When I was around 14 years old I used to babysit the children of a family who lived just a couple of doors from us.
They were Polish and very fashionable sorts. Always having people over, always going to the movies and out to dinner. It was a great atmosphere when I went to visit.
This was the mid 1970’s and their home was an architect designed suburban block that stood out like a sore thumb amongst the 1920’s bungalows that nestled next to it. Archways, textured white bricks, cream shag pile carpet, orange laminex kitchen and velour covered couches were the style. The bedrooms were covered in geometric and bold wallpaper.
I thought they were fabulous. Her with her beautiful black wavy hair, large brown eyes and thick Polish accent. Him with his Burt Reynolds moustache and lazy gaze. He had a motorbike and took me for a ride around the park on the back. No helmet, him bare chested. I remember having to hang onto his waist as he drove over the grassy slopes around the park. It made me very self conscious but kind of thrilled as well.
Both of them always wore the latest fashion. Once they went ice skating and when I came over to babysit their son and daughter, I was amazed at their matching outfits. Denim, quilted jeans with red stitching and matching vest worn over a white t-shirt. In hindsight, it was really hideous, but at the time it sure looked pretty good to me.
One time I went over to say hello to them and they had lots of visitors. One of the visitors was a guy who probably thought he was rather handsome. I suppose he was, but at that age I just thought he was some old bloke. He had blonde curly hair, a matching moustache (it was the 70’s) and on this particular day he was wearing a pair of black leather pants and a white shirt.
I recall very clearly that on that day I felt particularly attractive as my sister had given me a really nice dress that she no longer liked. It was a going out dress, but I decided to wear it anyway. It was black and a bit off the shoulder with a black ruffle along the hem. It was possibly a bit grown up, but I did not mind. When you are around 14, feeling grown up is nothing to do with feeling sexual, it is just about feeling pretty I suppose.
Anyway, this guy had bought himself a lovely, chocolate brown Triumph Stag. It was just gorgeous and as I was peering into the interior of the open top dream car, this guy came out, keys jingling in his pocket, and asked me if I wanted to go for a drive. I thought it would be fine. So I got in the passenger side and he jumped in, started the car and off we drove.
I can still remember the purring sound of that V8 engine as he accelerated off. The top was down and the wind slipped in and out of the car, pulling at my hair like a mini tornado. My black dress blew up from my lap and showed my legs. This guy was chatting to me as he drove. He said my dress was beautiful and then he put on a cassette and the sound of Dire Straits thumped out from the speakers in the doors and parcel shelf. It was so cool. I was so cool.
When we got back, I hopped out of the car and went home with a happy skip in my walk. What a cool car. My dress was beautiful. Dire Straits were the best band in the world.
The next day I was at home alone when the wife of this couple came over for a visit. I thought she wanted to see mum but it was me that she wanted to speak to.
We sat down at the kitchen table. I was wondering if I had done something wrong as she was looking rather serious.
Then she asked me if I knew the facts of life. I mumbled that I knew that you had to have sex to have babies. I mean to say, my older sister had gotten up the duff at 14 years old.
Well, this obviously was not a good enough answer from me as she started to go into more detail about it than I cared for. She talked about how a man’s penis got engorged with blood as he became aroused and this would make it nice and hard for when engaging in sex. My face was engorged with blood by this stage, so much so that I swear the hair on my head lifted to escape from the heat on my scalp. I mean, she even had the hand gestures to match the description.
This conversation went on for around half an hour. She used words like “juices” and “orgasm” and “oral sex”. It was so graphic I just wanted her to get out of the house. I mean, I wanted to watch fucking television, not talk about what old people did when they had a bonk. How revolting. It was Saturday afternoon movie time not “sex education” time.
Instead I nodded politely and kept my beetroot coloured face as passive as I could.
After a while she figured that she had gotten the message across. Whatever message that was I did not exactly know. After she left, I tried to settle into watching a movie, but felt so put out by the unwelcome visit that I just put on a record and lay around listening to music instead.
A couple of weeks later I was babysitting one evening again. Whilst I was at their house, the phone rang. It was the Stag guy. I told him that his friends were out and that I was babysitting. He asked me if I wanted him to come over to keep me company. I recalled the sex education discussion that had taken place not so long ago and made some sort of hideous association. I declined his offer and hung up the phone.
Looking back, I think she must have realised I was quite naive and that Mr Stag would have seen me as a juicy piece to tackle. She had a duty to educate me with the cold, hard facts.
She probably did me a favour.
But still I associate the Triumph Stag with some sort of delicious freedom and groovy sexuality.