Ok obviously the main story in the news these days is about celebrities and politicians being called out for sexual assault, there seems to be no statute of limitations on the shame. Due in part to a new era of empowerment of women, something I am a fond supporter of, a lot of powerful men are being ruined daily by these accusations. Something about the subject matter here has bugged me since the Harvey Weinstein case reared its head, and it might have something to do with a ton of abuse I’ve taken for being “creepy” in my recent over-the-top crush on TV’s Supergirl, Melissa Benoist. Now that whole thing was a lot deeper and you might say worse than I ever publicized, however, it was really innocent, like Ivory Snow really. It had no sexual aspect, I just adored this woman and everything she stands for. However some of her fans took the fact that I was clearly much older than her and made a big deal out of it, in fact several times I was even called a pedophile for having a crush on a 27 year old television actress. They were way out of line. But maybe this served to sensitize me about the whole scourge going on right now. Anyway today Al Franken was the latest case for the sex police as I call them, and an aspect of the case reminded me of something I did in the past and that’s why I’m writing this, I feel the need to make a full confession.
Ok the year was 1975. I was a 17 year-old senior in high school. 42 years ago. I was the male lead in the musical Once Upon A Mattress, playing “Prince Dauntless”. My co-star was really the star of the musical, playing the girl named Fred, in theatre this play is called The Princess and the Pea. Her real name was Darlene. Darlene and I had a strange convoluted friendship. I really met her in 8th grade, in another musical called Heavens To Betsy. I became aware then that she had a crush on me. She threw a birthday party for me at her house when I barely knew her, invited all my best friends, it was really touching because I was kind of introverted at the time (believe it or not!). I was younger than my age then, very innocent. Over the next few years though Darlene blossomed somewhat, became a bit of a babe. We were fairly close friends, discussed our lives to each other, I walked her home from school several times, she lived within a mile of the high school. Eventually I took an awkward liking to her and asked her out a couple times, to at least one dance, always refused, she was past liking me in that way. But she was never close to a serious interest, I always was looking at all the girls, and we remained friends as we were in choirs and musicals together and she was always in my class.
So anyway, we were near the end of rehearsals for Once Upon A Mattress. I believe it was the first dress rehearsal where this thing happened. To best describe where Darlene and I were at that time, it was a time when she knew I liked her but she didn’t like me in the same way. Anyway our characters kiss several times in the show, normally when we practiced the scenes you just sort of skip over that part (“here we kiss”), but the dress rehearsal was more serious. No we had never kissed under any circumstance before this. I have no idea why I decided to do it but when the big kiss came up, I came in, slipped her the tongue. It might’ve lasted a half-second before she slapped my face. She got red and mad and said “Don’t you ever do that again” and nothing was ever said about it again. She might have avoided me a bit more after that, don’t remember. I do know that she invited me to her wedding a year after high school so we weren’t on that bad of terms. But I’ve got to admit, with all this going on in the news, I feel worse about this now than I ever did, in fact I don’t even think I ever felt bad about it before. It’s clear to me that I knew exactly what I was doing at the time though. Can’t deny that.
So, was it that bad? Doing that when I was a kid, 42 years ago? Is a pushy kiss as criminal as it seems to be now? Yeah it probably was. Darlene, if you ever somehow read this, I’m really sorry. I guess we should both be thankful that when you knew me I wasn’t nearly the kind of mess I became later on in life with the drugs and the rock and the ego and all that. Man I’ve made so many mistakes, I always feel like I’ve meant well but maybe I somewhat deserve the shitty life I’ve had to deal with. And, I do relate to other guys who are now in big trouble for their overexuberance. I feel like some of them are far less monsters than they’ll be thought of from this point forward. We’re in different times now. Everyone, guy and girl, has a fence around them. You can not enter uninvited. If you do enter, every breath you take within the confines must be measured. Rather, you’re probably safer staying out. Luckily I’m so old now that my desire to inflict myself on anyone is fading. Likewise, I’m pretty sure I won’t be invited any time soon.