Old Maid, it’s not just a game anymore! Part 1

There are no small minds, just big heads – Rose, The Golden Girls

That quote has absolutely nothing to do with today’s blog, the TV is on and it just hit me funny.  So friends, today’s blog is about love and relationships. Let me state from the start that if you’re looking for insight into love, you won’t find it here. If I had a great relationship I’d be giving him attention and not writing this blog.

Photo by Steve Hillebrand/US FIsh and Wildlife Service
Photo by Steve Hillebrand/US Fish and Wildlife Service

My first crush was Duncan. We met at nursery school in Paoli. It turned out he lived near me in Devon so we carpooled. What sultry qualities did my toddler Romeo have that turned my head I hear you ask? Well I’ll tell you – Duncan ate the dead bugs out of the spider web in the corner of the room! I was mesmerized that not only did he think this up on his own, but that he did it, not once, but every day and never was he caught by the teachers.  He was like James Bond combined with Renfield.

Years passed and in the summer of ’76 I spent everyday at our local Y. Each day my mom would drop me off at 10 when they opened, she’d give me enough money for a Payday bar and a Pepsi Light for lunch. At this time there was a boy, Charles, whose family is (and was) very prominent in the area. The Y was built inside an old mansion and there were 3 outdoor pools and 2 indoor pools. One of the indoor pools was not open to the public because the swim team and diving team had practice.  I used the other indoor pool because one of the outdoor pools was for laps,  another was a baby pool, and the other was an adult pool but had moms swimming around with babies. I didn’t want to be diving into baby pee and chlorine. Besides, the indoor pool had a high and low dive.

One day while I’m in the indoor pool, Charles gets in. I didn’t know who he was but he’d get in and all the other kids would quickly get out of the pool. I was not about to let some boy my age make me get out of the pool. He grabbed a little girl and started dunking her until she was almost in tears. He came over to me and I smiled and said hello, then turned to go back to my business. I couldn’t believe it – the idiot was trying to dunk me! What he didn’t realize is that I have freakishly good otteresque mobility in water. As he held me under I turned around to face him, clasped my legs around his waist and with my hands climbed up his chest until I had my arms locked around his neck. Now he couldn’t put me under without going under himself. Of course I’m in a small bikini, wrapped around him like a second skin. I clung to him the whole afternoon because once I got into this position I realized that if I let go I’d put myself at risk for drowning. Stuck on him like a remora on a shark, we ended up talking a lot. I must admit it was sort of a turn on knowing that I had outsmarted him and had him at my mercy. At the end of the day when he had to leave I made sure we were next to the ladder then I let go and practically flew out of the pool. After that it was almost a ritual. I’d be swimming and at some point in the day he’d arrive, children would flee in terror, I’d swim towards him and clamp on. This went on for a few weeks. He was cute, and he was actually nice to me and we’d have good conversations. But on July 3rd he showed up with a friend. This friend had never been at the Y and Charles acted a little weird that day. I asked if I let go of him, would he let me get to the ladder without bothering me, he said yes, and he kept that promise. But he and his friend also got out of the pool too which was odd since they had just arrived.

At this time there was construction going on. Between the two indoor pools were the locker rooms. You walked down halls that twisted and turned (remember, this was all inside of a mansion), locker rooms for men, for women, for male staff, for female staff, etc. As I walked down the halls Charles and his friend caught up to me and pushed me into an empty room that had construction going on. No one could see us. Charles was behind me and had become incredibly strong overnight. It was obvious to me at this moment that at any time we’d been in the pool he’d had the strength to peel me off of him but he’d chosen to let me stay there. As I’m realizing this, Charles has both my arms behind my back and holding both of my wrists in one hand. His other hand is on my front working its way under my bikini top. His friend is standing across from us whipping me with his towel non-stop. Everytime I try to get away from the towel I inadvertently press backward into Charles allowing his hand to delve farther into my top. I realized I’d gotten into a very precarious position and knew I had to get myself out. Just as I reach this resolve, Charles took his hand out of my top so that he could try to plunge it into my bikini bottom. I might only have been 13 but I was majorly pissed off and the latter gave me strength. I twisted my body into the towel whipping and as I turned I sunk my teeth into Charles’ arm. I didn’t bite hard but it was enough to surprise him and he let go for a brief second. That was all I needed. Like the baby zebra that gets out of the crocodile’s jaws, I ran like I’d never run before. I made it to the girls locker room. I got my stuff, and I went outside to the outdoor pools. That night I was nauseous because I felt so violated. July 4th was my mom’s birthday and the bicentennial so all across the USA everyone was supposed to ring a bell at a certain time. Sitting on the porch with my family celebrating my mom’s birthday and ringing a bell, I felt like I’d throw up every time I thought of what Charles had done, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t tell my mom because I knew she’d say it was my fault. For the next couple of weeks I stayed at the outdoor pools. Charles didn’t come alone anymore, this horrible friend came with him everyday. I was so angry that he’d taken the indoor pool from me. Oddly that made me angrier than what he’d done to me. I could finally get past that, but that he had taken away my daily fun, that infuriated me. Finally I walked in to the indoor pool, he and his friend were in the pool. Our eyes locked and I dove in. I think he couldn’t believe I did it. But he didn’t come near me. I was invisible to him from then on. He never once acknowledged my presence, he never bothered me, and I went back to having fun and ignored him.  I spent a week getting to know a guy named Al who started to come to the Y. He was very cute with black hair and blue eyes. Unfortunately one day he showed up in a Speedo racing suit and he wasn’t on the swim team. That was all my 13-year-old eyes could take so that ended. It didn’t help that my girlfriends had nicknamed him boomerang.

Stone Harbor NJ Life Saving Station
Stone Harbor NJ Life Saving Station

A couple of weeks later I was in Stone Harbor, NJ. I spent a week being romanced by 16 y/o boy. He couldn’t believe I was only 13. Every day we spent on the beach swimming and walking along the water. Want to know his name? So do I! He told me but I didn’t hear what he said so I asked him again, but between waves crashing, seagulls squawking and these obnoxious little kids screaming near us, I didn’t hear what he said the second time. Thinking I’d ask him later, we ended up spending the whole day together and as the sun set on our first day I was too embarrassed to admit to him that I didn’t know what his name was. And if I couldn’t ask him at the end of Day 1, it definitely wasn’t happening the next day. After a week my family went back home to PA so that was that. At the end of the summer we moved to central Pennsylvania and I had to leave my friends, Green Valley Stables, the Y, and all that was familiar. More of my disastrous decisions in the dating world are coming up in Part 2.

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