Forty-Five Years Ago

This is a hard one for me to write.

Forty-Five years ago I was 13.  I lived in Cambridge, OH with my mother, sister, and stepfather.  My mother had a job that often had her working nights and my stepfather…well, he was an abusive bastard whom I hope is now freezing in Niflhel.

My mother was working at NCR (National Cash Register, the “big employer” in Cambridge then) at the time  but she’d also frequently worked as a waitress and some of the friends she made that way stuck with her over the years.  One of these friends had family up in Canton, Ohio and the friend and my mother would visit them from time to time, taking me and my sister along.

Even back then I had the huge social awkwardness and shyness that I would carry with me all my life.  I never really knew who these people were except that they were family of one of my mother’s friends.

One time, when we went up there we spent the night.  I was assigned to a room and a bed.  Shortly after I went to bed one of the younger sons of the family–he was about 16 or 17 at the time–climbed into bed with me.  I didn’t think much of it at first.  This wasn’t the first time I’d had to share sleeping accommodations with someone in an overcrowded household.  Only this proved to not be a typical case.  The person in the bed with me reached over, put his hand in my underwear (I had always slept in underpants) and began to fondle my genitalia.  Shocked me right down to my bones.

He then “suggested” that we fellate each other.  I found the idea repugnant, not in a “homosexuals are icky” way but in a naive kid who is barely figuring out that there’s something attractive about girls way of “you want me to put that in my mouth?” I would have been just as horrified had it been a girl asking me to…yeah. (Got to remember I avoid explicitness of that nature on this blog.)

He relents to the extent of putting my hand on his genitalia.  And…well, remember that I was a scared kid of 13 and this guy easily outweighed me two to one.  I was too scared to say “no”.  And getting out of the bed was right out–Bed abutted the wall and getting out would have meant climbing over him.

Eventually, he finishes getting his jollies and I finally go to sleep.  He’s gone when I get up in the morning.

I’m too ashamed to say anything at the time.  Turns out that this was the last time we visited that place and in time my mother and the friend drift apart.  I never saw those people again.

Years later I tell my mother about the incident.  She looks shocked and asks why I never said anything before.  Could it be because you and my sister would frequently talk about how it was physically impossible to rape a man and seemed very skeptical even of the idea of sexual assault?

And some years after that, I talk about it with my then bishop in the church I followed at the time.  The bishop’s response was “well, it was only the one incident and never repeated so I don’t think we need to have a church court (to decide what/if censure the church might need to make against me”.  What?  I’m the damned victim here.

That may have been the starting point of my own eventual departure from the church.  It would be some years yet before I finally said “no more” but looking back, I think that path started at that point.

However, while I never even really knew the names of those people–they were just “family of my mother’s friend (not naming the friend who I have reason to believe is dead now anyway),” the events are vivid in my memory.  To this day.  More than that, I can still see the rural place they lived.  I can still see the Jeep they had out in the yard, with the turn signal that seemed to be strapped onto the steering column as an afterthought.  There was this little “wheel” inside the gadget that when you flipped the turn signal lever would press against the steering column and be rolled by turning the steering wheel.  Turn the steering wheel back and the little wheel would pop off the steering column and the lever would recenter.  I remember the donkey they had in a small pen, with hooves so overgrown that it was walking (such as it was) practically on the fetlocks.  I remember the 18 year old daughter, still living at home, who was 7-8 months pregnant from a boyfriend who showed up from time to time.  I remember the “adults” sitting around the kitchen table playing Euchre well into the night.

These memories are crystal clear.  There is no “maybe this, maybe that.”  I have no idea what I would have done had we gone back there again afterward.


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