I am the youngest of two kids.
My brother, Stephen, is almost three years older than me.
Growing up, I idolized Stephen. I wanted to be just like him.
He played soccer. I played soccer.
He peed standing up. I sat backward on the toilet. (This desire happened early enough in life that my legs weren’t yet long enough to stand while peeing or I would have.)
He made origami. I made origami.
He made awesome gun sounds with his mouth. I did my best and got really good at the machine gun sound.
As we got older, I discovered what he already knew.
I am a girl, and he is a boy.
What a disappointment.
As the years went by, instead of wanting to be him and hang out with his friends, I started having crushes on his friends.
Stephen still played soccer.
Cute boys play soccer.
Cute boys started coming over to the house to play with Stephen.
I liked cute boys.
One Saturday afternoon when I was around eleven years old, Stephen’s friend, Kevin, was over. They were outside running soccer drills: practicing maneuvering the ball with agility, kicking the ball at specific points on the wooden fence, and dribbling the ball in-and-around small orange cones.
I was inside. Doing my own thing. Which, at that moment, was getting ready to take a shower.
Our house had two bathrooms. The front bathroom had a bathtub. The “back bathroom”, as we called it, had a shower. This bathroom was in my parent’s bedroom.
Our cats had been the beneficiaries of the bathtub as their toilet. The litter box lived in the tub. So, we all bathed in the shower in the back bathroom.
My typical showering routine was to take my clean clothes into my parent’s room and lay them out on the bed. I would go into the bathroom, close the door, remove my dirty clothes, and take a shower.
After my shower, I would towel off in the bathroom, open the door, and deposit my wet towel into the laundry hamper just outside the bathroom door on my way to where my clean clothes were laid out for my newly-clean body on my parent’s bed.
The way the room was set up, when you entered, the laundry hamper and bathroom door were blocked from view by a tall chest-of-drawers. This also meant that when you first exited the bathroom, you were hidden by the same chest-of-drawers.
Standing in the doorway of the bedroom, all you would see was the side of the chest-of-drawers about five feet in front of you and my parent’s bed off to the right. If you entered the room and walked forward, you would pass a chair on the left, the door to their closet, the chest-of-drawers, and immediately turn left to see the laundry hamper and the entrance to the bathroom.
This particular Saturday, with the house to myself, I laid my clean clothes out on the bed, entered the bathroom, closed the door, took off my dirty clothes, and took a shower.
Once I was clean, I toweled off in the bathroom, opened the door, dropped my wet towel into the laundry hamper, and walked over to my parent’s bed where my clean clothes awaited my clean body.
My clean, naked body.
Stephen and Kevin jumped out from behind the tall chest-of-drawers.
I hit the deck.
I was a girl who liked cute boys. I was eleven, naked, and mortified.
It’s hard to say who was more surprised.
Me or Stephen.
We never discussed it.