There have been a lot of conversations this Pride month about sex in YA literature (and about other things, it’s Pride, extra-community, intra-community, we recycle all these conversations that get very upsetting but can sometimes, hopefully, be uplifting). It got me thinking about my experience as an aspec teen (asexual – recently perhaps demisexual though I don’t think so, aromantic spectrum) who had never heard those words that I just parenthetically used. I just had a delightful memory that was sort of upsetting at the time but now just makes me love myself.
When I was in fifth and sixth grade (read: age 12), I had a website I wasn’t allowed to have. My parents told me, “You can’t have a website, you are a literal child, and you will be predatored.” I’m paraphrasing. My website was private, exactly three people had access to it, and I fairly exclusively posted puns and wordplay. The Interwebs were “new” in 1999; forgive my parents their fear.
This brings us to aspec stuff! It seemed like people were starting to couple up in 5th and 6th grade, even if it was just for two weeks. People’s parents were driving them to the movie theaters to see G or PG13 films and picking them up two hours later! My friends were starting to talk about making out! Everyone I knew seemed to have some sort of crush! You know the conversation:
“So who do you like? I like [idk who’s a cute dude from TV back then?] and that guy who played Mr Coolson in Never Been Kissed and these two boys I actually know.”
“Nooooo, you like someone. Who do you like? Who do you liiiiiike?”
And if you’re a regular person and want to hide that you like your same gender friend or are aspec or are just embarrassed or Whatever, you say you like someone you don’t actually like (Yikes! This can bite you in the bum!), you blush and hide and say nothing, or you say, “You don’t know them, they go to another school” (also can bite you in the bum!). But if you’re me…
You say you have a boyfriend you met online; his name is William Bucket, he’s 13, and he’s British. You talk to him via your website so your parents don’t know. No, you can never meet him. Yeah, because he lives in Britain. He really likes video games, which I didn’t play because our family couldn’t afford a game system. I just played Snood, Tetris, a CD-ROM version of Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego, and the four games I’d had for my refurbished Gameboy since I got said Gameboy back in 1993. It was very important my imaginary boyfriend got to do all the things I wanted to do and couldn’t.
Mostly I picked this explanation for my lack of engagement because it made me laugh. Say William Bucket aloud in a fake British accent the way a 12 year old with an East Texas accent would (I have since shed this accent if I am not boozing; see About page!) It’s a bit like singing, “Jane. And Michael. Banks.” with a fake British accent and also an East Texas accent.
My friends knew, and for awhile they played along. But also, they were actually putting their faces on other people’s faces, and I don’t think they really had time for my nonsense at a certain point. Which was fine, like whatever. Only one person actually called me on it, and to be fair, I was being particularly obnoxious about it that day.
Luckily there was a natural ending to this story, which is that my parents found out that I had a website, and I was banned from using the Internet for several months. Reduced to Snood and Tetris unless I was researching for school. And so I officially “broke up” with William Bucket. And mercifully everyone I knew conveniently “forgot” about it; or else they actually forgot about it because my weird unknowing-queer-person-dating-compensations aren’t Actually on people’s radars.
Anyway, I just wanted to remind you all that 1) It is harmful to individuals when identities are invisible, we need to see ourselves and feel safe 2) I have always been hilarious and 3) friends are good.