Around The Corner From Where He Grew Up

Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before testifying the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building at the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., September 27, 2018. Win McNamee/Pool via REUTERS

That photograph of her, standing against that background of wood veneer, in her dark blue suit, blond hair, black-rimmed glasses, hand raised, eyes closed.

It is seared, and every time I’ve come across it this morning it has stopped me cold. It is the very picture of bravery, for me, that photo is the very essence of it. Facing them, dredging up memories of some 36 years before,  in a public forum, the world watching. Courage. 

You are there in the room with her, you can almost hear the boys laughter at her expense, you can almost see Mark Judge as they locked eyes and she pleaded, you felt the fear, the violation, the escape to the bathroom, and scurrying out of the house once their inebriated laughter had faded down the stairs as they pinballed against the walls. The relief, you are safe. 

The justification for not saying a word, to anyone, 15-year-old girls of that time were not supposed to be drinking with boys, not when I was that age, and if you did you didn’t tell your parents. The sense that maybe it wasn’t so bad, he didn’t rape you, so maybe you should just not say anything to anyone, and you know that voice of derision, I know that voice, that lays inside, doubting our own better judgement, our guts screaming, our fear holding it in. 

For years maybe, holding it in, tucked up in the higher shelves of your inner closet, threatening to tumble down on you whenever you trigger the latch on the door. 

Against a backdrop now of the mayhem of the afternoon, the morning had but a  woman sitting in a room, the camera’s ringed on the floor, as mad men in suits and ties ringed all around her in silence, and with unquavering certainty answered every one of their questions they had not had the cajones to ask themselves. 

Yes, mad men in suits, I’ve known some, one in particular, or rather I imagine he maybe wears one to work, as he said he was a lawyer for Social Services here in London, Ontario. Met him because I had decided to break from the group I was with, out binge drinking ourselves stupid at our advanced years, all down Richmond Row like we were freshmen in College. For me, it had stupid written all over it. It was for that I broke from this group, most of which I’d never known well in High School anyway. 

It was an annual December pub crawl this group did, and I’d met one of them at the Local Heritage Book committee I joined the year I moved back to Dodge, after Tim’s death. I decided on a whim that day to go, if felt like a good thing to do, to meet new people. Decided because a relationship I’d been in, a brief one, had gone south like an anchor when the guy stood me up one sunny Saturday afternoon, and I was still hurt. Otherwise, I doubt I would have gone. 

But I did, and frankly I’d almost had enough, and maybe should have gone home right then, but hindsight is 20/20, and instead I decided to skip the next few hops and pop right to the end point, one of my go-to pubs when I decide to go out…somewhere I at the time thought of like a safe zone, ollie ollie in free, or something like that. 

I was wrong. Advice, from a lesson, learned – never break from the group if you are female, heck, even if your male, never break from the group.

Once you break from the group you are alone, and vulnerable, without the group.

But I didn’t think it was a big deal. The independent-minded chic that I am did not think of myself as vulnerable, which I guess was my second mistake; or, third, if you include not maybe going out at all, but a mute point now. 

I don’t even really completely recall meeting him, exactly, but it was around the same time the group I’d been with arrived, and they were milling about around me, but, I had broken from the group and therefore now my ties to it were weakened, I was now a victim. 

Maybe he put something in my drink, though I don’t know if he would have had to, but I didn’t have a hangover the next morning, and that was blawdy odd as hell. But I digress. 

Memories to this day are still foggy. Scenes of being at his door, maybe a friend there, I think, maybe I recall? He said there had been some other guy, and I think maybe he said his name, but those details are lost now and 5 years have gone by.

I awoke the next day with my front false tooth knocked out, although it took me some time to realize it, and when the horror of that struck was when the shock rolled in, and my mouth went dry, and it all sort of whirled around, and all I could think of, sitting there in that chair in his living room, all the way home when he drove me back to my little village, and sitting here afterwards, all I kept thinking was that just around the corner was where my Grandfather had grown up, and his father before, and that he’d been a Judge. Just around the corner. To this day I pray some fragment of his spirit still haunts him. 

Oddly, when I mentioned my great-grandfather was a Judge, his tone changed a little, and his face went a little pale. 

I still don’t remember his name, I used to know, I wrote it down I think once, maybe messaged it to a friend on Facebook, maybe, I think, but I haven’t bothered to look. I don’t remember what happened, exactly, but I know what happened, and it was confirmed what happened when he said, at my reaction to the loss of my tooth, once he’d handed it to me and it lay in a tissue in my hand, he said, I’m sorry, I may have been a bit rough

I’m not even certain I’d remember what he looked like, or not exactly, and not anymore, but I don’t know the details as I once did. I’ve thought, since, that I saw him, but it seemed a mirage, as afterwards, the face I realized was all wrong. I have often thought of cycling down the street I know it happened on, see if I can recall the house, but I’ve been afraid to, for fear of, I don’t even know of what, seeing him? Remembering more?

What I can say now, is it changed me. Not at first, but it did change me, bit by bit, nibbled away. It was that experience, and afterwards, over the years since, that I have come to understand the nature of consent, and what it means, and what it is, looks like, feels like, and that a drunk person is not able to give it. Strange, eh, that I woman in her late 40’s wouldn’t know this, but there you go. 

He had rough sex with me when I was hardly even able to walk into his house on my own, barely able to move on my own volition, completely inebriated, and unable to give consent. Yet, he had his way anyways, and I don’t even know, still, today, don’t know what to think, or even feel. 

And I look again and again at that photo, and I feel humbled in my admiration of her.  Regardless of what those men and women decide, she is the very face of bravery and brings forth accusations they should be insisting are investigated, else the highest court in the land will ever wear this taint.

3 thoughts on “Around The Corner From Where He Grew Up

  1. To many women, Dr.Ford was very credible. Many women don’t tell and these old men KNOW it. Kav knew the drinking age in his state. High School kids know this.
    And WOW did you see him fly off the handle like a shrew? Crying like a weak baby? An accused sexual abuser who shows bias and this level of instability shouldn’t be on the court. Because Republicans don’t really listen to, care or believe women, that Perjurer will be on our SCOTUS unless he can be impeached. We have to keep working.

    Liked by 1 person

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