When I was seventeen-almost eighteen, I met a guy at church. You have to understand, I went to a very, very small Southern Baptist church in the middle of nowhere, and having a new young man show up at church service one day - particularly one that wasn't an airman from the nearby Air Force base (and therefore actually had some hair) - was cause for extreme celebration among the handful of girls in our youth group.
This guy was an older guy, too. He was twenty-one, if I remember right. He was new to the area, and trying to find the right church home. He was the son of a preacher somewhere in Indiana, and he had aspirations to be a youth pastor in his own right, and start his own Christian rock band. To top it off, he was really, really good looking. I mean crazy gorgeous. And cool. So cool! I was starstruck.
We talked a little that Sunday morning and flirted a little that Sunday night, and he showed up at Wednesday prayer meeting and we flirted a little more. By the following Sunday, he had my phone number and we were talking almost every night.
He finally asked me out on a bona fide date and I was over the moon! He showed up that next Saturday night, dutifully met my father (who sternly eyed the college-aged guy that was talking to his high-school aged daughter) and then he and I headed out to a local pizza place where he talked about himself and his life plans for the next ninety minutes as I listened with rapt attention.
What happened next I never told anyone.
Not even my best friend from high school. Lori knows he was a creep and I didn't want to date him anymore, but I never told her everything. I just wanted to forget it. I still want to forget it. But the subject came up with a friend the other day and we were discussing our worst date ever. I laughingly told her what I'm about to tell you.
After we finished our dinner that Saturday night, we got in his car, and started to drive back toward my house. Several blocks away, he suddenly turned down a side street in a less-than-ideal part of town, and kept driving, until the street turned into dirt road and we were in the middle of desert. He shut off the car and said, "Now we can get down to business."
I wasn't afraid. After all, this was a youth pastor in the making, right? But he liked me. He really liked me and he told me he'd noticed me the moment he stepped into the church and now he probably wanted to kiss me and I was okay with that. I was more than okay with that. It honestly didn't occur to me he'd want to do much more. I know that's naive, but I was a virgin, my parents had restricted my social life to the church and church-related activities, and this was a church guy. In my overly-sheltered mind, I was perfectly safe.
He kissed me. And he kept on kissing me. We were making out and oh, I was thrilled. He was cute, he had the church guy stamp of approval, and we were making out! His hands started to wander toward my breasts, and I knew it was up to me to set the boundaries, so I did. I pushed his hands back to my waist, and he let me. He also kept right on going with them, and I had to push them away from my ass. They simply slid around front, and I pulled back, feeling less than certain about all this now.
Even though I was certainly raised to wait until marriage for sex, I always knew I wasn't going to do that. But that didn't mean I was going to sleep with just anybody. It certainly didn't mean I was okay with a guy putting his hands anywhere he wanted on a our very first date. I put my hand over his to stop it from moving, and I said, "Hey, let's slow down, okay?"
Yes, I asked permission to feel comfortable with what someone else was doing to my own body. But that's what you do when you're a young girl who's crushing hard and afraid you're going to seem too young to the older guy.
He just smiled and started kissing me again. This time, he didn't try to put his hands on me. He grabbed my hand instead, placed it firmly on his crotch, and held his hand over it, keeping me from pulling away. He had a death grip on my hair with the other hand - I couldn't move an inch. And for the next few minutes, he used my hand to masturbate himself until he was finished.
He finally released me, and I shrunk toward the door, feeling shaken and sick to my stomach. I was flooded with relief when he turned the car back on, and before he put it in gear, he turned to me.
"Hey, that was great," he said, and the smile was still in place. "Do you....you do understand what just happened, right?"
"I know what happened," I mumbled. "Take me home."
We drove the remaining few blocks in silence, and when we pulled into the driveway, he leaned over to kiss me. I don't know why I let him, but I did. He was still smiling.
"I'll see you tomorrow at church," he said. "Can't wait to do this again sometime."
I got out of the car, walked into the house, smiled for my parents and said I had a good time, went to my room and dialed the phone. I knew my friend Lori was waiting to hear the details. I told her he was a creep with wandering hands who was a total fraud and I never wanted to see him again. She didn't ask any questions. I think she knew, somehow, that something went very wrong. Then I hung up the phone and I ran to the bathroom, where I threw up.
I told my work friend this the other day and she listened, open mouthed. "Damn," she said. "I was only talking about bad dates. Not sexual assault. I'm sorry that happened to you."
I didn't know what to say to her because until that moment, I never really thought about it that way. He was just a creep and I was just naive and it was a really bad date.
Because if I let myself think about it, I remember how I laid there on the bathroom floor after I threw up, crying. Wondering how I could have been so wrong about somebody. I remember how I started shaking when he walked into church the next day. I remember the pure, blinding rage I felt when he called me Sunday afternoon and after a few minutes of my monosyllabic answers he said, "You know, it sounds like you're kinda not as into me as you used to be."
I never did see him again, because after that Sunday, he never came back to our church. I guess he moved on, hoping to find his next target. And I pushed the whole thing as far out of my mind as much as I could. His being gone helped a lot. I was successful, too. I can barely remember his name. I laugh about it, as I tell people about the jerk who forced me to paw his crotch - what a bad date!
And I know with a strong and furious certainty that if a man did that to my daughter, he'd be masturbating in the future with a bloody stump. The only question is whether she'd rip his arm off, or I would.
So that was my bad date, ladies and gentlemen. Hilarious, right?
And I still remember how Lori reached across the pew that Sunday morning, and held my trembling hand.