I was reminded today of an episode that happened to me when I was a very young girl.
When I was about eleven years old, my mother and father moved to a place called Upper FernTree Gully. I know we were not there for very long, perhaps just under a year.
We lived in a 1970’s house which was sort of up a hill I suppose. I do recall the walk home from school made me huff and puff a bit. The house itself was on a big, steep block and full of gum trees. Further up the hill were bigger and much older original houses. Backing onto those houses was predominantly dense bushland. It was quite spooky to me to live so near the bush.
Not far from me was a girl I used to go to school with. Her name was Lynette. Her family were fairly rough. Very typical Aussie’s and completely different to my family. But she was really the only person I had to play with so my parents just let me run free.
Her father drank beer and lots of it. He had the standard big fat beer gut that hung over his stubbies. He wore the traditional uniform of the Aussie blue collar worker- the blue singlet and shorts. Always had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and swore a lot.
Her mother was always doing something around the house. I am not sure what though as there was always the most enormous pile of ironing in the kitchen and mountains of dishes piled up in the kitchen sink. Both the ironing and the dishes were always appearing to be on the brink of teetering over and falling onto the laminex table. Her family ate sausages or chops nearly every night of the week, except for Sunday’s, when they had a roast, and Friday night, when it was fish.
Lynette was one of these girls who would never get fat no matter what she ate. She was as lean as a greyhound with a sharp, pointy face. She was the youngest of four girls and also had an older brother. There was a rather odd relationship with the mother and the daughters. They all had to shave their pubic hair off and keep it shaved off until they moved out of home to be married.
I have not the faintest idea what that was about, but the memory of it stuck in my mind. I do recall thinking that to be very intrusive.
I was a bit of a trouble maker. Not overtly naughty, but, like any eleven year old child left to run free in daylight hours, I was inclined to be sneaky. Lynette and I used to steal milk and bread left on some of the neighbours doorsteps on weekends. One neighbour used to get delivered the crustiest white bread each Sunday. Twice I recall stealing it and Lynette and I sat and stuffed ourselves with the entire loaf.
Lynette’s house was a cream brick affair and set up quite high. Underneath was a dark storage area which was almost as big as the house itself and full of all sorts of old furniture, bathroom fittings and rusting pushbikes. The only light coming in was via a very grimy window set quite high. There were cobwebs everywhere and the place was dirty and dusty.
Across the road from Lynette lived two brothers. Looking back I can see that they were probably future jail attendees. One was fourteen and his brother was sixteen. They had a look of worldliness about them. Or so I thought.
At eleven I was still playing with dolls. I had a dolls house and read Enid Blyton books. I was a child even though I had started puberty, my mind was that of a child.
One day the brothers came over to “hang out”. The younger brother smoked and showed us how he could do smoke rings. He offered me a drag but I found the smell too awful. Besides, I remember thinking that if I had a puff my mother would smell it on me and give me a hiding.
We decided to play hide and seek. The boys would look for Lynette and I. Whilst they were counting I ran into that dark storage area and squeezed myself tightly between an old wardrobe and a pedestal basin.
I was so well hidden, it took the youngest brother a long time to find me. By the time he sought me out my legs were aching with being in such a cramped position. He had to help me stand up.
In my mind, when playing hide and seek, once you were found it was then your turn to do the searching. In his mind, when you found your victim you had to kiss them. He grabbed my shoulders with his hands, pulled me awkwardly towards him and pressed his mouth onto mine. I was so hideously shocked that I half opened my mouth to object and he stuck his tongue into it.
I was disgusted. Seriously upset. I pushed him away and ran all the way home. When I got home I somehow composed myself and went into my bedroom. I knew that if my mother had any idea what had happened, she would be angry at me and then tell my father. Even at that age, I had learnt all about keeping things to myself. Honesty was not the safest policy in my childhood home.
Later on that night I lay in bed and went over the whole afternoon. Although really upset at the event, I was kind of excited as well. But, I also felt really ashamed at that excitement. All terribly confusing for a young girl.
Fortunately, future kisses were of a more pleasurable calibre.
But I still recall that first kiss, the shock of feeling his tongue touch mine, the taste of cigarette smoke from his mouth and his smirking smile as I ran off like a scared little rabbit.