Saturday, April 02, 2005

Some of you have asked about my ERA NOW t-shirt.

Everyone stand back, for I have been reminded of another 'religious' experience that, um, SOME people might find offensive.

Well, to clarify, when I say "everyone," I really mean "someone."

And when I say "some people," what I really mean is, "THAT person."

That said, the rest of you might enjoy this, for I know you all have a great sense of humor, and a wonderful perspective.

When I was a teenager, I worked downtown in the dime store. I was dating the stockboy. He was sooo cute. I was sixteen and he was eighteen. We went dancing almost every weekend. We weren't wild, but we did like to dance, ride round in his awful old car, play the radio loudly, and order chocolate malts at the drive-in. I never actually saw Richie Cunningham but I'm sure he'd been there minutes before we arrived. The lifestyle was pretty much the same.

He was tall, and funny, and an awesome dancer. His sense of humor was fabulous. His name was Charley.

When I first met Charley, he already had a girlfriend, but all those weeks and months of watching me sexily punching cash register keys soon pushed me to the front of his mind. That, and the girlfriend joining the Marines. Out of sight, out of mind, when you're a kid.

We dated off and on for several years. After I turned 21, we even went to (gasp) CLUBS and BARS to dance. Don't tell Mom. Besides, I think her friends who were also hanging out in those clubs and bars already spilled the beans.

Our last real date was great. We went to the Greystone, a big hotel downtown; it had a big restaurant/bar/dance floor, and we got our money's worth that night.

The next weekend, when he showed up at the door for our date, he seemed subdued. I got into his car, and instead of heading for the dance club, he drove to a gas station and parked in the back.

"I have something to tell you," he confessed. "I've joined the Pentecostal Church."

"You were always a member of the Pentecostal Church," I replied.

"It's different now. I signed a paper. I went forward, got anointed, and promised to change my life completely."

"Define 'change.'"

"To start, no more dancing," he said, not looking me in the eye. "Want a coke?"

"What else?" I asked him, realization dawning that parking behind the gas station was to be our date. He got out of the car and put some coins in the vending machine. He handed me a coke. I'd been right; this WAS our date.

"I don't feel like I can be seen in public with a girl who wears jeans and has short hair, any more." he told me.

"Oh, so you're only going to hang out with people who LOOK like Pentecostals?" I asked him.


"Why did you come for me at all tonight, then?"

"Well, I wanted to give you the chance to change."

"Into what?"

"Into someone who looks like a Pentecostal. I wish you hadn't cut off your long hair. Maybe you could wear a wig, till your hair grows out again. And don't you have some long skirts, and a long-sleeved blouse, in with your winter clothes?"

"It's summer, Charley. It's hot."

"I'm not supposed to see your elbows now. No man should be seeing them. It's arousing."

That much I could believe. Charley was a horn dog. If elbows could set a man off, there must be whole sects of horn dogs.

But there was no way I was going to wear long sleeves and a high neck in the middle of the summer. It wasn't even practical. I was never into 'fashion,' but I was heavily into comfort. And if my crusty elbows were going to make Charley horny, then he should stop looking at them.

I mean, it wasn't like I was giving him a lap dance. Any more.

Charley must have really liked me, for he did not give up. We hung out behind the gas station several more times, and then he asked me to go to a Bible Study with him. I enjoyed Bible studies, for although I was, in his eyes, a scantily-clad heathen, the fact was that I was a Christian and sincere in my beliefs. They just weren't HIS beliefs.

He phoned me several times during the week to remind me to dress accordingly. And I would have, if he hadn't kept calling me to tell me to do so. After his third call, I decided things were going to change around here. I'd had it.

When he picked me up, I was wearing my jeans and an ERA NOW t-shirt. Yes, I was that annoyed.

When we walked into the room, I could hear a collective gasp.

By that time, I no longer cared. This scheiss was too stupid.

I sat there for an hour or so, listening to a man with poor grammar drone on and on about the division of the sexes and how a woman's place was in the home and nowhere else, and about elbows and necks and ankles and hair.

I kept waiting for the scripture and the Good News and the uplifting hope but there wasn't time after he was finished laying down the law about elbows.

On the way home, Charley commented about how strange it was that the study leader had changed his topic so abruptly. Apparently it was supposed to be about Job.

A week or so later, we went to the revival meeting that frightened his own little sister and me so badly. In case you are wondering, I did not exaggerate in that post.

The next time Charley came for me, I brought my youngest sister with me. I'd given her five dollars to come along and to harass Charley. I wanted him to exit with a little dignity, thinking it was his own idea. My sister was an expert, having had plenty of practice harassing my boyfriends for several years. She was at her best that night.

I went to one more Bible Study with Charley. Amazingly, the topic was changed at the last minute that night, too. Coincidence, I'm sure.

He called one more time. Again I brought my sister with me.

And then, I was free.

Many years later, I saw in the paper that he was getting married. There was a picture of his fiancee on the society page. I looked closely at her. I wasn't a bit surprised.

It was the middle of summer. She must have been sweltering.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:05 AM | |


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