In our elementary school, sex education became a part of the curriculum in fifth grade. We learned about our changing bodies, about the beauty of a woman’s menstrual cycle and about something I never fully comprehended but had read about once in a Judy Blume-type book — a wet dream. Lots of natural processes and changes were going to happen (or were happening) to us, our teacher promised, processes that would not actually happen to me until many years later.
The girls in the class viewed the impending changes as an exciting event, one that should be highly anticipated and discussed on end. Over the next few weeks after sex ed, each girl watched the others for signs that indicated their womanhood was upon them. No one wanted to be the last to mature, the one left out of the new group forming of those who had blossomed. It was almost as if we expected that puberty would transform us from ten year old caterpillars to beautiful majestic Monarchs. We were all on the verge of flight, and soon it became all we could talk about.
During recess and lunch, we discussed the topic of training bras: who had gotten their first training bra, who wore real bras, what color bras we had. Jenny was a grade up than the rest of us and she wore a real bra, a real bra that was not purchased in the kids section of Macy’s. The rest of us wanted to wear real bras too, but for most of us, and especially for me, there was no real reason besides vanity to wear such garments. It didn’t matter that I didn’t need one, wearing one was the ticket that got you into the cool kids circle and that allowed you to credibly weigh in on other recess matters. It was one of my earliest memories of having a case of the “me too’s,” wanting something purely because everyone else wanted/had it and I needed to want/have it too.
This week I felt an inkling of something familiar before I realized that it was another case of the me toos. Lately it seems as though everyone and anyone who I went to school with, or even everyone who ever went to school period, is getting engaged and married. And it must be because of this, because of this new forming cool kids club, that all of a sudden I wonder when I am going to get engaged. At worst, my mom has figured out how to project her thoughts into my brain, cleverly disguising them as my own. But then, of course, I realize that that is not the real me thinking these thoughts. After all, even though I don’t want anything lavish, the idea of a wedding just isn’t real to me yet, not until we can think about how we are going to work our monthly budget out so that one day, and many pennies later, we can get Mariah Carey to sing at our reception.