Nancy Roman

Not Quite Right, Dr. Freud

In honor of reconnecting with my very best friend from childhood, here’s a post from 2012 about Doris and one of our favorite games. I hope she will forgive me for my deep, horrible secret:


I was reminded the other day of Freud’s theory that by age six or so, a young girl is devastated by the realization that she doesn’t have a penis. She experiences this as a great loss that affects her for the rest of her life.

I think I read about Freud’s claims when I was about fifteen. I laughed my ass off.

ALL the girls I grew up with thought boys were stupid, and penises were especially stupid. As far as envy goes, I didn’t even think peeing in the snow was worthwhile.

If anything, I felt a little sorry for boys. I figured they must be very jealous of our nice hair and pretty clothes.  And what boring toys. Lincoln Logs?  Really? When you could have a gorgeous Revlon doll with curly hair and real eyelashes?

As a kid, my favorite past-time was acting out scenes from movies and TV. My friend Doris and I would recreate movies in her backyard. Our biggest problem was that most stories were about boys. Yuck.

We’d stage Shirley Temple movies–Big Three Theatre (Hartford’s Channel 3 at 4:30) had a Shirley Temple movie at least once a week – “Heidi”, “The Little Princess”, “Captain January”. And of course we played Annette and Darlene from the Mickey Mouse Club. Then around 1959, there was “Tammy and the Bachelor” and “Gidget”.  I’d sit through two showings at the Cameo Theater, and I was good to go, with near-perfect recall for all the best scenes and lines. Doris never dared to challenge my recollection.

When I was nine we hit the drama jackpot: “Pollyanna.”

For me, “Pollyanna” was the perfect movie. Hayley Mills was so adorable. She had a great accent, and clothes that were supposed to be ugly but were really fabulous. She had long blond hair. She lived in a big gorgeous house but she was an orphan too. And best of all – she had TRAGEDY.

We used Doris’ swing set as the tree that Pollyanna fell out of. We learned to jump off the crossbar of the swing and land in the most delicately terrible (but harmless) way. I must have jumped off that bar two hundred times that summer.

The tricky part about “Pollyanna” was sharing the role with Doris. Pollyanna was really the only girl in the movie. Pollyanna’s sidekick was a BOY. Jimmy Bean was played by Kevin Corcoran, and he was a cute little kid, but I never ever wanted to be the boy. So we took turns. Grudgingly.

But I had a secret. When it was my turn to be Jimmy, I changed it around in my head. I was actually Jenny, who was just pretending to be a boy because the evil orphanage police were looking for me. I was a runaway. I had cut off my hair as part of my disguise. This explained quite well the fact that in actuality I had hardly any hair. This little subplot became for me just as sweet as playing Pollyanna. I think it was the beginning of my fiction career.

I never shared my private storyline with Doris. When I was Pollyanna, she was Jimmy. Period.

Me, as Pollyanna.  I tied a yellow sweater around my head to simulate long blond hair.

Me, as Pollyanna. I tied a yellow sweater around my head to simulate long blond hair. And yes, my arms and legs were that skinny.


  1. Haha wse used to act out scenes from Charleys Angels and in all of my fantasies I was either a famous dancer, Ice skater or singer and boys seemed ver dull back then !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Omg awful typo’s 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It just never occurred to me to want to be a boy….a horse, yes.
    I was having lots of adventures, and mis-adventures just as I was.
    Maybe being The Lone Ranger would have been fun!


    • I always wanted to be a poor tragic orphan. Why in the world I didn’t want to be rich, I’ll never understand. Too many Shirley Temple movies i guess.


  4. We were all so stick thin back then it seems. Great movies. Fun post


    • My mother used to give me a milkshake with my dinner to try to fatten me up. If I had a milkshake now with dinner it would probably put me in a coma.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dana

    I could never understand how boys sat down. Wasn’t it in the way? Didn’t it hurt?


    • And why did they have to hold on to it all the time? Were they afraid it would fall off?


  6. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy, but I never once lamented my lack of penis. It always seemed to me that girls were better designed; surely one was better able to enjoy sports, climbing trees, jumping off high structures, and other stereotypically “boyish” activities without the constant overhanging threat of making a wrong move and accidentally sacking yourself.


    • I did some nasty damage to myself once when I fell riding a boy’s bike. You’d think that bar would be even more dangerous for a boy.


      • For further reference, see the millions of bicycle fail videos on YouTube.

        My mother always did say they got those gender-based bicycle frame designs the wrong way round.


  7. In my make-believe times, I was a spy, and the only good models were men. I liked to be Illya Kuriaken from The Man From Uncle. I never even thought about penises, much less wanted one.


  8. Deb

    I loved Pollyanna! As to the penis issue…I could never understand what they did with it and how horrible it must be to have that thing hanging between their legs, getting in the way, getting crammed into jeans – caught in zippers. No penis envy here for sure 🙂


    • Like Elaine Benes said, “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.”

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fun fun fun memories!


  10. I was a tomboy and actually played with the boys a lot because it seemed like they did more fun things, like building forts and treehouses. But penis envy? NEVER! I suspect Freud was projecting his own insecurities when he dreamed that one up.


  11. LOL, truly your imagination must have made you a wonderful playmate. This is true even if you had an entire different movie playing in your head.


  12. Check out my recent blog and let me know if you still want to be a boy!


  13. I come across all kinds of blogs when I’m bored and browsing. Read this article and I think my wife will love it. I’m gonna share the link with her. Thanks!


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