The boys I loved and how I learned to be wary of strange men

[Stranger Danger]

by Amy Adams

Madly in Love

When I was a little girl I had many crushes and was ‘madly in love’ with boys and men. All of them were older than me. I met my first love at around the age of 5. He was 40 and one of my father’s colleagues, his name was Henri. I only met him a couple of times but I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him. Luckily he was a kid-friendly guy and didn’t mind me sticking with him like glue when he visited. Then he died. Then there was my Aunt Beverly’s new husband. He was younger only in his 20s. We didn’t live near them so I only got to meet him a few times in my life and then they divorced. There was a true warmth from both of them. That was why I was ‘madly in love’ with both of them. They treated me like a small human, not a little girl – that was the attraction.

The Crushes

Then there were the crushes, these were different because all of the boys here wanted nothing to do with me. They were the older kids on the block – practically adults to me as they were in their later teens and out of the age range of kids that played on the block. There was George who lived across the street who would wash his Camaro, his treasured car and the Masterson brothers who walked back and forth from the school bus stop in their uniforms. As they would pass my house I would join them and walk with them. I can’t remember which one I liked more. All of them much older than me.

I was a strong independent girl who loved to read and play with my Chrissy, Dawn and her friends and Barbie dolls – if you messed with me or someone I loved and you were the same size as me, I would beat you with my Barbies. When I was 6 years old, the boy who gave me a bubble gum machine ring and asked me to marry him was turned down. I didn’t have any interest in marrying him. He was just a little boy and we were both the same height. Unknowingly, already through biology, I was driven to locate the protector, the person who had physical prowess simply by virtue of their height.

I admired these boys and men and enjoyed my crushes. I also liked people in general and liked to hang out with adults. Some of my fondest childhood memories are regular dinners with my father’s work colleagues, especially Pierce and Sandy until around age 16 when time home tapered off as I preferred my teenage friends’ company. It was what I was used to as the youngest child, I spent a lot of time with my parents and their friends upstate NY on the weekends or sitting around the dinner table for hours at home with guests – adults discussing world events for as long as I could remember. I wasn’t afraid of men or women or any adults for that matter.

Probably and hopefully I am amongst the majority of people who were not preyed upon as children by people that we knew. But strangers on the other hand, well that was a different story for me.

Photo by: Zach Savinar

Stranger Danger

I’m older now and haven’t been subjected to any abhorrent or gross man behaviours in the last few years. Still, there are numerous stories to tell and the first one happened when I was only 12 years old. I love to tell stories and usually, when I do tell this story it is with purpose and humour. This particular story tells other women that they aren’t alone, it lets men know this shit happens, and it is a true story. It also points out the absurdity of it all based on the language that the ‘offender’ used.

It was the summer of 1975, during that time we walked everywhere most of the time with friends but sometimes alone too. I was 2 years away from puberty, hadn’t had the big growth spurt yet and was just under 5 feet tall. Around that time I was even denied entry to a movie with some friends because the cashier at the movie theatre didn’t believe that I was 12. I didn’t have breasts, there was no mistaking me for a girl older than my age.

It was a beautiful morning, I left my house just after 7 am wearing my swimsuit under my shorts and a halter top. It was pink. I was half-way to my destination when I noticed a man stalking me for several blocks driving slowly around the area as I walked across town to swim-team practice. I was aware. Then he was gone.

But only for a moment as he quietly was lying in wait in his car on a desolate street with only a few houses near the river and town’s playing fields – a street that I had to pass through to arrive at the swim club. Under the guise of being lost he called me to his car to ask directions. I was always happy to help people and knowing the town like the back of my hand, I went to the passenger’s side. He asked me for directions.

Photo by: Edgar Moran

I was in deep thought for a moment and not looking directly at him since I was too busy thinking about where “Cock Street’ might be since I hadn’t heard of it. He asked me again to call attention back to him so I could observe him masturbating.

When I actually realised what was happening, I moved away from his car and walked swiftly to the club. After practice, I told my girlfriends what happened and stayed at the pool all day. Around 5 pm I went home and told my mother what happened. She called the police. The adults were upset with me that I waited all day to report the story. The questioning went on for a few minutes and it upset me more than the event itself. I was in tears.

When I tell it to people, I usually leave out the police part. But I never exclude the aftermath. My best friend who I told the story to later that day at the swim club, lived around the corner from me. The next time I was at her house we were with her sister Maureen and Beth asked me to tell her the story. I did and then Maureen who was a couple of years older than us, a little wild, and very witty – she laughingly said – ‘You should’ve told him to go down 2 blocks and make a left!’ and then let out a roaring laugh and we all laughed out loud until we cried. I was comforted by my friends.

There are too many more stories to tell of incidences that happened until the last one just a few years ago. Even the first incident didn’t make me fear men nor did the second one. The third and fourth events were even more creepy but still, I didn’t fear men, I just got used to it and accepted it as a part of life. They taught me that not all human beings are to be trusted and they aren’t all nice. Men don’t always have good intentions. So that is why we are wary.

If I have more than 10 stories to tell all involving different men, then what about all the other women and girls’ stories? How many stories are there? Do you have a story or simply want to discuss the article? If so, leave a comment.

You can also view my companion vlog piece here.