Thursday, July 18, 2019

Being Groomed

I do not want to write this. I don't know if I can. This will be a long post. This tells a story, one that has been part of a dusty history, a page in a yearbook, a memory that cannot be erased. 

Yet, at the oddest moments, there it is.

Sitting and consuming obscene amounts of ice cream, there it was: the memory I had never ever told anyone, one that scares me still. 

My husband John had just asked me about something we did with our kids, and my computer brain pulled that file up. My computer mind is one that never forgets almost anything.  It amazes people when I remember a family bbq nearly 40 years ago, when flames leapt high enough to ignite a false banana plant. It amazes them when I can tell them who was in the pool that day. It amazes...

As we watched ice cream melt and drip down chins, this other memory burst through the barriers I had constructed and flowed from my lips, my voice changed. 

"You know, I remember something when I was 17 and so naive, so ignorant. I didn't even know sex was.

"There was a professor, a handsome and mature man, he paid attention to me, no other boys I had dated did that. He smiled at me, his eyes were brown and warm. Each day, he treated me like I was special, that I was beautiful...

I became infatuated."

I bowed my head, staring at my clenched hands.

"He'd walk me to the cafeteria, laughing at my nervous girl jokes, each day he walked me.  And then, he said he and his roommate were going to paint a room, and wondered if I knew anyone who could help. Of course! A girl friend and I showed up and helped. Professor stood close to me, guided my hand."

I scribbled in the melted ice cream on the table.

"I was 17!  I didn't know. Once I turned 18, he changed. The roommate was somewhere in the house but we were alone.  I asked about that and he said he'd show me the house.  He showed me his bedroom, and I froze. He stood on the other side of the bed, and I commented on the quilt, hurried up the stairs."

"Another time when his roommate was there, he sat down close to me on the sofa. He picked up a coffee table book about human emotions. Professor flipped to a page, finding it easily. He pointed to a woman's face, distorted with a strong emotion. Having sex. Turned the page, the same woman after giving birth."

That was when he told me how old he was. 31 years old.  31.

"When I had turned 18, he changed even more and more.  He took me to a concert, knowing I had never seen one. He...he had his mother fly to meet me.  Meet me!  What do I do? What can I do. So I met her. Then he wanted to meet my parents.

"Help me..." But I couldn't say the words. I waited for Dad to say something, to protect me. He didn't. Even though Professor criticized Mom's cooking "despite its common proventiality", then he criticized a painting I had done of myself, then he criticized...everything. 

Help me, help me.

"We went to a movie with his roommate and his girlfriend. He looped his arm over my shoulder. There was a part of the movie where the Henry VIII disposed of Anne Boleyn. He whispered into my ear, I hope you won't get rid of this cow."
He tapped his chest."

Help me...Help me...

"He drove me to my dorm, I sat far away from him, clutching the door handle. Then he turned to face me, telling me that he was going to teach in Arizona.  My breath caught in my throat. I was 18."

"I can't, I won't. I can't go to Arizona with you. I worked so hard for this scholarship, to go to college. I won't give that up."

He reminded me that his mother had come to meet me. That he had met my parents. He didn't say anything more, but he grasped my face and smeared a kiss on my mouth. 

I leapt from the car and ran into the dorm, up 5 flights of stairs.

After that, Professor was cold and angry, treated me horribly. Then suddenly he was gone before the end of school and another professor took his place. Later I found out that he had done this before, found a stupid girl like me before. This time he was dismissed and just disappeared."

My husband John had been so quiet, his head bowed down. He asked if this was before I met him, and I said yes. Like John always does when he has an anxiety issue, he stood up and went somewhere, like the men's room.

My hands relaxed and I turned my face up to see my daughter and teenage granddaughters. Their eyes were wide, their faces white. She whispered He was your professor. He was a pedophile. He is gone now.

Ice cream now covered the table in random swirls. We drove away in a silent car until Bohemian Rhapsody played from the speakers. We talked and laughed as we ate dinner she had fixed. A good time with my family.

But, his face still appears randomly and those events are still vivid in my computer brain.  No, he is not gone. 

My brain still wraps around him like a cancerous cocoon, a tumor. Even though it has been 50 years, my brain has him strapped in with other memories.

I pray that he is dead, that he died a horrible death. I pray that there was not another young 17 year old girl. If there was, I pray she saw what I saw and got away.

Until I told my husband and daughter, I had never told anyone. Hoping that this will release some of the pain I feel, I have told you.

What that professor was doing at that time was courtship and seduction that would lead to an intimate relationship. He had wanted a virgin wife, one who would be submissive. He was grooming me. Grooming and seduction

Not everyone understands how it is to have an eidetic memory. It is both a curse and a blessing. Fortunately, I do not recall everything, only those to which I have some sort of connection, with all the senses. Visual is the instigator. This has been part of my life since I was a small child.

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