I look like a boy. Or at least I once did. You could say that, up top, I still do. (Some of my brothers used to tease me by saying I had a hope chest because I was still hoping for one. Ha ha. So original, guys. I'm still not laughing. Wait a minute....um, no. Still not funny.)
I have been mistaken for a boy three times in my life. All three occasions happened during my 8th grade year. (Now you know why I hated that "Junior High phase.")
The summer after my 8th grade year, our Spanish teacher, Senor Urish, took our class to Mexico. For a shy, short-haired, backwards little girl from Happy Valley Utah, Mexico was a bit of a culture shock. (And we visited the touristy parts.) I was terrified that I would be kidnapped or at the very least fondled because of my blond hair. (We were told that the Mexican men were obsessed with light hair.) Of course, they were looking for blond girls.
While we were in Guadalajara, we went to the huge open market. I wanted to buy myself some huaraches, so we went to a leather shoe shop. I happened to be wearing a Venezuela T-shirt that my brother brought home for me from his mission. (Keep in mind, this shirt had a picture of a Toucan on it with the word "Venezuela" written on the top left part of the shirt.)
I was wandering the aisles, looking at sandals, when a man came up to me. I was immediately nervous. He didn't look Hispanic, but I didn't know for sure. Then, he spoke to me in English. He struck up a conversation and was very polite. All of a sudden, he takes a finger and jabs my then-budding chest just below the "Venezuela" printing. I was MORTIFIED! A stranger had just poked my breast! What should I do?
He was very nonchalant.
"Ah! Venezuela! Have you been there?" he asked.
"No, my brother went there on a mission for our church," I replied, blushing furiously.
"Oh. So how many brothers and sisters do you have?"
"I have five brothers. My sister and I are the only girls."
"You're a girl?!?!? Oh! I am SO SORRY!"
He left rather quickly.
The second incident, also in Mexico, occurred at an airport. We had a layover of several hours. During that time, I had to visit the restroom. I had on a light blue sweater with a white, scalloped-edged, Peter Pan collar on it. I stepped into the inevitable line for the women’s toilet. I stood there quite a while before noticing the frequent looks I was receiving from one of the other women. Finally, she could take it no more. In heavily accented and halting English, she said, "Esscuse me. Thees is the ladies restroom. Not for boys."
"I’m a girl."
Again, dead silence followed by a profuse apology.
Later that summer, after Freshman Orientation at good old Provo High, my brother Nihao took me to Stevenette’s for a shake. I stood in front of the counter, waiting for someone to take my order. A middle-aged gentleman, who was doing repairs, noticed me and called out to the people in the back, "Hey! Could someone come out to the register? This nice young man here is waiting to order."
Unfortunately for me, I never got the chance to correct him. All I could do was mutter, bitterly,
"Young woman, mister, young woman!"
I don’t know what happened after that, but I was never mistaken for a boy again. And I even kept my short hair.
Sometimes I long for those days. I think it would be better to be mistaken for a male than have people ask me, "So….when are you due?"
I’m not. I’m just fat. Thanks for asking.