Chapter 16

At some point I became aware that our normally sub-humble houses became, in whatever forsaken dump we might be living at the given time, a big red star on the roadmap of local boys.  Four beautiful blonde daughters under one roof.  This had to incite and excite, I came to realize.

 

The very appearance of the new preacher’s family, generally imported after he had settled in and wrangled the new flock of sheep, was in itself a major event for young males, though I was innocent of that thought during my more tender years.  I don’t think Bethany ever figured it out.  Ironically, and not all that comfortably,  the introduction of our golden foursome had the immediate effect of inculcating lust in a number of hearts.  A sin in itself, I might point out.

 

So poor Daddy, man of God–disciple of all things clean and holy and temperate–was blessed by that very same God, apparently, with four daughters who were absolute raving male magnets.  He often said how glad he was to have been given daughters, and I figured out he was uncomfortable around young men, even my brother Powell.  So what he got was half a county of young men, and some not so young, sniffing around his home like hounds circling a coon in a tree.  Bad enough to have a bunch of rambunctious young hard-heads swarming around, it was pretty obvious what they were swarming after.  And at some point even he must have realized that much of the swarm activity was not totally in vain.

It’s amazing really (or a tribute to us girls not only being smarter than average, but also with a tendency to take calculating views of things rather than succumb to wildfire passion) that he wasn’t also bequeathed by that same capricious God with any number of grandchildren conceived and dedicated without the benefit of churchly rites and pedigrees.  Not that there weren’t some close calls.  And a couple of interventions that owed a lot more to medical science than to prayer and steadfastness.  Which he never knew about because it would have crushed him to find out.  He loved God, he worshipped life, he adored girls, he fawned over babies.  His ideas on after-the-fact birth control were about the same as the Pope, but for different reasons.

 

Looking back on it, there was funny side effect for me, growing up in treasure trove of titties, tail, and tear-bringers.  Like I’ve mentioned a bit, I always had a deep-seated awareness that I was special.  That rules didn’t necessarily apply to me, that I could do things other couldn’t manage, that I was due things that others weren’t.  I can’t even call it egotism, really.  It was just something I accepted and generally tried not to abuse.  And it was borne out on a daily basis, strengthening my already rock-solid faith.  Most of the early evidence came from sports and physical competition.  I didn’t see beauty contests as a big builder: more of an obligation than anything.  It was only after leaving home that I started finding out just what benefits looks could bring, but that was just a subset of my general specialness.

 

But at home, I was no big deal.  Just one more of the golden flow of  shining eyes, glowing countenances, improbable bodies, quick wits, and gifts of movement and grace.   Compared to Flora Lee, I was generic.  I think that helped me keep things in perspective, too.  I always assumed that there were other special people around me, and that they could be better at what the situation called for than I was.  And that I should study them on how to get better at it.  My sports got a lot better when we moved to the city and I got more competition.  I never had a problem with anybody beating me.  My idea was, you dust off, thank them, and ask them for a few tips.  Moving to catcher in high school threw me because there was nobody around better at it.  I studied films, library books.  My frosh year in college, I realized I had to step up like never before and the varsity catcher wasn’t all that good.  Might have been a reason they worked harder on getting my scrawl on their Letter Of Intent.  But I was in an even bigger urban area then, so I looked for it.  I asked around the industrial leagues, looked up alumni, stalked baseball pros.  What I found was that they were almost always happy to take time to help me excel.

Modeling was even more so.  I had no experience in that, and there’s more to it than it looks like.  I picked up a lot from older women, things that helped me earn a lot more than I would have just voguing around being picturesque like a lot of the girls.  I try to pass things on, too.  But I’m not all that good at teaching people things.  I’ve coached a little, but I don’t think I helped out much.  Lots of times I end up coaching women’s teams that are basically just promo for skin mags or strip clubs.  Not a matter or enriching talent, there, just helping girls without much experience play a better game.  When all the spectators really care about is watching their tits bounce in bikini tops as they run around.

 

But anyway, it was peculiar coming up with the whole church pose on the one hand, and on the other living in Blondieland, where sitting out on the porch on a weekend evening felt like waiting for business to pick up in a whorehouse.  I don’t know how many preachers’ homes get to be the favored hang-out for hot high school tramps, but a lot of girls figured out it was where a lot of action jumped off and would come bring a six pack of Pepsi and a bag of chips to sit out front with me and Selah and Flora and wait for cars full of guys to drop by for visits.  Not Bethany’s pals, of course.  They’d be off somewhere praying away sins and buffing up for spelling bees or some such.  I would have to say that we increased attendance greatly at his churches.  Mysterious are the ways of the Lord.