“Hi! I’m Jack. I’m your future boyfriend.”
I was suddenly disturbed while sitting in the bleachers drawing the cheerleaders/potential cheerleaders training. Very pretty ones too. James Knox Polk High School took cheerleading very seriously. Cheerleading and football. The training season started well before the academic year. If you wanted a place on one of the teams you participated in training weeks before. In both cases the people of Mediumville had high hopes of winning state championship. Especially in football with their prodigy Quarterback who had almost brought the team to play-offs despite taking over as QB only after Christmas. Luckily he had only been a junior. So this year …
You could say that I was a bit surprised when said QB was standing looking down on me with a tooth-paste-commercial smile. The quintessential Alpha Jock without any doubt of his excellence and entitlement. I had only moved to Mediumville in the middle of summer and didn’t really know the (small) city yet. However, I had pegged it as a rather socially conservative place so I was surprised that the star QB was openly gay.
“Hi! I’m Gene. Nice to meet you but I’m not interested.”
“Jean! That’s a pretty name for a pretty girl.”
Oh, that explained it. In my old town everyone knew I’m a boy. An androgynous-looking boy but definitely a boy. Auburn shoulder length hair though. At 5”7’ I’m not really short but thin. Thin – NOT skinny. I had worked hard in the gymnastics team which showed a bit but I’d never managed to build that much muscles. While I hadn’t thought about it my clothing could be interpreted as tomboyish. How embarrassing!
“OK before this gets too embarrassing: It’s Gene G E N E. I’m a boy.”
For a moment the smile faded but then returned again.
“Sorry about that. Let me get you a pizza as compensation for the embarrassment.”
He pointed to a pizza parlor across the street.
The place looked OK. There were people around in case this weird QB was really weird. I was new in town and getting on the good side of the school alpha male could be a good thing and getting on his bad side a bad thing. Transferring for your senior year was hard enough as it was.
While eating the pizza we had a surprisingly interesting conversation. He started off as the jock jerk but a chance remark revealed that he had a keen interest and a very good understanding of one of my favorite topics: late 19th and early 20th century French literature. Some he had even read in the original. A bit shamed-facedly he admitted that he had tried reading À la recherche du temps perdu but abandoned the project after less than a hundred pages. Who could blame him? When we left we had struck up at least the beginning of a friendship. Funnily enough he asked me to keep silent about the literature thing. I suppose that didn’t go too well with the QB image.
At dinner at home I mentioned the “future boyfriend” thing to my parents.
Mom: “Is he a nice boy? Do you like him?”
Dad: “If you start dating him bring him home first, will you?”
“MUM! DAD! I’m a boy! I’m NOT gay!”
Dad: “If you say so. We have been wondering though. Remember we will always back you whatever life choices you make.”
OK. Now the incident with the QB was only the SECOND most embarrassing thing that happened to me that day.
The next day I was in the bleachers again. Jack waved me down to meet the guys and girls. He introduced me as his future girl-friend. Jokingly, I assumed. Stupidly enough I only protested about the girlfriend part. I should have been more explicit about the girl part too.
As the week went on I got more and more integrated in the crowd. Well, actually more into the cheerleading crowd. With a gymnastic and a bit of dancing background (was that why my parents thought I was gay? Stupid prejudices in that case) I had one or two suggestions to make their routines marginally better. Of course I had to show them what I meant and soon I was part of their practices. I was stupid. I thought they knew I was a boy and was doing just for fun and filling out a position.
Jack and I sometimes wound up in the pizza place where we had quite nice conversations. Only thing was that I had to struggle to pay my share. We also did go to the movies once. Since I hadn’t a car and Jack did he picked me up. I was a bit late coming home so I found him sitting in the kitchen talking to my parents. I paid for my own ticket.
Then came the first day of school. That day was a day of surprises for me.
First of all I was called into the Principals office. He was very gentle and understanding and explained in detail how they would accommodate my transgender status! I was now officially registered as the girl Jean. WTF! I’m not transgender. It turned out they had received paperwork from what appeared to be a psychiatrist in my old town. Actually, MY therapist. OK, so I’d had some issues but being transgender was NOT one of them. The principal had spoken to my parents who while surprised were ready to go along. Why hadn’t they TALKED with ME? Why all these assumptions? Even if I had planned to change gender I’d never have done it without involving my parents! That’s “hands-off” parenting for you!
Anyway after trying to convince the Principal for an hour I made a tactical retreat. The Principal apparently was convinced that I had got cold feet and he in a very fatherly way assured me that everything would be OK. I accepted to follow “my schedule” that day but that we should sit down the next day with my parents. Unfortunately it turned out the Principal couldn’t do that until Friday. At least they hadn’t changed my schedule that much. Girls’ PE instead of boys’ and now I had Fashion (sewing) and Ballet as electives instead. Actually I wasn’t too unhappy about the ballet part. In my old school that would have been considered to sissy to be accepted. No ballet nor Fashion the first day luckily. Girls’ PE though. The Principal kindly enough even got me a set with a black leotard, pink tights and pink slippers for that. In order to save money it’s the same as the ballet outfit – for girls!
The next surprise was that the girls weren’t surprised or upset when I walked into the locker room. My “transgender” status somehow had been firmly established and accepted in school. Yes. I DID get an erection to the great interest of the girls.
One girl noted: “Another lesbian! That makes four of us. Oh, sorry I forgot about your boyfriend. Bisexual?”
Right after PE there were cheerleading trials. I just stayed there and helped them out. You know, filling empty places in the formations and so on. OK, I did some individual showing off as well to show some less adept girls what to do. In the end there was a bit of a hustle and some papers they wanted me to sign. Since I had kept order of the props I assumed it had something to do with that. I was wrong.
The next day I discovered that I now was an official member of the cheerleading squad. You know the one that everyone hoped would win the state championship. I tried to get out of it. No chance! I had signed the paperwork. And I just couldn’t resist the sad puppy face of Beth, the cheerleading captain who had become a good friend.
I had my suspicions regarding who was behind all this. You know, that guy that kept asking me out for dates. Yes, after the tryouts those chosen for the football team and cheerleading team went out to celebrate. At the time I didn't make the connection. I couldn’t find my shorts so I had to borrow a skirt from one of the girls. A very short skirt. So what? It’s a piece of garment and I needed something. Actually, given the warm weather it wasn’t bad at all. I was a bit annoyed though since people assumed that Jack and I was a couple. Placing us together. Making sure that we had moments alone. No, Jack didn’t try to kiss me.
The rest of the week until Friday I just went with the flow. I kept the skirt since the heatwave was extreme. Fashion wasn’t bad at all. Much better than my original pick. Ballet was in a studio outside school. There too the girls had the same reaction as in PE. Not that I stayed in girls’ PE for long. By Friday we had managed to get a note from my old therapist that the paper the school had received was a forgery. The school didn’t bother to report it to the police. Since I had a very good suspicion who was behind it all I was not surprised at all.
The important part was that I was officially back as the boy Gene again . Not that most people in school noticed. The reason I was out of Girls’ PE wasn’t my official gender change. Cheerleaders had better things to spend their time on if we were going to win the state championships. Yes, I kept changing with them. It made sense since we had all those post-practice talks. And it wasn’t like I could be any more embarrassed than I already was. After the first week it was just “Blah”. Like seeing your sister in the shower. Since the ballet studio only had one changing room I just kept changing with the girls. No big deal. I did use black tights and a white leo though.
I did go to a couple of dates with Jack. For me there was no spark which I finally managed to convince him of. Fortunately he was not an asshole about it and we remained friends. So every now and then he tried hitting on me again but backed off when I told him. Over the months I learned the QB was adored and his wishes was the law of the school. The QB was Jack’s real identity. It started there and more or less ended there. He had already more or less been promised a football scholarship at an Ivy League university. Good thing since the QB of course couldn’t be seen as doing too well academically. Not that he wasn’t intelligent. He was but Jack, the person, in many, many ways really was an asshole most of the time. As a person he wasn’t “liked”. The much nicer Jack that I by chance had come to know was a well-hidden secret. When he wanted to see a ballet performance by a great visiting company we made it sound like he was taking me to a date and I was the one that insisted on the ballet. I did but Jack was as eager as I was.
I also owed Jack a great debt of gratitude for the way he had introduced me in school. I never was the “new boy”, I was something much, much more interesting. Also, while I’m definitely not gay or transgendered I discovered that I do like to slip over the traditional line at times. And if the already strange boy/girl is doing well? Well, that’s just another strange thing about him/her.
When Jack and I formally broke up we kept being good friends. He came to all my competitions. I went to all his. Under his leadership the football team seemed set to win state championship. By the luck of the draw the last really difficult team they had to meet was already in the quarter finals. The other three semi-final team were already settled. Mediocre all of them.
I was there for the quarter final. As expected our team crushed them. Unfortunately that was not the only thing crushed in the game. In the final minutes the QB was viciously attacked and taken away to hospital.
I never had been Jack’s girlfriend but we always had been good friends. After that game I realised that I had been his ONLY real friend. Jack never would be able to play football again. He no longer was the QB. Without him the team lost the semi-final to a mediocre team that went on to take the championship. The fallen hero was blamed. Hey, he was not the only one in the team. Did they even understand what “team” meant?
To make it worse for him, given the nature of the damages, his parents had decided to reassign him as a girl. I know that they had to make the decision while he still was unconscious. I knew that they believed that it would make it easier for to make a complete break with his old self: The QB, something he never could be again. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Girls were an entirely different species to him. Maybe that’s why he latched on to me. He wouldn’t survive a day among the bitches in school (not all of them were but enough). He had no reservoir of good-will any longer. No support. He’d have to try to be something he had absolutely no idea what is was.
That scholarship to the Ivy League university: “What scholarship?”
Jack’s grades were good. Not the exceptional ones he would need to get into a really good university. Not even very good. With a couple of months left before graduation he, well she now, would never make them exceptional. With a bit of help and very hard work they could turn into very good. With his unusual circumstances that just might be good enough.
That was in my mind when I entered his, well her, room in hospital. I was in position to return what he had given me. I was well liked in school. Since Beth had that unfortunate accident (she had been thrown out of her bed during “vigorous” lovemaking and broken her leg) I had become the cheerleading captain and WE had won the state championships. I was the big man (girl) on campus now. While he had become a black hole I had become a super-nova. I could help hi .. her fit in in school. I could help her improve her grades.
As I opened the door Jack looked surprised. Maybe it was because I really was doing the “male” today. Well, as well as I could. It turned out that the most masculine outfit I had was my black suit which actually fitted my purpose quite well. White dress shirt with silver cufflinks. Conservative tie impeccably tied (I had checked it in the reflection in my dress shoes before entering).
As I handed her the flowers and box of chocolates I told her:
“Hi! My name is Gene. I’m your future boyfriend”
For the first time since that terrible game I could see her lips form a shadow of a smile.
The shadow became more substantial. The smile grew into a fully fledged grin. A radiant grin. I could see her face glowing.
“Hi! I’m Jackie. I’m your future girlfriend”
Oh My God! Please help me! I’ve fallen absolutely helplessly in love with this girl!
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