Thursday, July 21

Always comes before a fall!

Do you know what it’s like, growing up in a family with two elder brothers? Especially a Scottish family. Because that makes me the babby. Even now I’m the babby. Last year when I first came up to Scotland I stayed with my aunt in Buckhaven for a few weeks, and she took me along to St Monans, where her and my dad grew up. We met some people they knew from back then. “This is Bobby’s wee babby,” she told them. I’m 41 years old and six feet tall. “Bobby’s wee babby.”

I’ve put up with it my whole life. And it’s not easy. Especially when you are all boys.

I suspect it would be the same with all girls. It’s the fact that you are all the same sex. It would be different with older sisters, because girls develop, well, differently. You know? But with two older brothers, you have to watch as things happen, their bodies develop, their shape changes, hair starts growing where hair never grew before, their voices deepen, their… you know… thingies… stop looking vaguely like a tiny maggot and start looking like…. well… man-bits.

And yours doesn’t.

And you are never allowed to forget it.

Yes, your brothers can go to the funfair on their own. But not you. You’re too young. You’re the babby.

Yes, your brothers can go to the disco at the memorial hall. But not you. You’re too young. You’re the babby.

Yes, your brothers can stay up late to watch The Sweeney. But not you. You’re too young. You’re the babby.

And then.

And then.

I don’t remember what started the argument. I only remember the rebuke. Stinging. She knew how to hit you where it hurt, my mother did.

“Don’t you talk to me like that, little boy!” she said.

Little Boy! Little Boy! I retreated to my bedroom. Hurt. Ashamed. Little Boy! I was 12. Things were happening. How dare she. She doesn’t know. How could she know?

I marched back out of the bedroom. Determined. I’d show her.

“There! You see! Now don’t ever call me a little boy again!”

There I stood. My trousers round my ankles. And there they were. My pride and joy. The thing which made me a little boy, a babby, no more.

My two pubic hairs.

(and now, if you don’t mind, I will not be showing my face again for a while. a couple of years ought to do it.)

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