The plot of Rasselas aside, I had originally posted this line because it intrigued me...was Johnson's observation about the 'endearing elegance' of two women as friends, or was he speaking of his friendship with a woman? Was it just a guy-gal pal thing, or a friendship that entailed something more? And then there was this comment left on my blog that added a whole other dimension I hadn't even thought of. Is there anything elegant about a tomboy, or endearingly elegant about a tomboy, albeit female, friendship? Was this commenter thinking about friendship as one of a tomboy with her guy-pal? Or something more?
I know how I define the term 'tomboy', but I was curious what the literature had to say. I turned to the hand-held Webster's...a girl who behaves like a boisterous boy...and that worked for me. Then I googled it and up popped the wicked-Wikipedia...a girl who exhibits some characteristics of the gender role of a boy including the wearing of typically masculine-oriented types of clothes and engaging in games and activities that are often physical in nature, and which are considered to be the domain of boys.... OK, I can buy that. The next line caught me by surprise...there is a perceived correlation between tomboy and lesbianism. Hmmph! That thought had never crossed my mind. Never.
I remember a time when I was proud to call myself a tomboy. I fit in with the boys AND the girls. It was the best of both worlds. And I never thought about the sexuality of it at all...and certainly never any elegance. Then puberty hit. I suppose my fear of all that happens to a young girl's body during the 'hormonal turmoil' caused me to cling ever more tightly to my 'tom-boy-ism'. Who doesn't remember the special 'pull-outs' for the girls during the junior high years? I attended those talks in the 6th and 7th grade, but I never really thought it would happen anytime soon. I think most of the information about the transformation (boobs and babies, but especially periods) went in one ear and out the other. I labored under the notion that it (my period) would happen, I'd get over it, and then move on. I refused to believe my mother when she told me that this wasn't a one-time deal, this was EVERY MONTH FOR THE REST OF MY REPRODUCTIVE YEARS!
Well, puberty happened and life went on. Now that I am on the other side of those reproductive years, I wonder about that tomboy thing. Do I still cling to that side of me? Can a woman of a certain age still be a tomboy? I realize that it is such a basic part of me that I had long since forgotten the tag because there were so many others that have applied over the years...friend, girlfriend, lover, wife, mom, gardener, and now student. However, somewhere along the way I figured out that I can 'be' a tomboy along with all those other roles. I still treasure all my tools and I use them to build things (did you see the foto of that grand stairway in my sidebar?). I still lace up my work boots when the job calls for it. I can dig in the dirt with the best of the Boys, but I can also slip into something that knocks the socks right off those same Boys.
I suppose that a tomboy friendship between two women could possess endearing elegance, but that comment left on my blog seems to suggest something other. The endearing elegance of a tomboy friendship between a man and a woman is a delightful thought. The woman who understands this powerful combination of tomboy and sexual creature surely has a leg up for an endearingly elegant friendship.
image credit: www.sophiemckayknight.com/.../