I was seven. Or however old you are when you’re in the second grade. My family lived in a rented house with a large, wooded backyard. Just on the other side of the trees was a four-story, brick apartment building. A lot of kids around my age lived in those apartments. One such kid was the cutest little girl ever. Her name was Joanie and I had this all-consuming little boy crush on her. And she seemed to like me as well.
Joanie and I would meet most evenings at dusk in the woods that separated my backyard from her apartment building. We would talk about all kinds of things. Things you might expect seven-year-olds who were in love to talk about. Things like the giant, hairy spider Joanie saw in her bedroom and how she wished I had been there to protect her, or how her older sister was always so mean to her.
I might tell her about how my dog threw up on my mom’s oriental rug in the living room, or how brave I was when I went down into our creepy, dark, damp, spiderwebby basement all by myself. I left out the part about being so scared that I peed in my pants. It didn’t seem germane.
We talked about fun stuff. Kid stuff. Kids in love stuff. And sometimes we would hold hands. It was thrilling.
One night Joanie came running into the woods at the appointed time. She seemed particularly excited and was carrying a flashlight. I asked her why she brought a flashlight with her. She smiled coyly, grabbed my hand, and said “If I show you mine, will you show me yours?”
“Show you my what?” I asked. I was a slow kid.
“You know,” she said, demurely looking down at me. She was a little taller than me.
“Oh, you mean….”
“Yes, that’s what I mean.”
Now remember as you read this that I was only seven. I wasn’t very conversant when it came to the female anatomy, so how was I supposed to know that girls and boys were anatomically different?
Sure, girls had long hair, wore dresses, and played with dolls. But it just never occurred to me that girls didn’t have penises. Why would that have occurred to me? I had one. As far as I knew, penises were standard equipment.
I couldn’t understand why Joanie was so eager to show me her penis or would want to see mine. But love is strange, so if that’s what Joanie wanted, I was down with that. “Sure, okay,” I said.
“Oh this is so exciting,” she was almost squealing. “I heard it looks like a lipstick tube.” I never thought my penis resembled a lipstick tube in any way, but I was not a lipstick tube aficionado. I also thought it was strange for someone who had one herself to think that my penis would look like a tube of lipstick. And who told her what my penis looked like?
“Okay, well, you’ll have to see for yourself,” I said. “So show me yours.”
She handed me the flashlight and told me to turn around and not to look until she said it was okay. She lifted up her dress and held it above her waist, and then, with her free hand, pulled down her white panties and let them fall to around her ankles. “Okay,” she said.
I turned around, clicked on the flashlight, and aimed the beam right between her legs. What I saw shocked me. Or maybe I should say what I didn’t see shocked me. “Where is it?”
“It’s right there, silly,” she said, pointing to the empty space where her penis should have been.
“Where’s your penis?”
“I don’t have a penis.”
“Omigod! What happened to it?”
“Nothing happened to it. I have a vagina, not a penis, silly. I’m a girl. Girls don’t have penises.”
“No penis?” I said incredulously. “How do you pee?” I was really a very slow kid.
“I pee from my vagina.” She was remarkably poised for a little girl holding her dress up above her waist, with her panties down by her ankles, and with a boy, eyes wide and jaw dropped, shining a flashlight on her vagina.
I, however, was totally freaked out. Instead of the expected penis, there was nothing. I bent down to examine this vagina thing more closely. Still nothing. It was like someone had made an incision and removed her penis, leaving just this little scar-like slit.
Joanie pulled up her panties, lowered her skirt and said, “Okay, now you show me yours.” She actually jumped up a few times while clapping her hands together.
I didn’t know what to do. She had shown me “hers” and there was nothing there. “So?” she said, growing impatient. “Show me yours.”
I looked back at her for a moment while contemplating my next move in this melodrama. Finally, I shoved the flashlight back at her and said, “No way. You showed me your nothing. I’m not going to show you my something,” I said defiantly. And I stormed away through the trees back to my house.
That was my first vagina. That was also my last rendezvous in the woods behind my house with Joanie, who never spoke to me again. She wouldn’t even look at me.
I was a little heartbroken yet a little relieved. Who wants to be in love with someone who is deformed? She didn’t have a penis, for crissake!
About ten years transpired before I saw my second vagina. But that time I was better prepared for it, although even at 17, I still wasn’t quite sure what to make of this strange, mysterious thing called a vagina.
This post is for today’s one-word prompt, “conversant.” But I admit that I didn’t write this post today for that word. I wrote it in January 2014 for my previous blog. It was, by a wide margin, my most popular post on that blog, which I abandoned three years ago. But when I saw today’s prompt, I figured I’d go ahead and post it again. I hope you enjoy it. And, by the way, this is a totally true story.