Home (not of the brave)
he lived across the street from us
mornings I’d peek from the front door
till he had left for school
then I’d sneak along the maple trees
make my way down the hill to class
most days I’d avoid him
sometimes I couldn’t
and would come home
with a bloodied nose bruises
that disappointed my dad
who didn’t understand
why I couldn’t stand up for myself
when I was in sight of home
I’d run like hell to the front door
where I’d be safe but not secure
I grew up & spent many years as adult thinking I was a coward. No matter how many people tell me I’m so brave with what I write, in how I present myself – I still thought of myself as a coward. I have another piece about how uneasy I can feel walking past a group of teens because of my memories of being bullied, taunted as a teen by groups of teens.
Looking back I see the cultural context that I didn’t fully understand: men prove their worth with their fists – simple as that violence = masculinity. I was never very competitive so I also got caught in winner = masculinity. Queers were already labeled as inferior so there were all these contracts in my head that I didn’t even recognized. I felt shame because I wasn’t able, or even willing, to conform to those behaviours that would make me a full fledged boy, man. Like Pinocchio I wanted to be a real boy.
Part of this shame came from feeling that I didn’t live up to my Dad’s expectations of my masculinity. Expectations that’ like my own, came from not questioning the cultural coding of masculinity. The incidents in this pieces are true. When we moved to the Ashby in Sydney there was a Catholic family across & down the street from us of loud boys, a drunken Dad, an older sister with a reputation. One of the boys was about my age. He smoked, was a tough, had been in trouble with authorities, had a gang of three or four other buys he hung with & got into trouble with – stealing things from cars etc.
I quickly became one of their targets for bully bating, name calling & some physical confrontations. One this picks don my much younger bother hoping it would get me to defend him – how could I protect him hen I couldn’t even defend myself? My dad though I should learn judo at the local Y. There was a clear sense I was a disappointment to him for not being as manly as the juvenile delinquents across the street.
I wanted to be a real boy but never succeeded.
previous Brown Betty posts:
Man With A Past 1 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3B3
When I Was A Young Boy https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3By
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