I may or may not have outwardly appeared to be a “goody-two-shoes” as a teenager. I didn’t really party; I was involved with the church, and several after school activities. I was usually preoccupied with jumping through the necessary hoops that lead to good grades and a well rounded college application.
In reality, I was a bit of an adventurer with a keen sense of intuition when it came to whether or not my adventures would lead to real trouble. Lucky for me, nothing too terribly bad happened.
I didn’t get caught very often, but I remember one specific case which lead me to getting grounded about a year after getting my drivers license at sixteen.
During the summer, I had been working at Sloan’s Lake, life guarding my days away. As one might imagine, being a relatively cute girl sitting on a life guard stand, day in and day out, brought male admirers. By this time I had been driving myself to work for almost a year, and I was riding high on that feeling of freedom while making money doing something I enjoyed.
Early in the summer, I was approached by a tall bleach blonde fella. He had that tanned surfer look (conch necklace and all) that didn’t really look natural for Cheyenne, Wyoming native. He was hot. He was way more hot than any of the guys I knew from school.
I have to be honest here, I am a sucker for a good looking man; so much so, that my brain and intuitive capabilities just fly right out the window. The insecurity arises in me, and for some dumb reason, I need to be liked. I want to be wanted by this person. I will be willing to do stupid things for his attention.
So the flirtation began with this guy. Everyday he would come to the park and flirt with me, and I definitely flirted back. I was a couple months away from seventeen. He was twenty four and in the military. I was familiar with flirtations of young military men…one of my friends was constantly dating them opting for what they appeared to offer in the sense of maturity in comparison to high school boys.
Military guys always had nice cars and extra money to throw around.
So, this guy (I can’t remember his name to save my life, but he seemed like he was a “Josh”) and I can’t seem to get enough of each other.
I remember one time, my parents took me and my siblings to the mall for casual “pick what you want to eat from the food options” dinner and some strolling around… and once I separated from the clan, I went to a pay phone and called the guy, and met him in the parking lot where we proceeded to make out for an hour and a half.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
When I realized how much time had passed, I freaked out, tried to get myself together and went to find my family in the mall. I remember my dad grilling me about where I had been, and me making up some dumb excuse about running into a friend, and how we must have just missed them while walking around.
I didn’t want to lie. I also didn’t want to get into any trouble and for some reason I don’t think my parents would be too happy about some twenty four year old surfer Airman having his tongue down my throat and his hand up my shirt.
I was intoxicated by this guy. Which should have been a clear sign that I was making bad decisions, OH, but the RUSH! My hormones were on FIRE! I would do whatever I could just to get a couple of minutes with him. He had taken a part time job working at the Hardees on Dell Range, and after church my step mom would ask where we wanted to eat; if I knew he was working, I would beg to eat there. Sometimes I would drive over there after school, just to see him for a few minutes before going back to school for play practice. I was completely propelled by sexual energy.
One day, I remember telling my dad that I was going to be at the library all day, studying. That wasn’t a normal place for me to study. I didn’t usually have a lot of home work, and what I did have I was usually able to finish during breaks in rehearsals. I am guessing that out of place statement, tipped off my dad’s own intuition.
I left the house and drove straight to Hardees, where Dude would be getting off of work shortly. When I got there, he told me that he wanted me to meet some other dudes that he lives with at the barracks. My heart started to flutter, I knew that guests under the age of 18 were not allowed in the barracks. He assured me that no one really checks ID’s or anything, and that we would be fine. So I left my car parked at Hardees, and hopped into his car and went with him, on base.
I think it must have been a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The guys in the barracks were drinking, playing video games, fooling around being boys, snapping towels and rough housing. The guy took me to his darkened bedroom. He asked me to sit on the bed, and from there he switched on a strobe light and pulled out a stack of Hustler magazines.
He started pulling off his clothes, and asked me to show him what I liked in the magazines. Little did he know that I was planning to save my virginity for marriage, and that these magazines were really freaking out the Prude in me. I started to panic, I didn’t want to be in this guys room any more. I didn’t feel safe. I told him to shut it down, and to take me back to my car.
There was about a half hour of him trying to convince me to just “loosen up and have a good time.” It didn’t occur to me how crazy this situation could have gotten, I just knew I needed to get out of there. The drive back to my car was awkward at best. He sort of half apologizing and me getting the sense of dread that comes when I know I am about to get caught for drawing outside the lines.
As I got into my car, a girl a couple of years older than me, that I recognized from elementary school, came storming out of the restaurant, and briskly walked up to the passenger side of the dudes car. She immediately started yelling at the dude.
I quickly pulled out of the parking lot and drove home, feeling some sick humiliation.
Once I was home, my dad stood waiting for me in the kitchen.
“Where have you been?” He asks.
“I told you, I had stuff to do at the library.”
“Oh, really? Because I decided I wanted to get some audio books at the library, so I went over there, and I didn’t see you.”
” I was kind of over in a dark corner by the periodicals.”
“I looked over there.”
“You probably just missed me. My stomach has been acting up, and I went to the bathroom several times while I was there.”
“Mandie, you weren’t there.”
“Sure I was.”
“Your car wasn’t there.”
BOOM. Back in those days, the library was pretty small, and if you were at the library it was pretty obvious by the parking situation… my ’82 blue Mustang hatchback was easily recognizable, and it had been his mothers old car, so he was really familiar with it… and no, it wasn’t at or near the library. Something told me he had probably seen it on Dell Range, and had also stopped into Hardees to see if I was there. Shit.
“Where were you?” He probed again.
I couldn’t tell him the truth. I couldn’t tell him that an adult man had taken me where I wasn’t suppose to be in an effort to try and get me naked. I just could not tell my dad that… so again, I lied. “I just went over to a friends house. She’s having a hard time right now with a break up.”
He knew he wasn’t going to get the truth, and so “Lies have consequences, Mandie. We are taking away car privileges for a week.”
“But, how will I get to school?”
“Your going to have to get up earlier, and ride the bus.”
“But State Drama auditions are this week, and there isn’t a late bus.”
” I guess you don’t get to audition for State Drama, then.”
“But, that’s not fair!”
“You probably should have thought about that before lying about where you were going.”
And that was that. I begrudgingly rode the bus for a week, missed auditions and packed that bitterness into my heart. Stupid boys, always messing my shit up.
The story doesn’t quite end there. Nope, I came to find out that I was being played by a Player. This guy was stringing along several underage girls. His “main girl friend” happened to be nineteen, and she happened to work at the same Hardees, and she happened to be that same girl I recognized from elementary school who got into his car the day of the library fiasco.
The guy ended up telling her who I was, and where I went to school. She knew what I drove and went to my school and waited for me. I had speech practice or something and so I didn’t leave the building after the last bell. She was waiting at my car to beat the shit out of me. When I didn’t show up, she punctured one of my tires and left a threatening note that I should “watch my back.” What had I gotten myself into?
Being somewhat confrontational, I needed to clear this mess up. So, I drove over to Hardees, and saw his car, went in and grabbed a booth directly in front of the registers and waited for him to see me and come over. Immediately his girl friend was hot on his heels, telling me to “get the fuck away from my man, you bitch!”
I calmly say that I am not here to fight. And that she can have this sad excuse of a man, that is a dirt bag. I then went on a tirade about how gross it was to take me to his dorm, and to try and get me to do stuff I didn’t want to do, and if she was okay with that then they deserved each other. Then I slipped out of the booth and walked out the door, just as the girlfriend started to go off, full throttle on the dude.
Immediately I felt a sense of relief that I was done with those people. I wondered if the girl had recognized me from elementary. I recall her family seemed highly dysfunctional and poor. She had the look of someone who had been dealt a pretty rough hand and her decisions weren’t making it any better.
About four years later, I got a part time job working in a makeshift call center for a vacuum company selling “air purification systems” out of the downtown mall near the Crown Bar. It was more money than life guarding, and consisted of cold calling numbers out of the phone book. Employee retention was low, and it seemed at least two people a week would leave or be replaced.
Imagine my surprise when that woman of the past comes walking through the door, fresh from jail looking even worse for the wear for her age. I immediately hope that she doesn’t recognize me. I hope that she still isn’t with that guy. I am immediately very friendly to her, very helpful. She tells me some of her history; drug abuse, jail time, half way houses, parole officers, drugs testing weekly.
I remember it was July. Frontier Days was a couple of weeks away. This lady had no license, no car. I drove her to a couple of appointments that she had to fulfill because of her legal troubles. I never brought up that guy… but I did bring up the fact that I know we went to the same elementary school, and that she use to dress very “western.”
She admitted that even though she looks like a thug, that she was still a cowgirl at heart. I had a pair of barely worn Justin boots and a couple of pairs of Wrangler jeans I never wore, and brought them to her the next day, so that she could get all Western for Frontier Days if she wanted.
I quit the job not long after that because it felt like a scam, calling numbers from pages in the phone book, and being told “Mr. So In So is dead.” I couldn’t prey on people like that.
I’d like to think that despite everything, that I did something right by being kind to that lady.