Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yes, it’s true! Jim Cullum’s a Crossdresser!

“What’s this?” you say. And, well…let me explain for when I was a little girl…

When my kids were little, I would often begin this way, saying things like, “Well, when I was a little girl we did this or that” – made homemade ice cream on Sunday afternoons or went barefoot all summer or built tree houses or whatever it was….And the kids would say, “Wait a minute, Dad, you weren’t a little girl!”

“Yes, I was a little girl.”

“Mommie,” they would call out, “was he a little girl?”

And she would answer, “That’s what he says.”

They would stand there, hands on hips and shake their heads, “You were not a little girl, Daddy.”

“Okay, okay, come upstairs with me and I’ll show you a photo.”

The old album pages of old Brownie Hawkeye snapshots fold by.

“Who is that?” they would say, pointing to one image after another.

“Well, that one is of my grandfather and that one is my mother and my sister and those are some of my cousins.”

“But here, kids, look at this photo. As you can see, I was a little girl.”

They stare, for before their eyes is their own father with a big girl’s hat and a blouse and skirt and even girl’s shoes. The kids now stare with genuine wonder.

After about a minute of silence, one of them finally asks “Were you really a little girl, or were you just dressed up like a girl?”

And I’d start in, “well, what do you think, Beeky? What do you think, Chris?”

Mostly, they would decide that I was really a little boy and I was just dressed up like a little girl.

My delightful daughter Blanquita (whose nickname is “Beeky”) is now 34 with three small children of her own. She laughs a lot about this. For a year or so when she was four, she really bought it and said, “Oh, yes, my Daddy was a little girl. I’ve seen a picture.”

The other kids mostly decided that I was really a little boy and I was just dressed up like a little girl. Eventually, I confessed and explained all about it.

“It was my sister,” I’d start out. She was seven when I was born and she helped in taking care of me when I was a baby. It was fun for her. She had a real live doll. She would dress me and pick me up and put me in the baby carriage and take me for rides, at least until she got tired of it.

When I was two, I was stricken with a terrible fever. Lucke, our old come-to-the-house-with his-little-black-bag doctor, came over. Dr. Lucke determined that I had polio! Of course, everybody flipped. Everybody, that is, except my sister, who was nine years old by that time.

Dr. Lucke was wily. He had read a lot about President Franklin Roosevelt and the president’s struggle with polio.

In the Roosevelt case, they massaged his legs a lot. Dr. Lucke knew that polio, being a virus, should not be stimulated by massage. He said stimulation of any kind caused it to spread, become more active and aggressive.

“Don’t even let that baby stand on his legs. Doctor’s orders.”

Some of the time when they could not be right there, my sister was assigned to wait and watch.

“If he wakes up, grab him. Don’t let him stand.”

And this my sister did, , holding me, rocking me, changing me just like the grown-ups did.

It all came out amazingly well in the end. I had only the slightest residual effect of the polio: the muscles of one eye were weakened so that I needed glasses. I could see with 20/20 vision, but looked cross-eyed. I wore glasses and took eye exercise therapy three times a week and I almost completely was able to correct this problem. When I was 25, I attempted to join the military. It came to the big white board with the black letters in rows, and I hit a snag.

“But,” I said, “I always passed the Texas Driver’s License eye test.”

The sergeant quipped, “The Department of Public Safety doesn’t want you to hurt anyone and we want you to kill a lot of people – different test. Got it?”

So I went on back to civilian life.

And now let me back you up in the blog. I completely recovered from polio (except for the eye thing that only counts if you try to go into the army). In fact, I have been a natural athlete all my life and used to win the 100 yard dash once in a while. For years I ran for the sheer joy of it and even for transportation.

I owe this, I think, to Dr, Lucke and, at least in part, I owe it to my sister.

Here’s the dressing in drag part. The polio had been over for a couple of years, but my sister was still dressing me up like a doll. I had not gotten old enough to protest. In act, I have been very close to my sister for as long as I can remember.

So along there at one point when I was about four years old, I was mostly ready for anything she wanted.

Dress me up like a girl –okay, sure!

Halloween was on and as some of you cats will remember, no one worried about anything weird happening to their children as they went around the neighborhood.

“Knock, knock! Trick or treat! Trick or treat!” And the door slowly opens revealing some ancient grown-up probably at least 30 years old.

“Well, well, what have we here?” They typically held a large plate of homemade tollhouse cookies – held just high enough to be out of range.

“And what are you, little boy?

“Oh, can’t you tell? I’m a spider.”

And to the next kid: “And you? What are you?”

“I’m Superman! I can fly, too!

“Wow. What spooks! You’re a ghost, right?”

“Yes, I’m a ghost.”

“And what about you? What are you – a Spanish senorita or something?”

“Me? No, I’m a girl!”

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