Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Yet Another Hashtag Me Too

My memory is pretty good.  The story is 42 years old.  It could possibly be only 41 years old.  The reason I believe it is 42 is that I remember the hallway I ran to.  It was empty . . .

. . . My junior high school had gone under renovation when I was 14 and in 9th grade, and that hallway was busy that year.  So, I'm 99 percent sure that I was 13.  And in 8th grade.

I'm just going to mention the name Judge Brett Kavanaugh once.  Only to say this has nothing to do with him.  His name won't be mentioned again.  No one's name will be mentioned. 

Our school started co-ed gym that year.  Boys on one side of the gym with their coaches, girls on the other with their coaches.  And us girls wore those sexy blue gym suits.  Ha.  Parts of me looked 13, I think.  My face, my gangly legs.  Some parts between the face and legs did not.  They were frequently commented on by school boys, construction workers, and the junior high school boy's gym teacher and football coach.

Women and girls of that time often say that they are used to sexual and sexist comments.  In truth, we're not.  So when he asked me to help move some balls back into the equipment room, I expected a comment or two.  What I didn't expect was to have him come in behind me when I was in the back of the room, close the door and turn off the lights.  I didn't expect him to come within inches of me, laugh the laugh I heard after every sexual comment in the past, and ask me what I would do if he kissed me.  He could have asked what I would have done if he touched me.  See, my testimony would have been dismissed in court because I cannot remember if he said 'kissed' or touched.'  Both seem very inappropriate to me.

The question shocked me.  Being in the dark with him and smelling his sweat just inches from my nose shocked me.  I could hear my blood pounding in my ears.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to disappear.  I wondered if I let him touch me would he leave me alone after that.  Could I just walk out?  I could see though the crack in the door that I was trapped--wedged in between gym equipment.  As every part of my body quivered, I told him I would scream as loudly as I could.  I might have told him I would kick him, too.  He laughed that nasty laugh again, muttered something about not mentioning what happened to anyone -- perhaps saying that he was joking.  Then he opened the door and said goodbye. 

I went out into the side hallway.  I walked one way for a few steps then turned and walked the other way.  Part of me wanted to walk back in and confront him in front of the next class.  Part of me wanted to go to the head of the school.  Part of me wanted to cry.  Part of me wanted to tell all of my friends (and strangers).  The part of me that won out was the part that wanted me to be quiet and forget it.  I had another class to go to.

How could I ever face this man again?

I had to face him daily for the next year and a half.

I was 13.  I was terrified of a teacher.  I was terrified I was a bad person for not telling.  I was ashamed.

This man died several years ago.  In the newspaper and on Facebook he was eulogized in the most glowing ways.  By men and women.  By boys and girls.  Was there anyone out there like me that was feeling sick and disgusted when reading about his life?  Did he only do that to me?

Would I ever tell anyone? 

What if he had run for public office?

What if he were ever nominated for the Supreme Court?