Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Girls Like Me

There are worse things I could do,
Than go with a boy or two.
Even though the neighborhood,
Thinks I'm trashy, and no good,
I suppose it could be true,
But there are worse things I could do.

I could flirt with all the guys,
Smile at them and bat my eyes.
Press against them when we dance,
Make them think they stand a chance,
Then refuse to see it through.
                                           That's a thing I'd never do.

I could stay home every night,
Wait around for Mr. Right.
Take cold showers every day,
And throw my life away,
On a dream that won't come true.

I could hurt someone like me,
Out of spite or jealousy.
I don't steal and I don't lie,
But I can feel and I can cry.
A fact I'll bet you never knew.
But to cry in front of you,
That's the worse thing I could do.
 
Rizzo was my hero in "Grease." She made no bones about her passions and predilections and flaunted herself in the face of the judgmental. She kept her tears to herself. She was braver than me and less of a drama queen. I was a good girl with a bad reputation. I was naive, living in a dream world and was honestly astounded when people talked about me. What other kids did that got a fond laugh, got me in deep doo-doo.
 
I was that girl from "Happy Days" with the racy rep. Richie tried his luck with her, only to find out that, while she liked the kissing and closeness, she stopped at the heavy stuff. He ruined it anyway with the clumsy blowing in her ear. I had always loved kissing. I closed my eyes and I was Debra Paget or Elizabeth Taylor being swept away by the most handsome man in the world. I truly didn't know what was being implied when the camera panned away to the flames in the fireplace or fireworks were filling the air outside the balcony.
 
Up until my first real "in love" relationship, I was always able to stop things before they got too uncomfortable. I would always know, not what the making out was leading to, but that, suddenly, that lovely warmth in my belly would become a nervous, sinking feeling and I knew that it was time to sit up and move away. For me, the kissing was an end in itself. I honestly didn't realize that, for the guys, it was a means to an end. I knew there was something "dirty" the boys wanted to do that involved the organs "down there" but I was fortunate, to that point, that they never pushed it.
 
With my daughter's father, everything changed. We were still so wet behind the ears, but our passion was great. I was afraid to stop him because I was afraid I would lose him. I was still so frightened and guilty that I would just lie there and let him do what he wanted. I received no real pleasure from the act. In truth, I was so naive that I could not relate what we were doing to whatever it was that married people did to make babies. My resulting pregnancy came as a shock to me. By then, I was a little less naive and smart enough to be scared.
 
When Rizzo sang "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" in Grease, she was sweating out a late period. Even though she wouldn't admit it, she was terrified. So was I. If there was anything that would turn you into a pariah in my community, it would be an unmarried pregnancy. I already knew, from the casual way the boy I loved was treating me, that there was little help to come from that quarter. He had already gotten me in with a bad bunch that led to me getting in serious trouble with the law and I was labeled a juvenile delinquent when all I had done was sit in the car. Of course, Rizzo was able to announce, loudly, to her boyfriend, at the end of the movie, that she wasn't pregnant. Well, that's a Hollywood happy ending for you.
 
I cried, but I also started withdrawing, seeking out time alone. I finally had to confide in someone and seek some help. We all know what that got me. And, while living in a Home For Unwed Mothers, the tongues were wagging, including that of my boyfriend. If I thought I had a reputation before, I didn't know nuttin'! Friends were no longer allowed by their parents to have anything to do with me. Boys were constantly trying to lure me into their back seats and one wouldn't take no for an answer.
 
Peer pressure is the pits. When you feel unworthy because your peer group has pegged you as a loser, it is hard to outgrow that burden. For a few months, after I lost my second child, I think I tried to live the image I had been given. I hated it, it wasn't me, and I cut it out. Through all of this, there was a voice, deep inside me, screaming, "I Am Not A Slut!" Emotionally messed up? Hell yes. You would be too. But I was a decent person with values and ideals who just wanted someone to love and respect me.
 
It took me many years to learn that I was not what the gossip mongers had labeled me. I stopped judging my insides by everyone else's outsides and learned that there are worse things I could do. I could destroy another human being by spreading gossip, I could sit in a church pew every Sunday and practice casual character assassination outside after the service. I could do what one neighbor, who never missed a service did, and poison the neighborhood pets. I could exclude and ignore someone who really needed a friend. I could torment and tease and get a laugh out of someone who was socially clumsy. Oh yes...there were a whole lot of worse things I could do. I could be the bigot that so many in my era were. The list is endless.
 
I've done a lot of things that I am not proud of, but I am just one out of the entire human race who can say the exact same thing. I have also tried to be the best I could be, once I learned that, damn it, I was as good as anyone else. I learned to accept and even like myself and that was when my inner Rizzo emerged. And I am glad she wasn't pregnant. Many of the girls in my area who were sexually active with their boyfriends escaped the big "P." Unfortunately, they usually went on to become adopters. Rizzo wouldn't do that. I like to think that she went on to marry a man who loved her spunk and fire and lived happily ever after, with the occasional bumps that living brings.
 
Thanks, Rizzo. You give all us bad girls a good name.

13 comments:

Sandy Young said...

I was a Rizzo fan, too. I liked her better than Sandy, and I think Sandy did, too.

Rizzo was tough and a survivor. I think that, in all of us from that time, there was a bit of the Rizzo in all of us, or we wouldn't have survived all that life brought our way.

And, look at the end of Grease...Sandy became Rizzo in the end, and Danny at it up....!

Robin said...

I dunno Sandy. Danny also went the extra mile to get that Letter on his sweater. To me, the Sandy and Danny characters aren't as true to life as Rizzo. Back then, there were the girls you married and the girls like me.

Mandy Lifeboats said...

At an early age I learned not to cry in front of most people. I *acted* like a tough girl...but I wasn't..I was always scared...but I couldn't let anyone know that side of me. I was raised with a sexual predator..my step-dad. I learned at an early age to do the splitting of the self thing. I lived in rough neighborhoods..you better not look or act like a wimp, otherwise getting an ass-kicking was in your future. I learned to hide my feelings. When in my young 20's, married with a couple of kids..my mom and I would have an argument. Mom said to me.."You are like my mother..the Rock of Gibraltar (this was said as an insult, not a compliment)..you don't break, you don't feel anything". I said nothing..as I walked out my Mom's door..I was thinking.."Mom, if you only knew a little part of me dies everyday". And a little part of me continued to die everyday for many years after that. Finally at around the age of 50..I reclaimed myself and today I have no trouble showing or expressing my emotions. But the young person I once was, felt defeated and de-energized..from investing so much emotional energy in trying to appear unemotional. I was the "Rizzo" that got pg..and still acted tough afterwards..I really wasn't. Today I can be *tough* or a softie...depending on what circumstances warrant either side of me. Street Smarts I had..Love Smarts not so much. I loved my Bad Boy. And even my Bad Boy wasn't so tough at the end...he could cry too.

I still have my Street Smarts intact...the Love Smarts..well that's still debatable!!! And I believe even at the age of 63, I have this slight hankering for an Ole Bad Boy. LOL! But at least now I can't get pg, should the opportunity *arise*. LOL! One can still have dreams.

Sandy Young said...

Robin,
I think that the Rizzos were the real girls and the Sandys were the pretenders. Even nice girls felt the urge to merge...that is what our biological function is and Mother Nature calls the shots on when. I think that the true story of Grease is how benign it looked on the surface and how artificial the rules really were.

Robin said...

I agree, but I really did try to follow the rules. Hell, I thought they were the only ones. I never realized that it was all smoke and mirrors until I was much older. I was book smart...smart as Hell, but my people smarts and my common sense were in the basement. I am a lot tougher than I was back then, but not so much that I lose my humanity. I have to look at myself in the clear light of day too often. I see the warts and I see the good things too. I figure that puts me way ahead of the game.

It was really hard for me to write that post. I cried through most of it. It is still hard to realize what a joke and an outcast I was considered to be in those days. I would never want to revisit my youth unless I could change a lot of things. I know that no one would ever see me cry in that bunch.

Robin said...

Oh, and Vickie, it is always so charming hearing from you.

Robin said...

Hugs to you, too. There are ways of tracking and there are laws against stalking and harrassment.

Just Me said...

I loved to sing Sandy's songs but I always liked the Rizzo character much better. As a kid I often wondering if my birth mother was like her. But Robin, don't think of yourself as not one of the girls you marry... My adoptive mother is very old fashioned that way and if I had listened to her opinions of myself and how I should act then I probably would be unmarried, miserable and alone. I didn't have a very "Sandy" like past but my husband loves me no matter what. We keep no secrets and he doesn't mind that I wasn't crystal pure when we met. (Unlike my mother who loves to remind me that she was virgin on her wedding day - like I care?) Sometimes, I wonder if a lot of our distorted views on things come more from us women allowing it to go on then it really being how the world sees us??

Robin said...

Just me, there was no question that I was seen as loose and promiscuous, even when I wasn't. This wasn't something I have perceived on my own. This is something that happened, it was real. It almost destroyed me. I cannot take the blame for that anymore than I can take the blame for losing my children to adoption.

Sandy Young said...

Robin,
I think that contacting the authorities in Indianapolis, and in your town, might be a good idea. The postal authorities at my old employer still have the case open, and I am sure they would be more than happy to join you in charges. They were very, very anxious for me to pursue it, when I worked at the University, but I didn't because I pitied the poor woman who was clearly off her rocker.

However, eventually, even a sick person needs to be held accountable for her actions.

Robin said...

Thanks, Sandy. I will look into it.

Just Me said...

I hope I didn't infer that it was in your head? I didn't mean that. And by no means are you to blame... Apologies if that's what you thought.

I'm a 70s baby so for me growing up in the 80s/90s and the age of Madonna made attitudes ease a little but my mom was still very much a product of her time; the 50s/60s. She tried to keep that stereotype of good girl / bad girl going in me but I wasn't having any of it. I always felt that what was good for the boys was good for me too. LOL!

Robin said...

I grew up in the late 40's through the mid '60's. Things, after that, eased a LOT. Even a woman with a sexy look, ala, Marilyn Monroe, etc., was seen as, at least, amoral, especially in th Bible Belt area. I felt shame for a long time, but I realized, before I got too old, that I didn't deserve the name that I was given. And remember, I was tagges as a slut before I ever actually had sex with the father of my daughter. It was unfair, but it happened all the time.