At age 14 my parents said I was boy crazy, but my interest was innocent. Boys weren’t coy, like the girls at any age. Boys laughed aloud rather than giggle discreetly, behind their hands.

I had a quick wit and an active imagination… boys could keep up. Boys leaned into improv, whereas girls backed off. Boys would befriend you, whether guilty or innocent.

Boys wrote their own their own rules; girls obeyed society’s.

I often wrote stories – far better than real life in those teenage angst-filled years – and needed scene partners. Boys fit with my style of spontaneous living.

Boys were willing to try stuff; they dared. No frilly, prissy dresses and absolutely no pink for me! I’d rather climb the jungle gym or a tree with my freckled face and red hair.

Boys’ confidence was intoxicating.

But the favorable comparison soon ended as the dating game began. My girlfriends craved getting to know each other in unison, while boys held their cards close to their vest. Their interest was no longer innocent, but physical. Verbal strings were attached.

I began to giggle and act like a coquette.

Tomboy no more, I wanted romantic stories, staring me and him. Until, until, until… cue the screeching brakes. Boys became lustful and audacious and I became demure, as per my parents’ code. Formerly friendly relationships I had with several boys became entanglements. I was guileless and believed too many lies. I believed in innocence where there was gang-busting grossness and guilt.

Boys to men, girls to women – none of us transitioned well.

Lumps and bumps, we all accumulated a few. We were no longer innocent. We all became challenges in our own special way: to ourselves, our parents, our teachers, counselors, and friends. We were no longer able to espouse the phrase, “I’m innocent – and even if I’m guilty I’m innocent.”

So we locked our hearts away.