Sunday, 19 October 2008


“It is never too late – in fiction or in life - to revise.”
--Nancy Thayer

“It all boils down to who you love and why…And how you do it”…I once heard Billy Bob Thornton say that on a documentary profile of his life. This story is mine, however; who I loved, why and how.

In the beginning, before I had learned that we are, to some extent at least, authors of our own lives, I lived on a floating island of expectations. It wasn’t until I had bumped up against the first shoreline, that I began to realize, that this wasn’t at all how I had expected my life would be. I am not sure what I expected, but not this. I have often wondered about when my life took on its own direction without my permission?

I think it happened when I was 15 and fell in love for the first time. He was tall, muscular, sexually primed by his own prepubescent tauntings and adolescent urges. Me, full of “good girl” restraint, but longing for the experience of being in lust. I was a being, in lust, blindly unaware that demiurges were divining my destiny of the next 30 years. How is it we end up in a certain part of the world, take on a particular role, and live out our lives in that place and time? I felt out of place and time for most of my waking hours. Lives of quiet desperation; yes indeed. Many parts, many players…that too!

Yeats spoke about remaking himself, again and again. I longed to be able to remake myself, but didn’t know how, wasn’t even sure why. At 15, I certainly had no idea about the concept of self determinacy, self creation, the possibilities of a self directed, evolving life. Instead, I received each moment, each event as given, as part of my predetermined life.

It was Prom Day in 1958. Boys rented dark suits, if they didn’t already own one; and girls wore crinolines to add flare and daring to their hemlines, giving a wider berth for the imagination of a boy to soar upwards.

When I walked down the back stairs by the Shop Classes, I could sense the gaggle of boys assembled at the door, probably just waiting to trip me, hoping my skirt would fly up and show the cheerleader legs right up to the panties and beyond. I am sure they sat around, telling bragging stories of how girls had been ogling just him, or him. What was her breast size? Did she wear falsies like the sister of their buddy, John? No, her nipples showed through every tight sweater. Hard, large nipples. Of course, she was "horny", of course, she would “do it”, with the right guy. And they were all the “right guys”.

When it happened to me, the trip trick I mean, I ended up in the Health office, semi-conscious. And here it was, the day of the prom. All a flutter, I had come dancing down the back hallway stairs, streamers in hand, to decorate the gym. Crude, vulgar, ignorant, and ugly they all were, waiting to catch those glimpses, that whiff of any girl. And there I was. On a dare, the geek in the middle of the pack stuck out his leg and thus began a journey to a 30-year world that I had never intended for myself.

My prom date, Paul, heard about the accident, and solicitously volunteered to take me home. He graciously acknowledged that I might not be able to go, after all. Had it been just any dance, on any regular Friday night, this accident would have been the perfect way to back out of the date. But this was THE PROM and he was Paul Evans. Yes, Pink Cadillac Paul Evans, Senior Hunk of the Year. My girl friend, Nancy, fairly squealed when she heard that he had called to ask me to the biggest event of the school year. Little nymphets in Grade Ten don’t get invited to the Senior Prom. But I did. And boy did I enjoy that distinction.

When Paul had called, his voice, on the phone, was not the voice I expected. I wanted power, authority, deep guttural sounds that promised deep masculine energies, although not fully knowing why. Instead I heard the voice of a hesitant boy, who would become a timid man. But the Pink Cadillac was revving in my brain. “
“Oh golly, yes, I would love to go to the prom with you”, I gushed.

And then silence at the end of the line. That should have been my first clue. I guess it was.
The next week leading up to this major victory of my young life, was as we used to say, such a lunch bag letdown. Paul would sit with me in the Cafeteria, and simply eat and smile. Not a smug look, just a benign, adoring, “You are beautiful, but I would never take advantage look”. Oh God, what a jerk.

And now he was at my side, like a solicitous puppy, asking if I was okay; did I think I would be well enough to dance; because, gosh, it was okay if I didn’t; he would surely understand.
The temptation to cancel the date, even exceeded the thrill of the most important social of a girl’s life. Yes, I am fine, but I will wait and see how I feel after I get home. No, I don’t need a ride. (God, no, just get out of here). But getting home proved to be a problem. No one home to fetch me. The Physical Education Coach came in to see me and suggested that he would find me a ride. As it happened, another senior boy who lived on my street had a car.

And that is when I began my next thirty year journey. Not only did he (not senior boy but senior man) drive me home that day, but he became the driving force of my life for the next thirty years. Fate, it seems, is the chauffeur to many of our unforeseen destinations in life.

1 comment:

Tessa said...

Wonderful writing, Marylou, so evocative of more innocent (yeah right!) times. Your blog will be appointment reading for me