Mark, age 8
Attleboro, Massachusetts (1976)
This picture represents how it all became clear to me at an early age. At age 5 I begged my family to let me take ballet classes. Nijinsky was flying around on PBS television, giving me a crystal-clear vision of what I wanted my life to be: soaring, gorgeous, moving always and only to a dramatic soundtrack… and clad in tights. The response: “Little boys don’t take ballet.”
I bookmark this event as the revelation of my “difference”.
But at the same time I knew – thank you PBS!!! - that the universe was on my side.
I immediately adopted the strategy of sneaking through the insanity undercover, to get whatever I could from it.
So I registered for tap-class, and took up the clarinet in order to round out an emulation of Gene Kelly. I proceeded to hound the teacher with choreography suggestions, for seven years.
Though ballet was over the line for my family, they nonetheless were extremely deferent to my faerie-child ways. Dolls, lipstick, dresses, showtunes, my obsessive impersonations of Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson-Riley -- even the behavioral extremity of my love at age 4 for my teenage cousin Kevin (poor thing!). I’m the youngest of 8 children, none of whom are stupid. I was protected. Blessed Be for that.
The Pink Panther was my first television boyfriend, and my romantic preference for Shaggy over Fred on “Scooby Doo” foreshadowed/established my lifelong frumpy-hippy-crazed heart. I also knew for a fact that “Batman’s” Robin (Burt Ward) was waiting for my hand in marriage as soon as we were old enough.
Isis and Wonder Woman perfectly encapsulated the powers and style I longed to embody. Frankly, they still do. Bring. On. The. Bracelets.
As adults we can give children permission to respect and adore their own and each other’s inner magical beings. I say “permission” because children already know that the magic of love reigns supreme. We need to take every possible opportunity to let them know that they’re right.
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