birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Boy, Oh Boy

Boy oh boy. I have always loved boys. Well, boys have always been a significant number of stars in my constellation. There was the me that wanted to be a boy, but that had something to do with freedom to roam and the sorts of adventures permitted to boys and the things they weren't expected to be. Because I could never get down the things expected of girlish me. Not dresses, not make up, not dolls. I loved my dog, and I lined my room with stuffed animals, but dolls were the stuff of torture (pull them apart and strew their heads about) or nightmares. Truth, they creep me out still, those artificially pink and round cheeks, those glassy eyed stares.

Mostly, I think , boys were allowed aggressive intelligence, and I was looking for a way to be the smart girl that I was. So somewhere in elementary school, the stars aligned and Amy, who taught me to claim "tomboy" and also would not hear of dresses ("look at the two little boys playing together," Mrs. Dosinski, the 3rd grade teacher who believed firmly in skirts would sneer at us when she passed us in the hall) and who parlayed her tough little self and tiny feet into a Harvard professorship, Amy, and Nick Martielli, who, last I heard, is all about a perpetual stoner life enlivened with harder drugs, were dispatched to a quiet corner of our open school with all the books we could read and math several years above our grade, where we'd play spiderman and discuss super bowl victories. And that's when I started to believe boys had more fun.

It was another decade or so before I fully understood how much fun boys could be. And it wasn't until one of those bys asked the right way that I picked up mascara and pierced my ears and then started looking at lacy lingerie. At the same time I was working double shifts in the dishroom, managing a crew of, yes, boys.



Boys and Girls