Shawn Dewberry and I vigorously cartwheeled off our best kung fu moves as he was always Chuck Norris and I was Bruce Lee. Our boyish displays of strength and agility were interrupted by two girls who we called “The Twins.” Thinking back, they likely weren’t twins but probably just cousins. But it’s what they told us boys, and we boys are easily fooled by the wit of clever girls.
“Are you Dana’s boyfriend?” the Twin confronted me. Caught off guard by the question, I nearly landed on my face in the middle of a backward somersault. Shawn was always better at it than I was.
I stood up from the mat and replied with a hint of disgust in my voice, “No!” The girls quickly dispersed, and I assumed the issue was resolved.
When I was approached by one of the staff members at the Shirley Chisholm Day Care Center in Bedford Stuyvesant, New York, the angry look on this woman’s face meant that things were far from over.
“What did you say?! Dana is in the bathroom crying her heart out!” Her serious tone of voice affirmed the lesson every male eventually comes to learn: when a girl is crying, it is typically a boy’s fault.
I tried to explain my position, the best any eight-year-old could, that I was only telling the truth. I wasn’t her boyfriend and held no romantic interests because I wasn’t aware I had any or was supposed to. Apparently, life doesn’t wait until we are ready. The only adult in the room who was able to sit and talk with me and acknowledge my clueless response also happened to be the only male adult in the building: the janitor.
—Photo Daquella manera/Flickr