by Gary McDonald
(Contains Adult Content.)
The very existence of the thumb was proof for Isaac Newton of the existence of God and why I used it, to get around.
Her golden pigtails were hard to miss and even harder to resist and I should have kept on going but I couldn’t help myself. Sitting in the sun in front of the campus library like that seemed a better idea than studying for finals, and she offered a much better view too.
I was a sucker for pigtails anyways and slipped in on the grass behind her just as the view got even better. She peeled out of a cowl necked sweater, down to a loosely knit yellow tube top, held up by nothing more than the same magic that held up the perky pigtails.
A matching yellow sash wrapped her narrow hips and crossed in front of her were Vasque hiking boots like mine. Mine though had already been scuffed by the Rockies and out to both coasts, when hers hadn’t seen anything more rugged than the buckled sidewalks that frayed the belled bottoms of her jeans. Yet they were cute on her and gave her that natural Colorado earthy look.
From behind she seemed flawless; from the stray wispy silk on the nape of her slender neck, to the dimpled hips that winked when she shifted on her barely covered cheeks.
But according to the Greeks, beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder; it’s in the Phi too, which is the 1.618 golden ratio of geometric symmetry in nature that makes things appealing, if not beautiful. And not wanting to completely neglect my classical studies, I applied my college mathematics in a practical way and even without a protractor or slide rule; it was obvious she did indeed fit the Golden Mean.
That was half the equation though.
“What’s that all about,” I asked, scooting close enough to smell the lemon oil in her blonde streaked hair.
There was a tall scruffy guy with a megaphone drumming up a crowd in the plaza in front of her.
“Nixon’s bombing Cambodia now and that guy’s right, that’s total bullshit,” she said, looking back, and proved the rest of the theorem; she was an absolute doll. A bit young but still more woman than girl and so good looking she could have started another Trojan War.
It took all my nerve to keep talking to her. “I thought President Nixon signed the Peace Accord in January and we were pulling out of there?” I scrambled to say. With a low Lottery Draft number I knew all about it and watched it as if my life depended on it, yet I wanted to keep her talking.
“He did, that’s what makes it so boge and he shouldn’t be able to get away with that.” She twisted around to size me up and proved her sunny side had all the golden proportions too. “I think we should do something. Don’t you?”
I really didn’t. The North Vietnamese Army had infiltrated Cambodia to wait for the much publicized pull-out of our military. The bombings, or so I’d hoped, were salvaging something out of my older brother’s tour over there and the other American lives lost or ruined defending South Vietnam from the Chinese and North Vietnamese communists and their quest for world domination.
“Oh come on, I bet you could get something started if you wanted to,” she challenged with teasing eyes. I just might have been able to resist the appeal from those smoky blues if it wasn’t for the roseate pair peaking through the loose knit in her and took the bait; hook, line and sinker.
“If you really want to get their attention,” I suggested, snared by that nearly fishnet weave, “march over to Woodward and close down the main street in the city.”
I was just trying to get rid of the distraction but she really liked the idea. “Yeah, let’s do that,” she said, jumping up, and grabbed me by the front of my jeans to drag me off the knoll. I couldn’t have resisted if I wanted to, her long painted nails scraped tender skin all the way down and she had me firmly by more than the belt. From the look in her eyes she knew it too and made the most of it. The guy with the megaphone was gone.
“Do something,” she dared, letting go of that compromising hold to push me in front of everybody.
Getting in front of a crowd like that was the last thing I wanted to do, yet I knew it didn’t take much to get something going and I was bewitched. “War, oh yeah… what is it good for?” I sang as a chant. Somebody in the crowd answered with the rest of Eric Burdon’s rendition of ‘War’, “Absolutely nothing…say it again.”
That was all it took and they followed us through the campus chanting rehashed anti-war slogans like; “We should dick Nixon, before he dicks us.” and, “Nixon pull out, like your father should have,” picking up stragglers along the way.
“This is a ball, we’re like Pied Pipers,” she giggled, skipping through the crowd and bobbing in that yellow top (which magically stayed up), after chanting something I’d come up with for her; “Stop the bombing, stop the war; we don’t want to kill no more.”
We stopped at the curb to wait for the light, even though there weren’t any cars coming. “What should we do now?” she asked, wrapping arms and her sweet sweaty feminine fragrance around me to peer over my shoulder. “Lock arms?”
“No, I think we should just hold hands. There aren’t enough of us to stretch across all eight lanes that way.” I answered looking back at our scraggily crowd of maybe twenty and noticed why there was no traffic and why I should have been studying and not protesting. She was cute though and I still hoped worth the risk.
Pouring out of the alley around the corner were riot-geared cops, lining up shield to shield in a Roman phalanx in front of a road barricade rerouting traffic. They seriously outnumbered us too.
“Hold tight until we get all the way across before sitting down, then we’ll just get the hell out of here,” I shouted, hoping to save face and finish what I’d foolishly started.
She dug her nails into my arm once she saw them too. “They won’t hurt us if we keep it peaceful,” I tried assuring her even though they looked like hardened veterans of the ’67 Detroit riots. That black day in July years before and the Motor City madness Gordon Lightfoot sang about. “They’re not soldiers with rifles they’re just cops, so we’ll be okay.”
“Oh yeah?” she whispered, trying to hide in me with a body press that I could have counted the change in her jeans, if she had any, “I bet they thought the same thing at Kent State.”
That was like a kick in the nuts, I’d forgotten all about the four students shot for protesting at Kent State University the controversial war (two years earlier almost to the day). Just last year , I’d even put my finger through the bullet hole from an errant shot that the Ohio National Guard had left in the ½” iron sculpture in the middle of the campus. It was hard to believe something like that actually happened in our country. At least their deaths hadn’t been completely in vain though; it shocked the nation and started an end to the war. It also made what we were doing protesting like that totally pointless!
A bullhorn barked for us to break it up, yet before we got the chance to they charged. We were scattering in all directions when I pushed her towards the curb to get lost in the crowd gawking on the sidewalk. I’d have slid in with her, but a burly middle-aged cop, who’d been slapping his gloved palm with a night stick, came at us honed in on her yellow top.
I ran back into the road as a diversion but he got to me before I could sit down and cracked me hard on the side of the knee. When I reached down to protect it, he rapped me just as hard on the wrist, then the elbow and before I could even flinch, the lead-filled nightstick smacked the back of my head. I crumbled to the concrete. At least he’d hit my thick pony tail or I’d been knocked out cold and not just silly.
His spit shined boots were inches from my face, as he stood there silently goading me to try something. It took everything I had to lay possum still and it seemed like forever until he kicked the still throbbing arm protecting my face and finally left.
I got up slowly and staggered off the road to find her, but she’d split.
It was surreal; the cops had been waiting for us. We weren’t even going to march on Woodward until I suggested it ten minutes earlier. The press were there too.
“You really got racked out there. Are you okay?” a reporter I knew asked when I made it to the sidewalk. He’d interviewed me a few times as the spokesman for a student organization.
“Yeah, I think I am,” I said, struggling to get my bearings and the girl’s. “You didn’t happen to see that chick in yellow did you?”
“Sure did, she was hard to miss and that’s how I spotted you. I have to admit though; you’re the last person I expected to see in the middle of that.”
“You and me both,” I said, feeling the back of my head for blood and I could tell he was checking out my eyes. “Did you see where she went?”
“No, sorry man, but you stole the show out there you know. What in God’s name were you thinking?”
“I guess I wasn’t, was I?” I said, not surprised a pretty girl made an idiot out of me.
“You can say that again,” he said as if he was reading my mind. “You’re thinking with the wrong head you know.”
I felt like throwing up and sat on the curb while the adrenalin wore off and tried to make sense out of what had just gone down. “What are you doing here anyways, and how did you know this was going to happen?”
He joined me on the curb and lit us both a cigarette as he told me how the cops were actually getting ready to break up a sit-in a block down; another protest group closed down the Administration offices and it was all over the police scanner.
I buried my face in my hands and it hurt to laugh.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“She said she felt like we were Pied Pipers and we were,” I said shaking my head. “We led everybody right into them like lemmings!”
“Well for what it’s worth,” he said as if it were some kind of consolation prize, “you were the only one to get beat up.”
I limped back to the knoll but her sweater was gone and with it my best chance of cashing in on the risk or at least finding out if she was just a tease. I should have melted into the crowd and stole away with her. But no, I had to act the hero and make a bad scene even worse.
It’s not as if that was new to me. I’d suffered my share of smacks from the nuns for trying to impress the girls in school. Those I’d asked for though; it was part of the game. This had been different and felt as if that cop was trying to impress her too.
Still, once the bruises healed it should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t…
My mom was keeping dinner warm for me when I got home still pretty sore. She was chain smoking Virginia Slims at the kitchen sink she used as an ashtray, still in the house dress she rarely changed out of these days. It had been nearly a decade since we saw the smartly dressed, doting mother that raised us. But something happened to her when her father died, just before the Kennedy assassination, which seemed to make it worse.
We tried everything too, even moving that ‘city girl’ out of the suburbs, back to Detroit; hoping being closer to her family would help. She never liked the rolling suburban hills where she claimed she could go a whole day without seeing a car go by. I thought it was paradise until we moved and realized she was right, it may have been pretty and the American dream but it was lonely if you were Irish Catholic in that WASP world. The city turned out to be an exciting world for me, but it didn’t take the demons long to catch up with her and put her back on that pharmaceutical merry-go-round.
She had been pretty good lately too; the new medication seemed to be working. And at least for now, I didn’t have to worry if she was hiding behind a door to ambush me with boiling water, or sneak into my room in the middle of the night to cut my hair.
But just before the last holidays (which she didn’t handle well in the first place) she went on one of her rampages. She even railed against my kid sisters for the first time and it forced my hand. Since my eighteenth birthday I had power of attorney over her and made the call that I’d prayed I’d never have to make.
They didn’t show up that night and the storm blew over; she’d worn herself out. But two patrol cars showed up the next night.
I met them at the door and could see in their eyes they didn’t want to be there any more than I wanted them there. “I’m the one who called it in,” I told the officer who had a foot on the step to the stooped porch and a rigid bracing-for-war expression on his face. “Look, here’s the paperwork that shows I have the power to commit her and I called it in but we don’t need to do this now, she settled down.”
I handed him the papers and he passed them back to the older guy behind him who checked it out with his flashlight. The rest of them fidgeted with their belts and holsters.
“We’ve got a job to do,” he said passing the paperwork back, “the call came in that she was a threat to herself and we have to respond to that.”
“Come on guys, I called it in yesterday and trust me, she’s okay now,” I pleaded, “It’s Christmas Eve after all. Why don’t we just forget about this and you guys can go home early and spend this night with your families too.”
They seemed to relax a little and the first one even took his foot off the porch.
“Maybe we should check on her just to make sure she’s alright,” one of the guys in back suggested.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” I said. “She’s sleeping and I don’t think a cop waking her up in her bedroom is going to go over very well.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” he admitted and the rest of them agreed.
“Hey,” I said before they got in their cars with the blue lights still revolving telling the block something was going on at our house again. “Merry Christmas.”
“You too,” the older one said, taking his cap off to get back into the cruiser. “And it will be if we don’t have to come back.”
You can say that again, I thought to myself. My kid sisters came out and shared my arms as we watched them pull away around the corner and back into that silent night.
My dad was shopping for mom that Christmas Eve, but home now. He was finishing his after-dinner salad, watching the evening news on the portable black and white TV that took up the other side of the table. The dirty dishes stacked in the sink meant my sisters had eaten. The youngest was downstairs, practicing a routine of cartwheels and roll-overs as Peter Frampton came ‘Live’ out of the turntable. The teenaged one was up in my room tying up the phone.
Just as I joined Dad the news station (with the busty blonde weather girl) started playing the footage of me getting pummeled during the demonstration. It looked like an all out riot, even though my skirmish was the only thing that happened.
I changed the channel before he saw it and the next station showed the same thing and when I switched to the next newscast, it was showing it too. By then Dad looked up. “That wasn’t you, was it?”
“It most certainly was,” Mom chimed in after pouring more beer into her glass.
“What was that all about?” he asked getting up to grab coffee and a cigarette.
This was sticky; my older brother had been in Vietnam and even if he’d given me his blessing to do what I could to stay out of it, I wasn’t sure how Dad would take it. “Dad, it wasn’t anything like that.” I said lamely. “They made it look like an all out riot, when I was only one that got hit.”
He stirred Creamora in his coffee without looking up and waited for more.
“It wasn’t a big deal; I just got caught up in it and ended up on the wrong side of the street.” I completely omitted the ring-leading part. I expected something like “It served me right.” Instead he asked if I was okay.
“Yeah, I just got a few stingers.” I showed him my arm and the purple bruises the size of a quarter on my wrist and elbow. They looked worse than the one on my knee but didn’t hurt nearly as much. “Don’t worry; I’ll be able play this weekend.” We’d been waiting for it to dry out to get back to playing tennis and I shouldn’t have shown him my bruised arm. That weekend, he played to my backhand and beat me easily.
“What about the one on the back of your head?” Mom asked, having seen my few seconds of infamy all three times. I could smell the beer on her breath as she felt tenderly for the lump under my hair. “I hope it knocked some sense into you.” She said after easily finding it, “You better be careful or they’ll be coming for you too.”
“Come on Mom, they’re not watching you and our phone isn’t tapped,” I tried rationalizing with her for the umpteenth time. “Even if it is, we’ve got nothing to hide.”
“You may not, but maybe I do …” she laughed, hinting she may have been up to something as she left to nap off the beer.
She’d made so many harassing phone calls to the White House through the years; the operators there probably knew her voice. I thought they considered her just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of troubled citizens who just needed to harmlessly vent.
All Dad and I could do was look helplessly at each other as in “What now?”
I would have told my folks that I got involved in the protest to impress a girl who reminded me of my high school sweetheart. Dad would have understood, he liked Sadie, it was hard not to.
Mom was another story though and might have gone on the war path again, once she realized I was still beating a drum for Sadie. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her; mom just thought she was keeping me from doing other things. When actually, the other things Sadie kept me from was getting into was shit like this.
It had been eight months, three weeks and four days since Sadie met me at the front door and closed it behind her to keep me on the porch. Usually, I just walked in and let them know I was there. They were my other family and I’d become more of a big brother to her siblings than my own.
“We need to talk,” she said hiding behind sun bleached bangs. The mascara was already smudged around her swollen blue eyes as fresh tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Oh God, I’m so sorry,” she cried falling into my arms, “I don’t know how to do this.” She smelt like Lillie’s of the Valley, and her face was warm, wet and sticky against my neck.
She didn’t have to say anymore, I’d been expecting it since the day we met, three and a half years before when she’d just turned fourteen and could start wearing make-up that she didn’t need to look older, and I was all of 15 and a half, but didn’t look it.
“I don’t blame you,” I said holding her close, thinking I was paying for the summer before. She swore she forgave me for it, but I knew she didn’t forget.
“Damn it, don’t do that,” she pushed away to look me in the face, “don’t act like you’re not good enough for me. Maybe it’s the other way around, did you ever think of that?” She hit me hard on the shoulder.
I stood there and took it.
“Why aren’t you getting mad at me?” she cried hitting me again. “Damn you, damn you, damn you! Yell at me; knock some sense into your silly little girl. Do something, don’t you dare be like this just to make it easy for me.”
“Why, this is what you want, isn’t it?” I grabbed her flailing fists.
“I don’t know what I want. Maybe your mom was right and we are too young to be this involved.” She slumped into me, “I just need some space that’s all, but I don’t want to hurt you … or lose you. Oh God, I’m so confused.”
We’d weathered her families’ move, my mom’s meddling and even my screw up, yet we always worked it out. This “needing space” was something else though; I knew those words were poison and there wasn’t an antidote.
Holding her tight, I let her freckled bosom heave sobbing spasms into my chest before gently pushing her away. Then with a pained smile that said what I couldn’t, I wiped her sun burnt cheeks and kissed the salty lips goodbye.
It didn’t really hit me until I passed her younger brother clutching “our” football in the window that I wasn’t just losing her; I was losing her family and I didn’t know what was worse. I was dazed driving home and it was weird. I felt relieved that I didn’t have to worry about when she was going to break it off any more and yet terribly guilty that I did.
She was right after all and tough enough to be the one that made the call. Somehow it went from holding each other up; to holding each other back, just like Mom said it would. “It’s hard to be happy for the rest of your life, with a pretty woman your wife'” she’d sing and warn. And she’d have known too; she used to be one of them.
James Taylor’s “You’ve got a friend” came over the radio just before I got home and I broke down. I didn’t just lose a lover; I lost my best friend, at times my only friend and the name I would have called out to come running.
At least she didn’t ask if we could just be friends.
Sadie had spoiled me rotten and she didn’t play games either which left me not knowing how to play them and worse, what other girls were looking for anymore. I knew plenty of what they didn’t want, yet they seemed as confused about what they did want as I was.
And as hard as it was to figure them out, it was even harder to meet them. Our urban campus was dead by afternoon since everybody packed their classes together and they didn’t spend any more time in the city then they needed to. I couldn’t blame them, I did it too my first year when I had better things like Sadie to do.
So I tried everything. Even a class in the new program they offered in my small honors college where I thought I could meet some chicks and figure out what made them tick. It only met once a week and since my Greek Mythology class was only three credits, it left an extra one to fill the full boat I’d paid for. If nothing else, it would look good on my transcript for Law School.
The class was in Old Main, the Wayne State campus’ original eighty year-old building, where most of my Montieth honors classes were held. Conveniently it was across the street from the historic house the University let me use for the student organization. It was the only convenient thing about the class though.
It wasn’t the “Chick Lit” class I thought it might be and most of them weren’t what I’d have called chicks either. Or, as I soon found out, not even ladies and especially not broads. They were “women” and they let me know that right away.
That was fair enough; most of them were my older sister’s age and even though it was just four years, it was like a different generation. They were pre-British invasion and more into the early Duos and Trios than the Beatles. Yet, according to Psychology Today, at nineteen I was sexually peaking, while women peaking in their mid-to-late twenties gave me a chance, or so I hoped.
It was hard though, I had to keep to myself after the class’s opening topic; when ‘Penis envy’ wasn’t a joke and I was the only one that laughed. Not my slickest move and it didn’t get any better. “Banning the Bra” was not about the sexual liberation of the young and nubile either, but actually a political statement about men’s bondage of women. I had no idea a bra was that uncomfortable, or that kind of symbol.
Sadie had agreed with me, women seemed to dress for other women, and at least for her and her sisters (which I tried not to, but couldn’t help noticing), going braless wasn’t very comfortable anyways or according to their mom, even an option.
The Birth Control Pill had even more political implications; it was going to revolutionize sexual relationships when women finally gained control of their own bodies. They said the same thing about the recent Supreme Court, Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion. Yet they never did explain how they lost it in the first place, but by then I knew better than to ask. They could have taken a page out of the Greek women’s playbook that even stopped the Peloponnesian War just by withholding sex, but I didn’t dare bring it up. It was a new world and there was nothing to learn from history.
I did try to keep an open mind but by the end of the class they lost me when it took a hard feminist turn and went from pro-woman to anti-man and suggested that the promise of artificial insemination (which worked on cattle but not humans yet) would offer women real emancipation; total freedom from men.
“Is this for real?” I blurted out the last day with nothing to lose. The irony of applauding science for providing a way to prevent pregnancy on one hand, then hoping for another way to impregnate on the other; was lost on them. “Do you really want that, it reminds me of what the Nazis were doing? Don’t you think this might be screwing around with nature, just a little?” I looked around the circle of our discussion group. “And forgive me, but I can’t help wonder how many in this room would even be here if the birth control pill was available 25 years ago?”
Nobody said anything; but I could almost hear their eyes roll.
Ms. Perkins, (that was the first time I heard that title used) was our cute instructor fresh out of an east coast woman’s college. She raised her eyebrows above her tinted Gloria Steinham aviator glasses and leaned forward to say something, but had second thoughts and sat back leaving me the floor.
I may have been bashful, but once I got going I wasn’t shy. “Are all guys chauvinist pigs, just because there are a few guys taking advantage of women? Should I assume all women are whores because there are prostitutes?”
A shoe slapped the ancient wooden floor and echoed around the cavernous classroom. Dark eyed Cookie (that’s what she went by), with the short bob, short skirts, but very long legs; let it slip off her foot. We were in a crowded Greek Mythology class and a few lectures together but I never got the nerve to talk to her; she was pretty classy and seemed out of my league. Yet that didn’t keep me from purposely sitting across from her to admire her legs while her nimble painted toes played with her pumps.
She got my attention with that and her dark eyes bore into me as if asking if I knew where I was going with this. I wasn’t sure; I had ten weeks of guts to spill and kept on going. “It sounds to me like men aren’t supposed to act like men, yet women are?” And going: “And what’s wrong with the world according to I.B.M. anyways?” I asked openly defending “the establishment.”
“I.B.M.?” Cookie asked, reaching down for her shoe and flashed a clear shot through the top of her blouse of a delicately laced bra and what it cradled. It wasn’t the first time she did something like that either. She’d been playing cat and mouse with me the whole class but now she wasn’t playing fair; she wouldn’t take her eyes off of me.
“Their corporate model,” I told her, happy to have somebody to direct my rant to, “where they paid married guys more as a subsidy for their wives. That way she could stay home, take care of the family and be around for the kids. They knew they had a better employee if he had a stable family life. It works, so why change it?”
“Slavery worked too,” she countered while slipping the shoe back on and a peek of the matching lacey panties. “Why did that need to change?”
“Come on.” I was trying to stay focused on the topic, not her lap. “It’s not the same thing and you know it.” I would have looked away but it’s rude not to look at who you were talking to. “Granted, it was brutal for those slaves, but where would the blacks that are here today be if that hadn’t happened to their ancestors?” My Irish ancestors, the first slaves of the Americas had it just as bad, if not worse, and that gave me a different take of the situation. It almost got me thrown out of my Urban Planning class too, so I didn’t want to go anywhere near that again.
“It still doesn’t explain why it’s right to pay somebody less money because they’re single or a woman.” She said shifting in her seat teasing me with a better angle up her skirt.
The only single people in my world were priests, nuns or widows, since divorce was an excommunicable offense. “They’re not supporting a family, and maybe in the big picture, if you’re single; you don’t need as much, since it’s just for you. It’s kind of selfish, don’t you think?” I answered half-heartedly; my interest in winning the argument slowly waning.
But she persisted. “What if she’s married and doesn’t want kids?”
I told her, I didn’t think it was fair for both of them to have good paying jobs.
“Fair to whom?” she asked, baiting me.
“Fair to the families that didn’t have somebody with a decent job, because a woman took it from a man with a family.” I was afraid two big income families would have most of the money, when the ones with kids wouldn’t have enough to raise them.
“So the only place for a woman is in the kitchen, or the bedroom?” she said. “Is that what you’re saying?”
I should have seen it coming. “No… not at all,” I stammered, wishing she hadn’t brought the bedroom into it. “But somebody’s got to be around to keep an eye on the kids. I grew up in Bloomfield Hills and you’ve no idea the trouble that the kids get into when the mom’s not around or anybody else for that matter. I’ve got stories you wouldn’t believe.”
That didn’t faze her. “But what if a woman was supporting a family? What then?” She sat back pushing the skirt even further into her lap and crossed her arms, as if she had me.
“I don’t know,” I admitted, struggling to keep my eyes level. “You can’t deny it works better if guys bring home the bacon and women take care of the kids, can you? Women are equipped with all the right equipment, after all.” I said, uncomfortably.
I’d already seen how something like that played out too. A married college buddy returned to school after getting laid off. Affirmative action kept his wife’s job (with a raise) but cost him his. They decided he’d finish his education and stay home with the kids. After working afternoons and rarely seeing each other, she thought they should have an open marriage. He didn’t want it to look like he wasn’t hip, so he went along with it. “What else was I supposed to do?” He confided over a bottle of Mogen David. “I didn’t want to lose her.” (If that’s what she wanted, he already had, but what did I know?)
When it came out later that she’d been having an affair all along, he felt pressured to even the score and have one too, but he didn’t. The worst part was, he wasn’t sure if he was the father of the kids. At least the daughter had his black curly hair. The younger son had his wife’s strawberry blonde hair, so who knew?
“Hey buddy, give me a break,” the big broad who sat on the other side of Ms. Perkins said, breaking in. “Maybe she doesn’t want to be married or have kids.”
She was built like Mae West and would have been considered voluptuous if she didn’t wear floppy flannel shirts to hide her lush and ample bosom, or cut her hair like a man. And, the last person I wanted to get into this with.
“You’re such a typical pig,” she said, not letting up. “You think that women are just here to shine your penis and polish your fuck trophies.”
“What did you say?” I wasn’t going to repeat it; I didn’t talk like that.
She spat it out again, adding that I was just like the rest of them and wanted to keep women barefoot and pregnant.
“Do you really think that’s what guys want? Even if they did, do you realize that he can’t be sure it’s even his?” It didn’t come out right, but I didn’t know what else to say, the trophy concept stunned me. “And isn’t that why kids get sur-names and not her-names? It’s obvious who the mother is, but she’s the only one who knows who the father probably is. We’re stuck taking her word for it.” I looked at the other guy in the class for help, but he wouldn’t make eye contact. He’d been taking the class with his girlfriend, so I wasn’t surprised I was on my own.
“What difference does that matter? It’s her body and nobody else’s business if you ask me,” then kicking the other beehive at me, “and it’s a shame; you looked like you might be smarter than to believe that worn-out rhetoric, but you’re probably just another bigot too.”
“So now I must be a bigot because I’m a white guy?” I didn’t think I was. The civil rights marches were before my time but I was one of the founders of a student organization that, among other things, worked against racial discrimination. In a way it was why I was in that urban planning class, and got in trouble for questioning: who were we, to force our White Anglo-Saxon Protestant ethics on the black inner city culture? Their neighborhoods were rundown but the front porches and streets seemed livelier than the staid neighborhoods (with tasteful stoops instead of a porch) that I’d come from, I pointed out recklessly.
I put my money where my mouth was too; I took a layoff the summer before, for a black co-worker who had kids, so I couldn’t leave it there. “Seeing as you brought it up, did you ever notice that the women in the ‘Woman’s Movement’ are white, just like this class?”
“Our black sisters have their own battle going on, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” she answered defensively.
“Oh no? Do you know any black chicks that go braless, besides Angela Davis?”
“I haven’t noticed, but what’s that got to do with it?” she asked suspiciously.
“They don’t dare look anything but their best.”
She knew there was some truth to that, not necessarily about the bras, but it was hard not to notice how well the black girls dressed compared to the white girls. (Cookie being one of the exceptions to the rule.)
“I take it you know why,” she said crossing her arms over her meaty chest.
“It’s why they straighten their hair, lighten their skin and do everything they can to look like all of you,” I said looking around the room, “so that you white girls would leave their men alone.”
Nobody talked about it, but I didn’t believe black girls didn’t resent it and that was why the feminist movement was predominately white. I couldn’t blame the black guys; it was a white world, not a small world, according to Madison Avenue after all.
I couldn’t help resent them either, though, they could just be guys. When for me, and other white guys, it wasn’t polite; it was demeaning even to open doors for women. I couldn’t figure out the anti-white male animosity.
“See, you are prejudiced,” she said dismissively.
“Give me a break. What do you call the attitude you have about white guys? If that’s not a prejudice I don’t know what is.” I really couldn’t figure out where all the animosity towards white guys came from. Everybody shilling for the woman’s movement was white, which meant they had white fathers, grandfathers, and maybe uncles and brothers. I should have just left it there, but I couldn’t. “I don’t understand why women even want to do everything that men do. We can’t help ourselves; we’re wired this way. Where your breasts are there for nurturing, our balls pump us full of testosterone, so we can do all the back breaking, nasty shit for you, and YOUR kids I might add, not our trophies. And we don’t live as long, either”
I took a deep breath, I had to be careful here, they could say what they wanted when I couldn’t, and it was their class after all. “Men will never be able to do what women do,” I said delicately, changing my tone and tact, more interested in making my point than an enemy,. “We can’t bring life into the world, and once you cut out all the other crap, it’s the only thing we’re here for anyways. Why take our part away from us, it’s the least we can do, if not the only thing? ” I really didn’t get where they were coming from.
She ignored what I thought was my coup-de-grace, yet took some of the edge off her tone too. “What about the women who don’t want to have kids or the women who can’t have kids, or who can’t find anybody they want to have kids with?” She added softly, “Excuse me if we can’t all be good looking and raised in Bloomfield Hills.”
She caught me off guard and it took a moment to catch the back-handed compliment. “What’s that got to do with anything?” I said, trying to let that soak in. I wasn’t used to compliments. I’d take them from wherever they came.
“Everything,” she said, “It’s why you live in a different world and always will. Some things will never change.” She had me there; I didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t consider myself good looking but at least I wasn’t ugly and I knew my easy smile made up for a lot, but it hid a lot too.
The rest of the room seemed to agree with her and thought I should have the world by the balls as well, yet they had no idea what it was like for me. But then again why would they? They only saw what I let them see and they were probably just as lost in the masquerade as I was and didn’t know who or what to believe either.
“Okay, you two,” Ms. Perkins said breaking it up and sending us back to our corners. “I think you’ve covered it all and summed it up very well. I had planned to do that today, maybe not as passionately, but you saved me the trouble, thank you.”
She stopped me with her hand when I went to get the last word in, “I’m not saying anybody’s right or wrong, but as you can see, we’re at a crossroad. Whether we like it or not, the times really are changing.” Then back to me, a little reluctantly, “Are you done?”
“Yeah, but it’s hard to swallow. All those doors you’re trying to open, I’m afraid are going to shut on me. And think about it; if we’re all going after the same thing it’s going to get messy. And with all the other crap going on in the world, is this really the time to be this divisive?”
“I can appreciate that, but now you know how they feel, ” she said neutrally. “But now who’s being selfish?”
“Ask my brother with the three kids. He’s been back from ‘Nam for a few years and he still can’t find a decent job; and that’s what he gets for answering his ‘call to duty.'”
It fell on deaf ears; the bell rang in the hall. Cookie slid out of her chair, swiped her skirt back down and gathered her books. It was now or never. I went to make my move but Ms. Perkins stopped me with a hand on my arm and asked for help clearing out the room. By the time I looked back, Cookie’s long legs were whisking her out the door.
It was just as well and almost a relief. Like dancing, I didn’t know how to make the moves sober and saved myself the embarrassment of misreading her. The truth was, I’d never live it down if we had another class together.
When we got to Ms. Perkins’ under-the-staircase cubbyhole of an office, she let her hair down and took on a new persona as her auburn locks, freed from the bun, fell to her shoulders. “Call me Julie,” she said closing the door behind me. I wasn’t comfortable addressing my professors by their first names but nodded in reluctant agreement.
“What are you really afraid of with the woman’s movement?” she asked hanging up the sweater vest that hid her cute figure.
“We’ve already pitted the blacks, browns, yellows and reds against the whites and now the women, so besides how divisive it is; everything,” I admitted. “Especially the resentment that makes me feel unneeded, let alone unwanted.”
“I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about,” she laughed. “Most of its just talk. It’s like shooting for the stars to hit the moon.”
“I don’t know about that.” I said. “I think it’s already happening to me.”
She started dismantling the pyramid of books I was still holding and straining to keep chest high, so that the front of her blouse would keep bumping into my fingertips. Despite being petite, under the Playtex it was all Ms. Perkins and even more than I’d have thought.
“Why would you think that,” she asked clutching the last of the books to her chest like a schoolgirl, and jumped up on the corner of her desk. “What’s happened?”
I told her how I’d scored in the top percentile on every national test I’d taken since the fifth grade and got accepted everywhere I’d applied. Yet, I couldn’t get a single cent in scholarships, grants or even financial aid. And I knew there were all kinds of funds available on less merit, as long as you weren’t white, middle class and especially, male.
I could see how that fit in the big picture, I told her, but it pissed me off when I ran into it even looking for a part time job. When the Ski shop I’d worked at a couple blocks off campus closed for the season, a friend told me the Free Press was looking for want-ad copy writers. After nearly finishing their aptitude/application test (designed not to be finished by the way), they claimed I didn’t have the qualifications they were looking for. And when I asked if I’d messed up on the exam they said it was just the opposite; I did too well and was overqualified for the position. They insisted I’d have to be paid commensurate to my test score. I told them I was just looking for a part time job and maybe an opportunity to get my foot in the door of journalism. They didn’t care.
“Maybe that was what they really had to do,” she said sympathetically.
“No, I’m pretty sure they were blowing smoke up my ass. I wasn’t overqualified, I was unqualified,” I said trying not to sound bitter. “The friend who told me about the job had similar qualifications and she thought she did pretty well on the exam too and got a job. You tell me; what was going on? I’m just trying to do what they tell me to do, yet they keep on changing the rules. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but where’s it going to end?”
“Don’t you think you might be jumping to conclusions and a little paranoid?”
“No” I snapped, “my mom may be but I’m not.” My tone surprised her; she’d no idea the nerve she’d pricked. “And you know what? I’m just trying to find my way too and there’s nothing worse than being misunderstood.”
“Oh yes there is, it’s being someone who doesn’t care. I don’t know what to tell you,” she said, taken aback. “I don’t think you’re nearly as naive as you let on though and it is too bad it’s not as simple as you’d like, but you are a bit of a romantic.”
“Is there anything wrong with that?”
“No, not at all, it just means you feel things and that’s refreshing and charming. Just be careful and keep it sincere.” She had taken her glasses off to brush the hair out of her eyes. “And don’t give me that look. You know perfectly well what I’m talking about.”
That wasn’t what the look was about; her Guinevere green eyes were stunning. “You’ve got absolutely beautiful eyes,” I said without thinking.
She didn’t slap me, but blushed and thanked me before looking away.
Then hesitantly, she put the books down and glanced at her watch. I noticed the thin tan line on the ring finger. The air in the room got suddenly thick, close and stuffy. She turned back to me, close enough to touch, with a poker face smile as her gold flecked green eyes silently raised the ante and called my bluff.
The bell ringing in the hall broke the spell and I folded. “I better be going,” I said, breathing again, and headed to the door hoping she’d stop me, but she didn’t.
I kicked myself in the ass, all the way down the hall for doing it again. I still didn’t have the guts to risk the agony of defeat for the thrill of victory. It wasn’t the fear of failure as much as it was of success. Even as a kid I was haunted by the idea that success bred contempt. The more successful you were, like “Abraham, Martin and John” (and even Robert Kennedy), the bigger a target you became. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do; reach out and try to kiss her? If I’d misread her, I’d been thrown out of school.
It wasn’t the first time I couldn’t get out of my own way, or the last as I was about to find out. Julie still gave me an “A” which protected my grade point, but it wasn’t going to be needed. Law School was to become a moot point.
I was such an idiot, that “Woman’s Studies” class wasn’t anything like what I thought it was going to be and it confused me even more, and not just about women. Yet it turned out to be the least of my worries; my salad days were about to get tossed.
“Are you kidding me?” I knew they weren’t, they weren’t the type to fool around. They were the clean-cut third year law students I’d recruited to petition the Board of Governors for our student organization. We’d been waiting for them in our historic house offices to hear how the meeting went. They shook their heads without needing to; I could see it on their faces.
“Are you sure it was me?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “How long do you think they’d been taking pictures of me and why?”
They were sure it was me, yet they didn’t have a clue why. They thought it had been going on for years too. My hair wasn’t on my shoulders in some pictures, yet down my back in others.
“Some of them must have been during your Army physical; you were in line with a bunch of guys in your skivvies. At least that’s where I hope you were,” Mel said with a grin. He was the short dark-haired one who wore crumpled suits like Ralph Nader. “There was even one of you and a blonde, running out of a lake with a chopper in the background. I don’t think they had a problem with those though,” he went on a little more seriously. “It was the ones of you closing down Woodward that they had a problem with. And for what it’s worth, you were right; she was a fox.”
They knew all about “Goldilocks” as I called her, and the demonstration the week before.
“You better be careful; fifteen will get you ten.” The tall one said from the doorway. He was in law school on the G.I. Bill and so straightlaced he never loosened his tie.
“The way she pushed my buttons and hung all over me, I doubt she was that young.” I told him. She might have been chronologically, but she sure was old enough in every other way and legal or not, I still hoped to find out.
“So, was she worth it?” he asked, barely moving his lips.
“You saw her picture, and unless there’s something wrong with you, you can’t tell me that if you were younger, you wouldn’t have been all over that too.” She wasn’t just gorgeous, there was more to her than that. I wasn’t quite that shallow either, but I wouldn’t let another guy see that. “But I’ll tell you what,” I finished wishfully. “If I run into her again I’ll let you know if she was.”
“You don’t get it, do you?” he scoffed, pursing his lips and shaking his head.
The notoriety had gone to my head and it still seemed kind of cool (besides the TV newscasts, my picture made the back page of The News the next day) and kind of flattered that they thought I was somebody to keep an eye on, even if I wasn’t.
Yet that was before it all sank in and with a jolt I finally got it.
According to the guys that meeting started with the Vice-Provost of the university pulling out dozens of 8 x 10 glossies of me from a sealed Michigan State Police dossier and then asked where I was.
They told him that even though I was listed as the president, I was just a spokesman and a young face for the undergraduates. More of a figurehead than anything. I saw where they were coming from and I was kind of young to be in that kind of a position after all.
Supposedly that took care of it and after a little negotiation they got us the administration’s approval for donated tuition money from the student body. A buck a term didn’t seem like much until you considered we were on the quarter system, and with over thirty thousand students, we were talking about a potential windfall.
“So, who are you and why have they been watching you?” The tall one kept up the cross examination as if I was on trial.
“You guys know me and you know I’m no threat. I’ve got absolutely nothing to hide. And your guess is as good as mine, as to why they’ve been watching me. The only thing I can think of was during my Army physical when I refused to sign that affidavit about not being a member of a Communist party.”
He knew what I was talking about. He was the one who told me I wouldn’t get drafted if I didn’t sign it. What he didn’t tell me, though, was that I could be held for 48 hours without cause (habeas corpus). I held out for all of 48 minutes once the U.S. Marshals (who had nothing but time on their hands) shared that with me, but only after I kept beating them in three-handed pinochle.
That didn’t explain why pictures were taken before that though.
The beach ones had to have been of me and Sadie running out from Cass Lake to get out of the prop-wash from the sheriff’s helicopter that was chasing us out of the lake. We’d run into the water to get away from the near riot that broke out at the other end of the state park over somebody getting busted for drinking.
My high school antics couldn’t have had anything to do with it either. I did start a “walk out” over the dress-code and a “sit-in” over the rights of seniors to smoke on campus and leave for lunch, but I didn’t even get detention for it and it worked. I wasn’t into drugs either after watching what they did to Mom. Which was a damned good thing from what I knew now or I’d been busted in no time.
“What’s up?” I asked, sensing something else. The room should have been ecstatic, yet the office was quiet and nobody was making eye contact with me.
“There’s just one catch,” Mel said sitting on the edge of my desk as helping himself to another one of my cigarettes. “You’ve got to step aside.”
“What?” I looked at the tall one still in the doorway. “Don’t tell me you guys went along with it.”
“Hey man, you did it to yourself.” That was all he said.
“But I haven’t done anything.”
“What were we supposed to do?” He shrugged. “THEY think you did, or will, and that’s all that matters.”
“And that’s it; I have no say in what’s going on?”
“Trust me, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. But look at the bright side,” he said, as if there could possibly be one, “at least you know that Big Brother’s watching you.”
“What good is that going to do me if I can’t do anything about it?”
“Despite what they say, ignorance is not bliss,” he said finally, coming into the room, “What you don’t know will hurt you, as you just found out. So it’s better now than never.” He rested his case and joined the others.
It was mind boggling, it had been my baby. I was there from the beginning, before we even had the name or became the first chapter of the national Public Interest Research Group In Michigan. I even spent my weekends (without anything better to do; thanks to Sadie) hitchhiking around the state enlisting other colleges. After Sadie blew me off, I didn’t know what to do with myself and PIRGIM had become my life and now I was its pariah. I was crushed.
It wasn’t totally unexpected and I should have seen it coming after the power struggle with a new faction that wanted sex discrimination to be the only problem to focus on. There were plenty of groups and organizations already doing that, I argued, but they called me sexist (another word I‘d heard for the first time) and refused to talk about it. Yet they were the same ones willing to endlessly talk about everything else which made it hard to do anything.
And on top of that they accused me of being on some kind of power or ego trip which wasn’t fair and that hurt. They hadn’t been around to see how I was just doing stuff nobody else wanted to, like dealing with the press. If they weren’t angry women I might have been able to work with them but they wanted no part of that or me.
“That’s not all,” Mel said, passing my Zippo back as the rest of them huddled to plan without me.
“What do mean; that’s not all? ” I didn’t think it could get worse.
“You know that even with connections, it’s hard for white guys to get into law school these days,” he said quietly, “and whether you realize it or not, a State Police file will make it easy for them to pass you up, regardless of your grade point or your LSAT’s.”
“Can they do that?”
“Count on it,” he said, butting out the cigarette. “Sorry man, but what can I say, you did it to yourself. You’re your own worst enemy you know.” He shrugged and joined the others.
“Yeah I know.” I said after him, now left alone to clear out of the office that was still in my name. But I really didn’t. I still didn’t know why I was being photographed in the first place, or what to make of my mom. She wasn’t crazy about us being watched after all but they weren’t watching her.
It was too bad; I was on a roll and if it wasn’t for that Urban Planning class, I would have aced all my classes too. Unfortunately that professor wasn’t a fan of the Montieth College philosophy which taught how to think, not what to think. She didn’t care what I thought or anybody else as long as it was what she thought. “You have a lot of audacity,” she said calling me out and into her office over questioning her upper-middle class values during class. She even accused me of being some kind of megalomaniac.
Stunned, I just sat there while she bragged about how well her thirty year-old son was doing in Texas, how successful her daughter on the east coast was and how much money her husband on the west coast made. She thought I’d be impressed, but raised in that world of big houses, which I knew weren’t homes; I wasn’t. I heard nothing of grandkids either.
I really wanted to ask her, “So what if you are the head of a university department? You’re here alone while your financially successful family is scattered across the country.” But I didn’t, even though the damage had been done, I still held out for a passing grade and just felt bad for her and mad at myself for unintentionally burning another bridge.
None of that mattered anymore anyways. Even why I was on that radar in the first place and until I got off it; nothing would either. I knew what I had to do too but I just didn’t want to. My family needed me and in spite of everything, I had it pretty damn good.
When we’d first moved back to the city it may have been the last place I wanted to be, yet now, for better or worse, Detroit was where my heart was and that made it home and I really didn’t want to leave.
Mel was right; I was my own worst enemy and as usual wrong about damn near everything, even Cookie. Her world was unraveling too that summer and it blew me away that she even knew about mine and ended up tracking me down.
And as bad of a place it felt like I was in, it wasn’t nearly as bad as my brother’s. He still hadn’t found a job and it was taking a toll on him and his family, which I felt he might be losing.
“I was trained to be a warrior,” he said in one of the rare times he opened up to me, his kid brother, “and there isn’t much of a market for my skills.” He was wondering if he would have been better off if he had hitched his wagon to his commanding officer who was a rising star in the military. It would have meant another Vietnam tour after barely surviving the first one but he was afraid his wife would have left him if he did. Now he wishes he had; at least he’d still have his pride and a little dignity.
That was just half of his troubles too and he was hiding out at our house instead of his own since he’d left our number for interviews. And if he hadn’t been around to answer the call that came out of the blue, she probably wouldn’t have tried again.
“You did what?” He loved to mess with me so I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. Yet, he did say a name he wouldn’t have known any other way.
“I made a date for you with Cookie tonight,” he said, barely able to contain himself. “I guess our voices are similar,” he went on laughing, “She thought I was you.”
“What did she want and how did she find me?”
“Probably the phone book and she was just calling to see how you were doing?”
He had no idea what he had just done but he was getting a kick out of watching me squirm. “What are we supposed to be doing or where are we going?” I had no idea what to do with a girl who had as much going on as I thought she did.
“She was going to leave it up to me, or really you. But she seemed game for anything.” He was getting a kick out of this. “Why, what’s wrong, she’s not a dog or something is she? She sounded sweet.”
“She’s a great looking girl but that’s not it, she’s classier than the kind of girl I would have thought would want to go out with me. I haven’t been on a date since Sadie and I’m not sure what to do either. Whose idea was this anyways?”
“Mine,” he said, with tears in his eyes he was laughing so hard for setting me up like that. “You better get going though; you’re supposed to be there in a half hour.”
She wasn’t that far away, in fact she was staying with an aunt a few blocks away waiting for things to blow over after having a big fight with her mom. The classic drama I knew all about with my mom and older sister, who found out the hard way about the eleventh commandment which said; two women can’t rule the same roost.
I was being a gentleman when I picked her up and asked if anybody wanted to meet me. “No, that’s okay, my aunt’s already given you the seal of approval, she liked the way you tucked your shirt in before coming to the door,” Cookie said closing the door behind her after assuring her aunt that she had a key and with a wink to me, not to wait up.
“I’ve got a confession to make,” I admitted before opening the driver’s side car door for her, curious how far she’d slide in. “That wasn’t me on the phone, that was my older brother.” I studied her face when I said that.
“I thought there was something different than just the voice,” she said, climbing in. “He said it was a cold but when he said ‘far out’ it didn’t sound like something you would say.” She stopped in the middle of the seat where we’d be comfortably close, not snug but close. “You do want to go out though, don’t you?”
“Oh yeah, it was just a good thing he was there to answer, I don’t know if I would have had the nerve to ask. I wouldn’t have thought you’d want to.” I said this watching her out of the corner of my eye.
“Well now we’re even, I was surprised and glad you or he asked.” She smiled, sliding in a little closer so that the hair on our arms brushed as I drove.
She wasn’t anything like what I was expecting. She still felt the sting from grade school, for being awkwardly tall which now set her off like a model. She was as self-conscious and as shy as I was too, but for the opposite reason. I was a late bloomer and until I got out of high school, one of the smallest.
She looked different too; she’d gone ‘au naturel’ and braless under a tie-dyed tank top and denim cut-offs instead of a skirt. Her hair had grown out and even though her complexion was a little rougher without make up, she looked real and better and even more alluring than when she was all dolled up.
I sprang for a big bottle of Lambrusco wine and we took it to a secluded park to watch for shooting stars. It was getting close to that time of year and if we were lucky, we could wish upon the falling ones I told her.
“What’s the difference?” she asked, intrigued.
“You’ll know when you see one,” I answered not to be evasive but wanting her to be excited if she did catch one and saw the difference between the ones shooting across the sky as opposed to one that appeared to fall out of it.
We went deep in the park, far from the streetlights where we would hear anybody approach long before they could see us in the dark. “So why did you get a hold of me?” I finally asked once we’d found a flat spot surrounded by tall enough soft grass.
“I wanted to apologize for playing with you like that during class. I was on the rebound and trying to be liberated and all that,” she said looking up at the stars. “I hadn’t done anything like that before but I felt safe doing that with you.” I didn’t know how to take the safe part but I let it slide. She took a big swig from the bottle but held on to it. Which was just as well, I might have dropped it when she said, “I don’t know how to finish what I started or if I should.”
She figured it out though after spotting a falling star which fell into the horizon, instead of streaking overhead. And she not only answered the wish I’d wished upon it, she did what all the rhetoric couldn’t; she changed my mind about feminism when she showed me the side of a liberated women I could get into when she took the lead.
She had stepped in front of me and unbuttoned my shirt then whipped off her own. Even in the faint star light I could see the pale grapefruit whites around raspberry eyes and it took everything I had not to just go ahead and fire. Then with a flick of her finger she unbuttoned her cutoffs which fell to the grass and mine quickly followed. And as if on cue the moon broke above the trees like a stage lamp and lit her up. I froze like a deer trapped in head lights and took all of her in; the tight belly flanked by swollen hips and how subtly the left breast was a tad larger. Blood drained from one head into the other.
I inched closer. We were the same size barefoot and stood nipple to nipple, yet her long legs dangled her dark bushy thatch enticingly just above mine, which wasn’t as dark or bushy yet.
Playboy had not prepared me for this; it was the real deal, birthmarks, moles warts and all! And it wasn’t the bare breast or the wooly nest hiding her forbidden fruit; it was the whole package which proved another axiom too. According to the physics of quantum mechanics; the whole is worth far more than the mere sum of its parts and that was the bare truth.
“Pinch me,’ I said breathlessly, the air was thick and hard to breath. She laughed; she knew I wanted to make sure this was real and not a dream. The only way it could’ve been better would have if she was wearing the silky lacy under things that I was still dreaming about.
“I think we’re too alike to be lovers,” she said once she was done with me and fell off of me to her back. She had climbed on me to ride me like a bronco and it seemed to be as new to her as it was to me.
I thought it was just a blow-off line but I wasn’t going away that easy. “Does that mean you won’t make an honest man out of me and marry me?” I said trying to keep it casual when it felt anything but.
She rolled up against me and put her face on my chest, “You know what I mean,” she said softly.
“How about part time lovers then?” I offered, not sure what was going on.
“Yeah, I’d like that, as long as we can still be friends,” she said sounding sad enough to cry, for some reason.
That was the first time I didn’t mind hearing that and it was all I was looking for anyways. But I didn’t know why she seemed so sad; she was the one that pulled me on top of her this time to seal the deal. In a slow sweet waltz now, not the sweaty fevered bogie of before, we groped and discovered each other again. And even as her nails dug into the small of my back as she pulled me deeper into her, the pain just added to the pleasure.
I wasn’t just sated I was spent and rolled off of her to just lie next to her. “What’s wrong? I thought you wanted to do it again too.” I asked realizing she was crying.
“I was and I just feel so good I feel like crying and letting it all out,” she answered, curling up to me with a deep slow sigh.
I would have cried too if it would have helped. I still couldn’t believe getting involved in the protest could mess up my life like that. I knew I only had myself to blame, yet I didn’t know what to do with myself. Or even why I had to stop being me.
I wasn’t out to change the world that day on Woodward. I was just trying to get laid. And beyond my wildest dreams, this thing with Cookie was even more than what I was looking for and it could have worked too. But it broke my heart; it was too damn bad I couldn’t stick around.
Gary McDonald bio: “I have a bachelor of philosophy from Wayne State University, (my license to tell stories) and I’ve been a carpenter-builder-developer once I realized my degree wasn’t going to get me anywhere in the real world. I also coached my three sons in hockey for 10 years before they flew the coop. Now I’m semi retired trying to stay out of the way, of my gorgeous wife of 36 years.”
“Hit the Road Mac” is an excerpt from Gary’s 330,000 word memoir.
3 thoughts on “Hit the Road Mac”
At least she didn’t ask him if they could still be friends.
Very facilitating coming of age !
All I can say is ‘what happens next?’
Great story Gary. It’s crazy how you can remember such detail, from such a long time ago. Let’s get to the next chapter👍