Switch-swinger

When I was in the fifth grade, my friend, Glenn Bromley, and I once switched swings while swinging. Buoyant at this historic accomplishment, I quickly ran home and enthusiastically told my mom and siblings.

And no one believed me.

Here’s how it happened.

Glenn and I were, with one other boy, whose face I can conjure but whose name escapes me, the shortest kids in the 1967-68 fifth grade in Hart, Michigan’s, middle school. We lived in Hart for four years, moving back to Montague the next year. I would remain a shrimp until well into high school, when genetics could not be denied and testosterone finally caught up.

Until then, I was short, skinny, and very limber. I could do the splits, right down to the ground. I did kip-ups, without using my hands. Cartwheels were too easy, so I learned a full front flip, and mastered it. Shoot, I could even ride my blue Schwinn bicycle no-handed, so why would anyone be surprised at a swing-switching feat?

I was ten or eleven and, honestly, I cannot recall a single detail leading up to the big event. Did Glenn and I discuss this for weeks? Had we planned, plotted, and programmed the pace, every point, and each part, concerned about wind speed, what we ate for lunch, and that it might be a good idea to have a few witnesses? Surely not.

I do recall that it was a Friday. On this score, we were wise: cap off a tough week of school by triumphantly ushering in a weekend in which we would be extolled by our families and, perhaps, even make it onto the evening news, which, on Saturday and Sunday, is always lighter on heavy news so there is more room for fun things like kids’ Olympic-sized achievements, which ours surely would be.

School was let out for the weekend. As kids made it to the lines for the bus or down the sidewalk for home, Glenn and I made our way to the playground. As we were swinging, we started our usual horsing around. Eventually, we both found ourselves in a standing position, swinging away. The plan began to be hatched.

“If we could stay in unison, could we trade swings?” “How?” “With one hand, hold onto your swing and with the other grab mine. I’ll do the same. Then, keep one foot on your swing and I’ll go behind you and put my foot on yours. After that, we repeat the process with our other hand and foot, and, voila, we will have switched swings while swinging!”

We got swinging as high as we could, which, if you ever tried swinging while standing, was not all that high. We got into unison and began our moves. The Flying Wallendas had nothing on us. Each move was flawless. On the mark. Just as planned. Put the net away.

We did it! Glenn was now on my former swing and I was on his. We were jubilant, even if, due to the fact that we were not swinging very high in the first place, we were now barely swaying at all. No matter, we knew what we accomplished: we switched swings in “mid-air,” while we were swinging. So—how did I put it, earlier?—buoyant at this historic accomplishment, I quickly ran home and enthusiastically told my mom and siblings.

Now, I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my life—mostly of the I wasn’t using my head variety—and told a lot of lies when I was young—mostly of the I need to keep myself out of trouble variety—but nothing comes close to the amount of flak I have taken over the years about this.

No one believed me.

Why wouldn’t they believe me? Simply put: I was not a credible witness.

My siblings just plain made fun of me.  And kept making fun of me.  Over the years, whenever I would say something a bit over the top, one would remind me, “Like that time you and Glenn Bromley switched swings in mid-air?” and the rest of them would almost wet themselves with laughter.

Even my mom, my blessed mom, who often called me her best Catholic (oops, that didn’t turn out well) didn’t side with me. I don’t recall Mom actually calling me a liar or belittling me. I can only picture the look on her face, which said, “Oh, Greg. Oh, middle child, so starved for attention are you? Some day you will grow up. You might even grow into those ears. Then, you won’t need to tell such outlandish stories.”

I don’t recall the date that Glenn and I pulled off this Guinness World Record Book-caliber effort, but it might as well have been December 7, because, for me, it was a date that lives in infamy.

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5 thoughts on “Switch-swinger

  1. Rumor has it that the Olympics are going to make this an event. They have tried to get swing-switching as an event for years, but they can’t find any silly swing-switchers to sign up for it. They are still working on events such as sandbox scooping, speed sliding, and merry-go-round mayhem – seeing how many people can fit on a merry-go-round and who can go the fastest.

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  2. So, I know you love Julie so are you attracted to men sexually? I have been trying to wrap my head around this especially since the surgery is coming up and you will be all female then. Feel free not to answer – it is very personal. I pray for a successful surgery and your healing is speedy and complete. You are a special Gina.

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    1. Hi, Sandy~

      This is a convoluted thing, to be sure. My sexuality has not changed. I remain attracted to Julie, and she to me (and she’s not a lesbian). Since I am a genetic male, I continue to consider myself a heterosexual male.

      I will be female in my outward physical anatomy, but I won’t and cannot be female in my inner anatomy, my chromosomes especially. So, I will always be a genetic male even as I have become female by changing my hormones and genitals.

      Another way I look at it is this way. I am married to Julie. Thus, as with any married person, it makes no difference to whom I am attracted because no one else shall take my heart but her. I really like seeing it this way because I am so happy, so grateful, and so privileged to be united to her!

      Thank you for your prayers and kind words, Sandy.

      Peace,
      Gina

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