The other day I was riding my bike and saw a name on a contractor’s truck. The last name reminded me of a person I worked with at my first job. This story came back to me.
When I was in high school I worked in a nice restaurant. Well, nice for York, PA anyway. The employees were high schoolers, college students and full on grown ups. It was an interesting mix and I got to see real lives of people beyond my peer group. We all got along for the most part and were a good crew. Occasionally, someone would have a party and we’d get together after work at some apartment or house.
On New Year’s Eve going into 1985 I remember we got out of work around 1 AM and went to Flossie’s house. She was a cool woman, probably around 40 years old. She had a nice little house with a raging party inside. She had made beds everywhere upstairs so people could sleep over after getting properly liquored up in celebration of the new year.
Beth was a 17 year old table busser and she had already been drinking by the time she got there. Walking into the party, she was handed champagne and quickly gulped down a couple of glasses and then switched to beer. The music was blasting and everyone was dancing and snacking. I saw Beth with a bottle of Jack Daniels and she was swigging it between dance moves. She was getting pretty sloppy drunk.
After an hour or so she realized she had enough. I helped her upstairs and led her to the bathroom. After a few dry heaves, nothing came up. She went to lay down in one of the bed rooms as she really couldn’t walk anymore. I tucked her in and went back down to the party.
A short while later, one of the waiters from the restaurant, a slimy 50 something year old man with bad hair, crazy teeth and perpetually smelling of Winstons went upstairs. Rob saw Beth laying in the bed and couldn’t pass up the chance. He sat on the edge of the bed and caressed Beth’s face. He started touching her body while she was passed out. Beth awoke with this pudgy, middle aged man laying on top of her.
She could barely focus and was so drunk she could hardly move. Rob was kissing her face and saying to her, “What’s the oldest man you’ve ever been with? You need a man with experience.” She didn’t respond. She just stayed pinned under him, so drunk she couldn’t quite understand what was happening to her. She was completely helpless.
I happened to go to the upstairs bathroom and caught a glimpse of what was going on in the bedroom. Bursting in, I grabbed Beth’s hand and said, “You have to come downstairs and dance to this song!” Rob rolled off her and I hustled Beth down the stairs carefully. She was barely walking. I got her to the living room and I danced as she tried to stagger to the rhythm of the music. Halfway through the song she mumbled “Thanks”.
Nothing was said of the incident after that. The closest thing was a week later at work, Rob got a quiet moment with Beth and called her a “Party Pooper”.
Looking back, as adults, we see this differently than I did as a 17 year old. Was this an attempted rape? Was it sexual assault? Was it misogyny? Was it a power imbalance? It could be all those things. While trying to define this incident, I must let you know I left out a key part of this story.
Beth doesn’t exist. Neither does pudgy gross Rob. This story happened but it was to me. The adult was a nasty woman named Mary with too much blue eye shadow. It was a woman laying on top of a passed out 17 year old young man.
Now, as you were just trying to define what this incident was in your head, take a minute and think about the fact that the victim was a male, not a female. Does that make a difference in your gut reaction?
As a man, I’m acutely aware of women at my kids’ school seeing me as a potential predator. This comes from both the parents and the staff. I see it at stores and restaurants. Their stares and questions infuriate me. I have to swallow the fire in me and just let them be. Just because I have a dick doesn’t mean I want to stick it in you or your child. What I wouldn’t give to be able to unload on them about how I was almost raped by a woman when I was a teen. It was a fucked up situation and I’m so glad my best friend happened to see me and drag me out of the room.
Statistically, our children are safer now than when we were kids. Unfortunately, the media loves a good horror story and scaring the public gets ratings. I’m not saying there aren’t bad people out there and one child getting harmed is too many. Let’s just take a moment to reconsider how we view people, male and female. How do we view ourselves based upon how we view them?