Very Strange Experience…

Without going into details, I have a VCR in my house at the moment. I took advantage of the opportunity to get one of the tapes of the much loved and never finished film, “Boys on Bikes.” When one of the boys killed himself, I lost heart and gave most of the tapes to the various boys’ mothers who had never seen the amazing things their kids were doing — amazing and dangerous. The kid who died shot himself. It wasn’t the bike. Still, that was my greatest fear; that one of them would break his neck. These were vulnerable kids and that boy was especially so…

I shoved the old VHS tape into the VCR and there I was and there was an old boyfriend — a really GREAT boyfriend, as it happened with whom I had a lot of fun during and after our relationship. We remained good friends and had fun riding mountain bikes and hanging around together after the thrill was gone. Our friendship and fun is obvious in the film. What struck me, however, was me.

In the film I’m in my late 30s. I’m wearing black jeans, a pair of VERY heavy hiking boots that I was glad to get rid of at some point, and a white T-shirt; not a woman’s t-shirt, a man’s t-shirt. I was also sporting a straw c’boy hat. I had glasses that had wires you could wrap around your ears so they wouldn’t fall off. I liked them. I wasn’t skinny, but not exactly fat but leaning somewhat in that direction. The boy friend was easily 15 inches taller than I which made his film of me a little strange.

The conceit was that Mike was out there looking for birds and found me lying in the dirt holding up a video camera. The first shot of me is lying in the dirt working on the movie, “Boys on Bikes.”

The woman in that video is a very strange person. And she is me. I am still her. It was a total Robbie Burns moment to see myself as others see me. There it was. Watching “me” answered so many questions in a way. I was then — and am still, usually — totally wrapped up in something, consumed by it. The woman in the film wasn’t ugly or anything, but completely sexless. Her whole focus was on something else completely. I thought about it later (obviously) and about the man in the video. He was 12 years younger. Our relationship had some complexities — age for one and I was married for another though Mike knew — and I didn’t — that my husband was involved with someone else. Mike would ultimately make the move that would reveal that to me and my marriage would end. Why the Good X would be involved with someone else was totally clear to me watching that film.

We have a lot of noise in our world today about genders, but what about someone like me who is female and heterosexual but who, a lot of the time, would really rather make a movie and lie around in the dirt with a video camera? Mike “got” me; he was in his 20s and still a kid himself. My friends at the time were teen age boys. Yeah, that IS weird, but I didn’t feel it was. We were all interested in the same thing — going outside and doing cool stuff. For Mike and I, “foreplay” was taking our bikes up to the mountains and riding on a new trail. I’m not machismo or anything. I don’t compete at all. It wasn’t that, it was just that that was fun.

I don’t know. I stand by my earlier idea that “gender” or “sex” or whatever it’s called is possibly unique to each individual. The Good X left me for a woman who is more overtly “female” in a conventional sense. I get it. Masculine identity might depend on that for a sense of security in itself. I understand, now, how scary I can be to men without ever wanting to be. I’ve been TOLD more than once, once in an 11 page letter. How do we get to that point? How did people get this way? Is it social convention or something else? “I know you’re a woman because you…” I don’t know. But I saw something today that I never fully understood before. My mom used to lecture me about this and I didn’t understand her, but now I think I do.

It’s not like I ever had a problem attracting boyfriends, but something else. There always seemed to have been an unbearable compromise with those I did attract. Oh well, it’s water under the bridge at this point. I still have the VCR. I might watch the rest of the tape tomorrow. Maybe not.

Featured photo: some of the “Boys on Bikes” that the movie was going to be about.

8 thoughts on “Very Strange Experience…

  1. I am now wondering if I was possibly too “intense” as a teen and young adult in the eyes of most males. Sparky was quiet and intense as well – birds of a feather… I think the knowing of the self is a life long process. I hope that I am able to recognize the difference between who I was and who I am and who I will become.

    • My friends told me I was too intense. But what were they? I agree with you — knowing ourselves is a lifetime job. I really liked the woman in the video; I wanted to hug her. 🙂

  2. I’ve watched myself being interviewed. The first time I was pretending to be a rock star. The second time I was a newly-minted author. Both were strange and maybe even a little creepy. For me, anyway. Both recordings have vanished into the ether. Like you, I liked the guy I was watching, but found it too strange.

    • Definitely too strange. One thing was I understood why my students used to say, “You’re not like the other teachers.” I was a freak and am still probably a freak but since I’m living in this momentary freakiness, it’s not that obvious to me. 🥸 I’ve decided not to watch the rest of that tape or any of the others. Now I’m trying to figure out how to destroy the tapes. A pyre?

  3. so interesting to look back and see who we were and how we’ve changed, if we have. not everyone will always ‘get’ us, but certainly great when we cross paths with kindred spirits.

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