from Russell Banks’ Lost Memory of Skin
Little girls. Just thinking about them – never mind talking to them – makes him self-conscious and insecure. And oddly scared. With little boys he can at least pretend they’re as old as he is himself no matter how young they are in reality and he can talk to them the same as he would a grown man. Boys like it when you talk to them as if they were grown men – at least he always did when he was a kid – because they pretend that’s what they are anyhow, grown-up men, and they do it for their entire lives. Even old men playing golf or pinochle or watching TV in their retirement homes or sitting half-asleep in a Jacuzzi tub are only pretending to be adult men. But little girls are more complicated and mysterious than little boys. At least to the Kid they are. They don’t want you to talk to them like they’re grown-up women. Maybe it’s because grown-up women aren’t like men. Maybe women really are adults and not little kids in disguise.
from p. 37 of Russell Banks Lost Memory of Skin, HarperCollins, 2011.