Friday, September 2, 2011

Early Awakenings

One of my classmates in fifth grade, Mary, developed early.

Suddenly, seemingly overnight, she had boobs.

Big boobs. Well, big for a 10 year old and in a 10 year old's eyes. They were much bigger than my hands could grasp (and yes, in case the reader is interested, she let me place my hands around these curiosities).

And they were firm, which scared me. I thought they should be soft like a pillow, or jiggle like bowls full of jelly. But they didn't. They protruded, perpendicular to her slender frame.

The fact that she was freakishly tall and thin--a tree trunk to my twiggyness--only exacerbated her new bodily feature.

In a world of 10 and 11 year olds, these new features on Mary's landscape aroused considerable attention. Even I, who my dear reader by now must realize these did not nor could not stimulate a prurient interest, found them, well, fascinating. Even the teachers were astounded, and I am certain the teacher's lounge must have been abuzz talking about this physiological development.

And, overnight, Mary became a pariah. The kids laughed at her. No one associated with her. Our male fifth grade teacher asked students not to include her in kickball sessions, for "fear of hurting her" as I recall the announcement, and that must have exponentially heightened what must have been a suffocating sense of isolation.

One day soon thereafter Mary joined me and my very small circle. Of course the pariah kids feared socializing with each other for fear of drawing unwanted attention. So, in what seems in retrospect a vehicle to further isolation, the pariahs splintered into a myriad of mini-groups, none of which spoke to the others in keeping with the cardinal principle of minimizing random acts of "violence" enacted by others.

I was too bookish for many of the kids my age, and the bookish seemed less predisposed to socializing than others, so our groups were always very small: ourselves and our imaginary friends. But in my case the other kids intuited something else that was different, and I am sure the object of my school-boy crush picked up on this.

For some reason, Mary gravitated to me. Mary, lanky, rather boyish (hmmm, maybe Mary also harbored a similar secret!), one day took little me--four feet to her towering 6 feet--by the hands during recess and began dancing. Well, her "dancing" was more akin to spinning around, and my little frame lifted from the ground and I flew through the air. I have to say it was exhilarating: more so because someone spoke to me, I had a friend, and less so because I experienced a sensation (flying) that I had not yet experienced.

Once the other boys saw this...well, Mary became the star of the school, despite her mountainous terrain "up there." And she spun many of us round and round till one day a boy puked--he couldn't stop it seemed, buckets of the brown smelly substance gushed from his body--and the teacher placed Mary in detention.

And so when I saw upon my return from France and Portugal last week my Toad Lilies in bloom--yes, Tricyrtis formosan, which is not supposed to bloom until late September/early October, IN BLOOM--I thought of Mary, and fifth grade, and prematurely developed boobs.

And I smiled.

 And I felt like placing Toad Lily in detention, for developing too early, for ruining what was my summer garden, a time of airy nonchalance.

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