Second grade was in a new room, with a new teacher, Mrs. Graves. I will never forget Mrs. Graves. She started the new year out by taking me aside and letting me know "in no uncertain terms" that she would tolerate none of my "shenanigans." My reputation had preceded me.
[Left: Not Mrs. Graves, but a close facsimile.]
The class as a whole was warned against horseplay. One of her very strong rules was that boys do not hit girls. I said, "What if the girls hit me?"
This was not a rhetorical question. Soon after school started I found myself being regularly being kicked in the shins by a brunette with pronounced bangs and a wide face named Helen. She thought she was being seductive, I think.
Mrs. Graves answer to that was, "You're a boy. You should be able to take care of yourself."
I still, to this day, don't know what she thought that was supposed to mean.
Does it mean that if I were a girl, I'd be incapable of taking care of myself, I'd have to have someone leading me about the nose all day long, helping me walk, breath, and sit up, and wiping my drool away?
I don't think so.
Did she mean that because I was a boy that I could prevent girls from kicking me in the shins by using my "Boy Shakti" to lay them out sideways and upside-down until they cried for their Mommas?
I don't think so.
One possibility that occurred to me was that "Boys don't cry" and that therefore, if I am a real boy, getting kicked in the shins by Helen wouldn't matter to me, because he who doesn't cry doesn't suffer.
[Left: Not Helen, but a close facsimile.]
That idea was impossible, because I couldn't believe that even Mrs. Graves was that fucked up in the head.
So what was it? You tell me. I still don't get it. Someone's kicking me in the shins. I'm not allowed to hit back, and when I ask for help, I'm told, "Boys can take care of themselves." Catch 22, 23, 24, and 25. You're a boy, you get kicked in the shins, shut up, fuck off.