Bearcat (n): 1) an arboreal civet with a long prehensile tail; 2) (informal) a hot-blooded or fiery girl; 3) a group of lady comedians from Boston
My whole life I’ve struggled with the concept of being lady like. Around the age of four, my grandmother (who is indeed a fellow Bearcat) decided she would start me young with manners. We would go out to fancy dinners where she would teach me to keep my left hand on my lap, order for myself “Pasta with just butter [kick under the table]… please,” and keep all my parts in the right places. No dresses over my head and her sing song voice telling me “Mable, Mable get your elbows off the table!” echoes in my subconscious through dinner parties to this day.
Around the middle of my elementary school days I rejected the idea of being lady like, and while I couldn’t possibly rebel against the table manners Mumma Babs drilled into me I could change my appearance. Gone would be the days of my favorite Mickey Mouse dress, I was going to shock and awe.
While school shopping for the first day of 3rd grade my mother took me to the Wellesley Gap to pick out an outfit. I walked into that classroom wearing a button down jean boys shirt, pleated kakis and a plaid boys tie. I put my hair up in a tight pony tail and wound up resembling an Irish version of the little boy from Up – I have pictures to prove it. As awful as that photo looks – I was me, and it felt good.
Eventually puberty reared its ugly head- I tried dressing like a skateboarder with Jenco Jeans and light blue eyeliner. I cut my own bangs. I only bought clothes from the hippy cart at the Natick Mall and wore Birkenstocks even in the winter.
Eventually it all caught up with me when I started to yearn for attention from boys. I chose to tone it down and pursue a more feminine look. As mainstream as I got I wouldn’t let that identity change mark my instinct to rebel.
This decision of rebellion, conscious or not, is how I found humor to be a useful tool. A girl with a mouth like mine was bound to get laughs. The male friends I garnered fondly regarded me as the crazy mother like figure of the group – the sexual attraction I hoped to master was non existent because when it game down to it, they wanted a girls girl – not someone who thought the word Vagina was an adjective.
College was… a mess. I went through a serious identity crisis – suspenders and boys undershirts, tutu’s over jeans, and a staunch refusal to wear underwire bras. I literally had the word vagina screen printed on a t-shirt and wore a sweat shirt that had the word boobs on it. My favorite top said “New YorkFuckingCity.”
Today I’ve held on to a little bit of each of my identity…spurts. While I haven’t worn a bow tie in quite a while, there is a certain attraction about a girl in a boys tight sweatshirt with make up on. Sometimes, I wear dresses just because I need to feel good that day. Last week, a fellow Bearcat described my outfit as “sexy homeless,” and by Gods* I’ll take that.
When I really think about it, my search for identity has never really been about just that – it’s a search for attention. I found comedy, I reigned in my mouth (well, somewhat) and I started wearing red lipstick. I’m more of a girl than I’ve ever been, but I make it a point to master a grill. I take out most of my rebellious antics on stage. I feel comfortable in my own skin, and if I don’t I just fake it. I guess that kind of sums up this whole manifesto on my attention/identity crisis: Faking it can make you believe it, and if that doesn’t work put on some red lipstick and swear a little. Go on Bearcat, you deserve to feel good.