My mother had hoped for a boy when she discovered she was pregnant. She carried me low in her belly and planned to name me Jason Michael, but when I came out a girl, she named me Jamie Michelle. She said she forgot all about wanting a boy the minute she laid eyes on my rosebud lips.
I was bald for a good portion of my babyhood, apparently fooling strangers into thinking I was indeed a “he”. It likely didn’t help that my mother dressed me in neutral baby garb, veering toward the masculine with boyish bellbottoms, wide-stripped shirts and red, rubber-toed shoes. “He’s cute!” they would apparently exclaim.
She eventually dropped the “e” on my first name, putting me into the 70’s girl-child pool of Jodi’s Juli’s and Jacki’s. In her mind this would solve the problem of the nurses saying “bring him right in”, looking up from their clipboard at my hospital checkups. Even I started believing it. When I saw my baby picture around the age of 5, I informed my mom: “That was me when I used to be a boy.”
I became a sturdy little girl with fast legs as I grew older. In fact, I was the fastest kid in school when the boys were still little pipsqueaks. I was the repeat champion tether baller in my grade to boot, so much so that my much larger Chilean chum socked me in the jaw for incessantly winning. Didn’t bother me though. I was merciless.
When I was in fourth grade, I socked Tommy Ostring in the mouth when he laughed at me for getting the wind knocked out of me by a foursquare ball. His lip caught on his braces, giving him a dramatic, bloody grimace as he wailed shamelessly in front of the other children. I was sent to the principle’s office that day.
I surely made up for any lost girly times as I grew into a pre-teen. I liked pink and purple and side ponytails like the other girls, and I started snooping through my mom’s makeup when I was still in elementary school. She once caught me trying to shave my legs when I was barely 10, warning me that once I started, I would be a slave to the razor. She advised me to appreciate the soft, blond (and wooly) hair that ran down my calves.
But it was only a matter of time..