The big company party is

The big company party is tomorrow night. We’re getting all dressed up, smiling, and going.
In a whole different world, I wanted to tell you the story of when I discovered that girls and boys are different.
I was 8 or 9. We lived on an Air Force base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. If you’ve never seen military housing, imagine hundreds of identical duplexes painted varying shades of horrible lined up on practically identical streets. Our house was the first row in a newer section. Our back yard faced a football field sized field where I think they were planning on adding more houses. The middle and high school kids used to use it after school for various practices. We never noticed them as we played Army Men, Hide and Seek, Secret Agent, Superheroes, Tag, Smear the Queer (does that game still exist – did they change the name?), Orphan Adventuring Kids or whatever else we played.
One day, the cheerleaders started practicing. They wore shorts and tiny t-shirts. All of a sudden, we noticed. Every Tuesday and Thursday at three, my brother (who was 6 or 7) and I would lie on the living room floor like concealed snipers and stare out the sliding glass doors as they jumped, formed unstable human pyramids and did their cheerleading things.
It wasn’t sexual. I don’t remember having dreams about them. I just remember watching them, and thinking they were very different from me. They weren’t girls to me. They were women, but not like the moms I knew. They were just different, older but not old. Grown-up but not adults.
I loved being 9. More than being 7 and hiding in our windbreak. We lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids who played. We ran through the woods, caught crawdads, found illicit hidden military things in the woods we weren’t supposed to touch or they’d come shoot us.

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