I learned that particular bit of folklore (if the first thing you say in the morning on the first day of the month is “rabbit rabbit,” you’ll have good luck all month) while reading Trixie Belden mystery novels when I was a 7- to 13-year-old. I originally inherited several hardbacks from my cousin, like this one:
I added a few of the late 1970s hardback editions to fill in the blanks between her old books, like this one:
(Yes, the bindings were that crappy, and mine looked pretty much like this one did, with pages falling out.)
And later found a paperback edition that further extended the series:
I certainly read (and reread) the complete series up through book #20, and may have read a few beyond that, I don’t remember any more.
I’d made my very best attempts to read Nancy Drew, because That Is What Girls Read. I just couldn’t manage it. She was repellently girly. I just couldn’t care about her. I turned to reading the Hardy Boys, and even religiously watched the Hardy Boys TV series (with Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy). (THAT Nancy Drew — Pamela Sue Martin — was watchable, even though the books were unreadable, but they didn’t make as many episodes for her as they did for the Hardy Boys.)
My point is: Trixie Belden was the first time I saw myself in a book.
Okay, I’m not blonde OR perky OR outdoorsy. I didn’t have any siblings, my friends were thin on the ground, and I certainly didn’t live in suburban/rural New York OR have a club for investigating mysteries.
But I was a baby butch from pretty much age 5 onward. I resisted skirts, dresses, and anything frilly because they made me feel stiff and icky, basically, and my mother, kind and patient woman that she is, let me. More than that, she supported my right to dress however I wanted. The woman went toe-to-toe with the parish priest to get permission for me to wear a pantsuit for my first communion when I was six. And won. So I wore pants. I wore turtlenecks. My 7th and 8th grade pictures are rife with me in turtlenecks and flannels, for gods’ sake.
Trixie Belden wore short-sleeved buttondowns and jeans by preference. She had a best friend, Honey, who was beautiful and femme. I had some serious Feels about their friendship that often slid into wondering when they’d start kissing, which they never did, of course, but I shipped them hard before I knew what shipping even was.
All the other “girl sleuths” in existence spent nearly as much time on their wardrobes and other girly-ass things as the heroines of Regency romances, but not Trixie! She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty or be clever (heck, she saved her younger brother from a snakebite!), and the boys in the club almost never ended up saving her, or if they did, it wasn’t nearly as overweening and preachy as in other books.
AGENCY. DECISIVENESS. ACTION.
Plus, come on, this chick is a butch:
The heterosexual romance threads all annoyed the hell out of me, but even at that age, I realized that they were compulsory in this genre, so I held my nose and read between the lines for what I didn’t know at the time were the “slash moments.”
This culminated in my starting to write a fanfic sometime in my late 20s in which Trixie did, in fact, grow up to be a private investigator, but was also a dyke, and was coming home to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance. Alas that I never did finish it.
Trixie holds a special place in my heart as the first other butch I ever really discovered, and whose adventures I could read and actually enjoy, as opposed to those (heterosexual propaganda) stories written for the YA population. Finding her was my own “Ring of Keys” moment: there ARE other people like me.
I still have trouble finding butches in the genres I choose to read, despite increasing visibility for the FABGLITTER population. I’m happy to read about FABGLITTER folks anywhere, any time, but I confess that my delight is just a little greater, my mind a little lighter, when I stumble on someone who looks like me in fiction.
And this is why I write what I do. Because it matters.
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