As a senior in high school, I took my first job at a Restaurant. It was here I met J. whom I dated casually.
He was a generally attractive guy from a large Italian family who relocated from New England. He was a few years older and in junior college studying to be a draftsman. I liked the idea of dating an “older man.”
He loved foreign cars (owned a fiat), anything pertaining to racing and the Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton. He knew I was interested in art, so for our first ‘date,’ which happened to fall on my birthday, he presented me with a poster he made, an 11 x 14 drawing of Mary Lou with muscular legs fully illustrated; She was standing in a victory pose as if she had just triumphed over a choreographed dance and tumble. The size of her head was enormous-much like the helmet worn by the Darth Vader character “Dark Helmet” in the spoof movie “Space Balls.”
With time I learned the picture was the equivalent of handing me a copy of the Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit issue, and how truly obsessed he was with the woman. Even once he suggested how great it would be if I cut all of my hair off, and style it like Mary Lou.
Uh…No. Don’t think so.
Eventually, J. told me his parents did not approve of me because I was not Catholic. I had no concept at the time of what it meant to be Catholic, other than his mother didn’t use birth control and therefore had a growing brood of moppets. It did not connect with what little knowledge of faith I did have. The only time I was invited or ever attended his church was for a wine and cheese party, and what luck- this sworn teetotaler won the door prize: a bottle of wine which I reserved in the fridge like a precious relic, until my father decided to sample it.
J’s religion seemed to oversee a lot of the family dynamic and cohesiveness which I admired, and I knew there was a reverence for something all-powerful, even if it was, in my opinion, a little shallow. I viewed their disapproval not as a means of preserving the faith, which in hindsight for his parents…it was. Instead, I took it personally and thought it completely absurd. I mean, why would his Holy God want to keep him away from my influence? Sweet, little ol’ me? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? After all, he was the one obsessed with sex and forever requesting to shave my legs, and what does his God do with that?