Home > Uncategorized > Dancing Barefoot and Running in Heels: Prologue

Dancing Barefoot and Running in Heels: Prologue

           “Can anyone tell me where babies come from?” Mrs. Wheeler asks the class at large.

            “Storks?” Blaine has his finger up his nose as he calls out his asinine answer.

            “No, but good guess,” Mrs. Wheeler responds.

            Sex Ed in the fifth grade, and my brain is about to explode. I’ve already read The Period Book and It’s Perfectly Normal in preparation for my upcoming young adulthood. I’ve got maxi pads under my bathroom sink already, though I have yet to experience my first period, much less grow hair anywhere but the top of my head. I know where babies come from.

            “I thought they came out of the belly button. You know, because my mommy always says I came from her tummy,” Willie James offers.

            In the years I’ve known Willie James, several things have kept me in a general state of disdain toward him. First and foremost, he has only ever addressed me as Kari DICK-inson. Because, you know, my surname contains the word, “DICK,” and when you’re in elementary school, that’s hilarious. Secondly is his name. At the tender age of ten, I’d only witnessed the existence of two other Willie’s: the word boys sometimes used to describe their genitals, and Willie the orca from that awful movie. Oddly enough, it was the killer whale that was by far the most negative association I had with the name. If Willie was so miserable in captivity, why didn’t he just eat the living hell out of his captors and escape way sooner than he did? And why did he need that dumb boy with the mullet to help him? For God’s sake, you’re the scourge of the sea, Willie! Just bite the shit out of these assholes!

            “I mean, what else is the belly button for, if not babies?” Willie continues to argue his point while I picture an angry orca eating him.

            I can’t stand it anymore. I raise my hand.

            “Yes, Kari?”

            “They come from the vagina,” I say firmly. “Well, actually, they grow in the uterus, and then they’re born out of the vagina.”

            The rest of the class giggles.

            Mrs. Wheeler blushes for a brief, puzzling moment before she responds, “Yes, that’s correct, Kari. Well done.”

            Bite me, Willie James. You obviously haven’t read up on this stuff.

            “But then what’s the belly button for?” Willie asks.

            I suspect Willie was dropped on his head fairly often as a small child, and I scowl at him to make him aware of my disgust with his stupid questions.

            “That’s where the umbilical cord attaches to the baby to feed it as it grows inside the mommy,” Mrs. Wheeler patiently explains.

            “So then why do boys have them, too?”

            …I’m surrounded by imbeciles. I might only be ten, but I know stuff. Really important stuff.

            I feel eyes upon me, and I glance up. Arthur Regis is staring at me…again. I glare back at him—he’s a bad boy: kicked out of Cub Scouts, swears like a teenager, and purportedly smokes cigarettes. He raises his hand in front of his face, two fingers held up like he’s making a peace sign, and he sticks his tongue out between them. I don’t quite know what this means, but I know it must be vulgar, since Arthur is doing it.

            I flip him off in response. I, too, am vulgar. I’m just better at hiding it from authority figures.

            He makes an O with his left hand and inserts his right index finger into it repeatedly while maintaining creepily intense eye contact with me.

            Unlike the other girls in our class, I’ve given up on being a ballerina. I don’t take singing lessons, and I don’t play softball. Instead, I practice karate (only ever pronounced “kah-rah-tay”), and it’s really only left me with a sense of over-confidence in the idea that I can kick anyone’s ass, regardless of how much bigger than me they might be.

            I will end you, I mouth to Arthur.

            He just grins, which infuriates me even more.

            My training bra, which isn’t even a real training bra being that it’s a sports bra, is suddenly incredibly uncomfortable. It’s not because I have boobs yet, or that I’m even developing a chest. It’s because one of the straps is sticking out of the collar of my t-shirt, and I’m suddenly aware all the boys can see it if they look for it. It suddenly strikes me as silly, because I’m not yet “blossoming into womanhood” like Audrey or Manda. There’s basically no point in my wearing this thing yet, and I curse my stupid judgment, or lack thereof, in my choice of wardrobe.

            I stare at the clock and fidget in my desk chair. Why do they teach sex Ed to ten year olds, anyway? Why is Arthur such a creep? Why didn’t that stupid whale just eat everyone?

            “Kari, you haven’t spoken up in a while. Do you know the answer?” Mrs. Wheeler interjects into my train of recalcitrant thought.

            “Sorry, what?”

            I hardly listen as she asks the question again, and I give a vague answer. Willie James raises his hand and calls out a less vague answer. He is allowed to go to Mrs. Wheeler’s desk and grab a Smarty out of the treat jar as a result.

            It’s times like these that I hate my name. Not the DICK-inson part, but the Kari part. It sounds overly-juvenile to me when I get questions wrong, and it makes me hate my sports bra even more. I’m too young for a sports bra….

            I pick at my nail polish—something else I suddenly decide I’m too young for—and consider whether or not I’ll really pick a fight with Arthur after school lets out. By the time the bell rings, I’ve decided it’s probably not worth it. Not only would it not be a fair fight, since I am a master at Kah-rah-tay, but I would also probably get in trouble. My big brother got grounded from time to time, but I never did, and I’m not willing to start over someone as stupid as Arthur Regis.

            I grab my backpack and run like hell to get away from Arthur. I don’t feel like walking home with Kim or Gina, so I keep running until I hit the big hill. I slow to a leisurely pace and flip my backpack around to my front side so I can retrieve my uneaten Cheetos.

            Willie the killer whale (“Orca! He’s an orca! ‘Killer whale’ just perpetuates the stigma around these beautiful animals,” my mother has said so many times. Yes, she really said, “perpetuates the stigma,” and I really understood what the hell she was talking about) really should have eaten his captors. It would have made for a better movie, and maybe it would have made me despise Willie James a little less.

            I consider these things as I walk by myself and slowly eat my Cheetos. It’s probably not what the other kids are thinking about, but that doesn’t bother me.

            Our kitchen is decorated with orcas. The wall is blue and watery, the trim has orcas diving in and out of water on it, and there’s an orca mobile over the table. Why shouldn’t I think about orcas? And why, for Christ’s sake, shouldn’t I imagine orcas eating my classmates? Not the ones I like, just the ones who annoy me.

            Somehow, by the time I’ve gotten home and unlock the door with my purple key attached to my pink kitty keychain, I’ve once again come to the conclusion that boys are gross. That, and sports bras are stupid. But, mostly, boys are gross…and should be eaten by killer whales when they pick on me.

            Yeah, I’m too young for a training bra.


           Photo: Killer whale breaching


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I love this! I can’t wait to

    Although, I am going to have to agree with your mother on the Orca thing, though. That and Free Willy was one of my favorite childhood flicks. 😉

  2. March 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I love it when you write stuff like this…Love, Orca-Obsessed Mother

  3. March 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm


  4. March 29, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Oh, and I guess it would be Willy if it’s a guy. Right? Isn’t that the masculine spelling? Late-night writing fail.

  5. Denise Ferrrari
    October 4, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Great Story. Enjoyed reading it and think it should be a start of a book……

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: