Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the bread and the matzah

It’s currently Passover and National Poetry Month, and I’m proud to say I celebrated both yesterday. First I crashed a workshop by the warm and inspiring Steven Reigns at the West Hollywood Library. One of the prompts he gave us was “write about a time you cross-dressed.” See results below.

Then I went to Jody and Christine’s annual-ish Alternative Seder, meaning they downloaded a current events-themed program (which has a Hebrew name I can’t remember, let alone spell) from and served tilapia and vegetarian matzah ball soup. I think my favorite prayer (blessing? toast?) was a two-parter where we said one l’chaim for the bread the Israelites intended to make and one for the matzah they made instead. That sounded about right to all of us: There’s the stuff you plan to do, and then there’s what life actually delivers. Both have their place.


In eighth grade I went to school
in men’s underwear: white Hanes V-neck
striped Gap boxers, waistband folded twice.
(Gina Ciccotelli rolled her boxers at the bottom too
and everyone said she was a slut.)
We wore these items with men’s tube socks
pushed down around the tops
of volleyball shoes. I was not a man
and I did not play volleyball
at least not well.

Did boys find us cute?
Did they notice, at least, Gina Ciccotelli?
Did our baggy clothes suggest the boudoir?
Draw attention to blooming hips
and brand new breasts?

The answers elude me
because I was dressing like a boy
to look like the girls
whose volleyball legs I studied in P.E.
telling myself there was a difference
between admiration, emulation
and lust.


Cathy said...

Awesome poem, Cheryl. I think I'll write my own men's undies poem, too! Thanks for sharing.

Claire said...

Matzah ball soup sounds pretty good just now. Don't know anywhere I could pick some up though.

It's funny, as soon as I read "In eight grade," I laughed because that's what came to mind for me too with that prompt.

I don't recall if it was April Fool's Day or Halloween. I'm leaning towards the former. It was definitely middle school though. As a joke, I dressed up like a guy in my class. Not sure what the point was. My hair was short at the time and I got my front curls to fall just like his did. Had the same type striped shirt he'd always wear with jeans. It was perfect.

The kicker? No one noticed. My best friend with whom I'd hatched this plan the day before even asked if I'd gone through with it or not. What the hell, man?

Guess they didn't spend as much time looking at him as I did. (Perchance also I was not dressing the girliest in my regular wardrobe for contrast. ;) He was a real cutie, a flirt, and popular. I'd known him, along with most everyone else, since kindergarten.

I dig your poem. Definitely conjures a certain place and time.

Cheryl said...

Cathy: Do it!

Clair: Wow, that takes guts. I dare you to befriend him on Facebook, post a picture of yourself in costume and tag him in it. :-)

christine said...


Cheryl said...

Yes, that's the word. Thanks for being Google for the too-lazy-to-Google.

Claire said...


Um, no. I learned early on in my FB usage that befriending people from HS puts you on everyone else's radar even if you don't have it listed as a network. I'm trying to keep a low profile with that crowd.

Also, he's not nearly as good looking anymore. ;)