Catholic High School Girls in Trouble. Part 2: The formative years.

The title got you, didn't it?

Someone asked me to write in a little greater detail about my non- girlfriend girlfriend. Here ya go.

When you grew up in a Catholic household as the oldest son things could get a little overbearing. If you interview five children in the order they were born in you will find that things tend to ease up as parents learn how to rear children.

For me, every single girl I looked at was concern for my mother to make sure she was a good Catholic. Of course, about fifteen years later when my sister announced she was marrying Jew nobody paid it any mind.

What is interesting to note is Mom was born an Irish Catholic. Dad's mother was Lutheran, his father Baptist. He was raised a Congregationalist. Later on his own he became a Catholic. He attributed it to a chaplain he met in the service.

He also never tried to force any religion on his children.

In '81 when I returned home Dad confessed that the one secret he felt he had to keep from Mom was that what I refer to as my non girlfriend girlfriend was actually a gay Methodist.

On the other hand he told me that under the circumstances the relationship was a stroke of genius. It covered two of us and served both our needs. Roxy was gay and this was in the summer of '69. People were less then kind to the gay community back in the 60s. This was about the time of the Stonewall riots, the beginning of the gay liberation movement. The movement was still in its embryonic stage.

I was no hero to the gay community as I am still no real hero to much of anybody. I was then and am still pretty much an Old School Libertarian type. If it isn't costing me money or hurting me then what is the problem? My general attitude was and still is pretty much a 'so what?' attitude.

Anyway, I knew Roxy by face and name. She was a fairly pretty girl with a cherubic face and a really casual, friendly air about her. She hung out in the Harbor like most of the young people and was pretty much part of the woodwork.
I had gotten my hands on a couple of Arlo Guthrie tickets and had a date with (go figure) a nice Catholic girl to go to the concert with. Actually I had asked her out based on first impressions weeks earlier. She seemed OK and as time passed she was still OK. I wasn't having second thoughts but I couldn't help but think of a piece of advice my mother had given me.

You don't marry the woman,” she said. “You marry the whole family.”

When she said that, Dad had disagreed. The truth I later discovered was somewhere in between. However, if I had to split it up, Mom was right by about 51% on this one. You do have to deal with the family as a general rule.

The Official Rules of the time were that suitors had to be checked out by the parents. When you went to pick up your date you generally had one or both parents ask you a few questions. It was and still is only fair. If your darling daughter has a date to go to Sharon Tate's house with Charles Manson it is probably not a date she should go on. Fair is fair.

On the other hand, things only go so far.

I wound up with her mother grilling me like a robbery detective in an old James Cagney movie. I was surprised she didn't start beating me with a rubber hose.
When she asked my how much money my father made (or some damned thing) I figured things had gone too far. It was none of her damned business.
I looked at my potential date, I looked at her mother, added things up and divided by two and got a negative number.
Look,” I shoot back. “You wanna play robbery detective save it for James Cagney. Besides my fedora is at the cleaners getting steamed and blocked.”
I got up and started to leave. Her father tried to head me off but wasn't fast enough. I was gone, headed for the Harbor.
When I got there I saw Roxy walking down the street headed toward the town pier. She was in her usual uniform, cutoffs, a bikini top covered with a loose blouse and barefoot.

Hey, Rox!” I shouted. “Wanna see Arlo Guthrie?”
When?” she asked.
In about an hour,” I answered. “I got stood up. Her loss is your gain.”
She simply hopped into my MG and told me to swing by her house so she could put on some shoes. I let the clutch out and followed her directions. When we got there she was in and out of the house in seconds. She had opted to change her blouse and came out hopping on one foot with her other shoe in her hand and one arm in her blouse while putting on the other shoe. This chick knew how to move!

I had never seen that before nor have I since.

Anyway, we went to the concert together and afterwards we went back to her place. She was living with her parents as was I. We raided her family fridge and I met her parents. I liked them. They were from the South.
Anyway I liked Roxy and a day or two later asked her if she wanted to hang out. We were sitting on the pier in the Harbor when she surprised me by diving off of it. I followed her. That little tomboy was a lot of fun to hang with and shortly thereafter she took me into her confidence and told me she was attracted to woman. For some reason I wasn't really too shocked.

I looked at her seriously and told her that I was also attracted to women. She looked confused for a second then looked worried. Then she gave me a sheepish smirk. I told her that her secret was safe. People were pretty rough on gays back them and I knew she was worried.

I also knew that is she was seen with me fairly often people wouldn't dig into things. They would assume she was straight.

I had graduated from high school at seventeen. I was living with my parents. I figured that if I had a nice Catholic girlfriend my mom would not sweat a whole lot and it would make it easier for me in general.

Hey, Rox!” I said. “I could use a nice Catholic girlfriend that goes to St. Mary's. Any ideas?”

She picked up on my drift instantly. “One nice Catholic girl coming right up,” she said. “Hey, take me to a Catholic service. I've never been to one.”

I later did take her to mass twice. Once at St Mary's and another time with my family. However, for several Sunday mornings we'd ostentatiously meet for mass but went to breakfast instead.

It was kind of fun having a non girlfriend girlfriend. Her tomboy nature made her fun to do outdoor stuff with. One small thing I recall is she didn't smoke but always carried a Zippo. I don't know why. She was also a total waterdog. For the entire summer the passenger's seat on my car was at least damp.

If a body of water was fairly clean and ice-free she'd dive right in. She was fearless when it came to diving off of bridges and piers. In a way it was like having a Labrador Retriever as a girlfriend.

More than once I'd turn my head into the wind to cup my hands and light a smoke only to hear a splash and turn around to see her blouse and flip-flops sitting on the ground next to me and her about thirty years away into the water. It was enough to make you want to put her on a leash except for the fact that I was as much of a water dog as she was.

She was one hell of a swimmer and once swam across the river to meet up with me for a clambake in the marsh. It was kind of cool having a chick that would dig clams and enjoy a clambake cooked over a driftwood fire.

I remember when my dad met her at the Point. We were putting together a clambake. Dad was just going to the Point to sit on the bridge for a bit, spied my MG and went looking for me. He found us which mildly surprised him. He had expected to find me alone.

After I made introductions dad said he'd leave us young people alone and Roxy said, “If you grab a six-pack you can stay for dinner.”

Dad said he'd be back in twenty minutes. I went to Don Young's keeper, put another $2 in the jar and took out another lobster. Don was a lobsterman and I would sometimes plunder his keeper, making sure to pay a little more than wholesale and a little less than retail. It was a win/win situation.

Dad was good to his word. He brought beer. I could tell he liked Roxy. He later told me he thought she was a keeper.

I decided to let the cat out of the bag. “If she ever marries it will be a Boston marriage,” I said. “Also she is a Methodist.”

It took several seconds for what I had said to sink in and when it did, Dad looked dumbstruck. When he settled down he said, “The religion doesn't bother me, the other part does. Why are you wasting your time with someone like that?”

Look, I am seventeen. I don't plan on marrying for several years. I'm tired of listening to all the 'nice Catholic girl' crap,” I said. “Besides, where else can I find someone to enjoy a clambake in the marsh with.”

She is managing to pass herself off as a nice Catholic girl,” dad said. “I suppose that being seen with you covers her from being outed as a homosexual.” The word 'gay' had not entered normal American terminology yet.

Hmmm.... You're seventeen. I was nine years older than you when I married your mother,” he said. He was thinking out loud. He turned to me. “You're feeling pressured, aren't you?”

I knew the question was rhetorical. I said nothing.

How long's this going to last?” asked Dad.

She's headed off to college come September,” I said. “For what it's worth, we are not an exclusive unit either. I'm free to see others.”

A couple of days later I was in the Harbor and parked on the pier. I saw Roxy there and laughed. She was soaking wet having just dived off of the pier. She took one look at me, approached the car hopped in and sat down.

Mary Agnes Davis is trying to get knocked up,” she said. “Just a little fair warning.” With that she hopped out and dove off the pier again. I mentally reached into my mental Little Black Book, opened it, went down the 'M' as in 'Mary Agnes' and drew a line through it. Thank you very much, Roxy! 

A couple of days later over dinner Mom mentioned how Mr. Davis had won some award or another and how Mary Agnes would be a good catch. Mary Agnes was a graduate of the local Catholic girls academy and her father was pretty well to do.

Good catch, my ass! Mary Agnes is actively trying to get knocked up,” I shot back.

Who told you that,” Mom demanded.

My faithful Indian scout,” I replied. Mom looked annoyed because she knew I wasn't going to tell her. Dad looked at me with a certain look and I nodded ever so slightly. He knew.

Hey, what would happen if I married say a Jew. Or a Hindu or maybe a Buddhist?” What are you going to do? Disown me or something?” I asked Mom.

Or worse yet, a Methodist.” added Dad, smirking. He was treated to a quick click of the eyeball on my part. My sarcasm comes from his side of the family.

Mom explained that she was just trying to look out for my happiness. 

I replied I could be just as miserable with or without her help. It drew a mildly annoyed look coupled with a smirk from Dad. I figured he didn't like to see me argue with my mother but he did appreciate the sarcasm.

After dinner dad came by and caught me alone.

What else does your Indian scout tell you?” he asked.

Things I need to know to stay out of hot water,” I replied. He knew that was as much as I was going to tell him.

He shook his head. Then he laughed. “I figured there was a serious method to your madness.”

Roxanne and I spent the rest of the summer in and out of each others lives until she left for college. We hung out together a little the following summer because I sent most of the summer on the road.

It is interesting to note that for a long time afterwards her family was very good to me and I was a part of it for quite some time. 


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