I experimented with many illicit substances as a teenager. TRUE. Nothing very interesting to tell here except that I did a bit more than merely experiment with weed. I was rather fond of it for a while there. I never did anything with a needle, and I did not enjoy my one or two tastes of coke. Nasty stuff. My mother’s many admonitions that dropping acid would make me think I could fly off a building did not stop me from trying it, but did make me cautious about size of dosage. Congratulations, Mom. My absinthe parties were a lot of fun, complete with home-distilled absinthe made with real wormwood (not the legal version without wormwood).
I have chewed coca leaves purchased on the streets of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. TRUE. That was in the mid to late eighties. My Spanish prof (turned common law husband) was a member of Partners of the Americas. He brought me along as his assistant and together we presented a workshop to Bolivian English teachers on the language teaching method Total Physical Response (TPR). Along the streets, especially in the market district, you could see women in their traditional dress sitting on blankets that they had spread out in the shade of a building. They laid out the little bundles and bowls of what they had for sale. A few of them had coca leaves up for offer, and I wanted to try using them the same way the Bolivian pickers use them to ward off fatigue and cold. So I bought a bunch, assembled a small wad and stuffed it in my cheek. I don’t remember the effects, if any, and only vaguely remember not liking the taste.
The largest age gap between me and someone I dated was forty years. TRUE. I have blogged about Dr. Jones once or twice. He is the one whom I accompanied to Bolivia, and he is the one to whom we were all indebted for the authentic absinthe. He and I were an item for about seven years and lived together for four or five of those years. It was a lovely time in my life, and we remain friends. He now lives with a lady friend his own age.
When I was 15, I was caught by a priest playing naked Frisbee on the grounds of a seminary. TRUE. I was quite the little exhibitionist when I was a teenager. Plus I was completely taken with the 60s and everything to do with the era of peace, love and free anything. I memorized all the lyrics to the rock musical HAIR and imagined myself getting nude in the mud at Woodstock. Since getting naked was no big deal to me, I loved any dare to do so. My little friends and I would throw toga parties and I would run around with a bed sheet draped over ONE shoulder.
Close to my house in the Heights in Little Rock was the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese. It was housed in a group of ancient buildings that had once hosted seminarians. The gates of the mysteriously beautiful brick, ivy-covered complex were left open all the time, and folks who lived nearby made a habit of going there to walk, skate, exercise their dogs or toss a ball with their kids on the baseball diamond. In back was a wooded area that hid a steep ravine where generations of children had at some point in their coming-of-age sneaked off to explore and earn spankings or groundings from worried parents. Down there were slippery, moss-covered rock walls to be scaled by nimble 11-year olds, a waterfall, and a statue of the Virgin who was almost always holding a small bouquet of freshly picked wild flowers. I think a nearby plaque identified her as Our Lady of the Ravine.
One sunny summer day, an older boy proposed naked Frisbee to me and two of my girlfriends. I was jazzed by the idea and suggested we bring a camera. We had to be very furtive because people were walking their dogs around the loop, so we chose a spot off to one side, partially hidden by trees. We tossed the Frisbee only a few times, mostly busying ourselves with capturing our daring act on film. I was posing against a large oak tree with my nude back to the camera when we were spied by a white-haired woman walking her little white-haired poodle. We quickly put our clothes back on, having noticed her scowl. About three minutes later, a middle aged man in black clothes and a white collar approached us and asked to speak to us. As I remember it, I was the one brave enough to go up to him and allow him to interrogate me while my friends hung back a few yards to eavesdrop. He calmly and politely explained to me that the seminary was private property, but that they welcomed the public to come there for their picnics and walks and ball games. My friends and I were welcome there, as well, he said. However, he said, we were expected to keep our clothes on. “Yes sir,” I said. And that was that.
My mother used to assuage my worries over being so hairy by telling me I could be in the circus when I grew up. TRUE. At some point when we were still living in California I accompanied my mother to a school where she was either teaching or volunteering, I’m not sure which. One of the kids came up to me and asked me why I was so hairy. Do you remember those moments in your childhood when some difference about you was pointed out to you by another child? I remember all of them. I remember the day my freckles were brought to my attention. Adults would fawn over my hair colour (it was flaming red when I was born and had changed to strawberry blond by the time I was five). On this particular day, I was made aware that other children did not have a lot of arm hair. I had so much corn-silk coloured hair on my arms that I really looked like a bird ready for flight. In spite of the fact that I morphed into some sort of extroverted, psychotic demon during my adolescence, I was a VERY shy child and wanted desperately for the spotlight NEVER to land on me. And so I begged my mother to cut the hair on my arms. She wouldn’t do it, but she tells me that one of my babysitters–an older friend–often took it upon herself to groom me in this way when I was in her care. For some reason, I’m no longer that hirsute. I guess it was like the down of a pre-adult stage. At some point I molted.
My navel is pierced. TRUE. My second husband, Pete, asked me to have my navel pierced and I did so. I wore jewelry there for a few years. Later I realized I had done that for him, not for me, and had never myself really wanted it. So I took out the jewelry, but the piercing remains.
In university, I audited trigonometry just for the fun of it. TRUE. Although I had barely scraped by with low Ds in algebra in junior high–in spite of many hours of one-on-one tutoring (I was granted the D by Mrs. Cann out of pity and to recognize my effort), in university, it all finally clicked. I got it. And I enjoyed it! Astronomy was so fun. I was drawn to physics, too. Someone must have mentioned to me that the astronomy questions would be easier if I had trig, so I audited it. The prof was absolutely fantastic. Soon I was grooving through the homework for both astronomy and trig, and enjoying the tie-ins between them.
My first husband is serving 50 years in the Arkansas correctional system and has a book coming out next year in which I play a major role. TRUE. The book part I only learned of the other day, through my blog, no less. Take a look at the very last comment on this post. Pretty wild, eh? The publishers have given his book a new title, which he doesn’t like but has no say over. You can see a marketing blurb for the upcoming book here. It’s pretty cool because on the book blurb it says, “William W. Allen is an exemplary inmate….”
In response to that blog comment, I sent Bill my new address on the back of a post card to the jail where he is serving out the remainder of his sentence. (He was moved from the prison population to a small county jail on what is called an Act 309 to ease prison overcrowding. Only highly trusted inmates are eligible for that move.) A few weeks later, I received a letter from him in which he says, “I hold you personally responsible for me [sic] being the person that I am today.”
I have a small yin-yang tattoo on my right buttock. FALSE. Congratulations to Tom for winning the contest. You might think that was too sneaky since you would have no way of knowing, but actually had you used the SEARCH window on my blog and put in the word “tattoo,” you could have found my Things I Have Never Done post, in which I mentioned never having been tattooed. Also, Sylvain reminded me that in my post about visiting the nudist park two summers ago, complete with photos, there is proof positive that my ample, very white, right buttock is unmarred.
Thank you, everyone, for participating! :) Tom is also doing the game now, so check it out. Oh, and Sylvain plans to do it in the next day or two.