When I was a little girl, we would spend a week or two in Maine in the Summer. Every Summer. It’s where both my parents come from, so we got to see all the relatives at once. We would go “out to camp.” If you’re from Maine, you know what that means. It was loads of fun, and I have many fond memories.
Now, to the story. One of the people I got to see every year was my cousin, Danny. We were about the same age, and I loved to torment him as only a bossy girl can. He lived in Maine, so he got to spend a lot of time with our Grandparents.
One weekend, my Grandfather was going fishing. He loved hunting, fishing, and being outdoors. I heard Danny talking about going fishing with him, and I was looking forward to it. When I joined in the conversation, he looked at me and said, “You’re not going! You’re a girl!”
I have to say that this puzzled me. I went to my Grandfather, who confirmed that I was indeed a girl, and girls didn’t go fishing. I didn’t know what to say. I was inconsolable. The was the first time I had come up against this sort of discrimination. So, off they went on their fishing trip.
Danny’s Mom, my Aunt Maureen, saw how upset I was. She asked me if I wanted to have a sleepover at her house. Things were looking up! I accepted this invitation, and my spirits lifted. I might be special, after all.
We stopped by a store on the way to get supplies for our sleepover. I don’t remember what we got, except for one thing. She bought me some harem girl pajamas, like Barbara Eden wore on I Dream of Jeannie. Wow! That was really something!
It’s funny that as you age, there are certain things that you remember and carry with you, and certain things you forget or block out. It all seems so random. Aunt Maureen laughs, because I always tell her she’s my favorite Aunt. Every time I see her, I tell her how special she made me feel when she bought me those pajamas, all those years ago.
I’ll never forget the pain of being a girl who couldn’t go fishing. I’ll never forget how special it can be to be a girl with harem pajamas. Times have changed. I’m sure some of you might be surprised at this story and the blatant sexism, or maybe you won’t. Gender doesn’t mean what it used to.