Gray Hoodie

Jenny Irizary

Photo Credit: Amanda Sage/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Photo Credit: Amanda Sage/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

The lunch period I walked out of the men’s room in my gray hoodie was the first time someone flirted with me sincerely. It was the only brand name sweatshirt my parents bought me, twenty dollars with tax from Walmart. Usually I wore the hand-me-downs my dad’s coworkers sent home with him in black garbage bags. I could sew, and anything can be made to fit, and the shit stains I could cover up with Sharpie quotes from vampire fantasy novels. I was that kid. So that already oversized gray sweatshirt was stretched out and hung lank over my breasts by the time I left the bathroom with my nose wrinkled at whatever week-old asparagus leftovers my classmates had peed onto the doorless stall walls. Honestly, aside from the risk of my nipples poking through the fabric, it wouldn’t have mattered much if the sweatshirt had been tighter; I was flat-chested anyway. But since the zipper began below my hips, already hidden by low-slung jeans, I looked “like a new boy,” as my friend Emily said later. Of course, she meant that she had mistaken me for a boy that was new to the school, not someone new to boyhood itself. She bounced up to me with a bigger smile than when she just wanted to gossip about Broadway musicals, so I thought that maybe today was special. Like other kids hadn’t shaved her pink fuzzy binder or flushed her faux fur jackets down the toilet for once. I had barely strutted out of the restroom, hadn’t had a chance to let my lookout know that he didn’t have to redirect guys who needed to piss towards the bushes behind the basketball court, when she said, “Hey, what’s your name?” in what I think was supposed to be a lilting tone. As I took down my hood, she grimaced. “I only saw your lips before; you looked like a new boy.” And just like that, my hips and flat tits re-materialized. At least for a brief three minutes in the junior high’s dirtiest bathroom, I got to be handsome on my own terms, even if Emily felt deceived and laughed about it later.

pencilJenny Irizary grew up in a cabin in the woods along Northern California’s Russian River, the only Swede-Rican for miles. She holds a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and an M.A. in literature from Mills College. Email: jennyirizary[at]

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