Mary

I think the reason I hang out with boys so much is that I’m just not smart enough to keep up with other girls.

Boys do lie, but they lie in what they don’t tell you – lies of omission – or they lie about things that are obviously untrue: feelings, libido, boasting. And they speak in words. They ask questions, answer questions.

Girls speak in glances that I never quite catch, in harmonious laughter at a joke I don’t get. They don’t ask the questions that mean anything and don’t answer the ones that mean everything. They love deep, difficult conversations, but only when they’re standing at the podium delivering verdicts or wearing objective, unattached safety-orange and directing emotional traffic. It’s harder to get guys to talk about the things that matter, yes, but when they talk they really do. Hidden behind a thin veil of candy floss and amorphous sisterhood, girls can lie to you with a warm smile, a cold stare or honest tears in their eyes. At least, the ones I’ve known can. 

And this is fine. This is a survival mechanism women have picked up after centuries of silenced voices, injustice and fear. Our subtleties and secrecies protect us. And they provide a language, a lingua franca for women from all walks. There is no feeling greater than noticing the tilt of a stranger’s head and sharing for a moment that magical, near-telepathic sameness of thought and instinct. I have felt this a rare few times and they were the only rare, few times I have understood that vague, amorphous Sisterhood. 

And I am not free of subtlety or secrecy. If I was, I’d be dead. I wouldn’t have survived without neglecting to answer the questions that meant everything. 

But as smart as I am to know when I’m being lied to, to feel the hidden intentions behind a smile or a laugh and taste the energy in the air when a question is asked or answered, I’m not smart enough to play along. Like the Mary’s Room Thought Experiment. I have studied color my entire life, I know the science and significance of every shade, but my world is black and white. I’ve learned all the steps to the dance but I was born with two left feet.

Inside, outside. Boys, girls. There’s no difference really. I sit, untouched, pristine. My world is black and white.

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