The first time I saw a human ball was when I was 10 years old. Calm down. I wasn’t molested. I was over at my grandma’s house playing outside when her husband walked out onto their patio, smoking a pipe and wearing a pair of nylon jogging shorts. He casually flopped one leg up on their wooden picnic bench and asked me how school was going, completely unaware that one of his saggy balls had flopped out. I was mesmerized.
Actually, it was super gross and the only time in my life I have questioned whether I might be a lesbian. I even went as far as envisioning sitting my parents down to tell them I was super gay. They would tell me they were surprised, but that they loved me no matter how gay I was. But then, I remembered all the boys I wanted to make out with in my grade, so I did what any virtuous, young woman would do. I motioned for my little sister to come over and bear witness to the lone dangler swaying in the summer breeze, so that she too could have this image seared in her brain for the rest of her life.
He’s dead now. I regret not standing up to speak during the “stories of remembrance” part of his funeral. Having now seen my fair share of balls over the course of my life, I would have definitely told my grandma she did well for herself. And this would have comforted her. *Author’s Note- I had to call my attorney before I published this because I honestly did not know if writing about a dead man’s acorns (singular) was considered slander. It’s not.
When I was in college I received an urgent call from my sister who was in high school at the time. She had signed up to take a weight-lifting class to meet dudes or have an hour off in the middle of day if that better suited her needs. Hearing this strengthened my postulation that my sister is indeed a genius. The only downside was the class was taught by the dean of students/ football coach. I too had this man as my teacher once upon a time. If memory serves, I believe it was an introductory course on misogyny and sexism. Yes. We loathed one another.
Anywho, my sister ended up ditching so frequently that he eventually caught up with her ass and demanded she come in to make up some classes. My sister grudgingly drug herself down to the weight room and watched as he demonstrated how to lift heavy shit. During one of his grunting and vein popping sets, a purple plum flopped out of his gym shorts.
It is interesting how people respond in times of great anguish. I would have narrowed my eyes and victoriously yelled, “OMG, SICK!!!! YOUR BALL IS TOTALLY HANGING OUT. I NEED TO GO SEE THE GUIDANCE COUNSELOR, CALL MY MOM, AND BE FOREVER EXCUSED FROM THIS CLASS SINCE I AM SO TRAUMATIZED BY THIS APPALLING ATROCITY!” My sister just stoically walked out and called me. I told her I was sending her a Golden Retriever with a vest for her PTSD and some weed.
Okay, so there is an actual point to my story. I am now a mother of daughters, one of whom started middle school this year. On her first day of school she came home and told me about the “5 B’s” dress code. No bras, boobs, butts, boxers, and I can’t remember the last one, but it overtly pertained to young women needing to cover their bodies.
I could tell my daughter was confused. I had taught her about drugs, sex, strangers, cell phones, the Internet, drinking, on and on, but not once had I ever mentioned clothing except to say, “Grab your coat, it’s cold out.” This was a new territory for my child. I watched as she cast her eyes over her outfit, scanning her body to ensure she had not accidentally broken any rules. In my mind, I screamed, “No, please stop, you are perfect!”
I had never made a big deal over what my daughters chose to wear or challenged their choices. I wear jeans, sweats, professional attire, flannels, no make-up, full make-up, sexy dresses, yoga pants, drugstore flip-flops, designer heels, cutoffs, and Mike’s giant t-shirts. They see me in all these things and it had never occurred to me my choice of clothing should necessitate an explanation.
I wear what feels good on my body. And until this moment, my daughter had done the same. I had failed her by not preparing her for what was to come. It had taken me over thirty years to begin uncovering the truth about who I am because somewhere along the way, I allowed a skewed society to mold me into who I “should” be. Remember Erin- “Good Girls” do this….
My daughter still knows who she is. She dresses to feel warm, to feel beautiful, and to express herself. She is not trying to distract, impress anyone, or be a slut. My daughter is brilliant, she is kind, she has respect, she is a writer and an artist, she is an activist, she stands up for people, and she has manners. She reigns in her queendom of personal power.
On Back-to-School Night, I met all my daughter’s teachers. I felt a profound gratitude and deep love for the team of incredible, men and women responsible for educating my child. I thanked them profusely for their tireless work and dedication to their profession. My daughter whispered and pointed out one of the teachers who had announced the “5 B’s” dress code. I walked over, introduced myself, and politely informed him he needed to add “Balls” to the list due to suffrage they can cause. I cited my examples and he laughed super hard. He was a great guy and he was simply doing the job he was taught to do.
When we got in the car I asked my daughter who the dude was. “He’s the vice-principal mom.” Whatever. I have always maintained it is best to skip the middleman and go straight to the top if you have a concern.
My kid is now the one sporting BLUE lipstick in strict adherence with the “B’s.” Oh yes, it is most definitely a metaphor. It also conveniently happens to make her feel beautiful. My sincere apologies to anyone I might have accidentally flashed my bra straps, boobs, bum or lady bits. I hope you went on to achieve greatness in your lives. Love, love, love to each of you. XO