My time as a girl…… An essay by William Marshall

I have no idea why I was going; I never really went to anything before that I can remember. Yes, I had been to SS class plenty, it was usually coming in late on some random Sunday morning, looking for somewhere to sit and any familiar face. In my eyes, everyone was regulars and I was the outsider. Scooting out of there as soon as it was over so I could either explore all the crazy stairwells and hallways that were in that big old church or find my parents and dutifully prepare for the church service. We were regulars enough to have a spot. It was like it was our assigned spot, if you have been to a church, you understand. We were that regular, but I didn’t really know any of the kids.

They didn’t go to my school. We were from the Southside, we had been going to a small Methodist church in our neighborhood. Mom was the pianist and dad was a youth SS teacher and mentor. A few years prior, there was falling out about hiring a pianist. I don’t know all the details, but we never set foot in that church again. We seemed to lay out of church for a while. Maybe a couple of years.
We were now going to First Baptist Church of Dothan. It was the big church in town. As a youngster it was obvious that this was where the cool people were. Mom would always point out to dad the different people and who they were. So and so over there did this and that. Not gossip, just my mom and dad talking about their world around them. It seemed like we were in a different world.

It was a Halloween party or maybe some dress up birthday party that the church was sponsoring, it was at someone’s house. We drove up in the car and the parking was a mess. I don’t think my mom intended to stay but I do think that she was planning on walking me to the door. That didn’t happen though when she let me out and I walked up to the door with my present and my handbag.

I’m actually baffled now that I look back on it. Do little boys dress up like little girls for Halloween in Alabama in 1979? I think I was pretty. I can guarantee you that I was convincing. I don’t remember whose idea it was for me to dress up like a girl, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. Sounded fun. I knew what I was gonna do. I was going to play with the girls. They seemed like way more fun than the boys anyway.

I remember looking into the mirror and thinking that I really did look cute. The biggest thing that I remember was the dang handbag. I had to carry it everywhere. It is one of the first things in my life that I ever really remembering that I had to not lose.

When I got to the door, I said hi, thanks for inviting me. I gave the nice lady the present and she led me over to where a small huddle of girls were. I started to tell her that I was a boy and go out in the back yard where they were. I just didn’t.
I just followed her lead.

There were all kinds of girls in all kinds of costumes. I just fit right in, just I didn’t have an elaborate costume. Just a nice light blue party dress, frilly socks, cute little girls’ shoes with buckles, and my mom fru fru’d up my hair she called it. I think my nails were painted. I dang sure had make up on. Not overdone either, my mom’s good. I knew most of the girls, but they didn’t seem to know me. It was fun to talk with them and hear what they were saying. They sure didn’t seem to be talking about boys, I didn’t care either, I knew that us boys never really talked about girls either. We just mostly kicked dirt and made noises. Girls talked about different things.

They were playing some kind of organized game that had been set up for the girls. The boys were somewhere else, doing something else. It was fun. When it was time that I had to do something as part of the game, the host, a wonderful lady doing a great job asked me my name. I told her William. She seemed to say ok. I knew that I didn’t stutter, my voice was my voice. But it was obvious though, that it was like she didn’t understand my name. I thought nothing else about and went on playing the game. We had a great time. I surely enjoyed my visit with the ladies that day.

I still have the newsletter write up where the SS class mentions this event. They didn’t know who the pretty little girl named William was until my mom showed up to pick me up. Until then they honestly thought that they were misunderstanding my name and that I was a cute little girl.

I was playing with the girls. It was fun.

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