“Why do you sit like a girl?”

I’m at a picnic table, tying knots for a merit badge test. We’re in the Sierra Nevadas, on a hiking trip with my Scout troop. I’m probably 10 or 11.

I look up. “Huh?”

Three older guys loom over the other side of the table. I squint to keep the bright sun from melting them into the mountains.

Their ringleader, Dave, asks the question again. He’s tall and muscular. Has a driver’s license. Shaves with a real razor. I only pretend, secretly scraping Gillette Foamy off my face with the back of a comb. He has thick black hair, on his legs as well. He is, I would learn the term a few years later, dreamy.

“What do you mean?” I ask, honestly having no clue.

“Look at your legs.”

I lean back and peer under the table. My ankles are crossed, the toe of my left hiking boot on the dirt and my right ankle resting on the back of my left Achilles tendon.

“Girls cross their knees, not their ankles,” I instruct them, and return to practicing my knots.

“I guess you’d know,” one of them snickers as they walk away.