I was 16 and it was the summer of ’81. I was working two jobs: mornings at one pool giving “water babies” swim lessons and afternoons/evenings at another pool as a lifeguard. The neighborhoods I worked in were middle- to upper-middle class. I spent all day, almost every day, in a Speedo style swim suit. I ate a can of tuna-in-water, a tomato and air-popped popcorn every day. That was it. I took up jogging. Living in a swimsuit is a great motivator for weight loss. By mid-summer I was tanned and thin and looking good. At least by Glamour standards. But what did I know? I was 16.
One evening, late in the summer, the pool where I lifeguarded had an after-hours party for the staff. There was an 18 year old boy there – a guest of another lifeguard. We hit it off and spent most of the evening chatting and flirting. I was very flattered to be getting that kind of attention. I definitely wasn’t used to it. I remember thinking “He’s so cute! And of all the girls here, he’s interested in me!”
Looking back, I can’t remember the details, but for some reason we both went to my house after the party. I parked in the driveway behind the house and he parked on the street in front of our neighbor’s house. I passed through the house and told my parents I was going to his car to look at his car stereo. They asked questions, but I blew them off as only a 16YO can. It seems like it must have been around 11pm.
We sat in his car for a while chatting. Eventually we kissed. Then, he wanted more. But I didn’t. We wrestled for a while and he taught me several submission techniques that would have made any bully proud. I thought I was strong. I was someone who did her own thing. I was a leader not a follower. Every time I tried to get out of the car he hurt me. Eventually I did what he wanted. And he let me go. Actually…he walked me to the door and kissed me. I was sick to my stomach. I had his stink on me and I wanted to shower for a week. I wanted to be left alone for a year. My head was reeling. I hadn’t had a drop to drink but I might as well have. I was numb.
When I went inside (was it 1am? 2am?), my parents and older sister were waiting. Why was my sister allowed to wait up and be a part of that scene? I believe if she hadn’t been there I might have told my parents but she was, and I didn’t. They grounded me and I went to my room. It was a while before the story came out.
Ultimately, I count my blessings. I am lucky. Others are far less fortunate than I.