Do you remember the first time you realized you were growing up? I don't mean like a subtle understanding of landmark birthdays signifying time passing, I mean the punch you in the face realization that you were becoming a woman. My very first pair of cutoff shorts were directly responsible for my distinct transition from innocent girl to, HOLY SHIT, I have magic powers (I think every woman has magic powers). I wish I could remember the day, or the month at least, but I know I was 13 when it happened and it was very hot outside. Gary Blackwell, the cuter of the Blackwell twins, pulled into my driveway in his beat up pickup truck and honked his horn. "OH MAN OH MAN OH MAN, Holy shit I can't believe this is happening! Hurry Hurry Hurry, get out there and see what he wants!" The Blackwell brothers had tattoos, wore cowboy boots and hats, sat in the back of the bus (until just earlier that week when Gary got his truck) and only dated really hot older chicks. The fact that he was in MY driveway was bewildering, exciting and terrifying. I ran out, barefoot in my shorts and a tank top, both from the previous summer when they fit loosely, now they hugged my undiscovered curves in a way I hadn't noticed. He LOOKED at me. I recognized the look from movies and TV, but it didn't mean much more to me than, "Wow, he thinks I am pretty!!" I think we exchanged a few words, they are inconsequential now, but I know he wanted to take me to The Branding Iron, a bar that allowed minors in to play pool and dance before 9:00 pm. There were a group of people going and he thought "I" might be fun.
Before I could even answer, my dad had a hold of my arm and was pulling me into the house. I was so embarrassed. "What!! What are you doing!!" When we got inside I was so mad I pulled my arm away and looked at him. "You can't wear those shorts anymore THEY MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE A PROSTITUTE." The most painful words I had ever heard. I burst into tears and overcome with embarrassment, completely destroyed, ran to my room. I was so confused. I wore those shorts all the time, for maybe 3 years straight. They were jeans before they were shorts, cut off when they became high waters. What was so different? Why did my dad look more FRIGHTENED than I had ever seen him EVER? I took my shorts off and put on my pajama pants. I moped. I understand now that my dad was not calling me a prostitute. No. As he clearly stated after he apologized over and over, "I just said the shorts make you LOOK like one, not that you ARE one, and I don't even know why I said it now, I am sorry." I know why he said it. He realized before I did. I was growing up. "Bad" boys were beginning to show up at the house. I was the first born oldest Daughter. Protective Instincts are not always accompanied by eloquent language.
I never wore those shorts again. I folded them and put them in a keepsake pile. I still have them somewhere. I remember thinking, "These shorts have special powers. I am going to save these and show my grandchildren that when I was young I wore Daisy Dukes." Gary never came to my house again. He knocked a girl up later that year. I respect my dad and feel so grateful that although it must have been very uncomfortable and embarrassing for him, he interfered and set the precedent that he would not allow me to be harmed in any way. Respect yourself, and demand respect. Rules were put into place. We had several conversations about how the way I moved and played with my hair sent messages to boys I may not be aware of. I think I was aware that I was doing SOMETHING, but I didn't understand the power I had. Learning about that power and how to control it was very valuable, and knowing that my dad valued me made me value myself.
I wear cut off shorts a lot now. I think I understand balance. This outfit is not necessarily an example of using magic woman powers or anything like that but I can't help but remember this story every time I pull these shorts on.