1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Still Impressing Boys

1961 - Who wants the girl with the skinny legs?

1961 – Who wants the girl with the skinny legs?

While growing up, many lessons were presented to me on how to impress boys. I managed to ignore them all.

When I was eleven years old another example of boy/girl enlightenment occurred. As usual, it went right over my head and failed to lodge in my brain.

Flashback to 1961 and one of my unlearned lessons: David and I walked to Margaret Murphy schoolyard near Bochi’s and swung back and forth on the monkey bars. I couldn’t believe my good luck when three neighborhood boys, around my age, joined us. Woo hoo! We hung out and talked before migrating to the jungle gym.

One of the boys hung from the top bar and did chin-ups. The cutest boy followed and outdid the first boy. To get their attention and admiration, I went next.

The boys chuckled as I began raising and lowering myself. “This oughta be good,” said the first boy.

“She’s gonna drop down before she does five,” said the cute one.

My arms shook like limp noodles, but I managed to outdo them both.

“Who cares what a stupid skinny girl does,” said the unimpressed cutie. “If I weighed ten pounds like her, I could do a hundred chin-ups.” He turned toward me. “Get off of our playground before we beat you and your brother up.”

No lesson learned by moi. Just confusion over their negative reaction to my superior skills.

Now here’s the fact of life that I really didn’t like: History repeats itself and so did I.

Back to the present, known as 1966: After practicing in the cafeteria our JV cheering squad crossed the gym toward the girl’s locker room. Cheerleaders were chosen by a panel of teachers, not students; which explains why I was part of the group.

Stragglers from the boys basketball practice milled around, probably waiting for us. One of them lowered a row of rings from the gym ceiling.

Our two groups mingled as the guys took turns traveling back and forth on the line of rings to see who could complete the most rounds. I was great at the rings. I waited impatiently for the last boy to drop off.

I casually jumped up and began my impressive exhibition. I kept my legs together to accentuate how gracefully, as well as easily, I could swing. After many trips back and forth I traveled down the rings to complete the round that beat the highest boy.

Instead of cheering, he left. I went down and back an additional round, hoping he would return. Surprisingly, he did not.

Slightly deflated, I perked up seeing that plenty of cute guys remained, talking to the other cheerleaders. At the end of the rings I swung extra high, let go, and landed with a flourish in front of them.

I raised my arms like an Olympian. “Ta da!”

1965 -  Destined to only have cats as companions.

1965 –
Destined to only have cats as companions.

I did not get hoisted on their shoulders. No one said, “Wow, I didn’t know you were so athletic! Want to go out with me?” Not even a hearty pat on the back.

After a moment of dead silence (not the awed silence I deserved) I finally received some comments.

“What are you, part monkey?”

“Yeah, she smells like one too.”

I stood still for a few minutes, grasping that their tone of comments was not going to improve.

I raised my chin and truthfully declared, “I could have done more if I wanted to.”

I left them to chew on that, although I doubt they did, and marched stiffly to the girl’s locker room. I muttered one of Grandpa’s sayings, when things didn’t go according to plan, “Oh, poo-pappy.” And I threw in one of Mom’s “Go stoomps”, too.

Mom picked me up from school after she got out of work. I fumed while telling her about the contrary reaction my athletic prowess produced. Imagine my surprise upon being told boys don’t like to be outdone by girls. This went against my sense of competition.

“You mean I should pretend I’m not better at some things just because they’re boys?”

“No,” answered Mom. “That’s not what I’m saying. But you don’t have to show off either.”

Well, this wasn’t going to work out. Showing off was part of my nature. My interaction with boys was destined for failure. If I couldn’t show off and I didn’t possess a heaving chest, how was I supposed to attract a boyfriend?

Maybe I should find a pen-pal boy, so he wouldn’t care how undeveloped I was and I wouldn’t be tempted to out-do him at physical contests. But remembering my first kiss and really wanting to try it again, I preferred a flesh and blood beau.

Lesson learned: I learned that boy’s don’t always like to be outdone, especially in physical contests. However, I continued to ignore my newfound knowledge.

Related posts: Chapter Five: Impressing Boys; Tale of Two Lennys; First Kiss

Now it’s your turn: Did you ever show-off for the opposite sex?

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Elle Knowles says:

    You know it never changed don’t you? Boys still don’t like to be outdone! LOL! We think alike.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Yeah, Elle, what’s that all about? Luckily, my sweetie has no problem with it. He’s better at physical stuff requiring strength, but I’m more flexible because of gymnastics. I’m also better at word games and show no mercy!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes, Mary, I was a tom-boy and lived in the tiny town of Douglas, Alaska, right across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau. I loved to run and could outrun any boy in school. I also loved to kick a football, and every day at recess and lunch, I would be surrounded by boys who (conversely from your unappreciative boys) begged me to kick the football. Then they would line up horizontally across from me, hoping to catch that ball after i kicked it. That was fun, but my greatest achievement was that I could kick the football OVER the gymnasium!! Every time! Our town was tiny, and in the one school that we had, the whole top floor was all high school (until Juneau and Douglas schools consolidated — then the Douglas high schoolers went to Juneau). That was when we met the Juneau kids, and we Douglas-ites were all known as “the Douglas kids” but not in a mean way. Anyway, i digress (as usual). When I would be outside, kicking the football for the sixth and seventh graders (which iI was), the windows of the top floor would be lined with high school boys watching me. I was THAT impressive! (LOL) My mother used to get phone calls from other Douglas mothers, saying “Sooo we heard that Donna is going to be a football star!”

    However, the best part of this happened right here in Vegas this past December. Our graduating class of ’61 had a mini-reunion here, and I saw people I had not seen in 50-some years. I was talking to two of the Douglas boys at the reunion, and (independently of each other) each one said to me, “I remember that you could kick a football over the gymnasium!” WOW! I have a legacy! I was amazed! In fact one of the boys (Dale Shuman) told me that he uses ME as an example for his granddaughters. Again, I was amazed. I asked him how, and he told me that he tells his granddaughters that he used to know a girl in Alaska who could kick a football over the gymnasium! And girls can do anything they want to do!

    So my legacy is well-established — even though I can’t kick a football over anything now!!!

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Wow, Donna, I’m impressed! If only they had girl’s football back then.
      And somehow I think you would be remembered by your classmates no matter what.

  3. Ralph says:

    Wow. Mary …….and Anonymous, you were/are quite some girls. I’m impressed. Happy Easter to both of you ❤

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Happy Easter to you too, Ralph.
      Boys from the 50s and 60s might have tried to keep us in our place, but we refused to be subdued. At least Donna’s feats were appreciated.

  4. I hope you’re still a show-off 🙂

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Ha ha, Hyper, you know it. And it still gets me in trouble!
      Ten years ago I got into the fastest batting cage against the advice of my husband and children. I’d never been in one before. I was sooo confident I could hit that ball. I ended up going to the emergency room for a split finger.

  5. Glynis Jolly says:

    You know what’s funny is I was a complete failure in anything physical. Still am of course. Yet, boys didn’t like me because I was so awful at all those things. To tell you the truth, I don’t think anyone of the male gender really knows what he wants with a lot of things.

  6. Choosing says:

    I was always bad at school-related sporty activities, so no chance to show off there. Boys tended to completely ignore me (flat chest here too!). They really liked to borrow my latin homework though. 😉 But did not get any boy-friend out of that either. 😉

  7. chsuresh63 says:

    Here I was, pining to be outdone in all physical contests – including lifting luggage – and no one like you turned up 🙂

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Sorry, Suresh, I don’t do luggage.
      When I out-did anyone, I wasn’t the most subtle or humble winner. On a positive note, I wasn’t a sore loser when I lost.

  8. spunkybong says:

    There are some boys who don’t like it when you’re funnier, Skinny. Watch it, okay? 😀

  9. Hmm very funny. I didn’t show off coz I was hardly athletic but then boys hardly spoke to me because they considered me too ‘peter’ for their tastes. (Note: that’s the tamil expression for someone who speaks too much english) Enjoyed your blog Mary 🙂

  10. Mimmy Jain says:

    Good to know that some things remain constant across the globe, Mary. Men will be men, whether they are white/coloured, first world/third world… Enjoyed this one.

  11. that’s because you didn’t meet any saposexual boys. :). I would have fallen for you straight away. but then, I often did.And anybody who writes like you, I would positively stalk. My childhood sweetheart did NCC, could fire a gun, skydived,was a better athlete than me, and still liked me as I could make her laugh.wrote about her earlier

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