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I was not exposed to any explicit forms of sexuality early in life. No one had molested me or been inappropriate with me.In fact I didn’t even connect what I was doing with sex.
Whenever I was “playing alone” — which was the best I could think to call it, having no idea that the world had gone above and beyond with creative monikers for this activity — I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular. Much like how if you give a kid sugar, I didn’t care if I wasn’t supposed to — I was going to sneak a goddamn cookie.Rather than being blissfully unaware of what I was doing, I was acutely in tune with the fact that it should be a secret.I don’t really know how I knew that, but it consumed me nonetheless.I ran to my dad, told him I was ready to go, clinging to what I was not yet sure was the right choice of movie, but this time I didn’t care.I sat cow-eyed, stiff and afraid to move the whole ride home, until my dad finally got out of me what was wrong. The man had already left, but my dad was still insistent they check the cameras and call the police, “for God’s sake, there are children in there.” I continued to be shaken up, but never correlated what that man was doing in public with what I was doing in private. Once my mom opened the door to the bathroom while I was in the middle of my bathtub ritual.As I grew older and started to get tidbits of very wrong information from other children about what your genitals might be for, where babies come from, etc., like we all did, I still never thought any of that had anything to do with my playing alone. * * * I had one of those bad-influence friends who was a couple of years older than me. Julia’s parents had gotten divorced when she was a baby, and she liked to act out, not that the two were explicitly related. Commanding my attention like she was telling a ghost story at summer camp, I hung on every word about a serial killer who went around cutting off cheating men’s penises.
Her confidence in everything from singing Spice Girls out loud to stealing snacks from the teacher’s cabinet made it so I never questioned her. Where in the world she got the story, I will never know.
I envisioned my future ballet and piano recitals ruined, my parents watching through cracked fingers in horror as their little weirdo gave “Ode To Joy” her best shot.
I expected it would get around our condo complex, and the neighbors would stop inviting me over to pet the new kitten or have a piece of cake.
One trip, while rounding the corner of the classics, I came face to face with a homeless man furiously masturbating.
He did not approach me, but he did not stop either.
When I asked her recently about the whole charade though, she was baffled.