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Learning How To Be A Girl

Crystal wanted to be a boy, but not sexually speaking. Once Pam came into her life and showed her what being a girl was about, she ran the other way. She heard echoes of Pam and the torture she’d felt with her sister in faux friends that she made over the years. Each “friend” backstabbing and betraying her doing various things to communicate what she was ashamed of to each other behind her back.

Period stain. Her underwear routinely became bloody from lack of maxi pads (tampons are for rich people, you see) and understanding that a period comes approximately every 28 days. In the 1990s, that wasn’t really common knowledge like it is today, thanks to Dr. Internet. She’d often start her period in the middle of a class and end up in the nurse’s office, but they wouldn’t send her home because she’d missed almost two weeks out of the first month of school due to serious depression. Something her parents ignored completely, of course. She scoffed when an Indian doctor, Dr. Snow, told her she was constipated when she was suicidal instead.

Medicine for the win, amirite?

She could have spoken up for herself… if her rape-enabling mother wasn’t in the same room as her. She could have told Dr. Snow the terrors of her household and said she was depressed. It’s not like she didn’t know what was wrong with herself. She didn’t know she could have a voice. She didn’t know it could change for the better. She didn’t know it could get better. Not until she was about fifteen.

The day came when she threatened to throw her father in jail for molesting her, for raping her. He turned around on her and got in her face, saying he’d kill her the day he got out of jail. He proceeded to threaten her with death over and over to control her, to keep her under his thumb, to continue to reign as Asshole Supreme over the household. It was soon after this that Pam ran away with her child.

Crystal wanted to be a boy because she thought her brothers were safe from the asshole. She didn’t know her mother was the pedophile of the equation, the one who urged her father to practice his sickness on his own child. She blurred the boundaries between right and wrong enough to make him embrace it completely, making Crystal assume that her father was the devil in disguise.

Years and years later, her brother turned to her and said, “What he did to you, mom did to me.” Crystal was sad and angry. She believed her brother without a doubt, though she never told him so. She had hoped what she did say communicated that, but she never could tell if she’d said enough or not. Her autistic little brain made leaps and bounds between point A and Z and expected everyone else to be able to keep up, often saying what would normally occur to people after twenty minutes of thought in just twenty seconds.

She found herself constantly backtracking, filling in the gaps and explaining things. She got really talented at being able to explain to youngsters, age five and older, so she adopted that approach to life. Unfortunately, this made people think she was simple just because she covered all her bases and spelled everything out. (You wouldn’t think that if you read her workplace documentation, by the way. She’s a genius at breaking down graduate level concepts for the layperson.)

Other people would imply she’s stupid for bothering to say all the things from point A to Z. They were projecting, because, more often than not, they really did need the full explanation. They just didn’t know it because she provided it. If she’s ever said anything to you that didn’t seem like it jived in the conversation at hand, but days later you figured out it did, now you know why she tries to give a thorough explanation.

Crystal believed in Occam’s Razor before she even heard it, honestly, but most people want everything to be really complicated. They mistake complicated for finesse. Finesse is something that is cultivated over time with a discerning eye for flair. If you’ve seen her wardrobe in her later years, you’d know she had kitsch down to finesse. If you saw her individual pieces of clothing and adornment as components, it would take a lot of imagination to figure out how they all fit together to become an appealing outfit. And, yet, she dressed herself daily to test the boundaries of garishness and fine art.

Crystal hated the idea of being a girl for a long time, though. She hated the idea of being attractive or acting anything like Pam, the one and only girl she’d come to know, expressed again and again in people like Stephanie G., Julia B., and anyone else who pretended to be her friend because they themselves were lonely or otherwise needy. Catty, bitchy, full of vitriol, spewing insults and complaints endlessly, especially behind her back. Narcissistic.

Her own mother was a tomboy, you see. The family did things like go fishing together. Crystal did her best to sabotage fishing expeditions, of course. She loved all creatures even then, wanting them to live and let live. She didn’t like fish, either, so that didn’t help. Her father has a story about going fishing with minnows. He had a five gallon bucket full of them from the bait shop.

Crystal watched him spear one on a hook and before he knew it, she screamed into his ear on the second one, “NOT MY MINNIES!!!!!” He almost fell off the side of the pier, sitting straight up, because she was loud and adamant. On this particular occasion, they ended up bringing home a bucket of minnows to put into a fish tank for her. He used worms the rest of that trip, catching next to nothing.

In fact, Crystal did everything in her power to make fishing a chore for her family. By the time she was fifteen, they stopped dragging her along, although she didn’t really mind being down by the water. It was usually five or more degrees cooler there due to the wind.

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