A Few Brief Tales About the Boys Who Will Be Boys

I was in the public pool, age 13, when my friend’s brother grabbed my bikini bottom and yanked it down. The lifeguard saw it happen AND PUNISHED US BOTH because, he said, how could the boy have done it without my permission? I’d spent hours picking out that peach-colored bikini, because Mom was worried about how much they all showed, while I was worried about how they all fit, but after that day I got a one-piece bathing suit and didn’t wear a two-piece again until many years later.

I was in Montreal, age 15, doing some shopping one afternoon, when a man came up to me on the street and said in what might otherwise have seemed like an exotic tropical accent, “Excuse me, miss. I needed to tell you how much I like your tits.” I was so startled, I actually thanked him, then quickly found a store to run into, worried he might follow me. I had no cleavage, and didn’t understand what he thought he saw. Now I know he was just “trying it on.”

I was returning from running laps for gym class in 11th grade when a boy trapped me in the tiny back hallway by leaning against the door, insisting I couldn’t get back in unless I kissed him. I couldn’t go around the building to the front, and pleaded with him to let me go. Finally, worried about being late, I leaned toward him, barely brushed his cheek with my lips, and grabbed the door as he reacted. I told the story to several people that morning, and the most common response was, “Oh, that’s just X. He tries that with everyone.”

That’s just for starters. God knows how it was for the actually pretty girls.