Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Summer 1982

Summer 1982. I had just finished my 8th grade year and was at Skate Whirl one Friday night. I met this guy Eddie C that reeked of Halston cologne. He was with his step-brother, Charles H and his two friends Johnny W. and Hector. Charles was very masculine looking but when he opened his mouth a purse fell out. He was so fem. Eddie wasn't as cute as his step-brother but way less gay acting. I sat with him and snickered at Charles, Johnny and Hector as they stumbled around screaming like girls. They fell down, slid across the floor, crashed into the walls and each other. They wore short shorts and tube socks. Charles had very hairy legs. You getting a mental image yet? GAY. The skating rink regulars were not well for these screaming queens as they were center stage and seemed to have no idea the whole rink was watching them. I ended up talking on the phone with Eddie and later Charles over the next week or so. I thought Charles looked like a GQ model so one night after my parents went to sleep Charles invited me to go to the Pub. Harlows "The Pub" the only gay bar in Wichita Falls. I asked how I was going to get in, being I was only 14 years old. Charles said he'd figure out a way so I met them at 12 midnight or so at Kawanis park at the prairie dog land which was near my house. I waited briefly then a car pulls up with Charles and Johnny and a couple of other gay boys. Charles was 18 had a nice body, dark hair with blond streaks in the front. He looked like a cross between Richard Gere and John Taylor from Duran Duran. So cute, in fact, I overlooked his femininity. When we got downtown to the Pub I got in the middle of four or five guys and we just walked in. The DJ was way up high in an enclosed glass area. He was playing Call Me by Skyy. I remember it being a lot different than the one on my LP. It was the long 12" mix. I found it about ten years ago finally.

1982 Popularity and Cheerleaders

Now I didn't completely waste all my energy in Jr High dodging the redneck's threats and name calling. I was obsessed with the McNiel Mustang cheerleaders! Some people idolize movie stars, well I idolized cheerleaders. I was a walking encyclopedia of facts on cheerleaders past and present. At McNiel the cheerleaders were chosen by the student body. In other words it was a popularity contest. Some schools chose their cheerleaders by 70% student vote and 30% teacher vote.  If this method would have been used at our school it would have put a kink in our popularity heirarchy.  You would've had to be more than just pretty or popular to win. Wouldn't that have been just terrible. LOL. Most of the girls that made cheerleader were already popular or if a girl was gymnastically inclined she could win and become popular. LOL.  One cheerleader that reined supreme was Courtney B. She was incredibly friendly with Farrah hair. She wore Gloria Vanderbilt jeans too, the ones with the swan and Gloria's signature on the pocket.  Looking back all of this pretentiousness was absurd but as a young teenager it seemed very important.  I'm sure it had something to do with wanting to be well liked myself.  I probably thought if I could figure out what made a person popular I could be popular myself or perhaps I was just an 80's version of Perez Hilton.

My sister Deidre was two years behind me so I was determined that she would be miss popular, a cheerleader.  If I couldn't do it,  I could help her be all I wasn't.  I asked her if she wanted my help and she agreed.  I helped her with her hair almost every morning and even went on a few occasions to the track field where there was a huge mat that she used to practice gymnastics. By the time the try outs came around she was so tired of listening to my input.  I drove her crazy talking about it.  On the morning of the tryouts I was so excited I skipped class to attend.  Deidre looked so cute with her hair all curled up in candlestick curls with brand new braces.  I convinced her the braces would improve her looks and more or less a requirement if she wanted to win cheerleader.  WOW.  She was doing great at tryouts and was a sure win until at the end of her routine she went too fast into a round-off and ended up on her ass with tears streaming down her face.  I rushed over at the end and assured her it wouldn't matter that she had fallen. I tried to convince her that she would still win.  She was just so upset and her eyes full of tears.  I hugged her and told her again, "You're still gonna win Deidre." When I left I felt so bad that I had put so much importance on winning.  It had not occurred to me until now that she might think I expected her to win and would disapprove of her otherwise.  It was then that I realized how unimportant it really was to me.  Whether or not she was cheerleader meant nothing when I realized how crushed she might be coming home feeling like a loser.  When I saw the tears in her eyes everything changed.  It was like what is really important in life came into focus and priorities rearranged automatically.  I guess the big brother in me finally kicked in and I didn't want to see her hurt over this.  I stayed at home all day and waited by the phone until Deidre called about 2:30 pm to say that she won.  I was jumping up and down and she was really excited too.  She came home to a celebration but it was interrupted by the former cheerleaders showing up to pick Deidre up for the traditional initiation ritual.  They covered the six winners in shaving cream, maple syrup, peanut butter, toothpaste and took them to the mall for the evening. When she got home mother had to take her out to the backyard and wash her hair out with the water hose. Deidre was once again in tears.
More Later...

1981 McNiel Jr High

1981. Seventh grade at McNiel Jr High (pictured at left) was not fun. By this time Eric W's guilt had gotten the best of him. He told all the guys at school I had hit on him during the weekends we had spent overnight together. He wouldn't talk to me anymore (except to call me a FAG). Jeff B, Kent S, Chuck R, Scott W and Danny R all followed suit. So everywhere I went (from the end of my 5th grade year up until about my Junior year in high school) all I heard anytime I saw these guys was "FAG" or "I'm gonna kick your ass, FAG!" It was really embarrassing. It was most dreadful when it was in class in front of everyone.  I initially had been friends with all of them but since Eric W lied to them, they all hated me. They were so hateful that had any one of them died (like in an accident or something) I wouldn't have cared. That's how bad it was. On one occasion in the lunch room I remember Scott W's mother visiting him at lunch. She sat with Scott and others and I could hear Scott telling his mom that I was a fag. I heard her laughing loudly and asking, "That one right there?" Then she laughed even louder as I looked over at them. I remember thinking how my mom would have never done such a thing.  It was a terrible way to spend my school days. If I would have told teachers or my parents the name calling would have only gotten worse. If I would have stood up to them I would have gotten my ass kicked since they all ran in numbers. Then on top of that I knew something was different about me...I was, after all, attracted to boys. I had been as far back as my memory could remember. It didn't even seem unnatural to me. What did seem unnatural was the hostility I got from the Eric W followers at school. Looking back now I guess I brought out something in Eric that he was not ready to deal with. It probably scared the hell out of him that he cared so much about another guy.  He couldn't (or didn't want to) deal with it. That is understandable considering our age at the time. I just wish it hadn't been at my expense but hey, am I bitter about it? Wwweeeeeeeellll,  yeah...but writing it all out here has helped I guess.  Honestly I'm scarred from the bullying and even though time has done it's work to heal a lot of it I'll probably never know the full extent of the affect it had on me and my life.  I'm just happy that people are finally recognizing bullying is a problem. Maybe someday young people can get along with their learning and not have to worry about all the distractions caused by bullys.

Now, where were we? Ah yes 7th grade...I had met this girl, Christie. She wore heavy make-up like stage make-up or something. I thought it was a lot but I thought she was very good at applying it. I would find out later that Christie was just as pretty without make-up though I don't think she ever realized it. She was kinda heavy on the bottom with big breasts, especially for an eighth grader. All the guys would talk about getting her in bed. I started to become curious since I'd never been with a guy or a girl at this point apart from the things I did with Julianna H in the second grade behind the bushes at Lamar Elementary School. One night Christie invited me over to watch Humanoids From the Deep. She wanted me to crawl through the window after her parents went to sleep. I did. When I got into her bed and having already discussed it, we proceeded to have sex. Without getting too graphic here, it felt good physically but did nothing for me otherwise. She liked me but I couldn't have a relationship with her. I was looking for something else, yeah I was definitely looking for something else...

I took tennis to hopefully escape the bullies that I would've had to put up with by taking regular a PE class. Our school's phys ed department had a mandatory shower policy. This freaked me out beyond belief and believe it or not, I somehow sidestepped the issue every single day of the school year. This was partly due to being one of the only kids with pubic hair. I just knew if they discovered this fact they would have one more reason to be ugly, jealous, immature brats. I hated these kids at McNiel Jr High. I always felt so much more mature than the kids my age. It was hard getting up every day, facing these idiots.

Later in the same school year, winter 1982, I met Tommy. He was one of the 7th graders in my tennis class. He was about a head shorter than me, kinda nerdy with glasses, blond straight hair with an accent from like Ohio or near there. He was a bit feminine but considering my lack of options (not that I was even aware of my lack of options) I developed a crush on Tommy. This carried on quite innocently for a few months until one day I decided I wanted some confirmation on how he felt about me. I wrote a note on a small piece of paper that read, "I Love You." I put it in my pocket and was trying to decide how and if I was going to give it to him. I usually walked him home first and then I would walk home. When we got to his place I finally got up enough courage to tell him I had a note for him. He kept asking me for the note until we started wrestling on the floor. At one point I threw it in his closet and ran out the door. I ran all the way home. When I got there the phone was ringing, it was Tommy. He asked what I was doing. I just cut to the chase and asked if he was mad about the note. He was silent for a few seconds and then he said, "No I'm not mad...I feel the same way as you do." So there ya have the story of my first boyfriend experience. As I write these truth's I am cringing at the thought of the various eyes that could read across these pages and into my past. LOL. Why am I writing this?

More later...

Terrible Tuesday April 10, 1979

On April 10, known as TERRIBLE TUESDAY. Eric W's grandmother dropped us off about noon to Sikes Center Mall to see the new Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. When she picked us up she told us there was really bad weather coming our way. Boy, was it ever. Just the thought of a tornado had always fascinated but terrified me more. I got home and watched the constant weather updates on KAUZ TV Channel 6.  Lynn Walker, Kay Shannon and Rich Segal were anchors looking very nervous as it became more and more evident that this thing was huge (a mile and a half wide at some points) and headed straight toward the city.

At about 6:03 pm the power went off. My Dad was standing in the bed of his 1978 Silverado pickup trying to see the tornado. I walked out onto the front porch and noticed the sky was turning orange in the direction the storm was coming. My dad yelled very sternly to get back into the house. The tone in his voice was enough to scare the crap out of me because it was seldom I ever heard fear and panic in my dad's voice, if ever up until that day. We sandwiched into the hall closet as the roar became louder. One of us yelled for TJ our doberman. If I remember correctly, during all the panic, she ran out into the backyard barking and there was no time to chase after her. As the house shook I was just waiting to be hurled out onto the ground outside. All I remember hearing was the roar of the wind and all four of our voices saying, "Oh God!" After approximately three minutes we opened the door. Our house was nearly unrecognizable. Broken glass from every window and door with mud and debris covering everything we owned. Once outside the destruction was unbelievable. Uprooted trees, cars turned in every direction and upside down. The further down our street you walked the more houses were destroyed leaving only the inner walls or less. Many houses were completely flattened. My dad ran up to the main intersection two blocks from our house to see if any help was needed. Some people were trapped in their vehicles. He and another guy picked up a car using a piece of wood as leverage. Under the car they found a woman shaking from shock and the sight of her husband dead beside her.
There was an unrecognizable odor in the air and a dusty haze over everything. As we stumbled through debris the hardest rain I had ever seen came down. Huge drops with no wind for about two minutes. Then the sun came out for just a few minutes revealing the destruction and then leaving the city pitch black. The sound of military rescue helicopters circled all through the night as well as the sound of different relatives calling out in fear that we might not all be ok. You could hear them calling our names blocks before reaching our house. The voices seemed to echo and became more frantic as they got closer and saw all the damage. Then the sighs of releif as they were told we were all fine.
The amount of relief and help from the Red Cross, various volunteer groups, and the government was incredible. For about a month or so trucks with catered food drove down our street 3 times a day to make sure we had food. The government provided thousands of temporary trailer homes for the homeless. They would either deliver it to your destroyed home if you planned to rebuild or it was parked in Kawanis Park, two blocks from our house. It was surreal to see all of the white trailers, cloned as far as you could see, in perfect alignment. Then after a few months the trailer park started shrinking. They had a hell of a time getting some of those trailers returned. The temp trailer park became an annoyance and a nuisance to the city. Seems like they eventually had to come and run the remaining dwellers out of Kawanis Park and seize the trailers .

Since the tornado had wiped out our junior high school we would endure one more year at Jefferson Elementary (pic at left). As 6th graders we would have normally started attending McNiel Jr High. The 7th and 8th graders had to be moved to nearby Rider High School.
One of my best friends in the sixth grade, Stephanie T, lived around the corner from us so we usually went to school together. Stephanie was adopted by her Aunt Bo. She was a bit different than the other girls. I liked her. She wore really nice clothes and was knowledgeable in fashion.  She wore LuvIt jeans with all the designs on the pockets and cuffed them at the ankle. My favorite pair had gold records on the pocket and "DISCO" inscribed on them as well. Stephanie was also really funny. We would spend hours in class breaking rules - eating candy, laughing at things our teacher or other students would do or say. It seems like Steph and I laughed through an entire year of classes. We did get caught at least once eating candy which resulted in the two of us having to stay after school and write I WILL NOT EAT IN CLASS a few hundred times each before we were allowed to leave school that day. We often hung out evenings in my room playing records or roller skated around the neighborhood. Music was always the biggest part of our entertainment. At the end of my sixth grade year I threw a party in my parents backyard. My dad hung colored lights from the top of the trees. Some of the kids paired off and were kissing in the dark corners of the yard. I played 45 rpm singles all night, well until midnight at least. I remember playing Shalamar's Second Time Around and Full Of Fire, Gary Numan's Cars and Anita Ward's Ring My Bell.