03 July 2012

Was I Gay?

Gay at Nine (Chapel Hill, NC 1966)

The naked woman in the chocolate milk carton looked up at me from between my legs. Shoulder length brown hair bounced off her shoulders in perky flips. Dark eyes lined in powder blue eye liner matched the neglige laying at her knees. Long finger nails lacquered in silver polish and one hand with spread fingers across, "Gross!" said Victor, a fellow 4th grader at St Thomas More Catholic School.

Naked pictures of women were passed around in milk cartons under the table at lunch. Sister Jane and Sister Rose patrolled the boy-girl segregated tables in what was a lunch room/auditorium/ gym. Sister Rose, elderly and sweet, was the soft touch but Sister Jane, the school principal, was as mean as her habit. On a very hot day, I saw her without the coif and black veil. Her short shock of black hair reminds me of '80s punk but, it was 1966 and another shock of hair had my attention.

"That's disgusting," I told Victor. "I mean...is that for real?" I had seen pictures of breasts before but this was the first look south and it just didn't seem possible and certainly not natural. Alan Fox, in hipster black framed glasses too large for his face, leans toward me from across the lunch table, "You know those Hell's Angel guys...? I heard they actually... lick it." A chorus of disgust rises from what looks like a convention of nine year old photo copier salesmen in short sleeve white shirts and navy clip on ties. The camaraderie of shared nausea momentarily lowers our vigilance as I shake my head wildly while mouthing, "Nooooo Waaaayyyyy" and only stop when I feel an unfriendly hand on my shoulder.

My IBM comrades bury heads into lunch trays of fish sticks and mashed potatoes. The hand squeezes. I hunch my shoulders and wince -- More out of theater because my father did the same pinch but his was far more painful thanks to a childhood injury... He lost the feeling in his right hand and could put cigarettes out on his palm and not feel a thing.

It was Sister Jane... Why God? Why couldn't it have been Sister Rose? Sister Jane reaches between my legs and removes the milk carton and then me from the lunch table. Actually, I remember it as more of a jerk. If there was any punishment, I don't remember it and while Sister Jane and I would continue to have future clashes, this one, at least for me, is the most memorable. I'll always wonder how many of us at that lunch table became Hell's Angels.

Straight by 12 (from National Lampoon, February, 1974)


Amatourist said...

f*cking great writing. and a nice topic, headed as we are into days of hot dog eating with family. Happy Fourth.

Jeff P. said...


Jeff P. said...

... also, excellent writing - love this kind of stuff.

Alice Olive said...

I remember educational sessions being held at school when I was six or seven.

The rumour ran that there were actual videos of actual live people having actual live sex.

I was SOOOOOO disappointed when Mum said, "But you know all about sex already. There's no need for you to go." Dammit.

Of course, there was nothing near live videos of actual sex... but I felt very left out nonetheless.

JKG said...

Have you dared to consider a memoir?

Anonymous said...

If not a memoir, your own version of Gentry or something of the sort. Or, approach GQ and offer to make their magazine into a readable publication.

I can relate to the Catholic School nonsense. I was caught by a priest drinking a beer in 8th grade. Long story, but he told me that if I did not clean up my act I would end up in jail, or sleeping under the vine st. expressway. Funny, years later all the priests here in Phila are on trial, and guess who was called for jury duty...

Oyster Guy said...

Tin: Yes, you were gay. Very, very gay. What is it you always say? Time, place, occasion? You would not believe the hots I had for my kindergarten teacher. She looked and sounded like Dusty Springfield in her prime. My Mum didn't like her that much and that says it all.

Miss Olive: questions, questions ...so many questions...;)