Time dragged on and on. One thing you can count on: when you’re the butt of somebody’s joke, somebody’s cruel humor aimed to hurt you, it will be a short-lived wonder. It will soon fade away, outshone by the next great tragedy—or some other poor sap they want to make fun of.
But in the meantime, while you’re waiting for everybody to get tired of constantly making you blush, there’s that interminable period to endure of humiliation and degradation.
Whatever it is that you did, whatever you got caught at, the illicit act that you didn’t get away with—you have to endure the whispers, the giggles behind your back, the little notes scribbled on your locker–until you want to scream.
That summer was about 40 years long or so it seemed, my 14th year, after getting caught in a compromising position with a young man I didn’t really know very well (and wouldn’t want to be discovered in public with, much less the house where I was babysitting) trying to live down the ugly name-calling, the leers and all that went with being the object of someone’s low humor. They didn’t know anything, you know. All they knew was what they suspected, and whatever lies the idiot guy told them.
Once my parents were in on the details life impossibly got worse. I felt condemned, and more than anything was so horrified to have disappointed them. I knew how much they cared, and just walking by them in the kitchen was almost more than I could bear. I began fixing a plate and eating in my room, and just stayed in there till time for school each day.
This went on for a week or so, and then one afternoon my bedroom door opened—Daddy never knocked. It was just his “king of the castle” way. He poked his head in, just off-handedly said, “Whatcha doin?” and smiled a little funny smile. I said nothing.
The door squeaked as he pushed it open further and made his way over to me near the bed. He pulled on my wrist, pulling me up to stand in front of him. He held out his arms, I collapsed into that loving embrace—and he said, “All right now, it’s gonna be all right. You’ve stayed in here long enough, you come back to the table at supper time.” He held me till my hiccups and the dry heaves stopped, and then he left, pulling the door closed behind him.
And that was it. It was over. I was forgiven.