It's eighth grade and I'm "going" with Bryan, Bryan who is now my husband, though where we were going then was on a few hikes on the hill behind his house, to the mall once to buy a UB40 tape, that night we were going to the bowling alley with a bunch of friends.
I don't remember if we even bowled that night, but what I do remember is being a good girlfriend and standing next to Bryan as he played Asteroids at the arcade. Pushpushpushpush, Bryan punching the button over and over intensely, and a man suddenly behind me pulling me backward, wrenching me around, his face on mine, his lips pressed hard on my face and his tongue. His tongue was huge.
Over the years I have told that story as a comedy.I don't know how long it lasted, 30 seconds or 3 minutes, but at some point I pushed the man away and he ran out the back door of the bowling alley. He looked like he was in his 30s. I was 12.
I ran to the bathroom of the bowling alley to wash my face. It was covered with the man's spit. When I came out Bryan asked me where I had gone. He didn't even see what had happened, so intent was he on getting the high score. I have used that as the punchline when really that part didn't happen. True, Bryan didn't see, but he didn't make high score. That is the only part I made up. The rest is true, how the man gripped me against him, how hard I struggled to make him stop, my face covered with his spit, how scared I was and how we all laughed about it on the bus on the way home.
That was the first time I was sexually assaulted, luckily the worst. Other times "just" being touched when I didn't want to be touched, men grinding themselves into me on dance floors, one time a stranger showing me his penis from his parked car. Catcalls are compliments, aren't they?
I think maybe I have told this story here before? Or told you in person if you know me? But I am telling it again to get it right. It is not a comedy or "locker room" anything. It's a tragedy. All of it.
All of it.