In the middle school the story went around amongst the boys and girls in the cafeteria, its brick walls thick with several layers of egg-yellow paint, that if you brush Cynthia’s long red hair, it’ll come out in lumps in your palm. This wasn’t true. Her hair was naturally pumpkin colored. They liked to say these things because they hated how huge it was. It shaped her head like a lion’s mane. It puffed up behind her, and she let it grow past her shoulders. When she was in her twenties her boyfriends enjoyed petting it. She liked saying she turned them into hairdressers. And she also prefered thickly built men, (she had a crush on Gene Hackmen from the time she was seven years old. ), who worked out chronically and could pick her up off the ground. Which could be difficult since she was six feet tall, even without the heeled boots she spent the mornings shining like dress shoes. They had to be impeccable.
Her freckles were another resource for teases in middle school. The girls named her ‘volcano,’ ‘pizza,’ or ‘pork’ (because she liked to roll around in the mud, or so they accused). The splattering of spots spread from the roots of her hairs down across her arms and under her shirt. Her face was layered in red-brown pencil marks. They lent the hue of her skin a fine pencil shading where the spots grew denser. They crowded thinkly on her shoulders, and around her flat bust. But much of her neck was clear. Like a sun spot centering her profile. She grew tough when it came to her freckles. As a kid she loved them. She would raise hell in the backyard woods, laughing as she spread dirt and clumps of soil on herself. A natural camoflauge, she called her frekles. Sticking out her toungue, sufficiently muddied, she’d sneak behind the other kids and jump out at them screaming “sasquash!!” These antics might have inspired the pork references later in her adolescence. By then she was growing insecure. The boys choined in the fun. Ten years from then she’d appreciate the freckle fetishers. They’d email her dating profiles and exlaim their worship.