Pigtails Are For Girls — Part 04
By Katherine Day
After an exciting shopping expedition, Jarod tries to become more of a boy,
but his girlish nature dominates even as he befriends the athletic girl who lives next door.r>
Chapter 9: Jarod Reappears; Janey Lurks in Shadows
A week after summer camp ended, Jarod’s new friend, Terrence called and invited him to go to the mall with he and his older sister, Melissa, an invitation he eagerly accepted. That whole week he had been forbidden to play with Emily and Angela, their return to Amy’s duplex unit accomplished by a court order requiring their return to their mother’s custody, but with the condition that Jarod no longer be involved with the girls.
Amy and Jarod’s mother, Nancy, had cried over the condition, feeling it was unfair; Jarod, however, surprised both of them by realizing how his girlish behavior was causing problems.
“Mommy, I will be a good son,” he told his mother, believing his own words, but not sure how he could accomplish it. His feminine mannerisms and enjoyments had become so natural.
They both hugged him, and by the end of July, Emily and Angela returned home to Amy, accompanied by their paternal grandmother. She was a kind woman, who had always liked Amy, in spite of her working class family, and felt her son was wrong in leaving Amy and the girls for the “young hussy.”
Jarod was careful not to interact with the girls in any way, not even waving “Hi” to them. He watched often from the kitchen window as they frolicked in the backyard, but turned away if the girls would look in his direction.
While he was determined to seek to act more boyishly, he refused to give up his sewing and dress designing. It meant he could spend hours of the long summer days doing something creative. He also read a lot, and even wrote a few poems. It was a time of creativity and loneliness for him; his mother, home for the month before school started again, was busy with her lesson plans for the coming school year, but found time to take him to a movie or shopping or for a meal at a fast food place.
“But, no pigtails,” she said.
“You know, pigtails are . . .”
“. . . for girls,” he finished her sentence.
She had forbade him to wear his hair in pigtails out of the house, and had even trimmed his hair to a point just above the shoulders, making it more easily manageable into a boy’s cut. Yet, whenever he could, Jarod was able to turn the remaining hair into short pigtails.
In a further concession to his desires, Nancy let him wear nighties to bed at night; she tried to stop him from playing with his dolls, but he dragged them out of the closet when she was busy or gone for a few minutes.
She also purchased a cheap window air conditioner for his bedroom, thus ending the practice of him joining her in bed at night.
“Boys don’t sleep with their moms,” she explained.
Jarod was beginning to understand these gender differences, it seemed, and he took the changes in stride. At times, he cried at night, wishing he could awaken the next morning and resume his role as Jane and live totally as a girl.
“I’m a girl,” he often would say to himself, and as he imagined himself as a girl, he noticed his penis would grow hard. He would caress his left upper arm with his right hand as he lay on his side in bed, loving how soft and slender his arm was. It was like a girl’s arm, he thought, and that pleased him.
One night, imagining himself a girl, his penis hardened so much it pained him and suddently a smooth white substance emerged leaving the goo on his nightie and the sheets. He had masturbated for the first time in his life, and he felt terribly guilty, finding a towel to wipe it off the bed sheets, the nightie and himself.
In the morning, before his shower, and while still in his nightie, he would parade before the mirror in his room, acting very girlish, and smiling to himself.
He also began masturbating when he thought of Terrence, the fat boy he met at camp. Terrence was so soft and squishy to hold and Jarod cherished the idea of cuddling with him again and kissing him. He recalled Terrence’s last words at camp:
“You promised to make me a dress, Janey,” he said as they had the final brief kiss in the woods. The two friends had taken to calling each other (when alone) by their adopted girl names, Jane and Terri.
Jarod would welcome the challenge of dressing Terri like a pretty girl, a fat girl, of course.
“I want to do that, Terri,” Jarod had replied. “You have very pretty face. You’ll be a pretty girl.”
Jarod recalled the smile on Terri’s round face as he said that. And Terrence had dainty girly features beneath his fat, Jarod thought.
Terrence’s sister, though six years’ older, bore a striking resemblance to him; a round fleshiness seemed to feature both of them; each had a round role of fat under their chins, but with sparkling blue eyes that were captivating and inviting. She wore a full skirt that accentuated her already wide hips and ended in mid-calf, exposing surprisingly tiny ankles and feet. She wore a peasant blouse, with puffed, up short sleeves, showing ample cleavage and soft, but not overlay fat arms.
Jarod could see how Terrence could easily fit into his sister’s clothes, and imagined him in a similar outfit. The thought of Terrence — as Terri — excited Jarod as he entered the auto that his sister, Melissa, was driving.
The afternoon at the mall passed quickly and easily; even before they left the car, Melissa confessed that she knew her brother liked wearing her clothes, and that he had told her that Jarod promised to make him a dress.
“I think that’s so sweet that you sew,” she said. “I can’t hardly do a stitch.”
“My mom taught me, and I’m alone a lot. I like it,” Jarod explained.
“Did you make that blouse you’re wearing, Jarod?”
“Yes, it’s a unisex blouse.”
The blouse had a wide neck, with an embroidered bodice and was sleeveless. It was violet in color. He was wearing shorts and bare legs with sandals. With his somewhat shortened hair, he still could easily be mistaken for a girl, and his mother had pleaded with him to dress more like a boy.
“You’re very pretty, Jarod” Melissa said. “My brother said you like to dress like a girl, too.”
Terrence giggled. “We called each other Terri and Jane sometimes at camp.”
“Well then I guess we’ll be three girls at the mall today,” Melissa said as they approached the mall parking lot.
Terrence, too, was dressed in jeans and a sleeveless top. His jeans, Jarod could see, must have once been his sisters, for they were obviously a pair of girl’s jeans. His hair, too, was long and with his soft narrow shoulders and weak arms, coupled with his wide hips, made it easy to mistake him for a girl as well.
“Boy jeans don’t fit as nice,” Terrence explained.
In fact, the three were taken for girls almost everywhere, being addressed as “girls” or “miss.” If anyone asked, they said they were “Terri” and “Jane.” Often the two boys would giggle; sometimes, they held hands, as subteen girls often do.
Melissa took them to two stores that specialized in fashions for “plus” size women and girls.
Terrence, easily falling into role of Terri, fell in love with a summer, print dress that was on sale in one store. It had a high waist, folded skirt that ended at the knee, along with an square bodice and short puffed up sleeves. It was advertised for the “full-figured teen girl.”
“Would you like to try it on, miss?” the clerk asked Terri.
“Yes, of course. The fitting rooms are there, miss.” She pointed to a corner of the store, adding, “Marie is on duty there, and she can help you put it on if you wish.”
Terrence had easily assumed the feminine movements as he went to the fitting rooms.
“Isn’t she lovely?” the clerk said.
Jarod had to admit Terrence looked like a lovely, chubby girl in the dress. It was tight across the hips, and the clerk said the dress could be altered for a small extra price.
“You can have it, Terri,” his sister said, quickly. “I’ll buy it for you for your 11th birthday next week.”
Terrence smiled at the prospect; he had only recently told his sister about his dressing up, forced into confession after she caught him trying on one of her bras. His flabby chest had developed breasts, which were easily going to be bigger than any of the girls in his class in school.
“I suppose I shouldn’t encourage this dressing for Terri,” she told Jarod as they waited for the boy to remove the dress in the fitting room.
“My mom says the same about me,” Jarod said. “I’m supposed to act more like a boy now, but it seems so difficult.”
Terrence would be able to pick up the dress next week Wednesday, it was determined, and that prompted Melissa to suggest that would be a good day to have a birthday party for Terrence.
“It could be an all-girls’ party,” she suggested.
Terrence giggled at the idea; Jarod was a bit more restrained, realizing he’d be violating his mother’s wishes that he act more like a boy. He merely nodded in agreement.
“OK, it’s settled then,” Melissa said. “Just us three girls; we can do it at our house during the day when our mom is working.”
Jarod could not help but be excited at the prospect.
“And Jane can put her hair in pigtails,” Terrence said with glee.
“Pigtails?” his sister asked.
“Yes, he likes to wear pigtails. He wore them briefly at camp. He’s cute in them.”
“Mmmmmmmmm,” Melissa said. “Pigtails are for girls, and I bet they look great on Jane.”
Melissa told Jarod when they were alone while Terrence went to the rest room that her brother had no other friends, and that she was so happy the two boys had become chums, even if it was because of their mutual desire to be girls.
“You two even act like little girls together,” she said.
Jarod looked forward to the birthday party. Before they left the store, they had the clerk take Terrence’s measurements, so that Jarod could fulfill his promise to make a dress for his new friend.
“If I work fast, maybe I can have it for your birthday, Terri,” he said.
As the three walked back to the car, Terri and Jane held hands and giggled. Melissa thought: What have I here? Two giggling girls?
Jarod thought he could use his allowance to buy the material for the dress he planned to sew for Terri, which was how he thought of his friend Terrence. When he asked his mother to take him to the fabric store, she asked him why did he want to do it.
“Ah,” he stammered. “Ah . . . ah . . . to make something for my friend Terri.”
“The boy you met at camp?”
“Yes, Terrence. Him.”
“What do you want to make for him?”
“Nothing? You don’t need fabric to make ‘nothing.’”
“Well, something then. It’s a surprise for his birthday.”
His mother eyed him suspiciously. “Jarod, you’re not telling me something.”
“Oh, mommy,” Jarod pleaded.
“Don’t ‘mommy’ me now,” she said sternly. “I’m your mom or mother; only girls say ‘mommy.’”
She said she would not take him to get the material until he said what he was going to make for Terrence; she had noticed a pattern book next to the sewing machine that was open to a pattern for a dress for a chubby girl. She went into the bedroom, returning with the book in her hand.
“Is this what you’re making for your friend, Terri?” she said, emphasizing sarcastically the word ‘Terri.’
Jarod nodded tentatively.
“A dress? For Terri? I thought you might have been making one for Amy.”
Jarod began to cry. “But mommy, I mean, mom, I promised. He likes to dress too.”
His mother took Jarod into her arms, hugged him tightly, and began crying herself. The boy’s desire to be feminine, she was realizing, was going to be hard to break. She had seen Terrence and had been alarmed at the boy’s obesity, realizing that Jarod had found a friend with whom he had something in common: they were both failures at typical boy things, both physically inept and both seemingly enjoy more feminine factors in life.
“He’s the best friend I ever had,” Jarod said. “His birthday’s next Wednesday.”
His mother directed him to go to the bathroom, wash his face and dry his tears, before returning to the kitchen. She placed a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream in front of him when he returned, also making a bowl for herself.
“Honey,” she began. “We’ve been over this before. You’re going to have to try to get over doing girl stuff now that you’re 11 years old. You can’t go to school all girly this fall.”
“I know, mommy.”
“Yes, mom,” Jarod replied.
His mother moved her chair next to him, and gently ran her fingers through his hair. She marveled at how light and airy his hair was. When he was younger, his hair was blonde and she had always kept it cut long. She had taken to tying it in his younger years in a ponytail, just to control the strands. When she let his hair flow loosely in those younger years, he had looked like the most darling of little girls, a comment she often heard from strangers.
Now as he turned age 11, his hair had turned light brown, but it still retained its softness and she had found that tying it up in pigtails made lots of practical sense, even while retaining his “cute girl” look. She cherished him as her son, but in her mind he had become her “daughter,” a sweet, loving, caring girl.
“My darling child,” she said now, twirling his hair in her fingers. “You are such a pretty, pretty, pretty thing. But, this can’t continue. It’s not fair to you.”
Jarod turned to his ice cream, which had begun to melt in the bowl. He had only taken two bites, lifting the spoon daintily and taking only tiny bites, as had become his manner of eating. His mother had noticed how virtually all of his mannerism had become subdued and girlish.
“Mom,” Jarod said slowly, carefully. “I’m trying to be the boy you want me to be. Mom, I’m really trying. But it’s so hard. I like dresses so much, and I so much wanted to do a dress for Terri.”
“Well, Jarod, you can’t. I want you to call him up and say you can’t.”
“Oh mom, I promised.”
“No, you can’t and that’s final,” she said. “Now finish your ice cream. We need to go to the mall and get you some boy clothes.”
Jarod turned sullen; it had been a long time since he had acted in such a way, Nancy recalled. Ever since he’d been acting in his girlish way he had been cheerful, sunny and a joy to be around.
“If you want, you may invite Terri here for a birthday party, but you’ll both have to be boys.”
Jarod called Terri later that night after he and his mother had returned from the mall, having purchased slacks, shirts, shoes and more male underwear. Terri said he understood, recognizing the power that mothers had over boys of their age.
Soon, the two were giggling over the phone, particularly after Terri said he had hoped Jarod would have created a dress for him that would have the boys drooling.
“I would have made you the sexiest girl in 6th grade,” Jarod said.
“With the biggest boobs,” Terri had added. The two giggled even harder.
“Michael would get hot for you,” Jarod said, referring to one of the boys at the camp.
As Jarod pictured his chubby friend in a revealing dress, he grew excited and his penis grew harder.
“Jarod,” his mother said sternly. “You’re giggling like a little girl again. Now finish your call and hang up.”
His mother had removed all of his girl clothes from his room, and substituted all boy outfits.
“No more nighties, darling,” she said as she led him to bed. “Here are your Green Bay Packer pajamas.”
“Oh mommy. Do I have too?”
“Who am I?”
“I’m sorry. You’re mom.”
“Now lets take out those pigtails, Jarod.”
“Yes, you know. Pigtails are . . .”
“ . . . for girls.”
They both laughed as he finished her sentence. She sat on the side of his bed with him, removing the ties for the pigtails. She kissed him good night.
“Now Jarod, sleep tight. Mommy loves you,” she said turning out the light.
“It’s mom,” he reminded her. They both laughed.
Jarod now realized he was to begin a new journey, a journey into manhood. He did not feel he was equipped for that journey. Was he “boy” enough to make it? The prospect scared him and he had trouble sleeping for the first time all summer.
Chapter 10: Jarod’s New Adventure
The month of August was ahead for Jarod, and he was lonely. He was barred from playing with Emily and Angela, the two little girls in the next duplex unit. Their mother, Amy, had cried when she told Jarod’s mother, Nancy, that she had agreed to the provision forbidding Jarod’s association.
“It’s not Jarod’s fault, Nancy,” she told his mother. “He’s a sweet boy and the girls loved him.”
“I know, and Jarod’s crestfallen about it, but he understands,” his mother said.
His mother had recognized how the boy’s girlishness was complicating the lives of everyone; she found her son’s willingness to become more masculine to be admirable.
“I can see he’s trying so hard,” Amy said.
“Except, he still insists on those pigtails,” his mother said. “But we can keep them short enough they aren’t too noticeable.”
Amy said that Jim, the man she met when she took her girls and Jarod to the park, had called, wondering whether she might join him for a trip to the zoo, along with his young daughter, Jessica. Amy said that Jim suggested that she bring Jane along, too.
“I just told Jim that Jane was busy doing other things,” Amy said. “He’s coming over to pick us up about 2 p.m. today.”
“I’ll keep Jarod out of sight then,” Nancy said, recognizing that Jim might recognize the pigtailed boy as “Jane.”
“Thank you, Nancy, but it’s too bad Jane can’t join us,” Amy said. “That bastard ex of mine is such a shit.”
“Well, Amy, I think it’s probably working out for the best,” Nancy said. “Jarod now is recognizing that life might be easier for him if he acts more like a boy.”
“I guess that’s true, but frankly, he seems to be so natural as a girl. I’ve read that to stifle his more natural inclinations, Nancy, might endanger him in the long run. Why not consider letting him become more outwardly a girl?”
Nancy didn’t answer immediately. She looked at her neighbor, a short, cute dark-haired girl still in her mid-20s and growing chubby with the challenges of being a single mother. She, herself, was only 30 years old, and, if she was to believe others, a very pretty woman; she could lose maybe 10 pounds. She realized both women had so enjoyed Jarod when he was “Jane,” but she felt her motherly responsibilities required she try to raise the child as a boy.
“I know how you’ve enjoyed Jane,” she said, finally. “I’m not going to totally stifle his feminine feelings, Amy, but I feel we need to put them aside for a while, so he can adjust to the middle school environment.”
“I know you’re doing the best you can, Nancy. We both love the child.”
The two hugged; they had become truly close friends that summer, and Nancy often looked forward to their conversations. Nancy hadn’t dated in years, even though she was obviously an attractive woman. There were no decent eligible men available, she told Amy, who agreed readily. For Amy, the budding interest in Jim was a “first,” and she had told Nancy how taken she was with the man. Amy, too, realized how naíve she was in the ways of male relationships, having had only one boy friend (her now ex-husband) and having never “dated” another man.
“I think he likes me, too, but I don’t know what he sees in me. I’m so fat.”
“Don’t be silly,” Nancy said. “I’m sure he finds you a ‘hottie.’”
“Jarod told me he thinks I look best in the peasant top. What do you think, Nancy?”
“Amy, I think Jarod knows best. He’s quite an expert on girls’ clothes. Wear the peasant blouse for Jim.”
Amy went back to her unit next door without seeing Jarod, who had come into the hallway and overheard the last portion of their conversation. He ducked into the bathroom to avoid Amy seeing him. He was crying now, wishing he could join Amy and her girls in the zoo trip, but realizing it was out of the question now.
He had locked the bathroom door as he cried, sitting on the commode, its top down to provide a seat. He was wearing a tank top, which was dark blue and could be worn either by a girl or a boy. As he sat there, he played with his hair, now shorter in length, but still long enough to be formed into a ponytail or pigtails.
He twirled the hair into two pigtails, using rubber bands to secure the twists, all the time looking in the mirror, his tears ending as he saw his image transform into that of a girl.
He smiled as he saw the image, his pretty face and slender arms and shoulders.
“Jarod, honey, are you in there?” He heard a sharp rap on the door, and an excited tone in his mother’s voice.
“No,” he said. “Janey’s here.”
“Jarod, enough of that. Open this door.”
She rattled hard on the handle. He didn’t reply. She began knocking, her raps becoming more insistent as she yelled: “Jarod, Jarod, Jarod.”
Jarod didn’t respond. Instead, he found his mother’s makeup kit, the one she took with her to school. He rummaged through it, finding lipstick, some eyeliner and rouge.
The rapping finally ended. “Come out of there in two minutes, or else you’re grounded,” he heard his mother threaten.
“Jarod’s not in here,” he said in his high girlish voice.
He felt just like a girl now, as he put on the lipstick, rubbing his lips together, and then removing a bit of strayed color with his pinky finger, as he’d seen his mother do many times before. He then applied rouge and a light bit of eyeliner.
“Janey’s coming out now, mommy,” he said, almost defiantly.
In truth, he was terrified in what he was doing; he had never defied his mother so directly before, and he loved her so much he hated doing it. Yet, the pain of being denied his life as Jane was too severe, and the simple act of tying pigtails and putting on makeup had ended his sorrow, at least for a while.
When Jarod left the bathroom, he was Jane again; he wore a pair of pink shorts to complement his dark blue tank top. He wore, too, white ankle socks and a pair of pink sandal flats.
“Oh Jarod, Jarod, Jarod,” was all his mother could say.
“I’m Janey, mommy,” he responded with a smile.
“I guess you are, honey. You’re a Jane, that’s for sure.”
“Are you mad at me mommy?”
“Yes, I am. Very mad,” she said, but the smile on her face betrayed her true feelings. She truly loved seeing her son as Jane; he was just too adorable.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it. I am so sad about hurting Amy and her family.”
“Amy said you’re not at fault; it’s all a misunderstanding, but you know we have discussed this. You’re to be a boy as far as anyone else knows. OK?”
“Yes, mom,” he said, carefully emphasizing the “mom” as he had been instructed, since “mommy” was used by girls.
“OK,” she said, realizing that her stark decision to remake him into a boy would not be easy.
“Come here, Jane,” she said finally to lovely child in front of her. “Let me fix those pigtails; you did a pretty lousy job tying them.”
Jarod smiled, running to his mother, hugging her at first and then sitting down so she could work on the pigtails.
“You can be Jane sometimes at home, but nowhere else, Jarod,” she said firmly.
“OK, mommy. Can I sleep in my nightie, too?”
“I guess, so. You’re a determined girl, aren’t you?”
Nancy was so frustrated now; she knew in her heart that Jarod must truly feel he should have been a girl, but if he followed that course, he faced a life of terrible challenges. And, for the life of her, she could see no hint of a boy standing before her, just a very, pretty, dainty girl.
“Now why don’t you go out and ride your bike around, honey,” his mother suggested. “It’s been a while since you did that. You used to like riding it.”
“I do, mom,” Jarod said. After the bathroom incident, he realized that if he was to act more like a boy when he went to school and was out in the public, he’d have to change his ways.
“Well take off that lipstick and put on a tee-shirt,” she said. “And put on your running shoes and that pair of sweat shorts.”
As Nancy later watched her son get his bike out of the garage, he still looked very much like a girl, even with his change of clothes. His hair, now without pigtails, poked partly out from the back of the baseball cap he was wearing. She just shook her head, worried now that he might be harassed as he rode about the neighborhood.
She heard the Modjeska boys tease him as he rode out the driveway, but Jarod had learned to ignore them and he was soon down the block away from their taunts.
“The child has guts,” she thought to herself.
The following day Nancy welcomed the new family that moved into the single house next to hers, taking over to them a plate of cookies. She and the woman of the house, Helen Highsmith, quickly became friends, and shared the fact that they both had youngsters dearly in need of friends. Jarod had been mistaken by the new family as a girl, due to his slender build and habit of wearing pigtails, but the two mothers agreed that perhaps Helen’s daughter, Wanda, who was one-year older than Jarod, might still become friends.
“Jarod, Jarod.” The boy heard his name being called as he lowered the garage door after getting his bike from the garage.
He turned to see the new girl, Wanda, standing in her yard, holding her bicycle. She was wearing a tank top and pair of denim shorts, cut high to expose tanned, firm thighs. She was easily as tall as Jarod, and appeared to have broader shoulders and muscular arms. Her flaxen hair was tucked under a baseball cap, and it flowed out of the gap in the back.
“Hi, I’m Wanda,” the girl said.
“Hi. Mom told me about you.” Jarod had been looking out the window at the girl whenever she was outside, marveling at her easy beauty.
“Can I ride along with you?” she asked.
“Ah, sure. I’m not going anywheres, just riding.”
“That’s OK. Maybe you can show me the neighborhood.”
They both headed out into the road, only to be seen by the Modjeska twins: “Playing with a girl again, sissy boy?”
Jarod continued riding his bike, trying to ignore their taunts, but feeling he should show his courage by challenging the bullies.
“Sissy, sissy, sissy,” they yelled after him as the two biked down the road.
“Good for you, Jarod,” Wanda said, riding alongside him. “They’re just stupid.”
He smiled, merely nodding in agreement. Was this girl teasing him now? Or was she sincere? He wondered.
The bike ride took them past the middle school they would attend, and the two stopped, putting their bikes on their sides on a grassy plot, as he told Wanda everything he knew about the school. She shared with him about her school.
“I hope to be on the soccer team here,” she said. “I played soccer at my other school.”
“It’s nice they have teams where boys and girls both can play. Maybe you can be on the team.”
“I doubt it,” he said. “I’m no good at soccer.”
He wondered why she queried him on that; it must be obvious he must be no good at sports. The two of them sat on the lawn, their legs stretched out straight before them, their arms holding their backs up. Her legs were obviously strong and his showed no tone.
“Haven’t you played it before?”
“Oh some, but I don’t much like sports.”
“So my mom told me,” she confessed. She said her mother told her that Jarod was a nice boy, but that he loved doing things girls did.
“You know what? I hope you won’t get mad now.”
“I won’t Wanda. You seem nice.”
“When I first saw you, I . . . ah . . . thought you were a girl.”
He reddened, knowing that he liked the idea of being mistaken for a girl, but knowing that it confirmed what the Modjeska twins were saying: He’s a sissy. He liked Wanda, since she seemed sincere and kind and he wanted to be her friend, but he was afraid she’d be scared away by his girlishness.
“Does that bother you? That I thought you were a girl?”
“No,” he said, slowly, measuring his reply.
“It’s OK,” Wanda persisted. “Each of us is different. I get teased because I’m a tomboy and like sports. Some girls tell me that I’ll never get a boy friend because I got muscles.”
“Oh no, Wanda, you’re beautiful,” he said. He meant it; she was a “hottie.”
“And, you, Jarod are very nice looking boy. I’m sure when you get older lots of girls will like you.”
“You’re just saying that,” he said. “No girls will want me; I’m not strong like a boy should be.”
“Well, you’re still growing,” Wanda said. “You’ll get stronger.”
The two soon finished their ride, ending up in the Highsmith kitchen where Wanda’s mother treated them to lemonade and cookies. Later, the two ended up in Wanda’s room, with the door open, where Wanda showed Jarod her shelf of awards. There were perhaps a dozen shiny gold and silver trophies for soccer and basketball and track. Jarod was dazzled by the display (held on a special shelf), but Wanda seemed most proud of a scrapbook she produced.
“My stories are in here. And, some poems too, plus some pictures,” she said, handing him a thick scrapbook of manila pages, crammed full of stories, the first pages have stories in a painstaking tiny neat handwriting, and the later pages obviously from a computer printer.
“You wrote all these?” he said in amazement.
“Yes, since about 3rd grade. They’re not very good.”
“Oh I bet they are,” he said.
His eyes were drawn to one page, a poem entitled: “The Girl Next Door.”
The girl next door is pretty as a peach,
With a beauty I shall never reach.
Golden hair that shall never fail
To glisten in a lovely pigtail.
Oh that I can some day be
As dainty and lovely as she.
“When did you write this?” he asked.
“Oh that one. Last year.”
“It’s a cute poem, but do you really feel that way?”
“Oh Jarod, I’m a horse compared to many girls,” she said. “I was so jealous of her, that girl who lived next to us in our old house.”
“No, you’re pretty. I told you that.”
Wanda shook her head in a negative fashion.
“You’re sweet to say that, Jarod, but I’m not to be a pretty girl.”
Jarod started to protest, but she continued.
“Why you’re prettier than I am. When I first saw you, I thought you were the cutest girl.”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes, you are, now admit it. You’re a prettier girl!”
“No, I’m not,” he giggled. She was teasing him.
“Admit it,” she persisted, taking his wrist and twisting it firmly, but gently, easily overcoming any resistance he could muster. He was totally in her control, being too weak to resist her firm grip on his arms.
He started giggling and she wrestled him easily to the floor before he finally admitted: “Yes I’m the prettier girl.”
“See, now, you admit it.” Soon they were both laughing.
“Maybe that poem is a premonition,” Jarod said, now breathless from the wrestling nd giggling. “It really is about you and me.”
Jarod told her that he also liked to write poetry and that he also knew how to sew and make dresses.
“You do? That’s so cool,” she said.
“I’d like to make you a pretty dress some day,” he said. “That is, if my mom would permit it.”
“Why wouldn’t she?”
“She wants me to act more like a boy.”
“Boys can sew dresses,” Wanda said. “The biggest names in fashions are men.”
“You’re cool, Wanda,” Jarod said.
“You are too, Jarod,” Wanda said. “I had fun with you today.”
And so a friendship began, a friendship of understanding and honesty and openness. It was a friendship that would grow in value in the troubling years ahead.
With Wanda, Jarod discovered, he could share his most intimate secrets, just as he had shared his own desires to be a girl with Terri. This was different, however, since Wanda seemed to accept Jarod on his own terms without judgment and without any personal desires of her own. With Terri, Jarod began to realize their attraction had been physical and without any breadth of interests.
“I would think you’d find me awful,” he admitted to her one day while they had stopped in their riding at a park.
“Why would you say that?”
“Because I’m not like other boys.”
“Maybe that’s why I like you,” she said.
They were getting off their bikes as he began that conversation, and they placed them in a rack, and locked them.
“Let’s take a walk to the bluff,” she suggested.
The bluff was at a high point, overlooking the lake, with the beach far below them. They could see the white sails of numerous boats, along with the flitting of powerboats on the blue water. Far out was an oreboat, its long silhouette on the horizon.
They sat on one of the half dozen benches that lined the overlook, the others empty, since lovers rarely were out in the late morning hours.
Jarod and Wanda, of course, we not lovers, in any sense. They were two children beginning to explore life, and finding common cause in their adolescence.
“You know, Jarod, you don’t need to have big muscles to be cool,” she said, taking one of his hands in hers, actually dwarfing his tiny hand in her larger one. Jarod suddenly felt ashamed of his puny self in the company of this strong girl, wishing he could hide his slender forearms and soft biceps.
“I’m not good at any sports,” was his only response.
“I like you because you’re nice,” she said. He blushed, now focusing his eyes out on the lake, trying to locate the oreboat on the horizon.
“I’ll race you back to the bikes,” Wanda said, when they got up from the bench. Before he could protest, she was off and running, taking big strides and quickly covering the ground to the bike stalls. For his part, Jarod struggled, knowing he was slow and awkward as a runner.
He was panting when he reached the bikes, where Wanda caught him in her arms, as if to stop him from collapsing in exhaustion.
“You’re so cute when you run, Jarod,” she said in a teasing tone.
“See, I told you, I’m not much good,” he responded, still breathing hard.
“I’m sorry I did that, Jarod,” she said. “Really, I’m sorry.”
“I know, you’re thinking I run like a girl,” he said.
“Well, I thought you’d compete better with me than you did,” she said.
They got on their bikes and returned home; neither one said much, with Wanda suggesting they go on a bike outing the following morning about 10 a.m. Wanda realized she had hurt Jarod’s feelings, but was uncertain how to make him feel better.
“Maybe,” was Jarod’s only reply to her invitation to bike again the next day. He put his bike in the garage and went into his home, finding solace in curling up on his bed. He cried, so ashamed of his weakness, and wishing so hard that he could be a girl.
“Wanda’s here for you,” his mother said rapping on the door of his bedroom. He had confined himself to the room after the humiliating bike ride, spending time writing a story about a little girl who wanted to save a duck that seemed to have come into her family’s yard.
“I don’t wanna see her,” he said.
“Jarod, come on out of there,” his mother ordered. “Wanda’s brought us some strawberry ice cream. It’s your favorite.”
“I hate her,” he said.
“That’s silly. She’s a nice friend,” his mother said, opening the door now.
“Dry your tears, honey. Wanda told me she’s sorry for what she did this morning. Come on out.”
She led him to the bathroom, helped him wash his face and comb his hair, leaving it flow loosely. He appeared about five minutes later, finding Wanda in the kitchen, wearing a light blue summer dress, with her hair neatly brushed and turned up.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi Jarod. I brought some ice cream and remembered your favorite was strawberry.”
He looked at her more closely. He had never seen her in a dress; she always looked like a tomboy.
“You’re pretty in that dress,” Jarod said.
“Do you like it? I wanted to wear it just to show you I can be a girl.” She giggled.
“I think it’s perfect for you,” Jarod said. “It makes you so pretty.”
The dress itself had a square bodice, with ruffles at the hems, and short puffy sleeves. It was belted high on the tummy area, and fully skirted, helping to broaden Wanda’s otherwise boyish hips. She wore white pumps, without heels.
Before they opened the ice cream, his mother had called Wanda’s mother, and asked her to join them.
“You didn’t believe my daughter would wear a dress, I bet?” Wanda’s mother said when she arrived for the ice cream.
“I always knew she was pretty, but never realized how pretty she was,” Jarod’s mother said.
“She wanted to wear this just for Jarod,” her mother said.
“I know Jarod likes pretty things,” Wanda said, looking at the boy now, smiling.
Jarod felt better now, but he merely nodded in assent. He did like pretty things, even dainty things and he was thinking about a dress he might like to design for Wanda. And, his thoughts wandered on, the kind of a matching dress he’d make for himself.
“Now, be careful when you eat the ice cream, Wanda,” her mother warned. “You don’t want to ruin that nice dress.”
That night, Jarod lay awake, wishing he was a girl and could be with Wanda to go shopping or to the movies as girl friends. Being a boy, he continued to muse, was such an awful fate. In his mind that night, he pictured he and Wanda were being girls together, wearing all sorts of dresses.
The next day, he looked out the window to see Wanda practicing with a soccer ball, doing all sorts of dribbles and touches, and looking quite skillful at it. Jarod had played soccer only in school recreation classes, and had performed ineptly, either missing a ball completely, or kicking it weakly, often to an opponent.
She looked up and saw Jarod looking at her, and waved; he wanted to duck out of her view, but she had seen him already, so he waved back.
She beckoned him to come out and join her, and he wanted to decline, afraid he’d embarrass himself again as he did yesterday. Her wave was insistent, so he motioned he’d be out after he changed his clothes. He put on denim shorts, a Green Bay Packer jersey and a pair of white running shoes, with ankle socks. He put his hair in a ponytail, tucking it out through the gap at the back of a baseball cap. As he was about to leave, he looked in the mirror, realizing he still looked girly, but decided he had nothing better to wear.
If Wanda noticed how feminine he looked, she said nothing, merely tapping the ball to him, which he awkwardly fumbled and kicked back, the ball heading off to the right.
“I’m no good,” he said.
“Oh posh,” she said. “Let’s go in the backyard. I’ll show you a few things.”
He followed her at a run to the back, realizing she probably decided to move there to avoid the stares, and possible taunts of the Modjeska twins.
The session went surprisingly well, since Jarod proved to be a quick learner in spite of his physical weakness. She taught him how to kick the ball properly on the side of his foot, and he found he could send it further than he ever had. She taught him to follow his opponent’s feet if he was defending and how to accomplish a tackle or the steal the ball.
Several times he stole the ball cleanly from Wanda and he jumped with joy, squealing and giggling, although he felt she maybe let him do it to encourage him.
“You let me steal the ball, Wanda,” he protested.
“No, I didn’t Jarod. You did that cleanly.”
“Yes, you can be good at this game. You just need to practice.”
“OK,” he said, now out of breath. They took a break, sitting at a picnic table the Highsmiths had in the backyard.
“Yes, I know you could make our middle school team,” she said. “It’s both boys and girls, and you already have the skills.”
“Oh, I’m pretty lousy,” Jarod said. “My legs are not strong, like yours.”
“You’ll do fine, and leg strength isn’t important as long as you know how to do it.”
He held his legs out straight from the picnic table, as if to compare them with hers. It was apparent he had truly slender, pretty legs. Wanda looked at him and smiled.
“We’ll practice some each day, and with our bike riding, you’ll get strong. You’ll see.”
Nancy, Jarod’s mother, had walked over to the Highsmith house, joining Wanda’s mother, Helen, in the kitchen. They were sharing coffee, while watching their children in the backyard.
“I have to admit they look like two pretty girls out there, Helen,” his mother said.
“I’m afraid you’re right. Jarod has such a lovely pair of legs, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, and here I am trying to make him into a regular boy. Do you think it’s hopeless? And am I wrong?”
“I can’t tell you what is right or wrong, Nancy,” Helen said, sipping her coffee. “But I do know that if Wanda has anything to do with it, it would not be hopeless. When she’s determined to do something, she’ll do it. And I think she wants Jarod on the success team this year.”
In previous talks, Nancy had shared with Helen her concerns about Jarod becoming so girlish that he’d have problems in school; the two had agreed that it might be nice to encourage the friendship to continue between the two children.
Helen had gently hinted to her daughter to engage Jarod in her sports games to draw him out and make him more competitive. Meanwhile, she also left suggestions to Wanda to occasionally wear a dress and be more feminine.
There was no doubt, they had realized, that the two children, as different as they appeared, really had lots in common; and, they were unaware of the fact that the two shared poetry and writing and creativity, which perhaps would be their tightest bond.
They looked out at the pair on the picnic table, talking animatedly with Jarod hands moving about steadily, and Wanda being more serene.
The mothers smiled.
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