You need to know that I was not always pretty and throughout my middle school experience into my early teens most people mistook me for a boy.  I can honestly say it did bother me at times but for the most part I tried not to think about it.   I can remember wondering how those girls did their hair and make up so cool and perfect.  How did one really do that hair flip thing or get their hair to curl just like that?  I would scour the teen magazine for that secret recipe.  It always seemed that the answer to that question revolved around a new lip gloss or eyelash curler. 

When you are not pretty you are basically left safe and alone. 

I gave up on my looks and learned to be content with my books, learning a second language, and playing sports.  I knew I was weird, flat chested, unfeminine and boyish.  There really was nothing I could do about it because I didn’t really know how to correct it.  I tried to learn how to become content in that skin and hoped someday I wouldn’t continue looking like a scrawny little boy. 

Between you and me I somehow knew I wouldn’t always be scrawny and ugly.  I just had to be patient.  Patient is, exactly, what I was.  I mean don’t all girls want to be desired and considered pretty?  I was tired of being that plastic plant.  I secretly wanted to be that cheerleader that turned heads and be whistled at.

Then something happened.  I got to be cool.  I am not really sure how that transpired but when I was sixteen I dropped out of school for a year and went to Spain.  Spanish men, olive oil, and the bar night life changed me.  When I came back I was beautiful, strange and exotic.  I had more dates than a person would dare to count.  I was fun, witty, smart and a real tease.  No one boy or man lasted more than three weeks.  It was a constant change and a way to keep men that I didn’t know how to control– at a distance.  I was not ready to venture all the way into that sexual pool and didn’t really know how to swim. 

I just really was having a lot of fun just splashing around.

It was sometime after that I experienced my very own sparkler.  He came in the form of a Ted.  He was drop dead gorgeous, tanned, muscled, smart, witty–amazing–when he looked at me sparks flew.  He was fireworks.  I was melted butter. 

He made me think about learning how to swim.  With him I am pretty sure I would have gone swimming.

He went to Michigan State University and this made him exciting.  I was a local girl at the community college and I hooked a ride determined to see him football season.  My girlfriends and I all loaded up into that big boat of a car sailing 45 minutes one way to that frat house party.  He said he would be there waiting for me.  My girls were going for the M.S.U. men, beer and wine coolers. They were also going for me.   We were crazy and we always had fun.  We were the cool kids and everyone wanted to ride in our car.

When we got there it was animal house.  I had never experienced anything like it.  Crazy, fun, beer everywhere, groping, kissing, booming music and a bon fire loaded with furniture and a couch were all stacked and packed in that backyard.  My girls dispersed into that crazy frat madness like shooting marbles.  I just decided to walk around and retreat back to sit on the front porch steps.  I wanted to wait for my cherry bomb.

Time slipped bye.  So did several conversations with guys coming up and telling me how sweet I looked and asking me my name.  It was fun.  I was flirty.  I had that much perfected.  In the end I made it clear I was waiting for my Ted.  Beers were offered taken passed. I drank.  I had time to pass.  It was getting dark and through that clouded beer foam came a face I recognized.  He was six foot two all chest and neck.  Hands the size of plates.  “Hey beautiful what are you doing here?”  I knew this man. He was three times the size of my witty gorgeous Ted.   I had been at his home in East Grand Rapids.  I was hired to tutor his younger brother.  They were affluent.  I knew his father drank whiskey and coke.  He stepped though and beckoned that I sit with him on the frat house couch.  So I did.  I knew him.  I told myself he was big, harmless and safe.  My girls were scattered throughout the house–we always had a plan.  Never leave alone with anyone and stay close. 

I remember telling myself that I was O.K. on that scratchy plaid couch.  I knew him.

Now over the years I remember that we talked for a long time.   It probably was too long and I was too caught up in being cute, smart and deep.  We talked about school.  We talked about his brother.  Then the conversation turned to me and he confessed he used to look forward to me coming to their house.  This is the part where I told him about Ted and how he was my 4th of July.  More beers were passed.  More beers consumed.  “Hey beautiful, I don’t think he is coming.” Before I knew it this huge mass was caressing my cheek, pulling my hair, his mouth was on mine and his body was pinning me to that hard couch.  It was all so fast and rough.  I suddenly could not find air and my hands pawed at him like a kitten.  I remember he laughed at me.  “Isn’t this funny?” I was funny. I kept saying, “no, no, no” and He said I didn’t mean what I was saying.  He was kissing me hard and deep and I could not breathe.  He was holding my head to the side while one hand pulled my shirt loose.  He liked pulling the back of my hair.  His hand held my head pulling me harder toward him.  He was under my shirt and down into my pants touching places without permission and places that I wasn’t ready to have touched by a man. He kept calling me baby and telling me how beautiful my smile was.  I  was demanding he stop.  I tried to push.  I shouted for him to stop.  I then started to beg him to stop.  I think I even used the words–“please stop.” He seemed to become more sickly determined and stronger at each stage of my repeated requests.  I started to kick and somehow I got that mass off for a second, hitting the wooded floor and trying to make a run for it.  I even believe I started to scream.  He stepped over me and grabbed at my back leg.  I think it might have been that football block and scoop.  His shoulder hit my waist flipping me up and jolting me onto his shoulder.  I didn’t wait and started to kick and pounded my fists into his lower back and into his ass.  I know I felt my heart in my head.  I was an upside down spider monkey alert and engaged.  He was determined and scaling me up those frat house stairs.  It was full panic ripping into my chest.  I was groping and grasping at anything and everything.  I was hot, angry, and very afraid.  I grabbed people. I grabbed the banister. I was kicking so hard I thought he might drop me on my head.  I remember I thought I might just fall onto the steps and break my neck.  My shirt was a mess my pants were unzipped.  A crowd surrounded us and somehow I got pulled free.  I remember my girlfriend Pam got into his face and started shouting obscene words and jabbing her finger into his face. “Hey you dick, asshole, put her down!” Free from his hold he just stood.  A pure satisfaction smirk in his eyes. He was huge and arrogant with a big cocky grin.  A group of guys surrounded him pulling him back down the stairs into that lit frat house hallway.  I lowered my gaze and he was swallowed up in that sea of men, beer cans and pounding music.

My legs buckled.  My lips were swollen and raw.  My face was scratched.  I had his saliva on my cheeks, neck, and behind my ears.  The places he touched burned of humiliation. 

It really was the first time I was angry at the world because it had showed me that it could be jagged and unsafe.