FOR THE LOVE OF HOLLY

 

My name is Holly Bond.  OK, add your joke.  My teachers were nice.  They gently teased me about being one of the Bond Girls.  It was a joke you had to explain to a lot of the kids in my generation.  James Bond was known as secret agent 007 and he had a series of glamorous girlfriends in his movies.  I was the fifth and final member of the girls from the Michigan Street Bond girls.  We also had 3 brothers but there were no Bond Boys in the movies.

My older sisters were athletes and I was no exception.  I always liked sports and my particular pursuits were basketball and track.  I didn’t set any records but it was fun.  Two of my sisters and two of my brothers actually got partial scholarships to college but I wasn’t at their skill level.  My parents treated us “second-stringers” like we were just as important as anyone.  Truthfully, all of my siblings were better athletes than I but I enjoyed playing.  Looking back, I can see that maybe I hid a little bit in athletics to avoid what I considered my failures at being real popular socially.  I mean, I had friends and a few dates but my siblings had all been very popular.

My dad called me princess and he had a cute nickname for each of us as we came along.  My parents were good parents.  There was not a lot of arguing and when it came to one of us challenging the rules, we generally were up against a united front.  I guess we all took our turn at being a little rebellious and Mom and Dad would sometimes make us laugh when we took an especially preposterous stance.  I love my mom and dad.  My sisters were cool and I could always go to them with problems when I was too embarrassed to talk to Mom.

By the time I hit high school as a freshman I had a brother who was junior class president and a prominent athlete and a sister who was a senior and co-captain of the basketball team when she wasn’t runner-up as homecoming queen.  Some of the older kids were in college and one had already married and presented 2 delighted grandparents with babies we all couldn’t get enough of.  I may be a little prejudiced but my niece and nephew just may be the 2 cutest and smartest babies ever. 

It was clear from day one I’d never be a great athlete.  Mom and Dad still drove me around to every event and while there weren’t many clippings, Dad added mine and all the pictures he took to the family scrapbook.  I worked hard to please them and while I sat the bench a lot, you’d have thought I was a star.  Mom always prepared a special pre-game meal for us on our game days.  I sometimes felt like the chief klutz of the Bond Girls (and boys) but you wouldn’t have known it from watching my family support me.

I wanted to think I was kind of cute but I was probably just real average looking. I tried to have a perky personality like my sisters but I guess I was a little self-conscious.  I didn’t exactly ever have a movie star’s figure. Dad always said I was a “knockout” but he was a dad and probably had to say stuff like that.

I wasn’t much into boys and dating.  I read a book in junior high about a girl who thought she was the ugliest girl in school even though she wasn’t.  In the story she would always say smart aleck things to anyone, especially boys, if they looked like they were trying to get to know her.  She pushed everyone away before they had a chance to push her away. I wasn’t that bad.  I had friends and I’d had a boy or two ask me out.   I didn’t try to drive anyone away but I wondered if I was doing it without realizing it.  The book I read said the girl was subconsciously trying to keep from getting rejected or having her feelings hurt.  She didn’t want to be embarrassed so she always struck first.

I tried to talk to one of my sisters about how I felt about myself.  Andrea had once been nominated for homecoming queen and she was really popular.  I told her I felt like I was dull looking with a zero personality.  She said everyone thinks that and she added, “In the back of my mind I’m always thinking that.”  I was stunned. I’d gone to her hoping for support and she said everyone thought I was dull looking with a zero personality including her.  I was crushed but suddenly she caught on and laughed. “No, no, I meant all of us think that about ourselves sometimes.” She assured me I was as pretty and interesting as any of my big shot classmates.  She said everyone secretly worries about stuff like that.  She said even she does. That really helped and I felt a lot more confident. I still had doubts but I knew I was in good company.  All in all, school was pretty good and I had a lot of fun.

I had a social life but I think my older brothers and sisters were the real social creatures of the family.  My girlfriends all had steady and/or serious boyfriends.  And they talked about how serious they were.  Sometimes it seemed like I was the only one without an active love (read: sex) life.  Mom had had “the talk” with me and I had the advantage of older sisters who schooled their little sister in all things she needed to know. Mom was pretty open about stuff and she told me to always be sure what I was doing was what I wanted to do, not what I was pressured to do. Ours was a progressive school district.  Sex education started in elementary school and by high school we’d heard the whole drill from condoms to STDs and beyond.

I was pretty sure I knew it all.  I just didn’t feel inclined to have the kind of serious boyfriend everyone felt was such a mark of belonging.  I had dates but I just never felt the excitement the videos said I needed to keep in control of if I was going to protect myself.

William and I dated my senior year.  He was also a senior and we both had missed a full year of schooling in elementary school due to illness.  We were both a year older than the other seniors and I probably had some stupid sense of urgency about turning the ripe old age of 19 as an old maid. We got a little serious once in a while.  I can’t say I was especially enjoying everything but it was a new experience to have someone be that interested in me. One night I finally decided to find out what all the excitement was about.  His parents were away and we were in their family room.  He was determined but I was willing too.  Romeo had a condom and he pulled it from his pocket and left it unopened on the table as we gyrated and maneuvered.  I tried to be eager and I don’t think he had to make a conscious effort to be excited.  It hurt and I wasn’t feeling anything like the Roman candles or skyrockets I’d expected.  Twice I reminded him of the condom and he agreed, grunted and continued what he was doing.  I finally used that great Bond Girl athleticism to get free of him and try to open and apply the condom as we had been taught in sex ed class.  In class we giggled as Mrs. Wallace had us practice putting a condom on a fairly large cucumber.  I’m not sure why she chose that particular vegetable.  Maybe it was to intimidate us or maybe that was all she had in the refrigerator that morning.  Those thoughts crossed my mind as I worked to equip my writhing “lover” and I wanted to giggle at the thought I was dealing with more of a carrot than a cucumber. I was struggling to accomplish the task when William, how shall I say this, when William “finished” his mission.  It was a mess and he groaned like the piano had suddenly fallen on him.  He tensed and I could only think about how we’d hide the evidence of our “love affair for one.”  I eventually just reversed the couch cushions, hoping our encounter would go unnoticed until I was long out of the picture.  Prince Charming took the princess home after we rearranged clothes and put throw pillows back in place.  I honestly felt nothing good or bad and had no problem returning William’s good night kiss. I went to sleep assuring myself it would probably be a lot better when I met the right guy.

We dated several times and made love twice more.  Well, actually, he had sex with me twice.  Again I was eager to experience what this was all about.  His hands, his lips, nothing seemed to mean more than just an experience.  I liked him as much as any boy I’d known but I didn’t lust after him in my secret moments.  He at least got a little smoother at using a condom.  He would have been a good friend but sex kind of complicated that and we became just acquaintances after we broke up.

 I eagerly looked forward to college.  I thought I could find that special guy there.  I didn’t.  I had 2 dates and I was wondering if I was some kind of weirdo.  I didn’t even get a good night kiss out of either date. 

Athletics had always been my passion and I began working out in the college gym as kind of a comfort activity.  There were several intramural sports for women and I found myself enjoying learning to play tennis.  I played a girl in the fall league and she told me about a loosely organized women’s athletic center called “The Island.”

I had tried working out in the coed gym but college men can be kind of boisterous and obnoxious.  It was harmless I guess but you had to encounter stares and sometimes cruel and obnoxious comments.

The Island was formed by a woman’s coach and it was a safe haven for women to work out.  They’d had a few fundraisers and had accumulated some used treadmills, elliptical trainers and free weights all of which were made available in a large room provided by the university.  It was fun and safe and they even had a Yoga instructor provide a regular class.

I was at the Island when I met Lisha. That’s how she spells it—it was short for Alisha.  I’d always respected an athletic build.  My brothers had trained for football and basketball with weights in the garage.  Some of the boys in high school had been in bodybuilding and the college gym was always populated with guys working out specific muscles in front of a mirror.  I said I appreciated the look but to be honest, I never found it attractive and certainly not sexually stimulating.  And then I saw Lisha working out.  She was trim and her muscles were smoothly defined but not bulky. Her skin was tanned and smooth.  I found myself watching her the very first day.  She looked up and smiled a most beautiful smile.  I felt something stirring in my body and I busied myself with a barbell.  I looked at a chart and began doing what it called curls.  I was never a weight lifter and even without weights on the bar, I was struggling to throw the device into the prescribed position.  I tried to do 20 repetitions and eventually I lowered the bar in exhaustion.

I was embarrassed to see the woman I’d watched, now watching me.  She introduced herself and I responded with my name. I felt nervous.  She asked me if I would accept some advice and I joked about how big my muscles felt already.  She laughed as she took the bar and had me rest before having me shake my arms to relax them further.  She demonstrated the curl, making sure I saw that the back was to be firm and motionless. She handed me the bar and showed me how to slowly raise it and lower it.  “You should feel this right here,” she said as her fingers gently grasped my bicep with a slight wiggling motion.  I almost dropped the bar.  I couldn’t explain the almost electrical stimulation I felt.  We worked out the rest of the night and she walked me home to my dorm.  I had the most powerful desire to touch her as we walked.  My mind was going a mile a minute.  I had trouble getting to sleep that night.

We had agreed to meet the next night for another session—this one on the treadmills.  We met 2 more nights and interspersed our workouts with stories about our families and high school years.  It was driving me crazy.  I never felt what I was feeling ever before.  Whenever she touched me I felt warm and excited.  One night we walked home and I was wondering if she was having similar thoughts as I was having. Suddenly her hand found mine as we walked and it was not the platonic grip of two friends.  We got to my dorm and I couldn’t take my eyes off her lips.  She moved closer to me and I responded by eagerly almost bumping her.  She guided us over into the darkness and I got a most wonderful and passionate kiss.  My knees were week and I could almost feel my heart pounding.  I pressed myself to her and she responded similarly. The next night we went to her dorm suite.  She had arranged for us to be alone. She had 2 roommates who were “Island Girls.”  I didn’t think we could go to my dorm as I had three roommates.

While I was alone with Lisha the first time  I learned who I was and I learned I really liked who I was.  I learned a lot of things that night and the following nights.  I found the Roman candles and skyrockets that had always eluded me in the past.

It’s been weeks since I willingly and eagerly came under Lisha’s gentle and passionate attention.  I was in romantic love for the first time in my life.  In an hour I would be driving home to see my family and my old friends. It was the Christmas break and I thought about my older siblings and how they came back from their first semester in college.  I was able to hear some of the gushing talk about dating and the breathless freedom college afforded. In a short time I’d be home and girlfriends would be calling and we’d get together just like my older sisters had.  There’d be parties and boys and I remembered how different my sisters had been when they returned.

I guessed I was going to be the most different of all.  One day it dawned on me just which mythical island the Island Girls had named their haven after.  It was appropriate. And we were on an island—isolated and sometimes made to feel less than good and valuable by those who didn’t understand us. I’d soon struggle with coming out to my parents and the rest of the family.  My new friends had told me personal stories of acceptance, rejection and parental disbelief.  I wanted to have my dad call me his princess again.  It wasn’t for me, I’d long outgrown that; it was for him.  I wondered what my mom would say. I wanted to tell her about Lisha.  I wondered, hoped actually, that they already knew. I worried I would crush them.  They didn’t deserve that and I thought about not telling them my secret. I needed them to know what I knew.  It was bad enough people tried to make me feel so different, so terrible.  I felt cold and alone.  I started to panic when I turned onto Michigan Street.  I had absolutely no clue how they would respond to their princess.  I was so scared I was trembling.

                                                                  

                                                        From "Just Passing Through"
                                                        Copyright 2018 Bill Stockland