My dad was 25 years old when I was born.
That is a fact I carried in my head for a long time. It became a measurement for age when I tried to figure where other people might fit in years on the planet.
When we were young, my sisters and I had a job of being daddysitters. Dad had a drinking problem, and we figured out that if one of us kids went along, Dad didn’t drink as much. He would use the excuse that he had to get the kid home, or maybe a little girl had powers of persuasion to head for the door.
One evening when I was maybe 5 or 6, I was with Dad in a bar. He had bought a whole bottle of orange pop, and there was no sister to share it with, even though the guy behind the counter had set out a glass with crushed ice next to my gift. I twirled around on the stool, coming back around just as my dad poured the pop into the glass and asked for a straw.
While dad was drinking his beer, and talking to the guy next to him, a man next to me, he was at least 10 years older than my dad, began to rub his hand up and down the red sweater which covered my back. I didn’t like it, so I swatted his hand like it was a pesky fly. The glass and straw up there on the bar was too tall for me to sip my orange pop, so I carefully brought the glass down to where I could reach it. In order to do that I had to turn the stool a little. Well, I’m left-handed, so I turned to the left.
The man put his hand on my leg. My hands were full of slippery glass and straw, so I finished my slurp, swallowed, and told the man to “Stop That!” in a very loud voice.
This got my dad’s attention, so he turned just as the man straightened up and put his hand up onto the bar.
My dad got off his stool, told me to scoot over onto it, then he sat on the one I had just left. He traded our drinks while talking to the other man.
As we were leaving, he told me I did the right thing, telling that guy to leave me alone.
That was my first encounter with what I later called the “Eeww factor”. Having guys as old as my dad looking at me with a longing I didn’t understand in their eyes. Even worse was when one of them touched me, like that man did. Even through my sweater, I realized that it wasn’t right.
The summer I was 10, I was standing in line at the concession stand at our town pool. I felt a large warm hand on my butt, which was covered by only a bathing suit.
I swatted it away like it was a pesky fly. I turned to look at who had touched me, and the closest person was a guy a few years younger than my dad. He wasn’t looking at me, so I let it go. Then that same hand draped itself across my shoulders just as I was getting to the window to say my order to the teenage girl. He then pushed my hand holding my money away and said he would buy my candy bar.
I told him NO, that I could pay my own, for him to leave me alone. Only age 10, I knew if money came in, I’d owe.
The manager of the snack bar, the same age as the guy who was standing beside me, came over and asked if we were okay, looking at me the whole time. I said yes, as I handed over my own money to pay.
When I got back to my cousin M at our blanket, I explained that I thought that guy in the green swim trunks was weird.
She said her girlfriend who was 13 told her that the same guy had grabbed her boob when they were in the water, so yeah, he was really weird. Eeww!
Did any of us report him? No, but we did avoid him, and warned our friends and sisters.
I’d say the manager of the snack bar had suspicions as well.
At age 17, I had a very nice figure, gained mainly by carrying newspapers up 6th Street Hill. I was a bridesmaid for my cousin G, and believe me, my aunt and uncle hosted quite a nice reception for their only daughter.
As a bridesmaid in a pretty dress, I danced with many of the males in the room. One man from the groom’s family, at least 12 years older than my dad, acted like he was so sloshed he couldn’t stand up. In the middle of the dance floor, his head came down to my shoulder, then sank lower, way too close to my nipples. Then his hands came up my back and pulled me closer to him.
I’d handled my dad before when he was drunk, but this guy was way out of my league.
Luckily, my cousin D, the bride’s oldest brother, 11 years older than me, a VietNam veteran, saw my plight and came over to peel the man off me and take him back to his table. Then my cousin came over to dance with me. He explained about how pretty I looked and I was doing a good job of being nice without being a tease, and that guy had too much to drink.
I still recognized the Eeww factor, though.
So here are three situations where a regular girl like me got signals about how some guys act. I had my own instincts, with some friendly guidance and family protection.
By age 19, I certainly knew right from wrong, decided when I might want to stand my ground.
I had been to enough weddings to understand that marriage is a binding contract, whether it could be my own or someone else’s.
When I was working as a waitress the summer I was 19, a coworker’s husband asked me for a date. I said No, that he was married. He said what she didn’t know would be all right. I said not okay with me, and I felt sorry for his wife since his attitude was not proper.
I’ve been thinking of all this for several days while reading about Christie Brinkley’s husband and his 19 yr old dalliance.
Columnist Anne Taylor Fleming, says a few things I agree with.
Thank You for reading.
~~love and Huggs, Diane