When I was growing up, my parents liked to walk around naked. All the time. They were complete nudists. My father would come home from work and take off his dirty clothes on the front porch. All of them.
It must have made our neighbors uncomfortable. It always made me uncomfortable from a very young age. I didn’t like to be naked. I didn’t like seeing them naked.
I didn’t understand how they could be so comfortable. They generally didn’t do it around my friends. Or their friends. But certainly around all of my siblings and I.
I didn’t realize how comfortable they were with being naked. Until the day that I was hanging out with a friend of my brother’s, B. I was ten or eleven and he was eleven or twelve. I’m pretty sure he was my first real crush.
It was midafternoon and he and I had been going to my place to hang out. We turned up our long dirt driveway and I saw my father’s red pickup truck. I figured my dad had either quit or got laid off. He was only employed about half the time during my childhood.
We snuck in the back door, hoping to make it up the stairs where we’d have some privacy. We weren’t doing anything bad, we just wanted time to talk to each other without my brother or little sister getting involved.
We had to pass through the kitchen to get to the bottom of the stairs. But my father was already there. He was standing behind the bar, shirtless.
I grew up in Florida and we rarely used our air conditioner. It wasn’t uncommon for us to be skimpily dressed during the summer. I honestly didn’t think much of it.
I was resigned to interacting with my father. I knew once he saw us we wouldn’t be able to be alone together anyway. B and I sat down on the bar stools and began chatting with my father.
To this day I couldn’t tell you what we said. But after about 20 minutes of conversation, my father came around from behind the bar.
He was completely naked. He told us he needed to take a bath and went into the bathroom. B looked at me and asked if we could go back to his place. He rarely came over again after that.
For the sake of the story, I’ll tell you why I can’t remember the conversation that day.
When I got back to B’s place, we went up to his bedroom. We were finally alone for the first time ever. I had thought he only wanted to talk to me. But he didn’t. He tried to kiss me and told me that he liked me.
I liked him too. But I had known that my feelings were bad. I wasn’t supposed to like boys. I was supposed to grow up and be a boy. Boys weren’t supposed to like other boys. Of course, now I know better, but I was 10.
I didn’t want to be a girl. All the girls I knew were dumb and mean. And all they cared about was boys and makeup. And they had babies, which I did not want. Again, now I know better.
I yelled at B and told him that he was gross. We stopped being friends that day. I went home and cried. And that is the day that I realized, and really truly knew, that I was going to grow up to be a woman.