Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Remembering almost-girlfriends and transgender boys …

I didn’t have a girlfriend in seventh or eighth grade in Norco, California. The girlfriends would come much later. But I did have friends who were girls who I danced with at sock hops. In seventh grade, I did have a girl at the back of the classroom near where I sat pull up her dress a tad and rearrange her nylons. I know the girl knew I was watching because she looked at me and smiled. I don’t recall her name, but she was one of the girls I danced with at the sock hops.

Who knows? Maybe she could have become my first girlfriend, except my family moved back to my birthplace – Wadsworth, Ohio – in October 1965, changing my life forever. Beyond this girl who used her nylons to tease me, I knew another girl who I had a special childhood friendship with in Rialto, California back in elementary school. I remember her name – Laura Wagner.

While I ended up in Ohio, my friend Laura got to live the California life.
Dad, mom, my sister Jody and me moved into our St. Elmo Drive home in 1958. Soon Laura’s family moved into their home just two houses away. We immediately took to each other. She was one year younger than me, and we often played together. Once she wanted me to spend the night at her house – at that age we were truly innocent and knew nothing about sex – and couldn’t understand why her mom told her “no.” I went home hearing Laura crying in the background.

I taught Laura how to play baseball, and she was a better player than many of the boys in the neighborhood. Both families had above-ground pools and she’d be either over at mine or I’d be over in hers during the hot summer months. I have one vivid memory of the two of us … we were wrestling in the side yard of my house., rolling around like a couple of cowboys in a knockdown, drag-out fight. When I pinned her, she’d look up at me and start singing a love song, and I’d leap to me feet and complain, “Stop that, Laura!” Maybe that could have been the first stirrings of adolescent love, except Laura’s family moved from Rialto to Anaheim in 1964.

I saw Laura one more time – in September 1965 just before my family moved back to Wadsworth, Ohio. We drove to her home in Anaheim; Laura wasn't home so I played with her eighth-grade brother Mark, who was a year older than Laura. Finally, she came home along with a friend of hers. Both wore tennis dresses, and I immediately noticed my childhood friend had become very shapely and pretty. Laura acknowledged me with a wave and “hi,” and then left with her friend to play tennis. Well, that’s not entirely accurate … she asked me if I liked tennis, and I stupidly said I preferred baseball. Maybe had I said yes, she would have invited me to go with them to the tennis courts. That’s the last time I saw her – walking out the door and out of my life, a potential romance that would never be.

Avator's Na'Vi people ... they could probably identify with transgenders.
I had another friend while I lived in Southern California – this one a boy who wanted to be a girl. I met him in junior high, and became his friend because other guys bullied him. I don’t like bullying, and decided to offer him friendship. I don’t recall his name, but I do remember his face – pimply and thick curly hair. He told me he had a problem … he was developing breasts, a condition in boys called gynecomastia. He was transgender, and told me he wanted to become a girl, and joked that maybe someday he could be my girlfriend. I’m glad I met him during my early teenage years … he taught me to be accepting of people radically different from me.

So you can see … I didn’t have a love life in my early teenage years, but I did live in interesting times.

Mike Staton is the author of a fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The first two books have been published and the third is still being written. To purchase them, go to: