Saturday, September 22, 2018

Riding in cars with boys

I was sixteen. I don't remember the day, or even the time of the year. But I can tell you what I was wearing. My school uniform.

I can tell you I was walking home from school, out early because I didn't have class the last period of the day and I hated school and would rather walk two miles home than stay for an extra period and wait for the bus. 

The boy who picked me up was someone I'd known since freshman year. He was in my homeroom. I was friends with his girlfriend, but that girl and I had had a falling out. Did I want a ride? Sure! Thanks!

I don't remember what we talked about on the ride to my house, but I do remember the boy pulling over suddenly and lunging on top of me. It was weird how calm he was, how insistent. This was what he wanted and it was going to happen. My mind was racing. He was a big guy. There didn't seem to be a way to physically fight him off, so I tried reasoning with him, talking about his girlfriend and how she would feel. Talking about my boyfriend, who I said was waiting for me right this minute and would wonder where I was-- not true--  but thankfully, it broke the spell. 

The guy let me go and I stumbled out of his car. We saw each other in school, of course, the next day and the next. He never acknowledged what he tried to do. I ran into him a few other times over the years and it was the same. Maybe he didn't remember. 

For the record, even though this happened thirty-five years ago, I know who the guy is. I mean, really, do you honestly think I would forget?

I don't tell this story to elicit sympathy. It's just a thing that happened. There were other things that happened, when I was younger, when I was older, things that were far worse. I wonder if that is why I wasn't entirely surprised when the boy jumped on top of me. I wasn't terrified. I wasn't angry. If I had a feeling at all, it was weariness.

Age sixteen, I had already learned that some boys do this sort of thing. Grab a girl because that is what they want to do. No point making a fuss about it.

Thirty-five years later I've changed my mind. Now, don't worry. I'm not going to out the man. Although, I admit I feel a twinge of satisfaction imagining him reading this and stressing about it. I almost feel sorry for him.

Without much warning the world he ruled is shifting. He wonders: Maybe I'm not allowed to grab girls anymore?

Although a case can be made that he can still get away with it. Some men (and some women too) will rush in to defend him, throw out the same tired lines. Boys will be boys. It didn't really happen. Or if it did happen, it was a long time ago. It wasn't a big deal.

But it might be enough to make him pause. He can feel it, the hold he has on the world loosening, even as he scrabbles to cling tighter. He has to work harder to defend himself these days, yell louder. It's almost as if he knows, deep down, his time is nearly up.

The ride, it's over.


  1. Damn right. That time and that power is hopefully coming to an end! TY, Jody.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It's time for a power shift.

  3. Thank you for sharing that. Story by story, day by day, this world has got to shift to respect females.

  4. I agree with Shari - the time to shift and respect females is here and it is long past due.

  5. Thank you for sharing this; it's definitely time for a shift in everyone's attitudes.