’re so sweet,” she kissed him. “Oh, I’m so embarrassed to tell you this.”
She paused, and he squeezed her hand a bit more firmly. He looked at their two hands, both feeling slender and smooth, with her dark brown skin contrasting with his pale skin; she had pressed-on nails, dark purple in color and Jarod’s nails were pink, long and prettily manicured. He loved the symbolism: the pretty hands — one brown and one white — linked in friendship.
“Well,” she began, “He started coming up my shorts with his hands . . . you know . . . touching me there. You know?”
Jarod held her hand and listened, and the words just poured out of the girl in a gush:
“And I got so excited, Jarod, and wanted him to touch me there, but I knew it was so wrong. Oh, Jarod, was it wrong? I told him it was wrong and naughty, that I took the pledge, you know, the pledge we took at church. . . You know, the pledge to stay clean. Oh I wanted him to play with me there and I was squirming so hard, but I said ‘no’ to him. And then suddenly, I wet my panties. Jarod, I wet my panties. Oh it was so awful. But I couldn’t help it and I told him ‘no,’ and he got mad. And he grabbed my arm and he dragged me home before the fireworks had even begun. And now he won’t talk to me. I like him so much Jarod. I do. I do.”
By now the girl was crying and Jarod held her in his arms as her body shook uncontrollably.
“I’ve never told this to anyone,” she said finally, emerging from their hugs. “I felt I could tell you. I know you’d understand. Oh, Jarod, you’re so sweet to listen, but what am I to do? Will Demetrius ever talk to me again?”
“Are you sure you want him as your friend, Latoya? If he’s mad because you won’t give him sex, maybe he’s not the boy you want. You’re so pretty that you’ll have lots of boy friends after you get in high school.”
“I guess so, but he’s so . . . so . . . cute and strong and marvelous.”
Jarod had to admit Latoya was correct: Demetrius was indeed a “hunk,” as the girls had called him last year in school when they discussed Latoya’s crush on the boy. The discussion came up at the cafeteria table, where Jarod usually was the only boy at a table of girls. He had been accepted by the girls, he thought, because they felt he was “one of them” due to his easy identification with feminine ideas and thoughts.
“You didn’t break your pledge, ‘toya,” he said, using the shortened version of her name. “He never touched you there, so you’re still pure.”
“But I wanted him to touch me there, to play with me, Jarod. I was evil,” she added.
“No, you weren’t, you resisted those urges, ‘toya,” he leaned to kiss her lightly on the cheek, a sisterly kiss in his view.
Due to their intense discussion, the two didn’t pay attention to two boys who were walking to their bench until one of them yelled:
“’toya, you bitch. You slut, you refuse me for this white sissy.”
It was Demetrius yelling at them and running up the hill, his friend following behind. Before Jarod could break away from Latoya, he was grabbed by Demetrius, brought to his feet and pushed to the ground.
He was too stunned to react, a sudden fear erupting inside him, not sure what was going to happen next. Before he could get up, the other boy was upon Jarod, pinning him to the ground. Jarod was on his back now, looking up into the chest of a dark-skinned boy with a massive chest stretching his grey muscle shirt to its extremes. Jarod realized he was powerless against this monster of a boy, his skinny arms pinned easily to the ground.
For the moment, the boy held Jarod to the ground, not otherwise hurting him.
Jarod was able to see Demetrius holding Latoya by both arms, yelling at her: “You slut. You refuse me. You refuse a brother. You chose this sorry sissy, instead. You bitch.”
His words spewed out of his both in a vehement, strangely rhythmical fashion. He could see terror in Latoya’s eyes, and Jarod began to yell:
“Don’t hurt her. Don’t hurt her. We’re just friends.”
Suddenly, he heard Latoya yell toward the boy holding Jarod down: “Don’t hurt him, Marquise. He’s just a friend, really.”
The boy called Marquise continued to pin Jarod down; Latoya and Demetrius soon were yelling at each other, but he could see Demetrius was not going to hurt the girl. The boy was angered, it appeared, at Latoya’s fraternizing with another boy.
Soon, Jarod was pulled up to his feet and the four young people formed a circle. The tension seemed to have lessened.
“We’re just friends, Demetrius,” Latoya was explaining. “Just friends.”
“Yeah, just friends?” Demetrius said, still not convinced. “Then why were you kissing?”
“Oh, Demetrius, I didn’t kiss him like we kissed on the Fourth of July,” the explained.
“Oh, why kiss him then at all?”
Jarod felt compelled to explain. “They were like sisterly kisses,” he said quickly, not realizing immediately what he had said.
“Sisterly kisses,” Demetrius replied in astonishment.
“Well, it’s like Jarod and I are sisters,” Latoya began. “We’ve known each other all through middle school and we talk a lot to each other. He’s very understanding.”
Demetrius looked at Jarod, as if judging the boy’s longish hair, slender face and puny body, and perhaps deciding that Jarod was no threat to his romantic desires for Latoya.
“And do you know what we were talking about, Demetrius?” Jarod began. “We were talking about you. ‘toya was sad that you were ignoring her. I was comforting her.”
“You mean you were like girl friends, then? Just talking?” Demetrius asked.
“Yes,” Latoya said. “Jarod is really just like one of the girls.”
“Yuck,” said Marquise who still held Jarod firmly by his upper arm, pressing his strong hands into the soft flesh. “You really are a sissy!”
Demetrius nodded in agreement. “Just like my cousin Wyatt. We call him Winifred. Are you one of those, Jarod?”
The tone was mocking and Marquise picked up the chatter: “Yeah, maybe next time he should wear a dress.”
“Lay off him, you two,” Latoya warned, coming to Jarod’s side. “He’s my friend and you should know that he was defending you, Demetrius. He cares about me being happy.”
Demetrius stopped: “You mean?”
“Yes, he was telling me to be patient, that you were just doing your macho, boy stuff, and that you liked me.”
“He did?” Demetrius’ tone changed, as he looked at Jarod.
“Yes, and he told me that I was right to honor my pledge,” Latoya said.
Demetrius and Marquise were silent, and after a few more exchanges, along with Latoya’s entreaties to treat Jarod nicely, the two boys said they were sorry for attacking Jarod and Latoya. They four sat on the grass and began talking.
“So you’ll be at Roosevelt with Latoya next semester,” Demetrius asked.
“Yes, I guess,” Jarod said.
“It’s kind of a rough place, Jarod,” the other boy said.
“I know, but I think I can handle it,” he replied, without conviction. “I had some problems at Tubman but it was ok.”
“Look,” Demetrius said. “Marquise and I will be juniors, but if anybody gives you any shit, you let us know. Any friend of ‘toya’s is a friend of ours.”
Jarod smiled and a few minutes later, he watched as the two boys and Latoya walked off to their bikes, Demetrius holding Latoya’s hand. It was a pretty sight on a warm, sunny August day. Someday, he dreamed, there’d be a nice boy holding his hand as they walked slowly in the park.
“How you doing, girl?” It was Wanda, returning home from soccer practice, still perspiring, a sweatband around her head and her tanned, muscular thighs showing from beneath her muddy shorts.
Jarod was reclined in a picnic chair in backyard, his one leg tucked beneath the other, wearing shorts and a tank top. He wore a pair of his mother’s sunglasses, a pair she had discarded and were emblazoned with sequins. He had covered his bare skin with lotion to protect it from burning and was reading another of the “Traveling Pants” series of books. To his mother’s dismay, he had taken to reading books meant for teen girls.
“But mom,” he had argued, “They’re good stories.”
The real reason, of course and as his mother suspected, was that Jarod was finding he identified with the girls in the books.
He was deep into the book when Wanda came up, and was startled from his concentration. He looked up and said: “Oh hi, Wanda.”
“You know, Jane,” she began, “You look just like a girl laying there are you are.”
“Aw,” he blushed.
Wanda pulled up another plastic outdoors chair, placing it next to Jarod. She sat down, began caressing his slender arm.
“Where’s your mom?” she asked.
“At school,” he said.
“Jane, Jane, Jane, I didn‘t think you’d be out here like this if your mom was home.”
“I wouldn’t,” he agreed. “She’d be pissed if she came home now. I got another hour or so before she’s due home.”
Wanda continued to caress his arm, moving her fingers slowly up and down his arm, sometimes taking his slender hand in her strong hand and squeezing it gently. He loved it when she did this, feeling she wanted to feel his femininity, his weakness and vulnerability. It just intensified his feelings of being a girl, but it also brought his small penis to stiffness and made him a bit light-headed.
Wanda smelled salty and sour, but the scent seemed to intoxicate him. He moved onto his side, his legs still curled in a most feminine manner, and with his free hand caressed her muscular thighs.
The two sat together like this for several moments, saying nothing, but feeling a warmth toward each other that was unexplainable. It was a strange sisterhood they had built, she being everything he could not be as a boy and he being everything she was not as a girl. Jarod felt he wanted to be engulfed into her arms, smothered with her love and protection.
“Your arm is bruised here,” Wanda said, finally.
She examined the soft flesh of his bicep, which had suddenly turned a yellowish purple, showing the clear outline of the fingers of Marquise who had held him tightly to the ground at the park.
“How did that happen? Who held you there?” she demanded.
He hesitated but soon told her the whole story of the attack at the park and how he had been roughly held to the ground until Latoya’s pleas caused Marquise to loosen his hold.
“My poor Jane,” Wanda said, leaning over to kiss him, employing the same sisterly kisses the two shared regularly. “I wished I had been there to protect you, darling.”
Jarod blushed, realizing the irony that he needed girls to come to his rescue. In truth, he found sweetness in the thought that he was so dainty and weak.
“Why did she call you,? Wanda asked. “I haven’t heard from her all summer.”
Jarod nodded, “It was the first I heard from her this summer, and she said she tried to call you, but you were at practice.”
“She told you things she wouldn’t tell any other boy,” Wanda said.
“I know, but she probably was sure I could sympathize with her, or something,” he said, realizing that Latoya probably considered him to be a friend with whom she could share all of her girlish thoughts.
“You know ‘toya and I both think of you as a girl,” Wanda said. “We’ve both agreed to keep your ‘Jane’ a secret, but you really are just like a girl to us.”
With that, Wanda gave Jarod a quick kiss on his lips, and left, headed to clean up.
Wanda’s visit and the affair at the park that day had buoyed Jarod’s spirit, and he ended his sun-bathing in the yard to return to the sewing machine to work on Amy’s dress. He was concentrating heavily on the project when his mother arrived home from work. He was humming to himself as he toiled over the dress. He was nearly finished with it, and several times he got up and walked to the mirror, holding it in front of himself to judge how it would look when finished.
He was in the midst of a sashay, holding the dress in front of himself, when his mother popped into the room.
“Oh there you are,” she said.
“Hi mom, what do you think?” Jarod said, posing in front of her.
“It’s lovely, dear,” she said. Even though she had originally opposed his doing the dress, she had become enthused over the project, thinking the boy’s design and skill in sewing had accomplished a truly beautiful dress.
“Is it too short?” he asked.
“Maybe, you know how sensitive Amy is about her legs.”
“I know. I guess she’ll have to try it on soon. I know I’d love a dress like this.”
“Now, Jarod, you just forget that thought,” his mother said sternly.
“Aw, mom, I was just teasing you,” he said, without meaning it. He had indeed tried the dress on several times, but it hung badly on him, since he was thinner than Amy. He had thought to himself several times how nice it would be to have such a dress.
“Jarod, where did you get those bruises on your arm?” his mother asked suddenly.
He was still wearing the tank top and his bare left arm had now become even more colorful, the bruises now defined like fingers on his bicep.
“Oh it’s nothing,” he said, returning to the sewing table.
“No Jarod, bruises like that are not ‘nothing.’ Tell me what happened. Who was beating on you?”
“Oh mom, it’s OK now. It was nothing.”
His mother persisted until Jarod finally told of his encounter at the park, but purposely leaving out some details, passing it off as a misunderstanding and saying that the boy who gave him the bruised arm didn’t really mean it.
“How did you happen to go there, Jarod?” she asked when he finished.
“Well, Latoya asked me to go there. She was sad about something and wanted to talk to me.”
“Why you? You haven’t seen her since school let out,” his mother asked perplexed.
“Well she thought she could talk to me about her boy friend,” Jarod explained.
“But why you? I don’t understand.”
Jarod grew silent for a moment, finally answering: “Well, mom, she said I was the only one she could talk to besides Wanda and Wanda was at practice. She knew I’d understand.”
Nancy Pinkerton said: “OK, Jarod.” Her face developed a quizzical expression, as if confused why her son was the only person available with which a teen girl could share her problems.
His mother said no more and turned to leave, telling Jarod to clean up the sewing area and to get dressed.
“We’ll go to the mall. You need to get you some clothes for school, Jarod,” she said. “You’ve shot up a bit this summer.”
“Ok mom,” Jarod said as his mother left the room.
Jarod wondered if his mother really understood. Should he tell her that Latoya wanted to tell him her problems because he, Jarod, was just one of the girls? His mother obviously knew that girl friends tell each other their feelings and thoughts and joys and frustrations. She also knew that teen girls would never think of sharing such thoughts with a boy. But then, he hoped, his mother would realize that Jarod was indeed something special, something different. It’s been something girls have done together since the beginning of time, he felt.
It was partly to tease his mother, but also partly to satisfy his interest that he dawdled as they entered the department store through the girls’ clothing department in order to get to the boys’ clothes.
“Mom, look at this gown,” he said, pausing at a rack of gowns marketed for teen girls who were aiming perhaps at a homecoming dance or prom date.
He removed the gown, a dark green belted model with a plunging neckline. He held it in front of himself; it ended at mid-thigh. He was grinning, but his mother returned a stern scowl that would have turned an all-star football tackle into butter. He placed it back on the rack reluctantly.
He also saw a rack of Capri pants which also intrigued him, wishing he could stop to look through them. He really wanted to own such pants; they would go so neatly with sandals which he would wear to expose his slender feet and painted toenails. He supposed he could even wear them in a boy mode.
“Come Jarod, let’s hurry here,” his mother chided him.
Indeed, Jarod had grown during the summer, now hitting 5’7” which would likely no longer make him look so tiny among other boys. His frame, however, retained its slender, almost dainty structure, so that fitting him with shirts was difficult. His narrow shoulders were dwarfed when he found a shirt with sleeves long enough to fit his arms.
After an hour of numerous trips to the fitting room, his mother and he finally agreed upon a pair of dress pants, two pairs of jeans, several shirts and sets of briefs and tee shirts. “You’re not going to wear panties to school, Jarod,” his mother explained as they purchased the briefs.
After shopping, they stopped for a cone at the Chet’s Custard Stand. (Such custard stands were fairly unique to their community and popular among people of all ages. The custard they served was a soft form of ice cream, made richer with use of more eggs in the recipe.)
“We’re going back to Dr. Martin, honey,” his mother told him as they sat in the car licking their cones.
Daintily licking his cone, Jarod was silent. He was sitting with his knees tucked together, pointing outward, and his feet tucked the other way. Jarod looked at the car next to them, spying a teen girl, wearing a tank top and in pigtails, obviously waiting for someone to bring her a custard. A tall lanky boy soon arrived, carrying two sundaes in plastic cups, topped with whipped cream and cherries. The scene prompted a day-dream: he was picturing himself as Jane, a lovely teen girl in pigtails, sitting at the custard stand with her boyfriend.
“What mom?” he said still in a trance over his day-dreaming.
“I made an appointment for next Thursday to see Dr. Martin again,” she said. “At 9 a.m. in the morning, so I don’t miss too much work.”
“Dr. Martin?” Jarod was still into his day-dream.
“Yes, that Dr. Martin, honey, the one we took you to about your behavior.”
“Oh, the shrink? Mom, I’m not crazy. I don’t need that,” he said, returning to licking his cone.
“Sweetie, he’s more than a shrink, dear. You know that.”
He continued to lick his cone, taking small licks, and wondering why his mother wanted to go to Dr. Martin again.
She started that car, taking a slower than usual drive home. They had gone several blocks before she spoke again.
“You know Jarod,” she began slowly. “You really can’t shake the feeling you’re a girl. I can see that, honey.”
“Oh, mom, I’ve tried so hard. Really, I have.”
“I know you have, dear,” she said, as they approached the house. “We’ll see what Dr. Martin says.”
Nancy Pinkerton had spent two years as a provisional teacher at the community college, working without benefits. The pay wasn’t bad, but she worried about the lack of health insurance and visits to Dr. Martin were expensive. Their one visit had been worthwhile, Nancy felt, since it helped her accept that Jarod may indeed have some special qualities and may have a gender issue. She wanted to recognize that, having noticed how naturally Jarod had become involved in activities of a feminine nature. Yet, she feared he would be ostracized by society, never able to fulfill his potential if he continued in his girlish ways. The boy was so marvelously intelligent, it was obvious, and could have a shining future, she felt.
“Now that I have health insurance coverage, I think Dr. Martin can help us out, Jarod,” she said.
“You’ve had a busy day, dear,” his mother said after they got in the house and put the shopping bags away. “And, you’ve been such a good boy to his mother tonight.”
“Thanks, mommy,” he said, reverting to his little girl’s voice. He often did this at night as he prepared for bed, usually getting reprimands from his mother to act more like a boy.
This night, however, his mother smiled, and said: “You go and put on that lovely light blue nightie, you know? The one with the thin straps over the shoulders? The satiny one?”
He was overjoyed; the nightie was his favorite.
“And wear some panties tonight and let me see you when you’re done. Come out in those pink fluffy slippers, too.”
“Oh mommy, I love you,” he said, rushing to hug her.
“And then we’ll fix you’re hair. I think it’s long enough for pigtails.”
“Oh mommy, it is. It is.” He giggled as he skipped to his bedroom, arms flailing about.
In his mother’s efforts to downplay his feminine tendencies, she had not fixed his hair in pigtails for two years; she had relented to let him wear nighties and panties to bed at night, and on occasions at home when he could dress as a girl. These times had become less frequent.
“Oh mommy, this is so special,” Jarod said as he sat on his mother’s vanity stool as she began twisting his hair into pigtails.
“You’re mommy loves it, too, Jane,” she said, using his girl’s name for the first time in months.
“Yes, mommy and daughter,” he said, as they both mugged into the vanity mirror. The smiles on the two faces exuded charm and magic.
“But, honey, this is just for tonight, OK?”
“Yes, mommy, I understand.”
His mother looked at the bruise on his arm, now turning an even more ugly yellow. “Does it hurt, honey?”
“A little, but not as bad as it looks.”
She finished tying the ribbons onto the pigtails. “Now there’s a pretty little girl.”
Jarod smiled at the sight.
“Oh honey,” his mother began, again holding his bruised arm. “I so worry about you. You’re not very strong.”
“Oh mom,” he reassured her. “This was nothing. I know how to defend myself.”
“Remember I went to the self defense class with Wanda?”
“Yes, I guess that’ll help.”
“It will mom,” Jarod said. “Besides, I made some friends today. They will help me.”
“Ok, time for bed darling,” his mother said.
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