Aladdin - Thoughts From A Broad
I was driving in the rain today, scream-singing to the shuffle mode on my iPhone’s music, as one does on a Thursday afternoon when they should be working.
At a stoplight, I realized that I was signing both parts to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World.”
Flawlessly, as to be expected.
I have always had voice too deep for “girl” parts in Disney songs, and often got cast as the boy in the back seat of family trips. So when I have a chance to really let my freak flag fly, I go all out. Jasmine didn’t even know what hit her on that high note.
In related news, you need to start doing Kegels: you pee a little when you scream.
It wasn’t until today, as the song changed to the reprise of “One Jump” when Aladdin laments, “If only they’d look closer...they’d find out there’s so much more to me,” that I realized what has been bugging me for the last 36 years or so:
Today, when I had an apple and half a loaf of stale bread for lunch in my laundry pants with the holes in it, I really might have been.
Here’s the thing, I never wanted to be the princess. I wanted to be the prince trying to win the princess’s heart by any means necessary.
Let me just say that I happened to be born into the gender in which I feel at home, a luxury many don’t have. I don’t want to be a prince in that sense. I mean the role. The pursuer. The heart-lead protagonist that is finally revealed for who they are in the end, and loved that much more.
At the same stoplight, music-a-thumping, and staring wistfully into feelings past, I saw myself so clearly Aladdining left and/or right over the years.
I would have had no hesitation in pretending I’m royalty in order to have gotten the attention of the object of my affection. Strong as ten regular men, definitely. Seventy five golden camels? No problem.
As my frontal lobe started to develop and I went to college, Aladdin became Christian in Moulin Rouge. I wanted to be the love-sick writer that woes the tragically sick Satine into loving him through music.
Oh man. When he writes that song promising that he’ll over her “Come What May”...I remember sitting on my college roommates couch and thinking, “I want to write that for someone someday.”
What I love about these two movies, other than that they’re perfect for my vocal range, is that all four protagonists are equals. Jasmine is definitely not a dainty flower. Satine takes love into her own hands, making her own money in the process. Now, *that* is what I want!
I came out of my reverie as someone honked behind me. Daydreaming at a light is annoying at the best of times. It think it’s called an Irish Fire Drill.
It’s just that all of this got me thinking about roles again.
I recently asked my therapist about roles in relationships, blurting out, “I don’t want to be ‘The Girl’ but I’m not ‘butch’ enough to be ‘the boy’ either.”
I couldn’t see her, having used Talkspace, but I’d imagine a very long blink, and some nose bridge pinching to accompany the slight sigh I heard in response. Poor Katie the Therapist. She’s going to be so rich when I’m done with her. That freaking angel. She deserves every penny.
I don’t feel that bad in bringing this up to her. It’s been a real challenge in my life. There’s always a chorus of, “Stand up straighter! Be more ladylike!” that follows us “tomboys.” You get shoved in dresses with itchy lace and huge, impractical sleeves because it’s just what girls wear to holidays. Later, boys open the door for you, even though you just schooled them in HORSE just because it’s supposedly chivalrous. Later, you find yourself apologizing in meetings at work because, although you had something to say, you don’t want to appear rude.
No one ever thinks to ask what you want to wear, or races you to the door because you being a competitor is just as attractive as your boobs, or encourages you to speak up when your brilliance bubbles over. Not when you’re the girl.
So, no. I don’t want to be “the girl.” I want to be asked what would make me feel like me.
And I want to do the asking too. I can’t wait to ask the next person I’m genuinely interested in about the things that make them feel seen and valued. Can you imagine two people who can’t wait to lean into being valued and heard together, and not just gestured to death?
I want to be Aladdin. Doing my own thing to survive in the world, until I meet a seemingly unattainable, yet distractingly beautiful brown-eyed stranger who likes breaking rules just like I do. I want to explore each other’s passions (not a euphemism) and grow together loving the other person in their element (could be a euphemism). I also want a Jeep Wrangler with a manual transmission. Is it so much to ask?
I want to buy things for Valentines day to surprise someone who deserves surprises from me. I want to show up unannounced when they have to work late with a simple picnic dinner to show I value their hard work and their time equally. I want to be the big spoon until my arm gets tired and I start drooling, then be the little spoon as long as possible. I want to write and write and write sickeningly sweet things at the beginning of a love, because that’s what Aladdins do.
And I want my Jasmine to ask. Get curious. Find me.
Oh God. Someone pull the fire alarm before I say something about a diamond in the rough.
So, are we over the roles? Nope. Not until we stop having names for the “type” of lesbian I am when I wear a hoodie with my jeans but also wear mascara.
Not until we choose to eradicate the gross malpractice of having the collective lack of imagination that makes us talk behind our hands when we see a boy that used to be a girl, and we don’t know what to call them.
Not until we stop treating things that are new to us as an affront to our delicate sensibilities. I mean honestly, it wasn’t that long ago that half of the population couldn’t drink out of the same water fountain as someone with my skin tone...you’d think we’d remember how much that sucked and learn from it.
No, we’re not over roles. But maybe we can do just a little bit better tomorrow by asking.
And listen. Sometimes I start on one idea, and end up forgetting my own name. I don’t know how early dementia starts, or how late ADHD ends, but here we are. The real lesson here is this: I look damn good in Harem pants and a vest.