When the retaining wall crumbles

The flood waters are rising. I’m flailing around in the decades of repressed feelings about the many creepy, experiences I had as a child, a student and a young woman. One incident in particular troubles me. I was in my early teens. I went to Omaha to visit Kathy, one of my best friends from summer camp. I spent several days with her family between Christmas and New Year’s. They lived in a comfortable 3-bedroom house with a finished basement, on an old, tree-lined street. At the top of the stairs to the second floor, there were four doors. Starting from the left, going clockwise were her brother’s room, her room, her parent’s room and – on the right, the bathroom. One night I was heading back from the bathroom to Kathy’s bedroom when her father kind of accosted me. Didn’t say anything, just hugged me way too tight for no reason, kind of pulling me towards him, mashing me into his body. I slipped out of his grasp and into the safety of Kathy’s room.

The next day, I was in the study, just off the living room, calling my parents, when he came up behind me and again mashed himself into me. He was just so creepy, I couldn’t stand to be near him. Shortly after the second incident, I joined Kathy and her mother in the kitchen, where they were making a lemon jello cake. Her mother asked me to run down to the basement pantry to get another can of something. I was about to go downstairs, when her father came into the kitchen and volunteered to help me find it. I had no words for the wave of aversion that came over me, but I knew I was going downstairs with him. I said I had to go to the bathroom really bad, and ran upstairs.

It was decades later before I said anything. I had called Kathy for her birthday. Turned out she was I bad shape, seemingly in the midst of a breakdown. In the course of the conversation, I asked her if her father had ever molested her. “Why do you ask?” she replied. “I didn’t want to relate my experience, so I just said I didn’t know why exactly, but something she had said made me wonder. “My therapist just asked me the same thing,” she said, but she went on to dismiss the theory, insisting nothing had ever happened.

That was it. I never mentioned my experience to her, although I had spoken of it to a mutual friend. Kathy and I never discussed her father again. In fact, we haven’t spoken for years, and to this day, she says she insists I made the whole thing up. But no. I didn’t. Her father was a perv. And if he did it to me, I’m guessing he did it to other girls too.