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Ladies Wrestling Article

The Seventies and the Opposite Sex By Gail Walter

It is impossible for me to separate the era of the seventies from my transition from girl into woman. I was thirteen in 1970 and suddenly so aware of the difference between myself and the opposite sex who were just coming into vivid and irresistible focus. I was one of three sisters and the daughter of a loving but distant workaholic of a man. Boys were something exotic, so exotic that I couldn't string two words together in their glorious company.
All of this interfered with my possibilities of actually getting one of these strange creatures to become what boys were meant to be, boyfriends. I was a strange mixture; well read, with a fertile imagination and absolutely zero real life experience. It was not a particularly successful recipe. Because of all my reading, my love affair with music and my wild, unfettered imagination I was oh so ready to turn fiction into fact.
I had a capacity for falling in love unmatched by anyone else I know and unrestrained by any need for reciprocity. In my last year at primary school I fell irrevocably in love with words AND my gangly English teacher who must have been at least 25 years older than I was.
School for me was not the most inspiring place. I was quiet and retiring on the surface but a secret revolutionary developing a silent but burgeoning dislike of authority in all its forms. I had a couple of special friends but was never invited to join the 'in' crowd. My personality was still forming. I had no way of impressing it on anyone. I had zero marketing capacity so I could never sell my coolness so that there would be buyers.
My English teacher was tall and desperately skinny with a long bony nose upon which rested a considerable pair of thick glasses. I was thirteen and didn't see any of that. What I saw was a frustrated poet who was teaching us the language by playing us haunting songs. In one lesson he introduced our young minds to the trio, Peter, Paul and Mary and their plaintive "Leaving on a Jet Plane". It was hard not to cry for all the world's farewells, right there, in class.
In another lesson we listened to Simon and Garfunkel singing "Sounds of Silence". As the last notes died away he handed out printed sheets with the words and we were told to analyze them. It was my first taste of a bigger, more lyrical world out there and the nature of the human condition. I will never forget the effect the poignant words had on me and the powerful images they brought up. Here is the rousing last verse:
"And the people bowed and prayed, To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning, In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls." and whisper'd in the sounds of silence."
Later, when I turned fifteen, I went on a rather special family holiday. Our normal holidays were spent camping in tents. This time we stayed in a lovely old colonial hotel in the highlands. I first saw him across from our family table in the diningroom. He was alone at his table. Tall, dark haired with beard and moustache, he was about ten years too old for me. He was, however, around the age of all the men in the books I was absorbing by osmosis at the time.
I followed him around for the rest of the holiday. I maintained just enough distance so that he never knew I existed but I still cried silently in the backseat of the Opel Cadett all the way home. I was fifteen, he was my secret love and I didn't know how I would learn to live without him.
My real life excursions into the world of romance were hardly more satisfying. Because I had an aura of mystery, which was really just social incompetence, I did finally manage to attract two rather desirable young boys, who were considered catches. I say two because they were in quick succession. One was a lovely looking sweetie pie disguised as a bit of a bruiser, the other was a golden haired poet disguised as a golden haired poet.
If I could have actually spoken to boys I think I would have had more to say to Adam, the golden poet than to the endearing but less complex John. Needless to say I could hold hands and even kiss but both relationships ultimately folded because I really didn't know what you said to boys when all that was done.
So it's hard for me to look at that era objectively, without stars in my eyes. It's hard for me not to think that the boys and men of the seventies didn't have a little something extra, something tough but whimsical that is probably nothing more than their counterparts today but so much more vivid because of the hormonal status of my being at the time.
uncommonwriting uncommonwriting
Gail_Walter Gail_Walter

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