That Swagger

Masculine and Feminine in one old photo

By David Karp

I’m going to be honest here. It was probably the only reason I enjoyed going to tennis during summer camp.

Jesus, I can’t believe I remember her name, it was so long ago. I must have been eleven years old at most.

Rebecca always wore that same grey visor. The ones you saw on TV with the Wimbleton logo on it. Her Nikes were blue and black if I remember correctly. And every class I had (twice a week), she would wear a grey t-shirt and blue shorts. To me, it was the same grey t-shirt and blue shorts every time, though I’m not sure about the facts on that one from her end. But to an eleven year old with a schoolboy crush, it didn’t really matter.

She had this flowing brown hair that went just past her shoulder blades that was always in a ponytail. She had a tan, which I am not sure was from the summer sun that beat down on the tennis court every day or was just natural, but whatever it was she had it.

Ok, I’ll admit it now. I was absolutely smitten and probably unsure what to do with my feelings at such a young age. Not to mention, I wasn’t the most social kid, so talking to a crush was a bit hard for me, not to mention a crush that was probably twice my age. 

But when I think back on it now, I find something quite funny: yes, of course I found her beautiful in the physical sense but what I remember the most being smitten with was something much different.

It was her energy. I had the biggest schoolboy crush with her energy.

Rebecca was probably one of the fastest runners on the court. When we partnered up together, I tried so hard to keep up with her. She was probably aware that she was versing an eleven year old boy not much experienced in tennis and therefore had decided to let me off easy, but god damn even what she would probably call easy was like lightning hitting the ground, I swear!

After class, she would always relax and sit next to me outside the court, striking a conversation the way people twice your age did with you back then. I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but she would always give out this chill, cute laugh when I said something cute that made her smile and boy, did it put butterflies in my stomach.

Yes, she’d just chill next to me like, as I guess one would put it now, she was“one of the guys”.

And her walk, I remember her walk. She had this easy-going, masculine swagger to her that I thought was so fucking cool. She walked with purpose, but at the same time, ease. Strength.

Yeah. She was pretty fucking cool.

I remember liking that feminine energy that schoolboy crush brought to me, but I also loved the masculine energy it brought to me as well. It was a strange feeling. It was like she was the perfect juxtaposition that gave in easily to each other. The yin and yang. The balance the world needed.

It was something I looked up to; inspired to be. I wasn’t only smitten by her, but I wanted to be “cool” like her. And that “cool”, I figured out in my reminiscing, was the perfect balance of masculine and feminine energy she had.

I never told anyone about that crush. I kept it to myself, attempting to decipher the kind of feelings that came up along the way. But looking at it again now, years later and years wiser, and trying to answer the questions of the eleven year old me with a schoolboy crush, I may whisper to that young boy that there may be something there after all. Though she may have not identified this way, for myself it may have been the first hint of bicuriousness that found its way into my little undeveloped heart. That desire for and to have a balance of the energies.

And she had it. She was the crush and the role model. The rock star.

It was so long ago. So, so long ago. But remembering it tonight, after quite a while, it makes sense that it is a part of my childhood story. The coming of age. Growing up, growing in, and growing out.

And I can’t say I would remember her now if I saw her on the street, but as God is my witness, I will never forget that swagger.


Writing Exercise: “Truthful Dare” by Diana Abu-Jaber

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