Bobbie Jo Morrell is a mountain woman, poet, writer, leathercrafter, rustic furniture builder, cat owner, technical writer, website designer. She says, “Colorado’s Front Range, with the smell of pine trees in the cool air of morning, is my home.” Her blog address:

Read earlier chapters of Deeper Warrior

___________________________________________________________________________________________Deeper the police

Warrior Chapter 3: The Police

Alex had been a serious punk rocker before her family moved to Iowa, so when she learned that her  friends, the English Beat, were opening for Sting and The Police at the Five Seasons Center, she encouraged us to spend $12.50 for tickets and all drive there together.

So we loaded up in Gina’s Toyota and drove two hours to Cedar Rapids. There was no reserved seating—it was general admission to the floor. You know, like The Who concert a couple of years before in Cincinnati, where 11 people were trampled to death.

Gina and Rustam retreated to the balcony to sit down in safety. Alex and Cindy decided to try to get as close to the stage as possible. I followed Alex and Cindy. God forbid anyone should think I’m a coward.

Before the show started people were milling around, handing out illicit substances of various sorts. Dodging around those huddles, we moved toward the stage.

The crowd tightened up when the English Beat began to play, but we were able to stay together close to the front. Cindy and I grinned at each other as Alex shouted until she was hoarse.

Then Sting and The Police took the stage. In a sudden massive push I was separated from Alex and Cindy and wedged tightly in front of the huge main speakers, with no more than five rows of people in front of me.

The mass of humanity shifted and heaved periodically, but there was no escape. Deafened by the speakers, drenched in sweat—my own and that of the strangers packed around me—I focused intently on not falling down. If I had passed out, though, I would have been held upright by the crowd. For awhile anyway.

The Police rocked the house. I barely listened, concentrated on breathing and not falling down. At every tiny opportunity I tried to shift toward the edge of the crowd. Concentration became difficult though, because breathing meant inhaling the heavy cloud of pot smoke that covered us all.

My sense of time became distorted, ethereal. Did they play for two hours, or two days? My whole world shrank down to the boundary of my skin, a tiny piece of floorspace, and the pounding in my ears. Then, somehow, it was over. The music stopped—though my ears rang for three days after—the crowd loosened up, and I found myself staring stupidly at Alex while she chatted up members of the English Beat at the side of the stage.

Muddled by my first experience of spliff, I slept on the way home—until a most vivid, sexually explicit dream woke me up. What the hell? I looked around, re-oriented. Alex’s head was bouncing on my right shoulder, Cindy’s on my left, both asleep. Rustam and Gina were conversing quietly in the front seat.

What the hell?

A few weeks later, John, one of the blue belts, was getting married. Gina had made him a cake, one appropriate for a bachelor party. On top of the usual rectangle of chocolate reclined a voluptuous female nude with the proportions of a Barbie doll—fashioned in frosting by her talented hands.

Gina was unable to deliver it in person so the task of crashing the bachelor party with a nudie cake fell to Alex and me.

We were greeted at the door by the groom himself. One of his groomsmen was passed out on the floor in front of the TV, where an X-rated video was playing. The others gathered around to appreciate the artistry of the cake.

Bottles of beer blossomed everywhere and we raised a toast to the groom while he partook of the cake in a manner appropriate to the occasion—without benefit of knife, fork, or even hands. We roared with laughter, drank more beer. Then someone got the idea that it would be fun to go swimming. In the middle of the night. Without swimsuits. In a public pool. You know, trespassing.

We piled into two cars, Alex and me in hers, John and the conscious groomsmen in the other, and we drove to the county pool.

“It’s closed,” I kept saying, and Alex kept laughing at me.

The pool was lit by a single mercury vapor lamp, buzzing alone in the sultry midnight air. We parked in shadow, and the others ran laughing toward the fence.

“It’s trespassing,” I said weakly, apparently to myself. I followed them, and with some coaxing, climbed the seven foot chain link and dropped to the other side. They quickly shed their clothing and jumped into the pool. I stripped more slowly, slipping nervously into the water. God forbid anyone should think I’m a coward.

There was a lot of laughing and splashing in the forbidden waters. Then floating there, I looked up at the naked man standing at the side of the pool—a man who was getting married the next day. If the police came—trespassing, indecent exposure, public intoxication—what would his bride say if he was caught cavorting unclothed with two other women?

When it was time to leave, I followed without hesitation. The others decided to bust into another pool, belonging to a set of apartment buildings, for another round of skinny-dipping. This time I said to Alex, “I can’t.”

“OK,” she replied, running to join the guys. She might coax, but never coerce or condemn.

While they enjoyed another fence-climbing forbidden dip, I sat in the car banging my head against the back of the high bucket seat. I thought, “I only had two beers tonight, I’m not even drunk.”  Usually when I did something risky and insane, it was because I was blotto.

After avoiding alcohol all through high school, I discovered and embraced its anesthetic qualities my freshman year in college. A glass of wine here and there, then sharing three-liter bottles of Rhine wine with Carol or mixing up rum and Coke by the quart.

And that one time when I went home with Carol—we met up with one of her high school friends and went to the only bar in her little home town. We chatted up the bartender amid the Friday night crowd, and he got us started on one of his special drinks. It involved lemonade and God knows what else, and after several of these I apparently found the bartender’s dark blond hair and bushy mustache irrestistible. Carol told me later that he and I indulged in quite an impressive kissing-fest.

The rest of the night is a drunken blur: Carol and I wobbling our way back to her parents house and upstairs to her room. I passed out—and came to in the middle of falling down the stairs. Carol’s mom appeared at the bottom, concern on her face and amusement in her voice.

I regained my feet, collected what little dignity there was to be had, and said, “I’m fine—going to the bathroom. Shorry to dishturb you…”

Drinking excessively and finding men, strange or known, to kiss became a regular and unfortunate habit. The martial arts provided plenty of opportunities for this. Very often the groups would go dancing at Grandaddy’s; I would drink rum and coke or amaretto sours until the inhibitions were greased up and sliding all over.

Like walking around in a famous Iowa midnight thunderstorm with that one guy—what was his name?—lightning flashing all round, downpour soaking us as we stopped every few steps to indulge in public displays of affection. Or Mitch, always taking magnums of Bolla Valpolicella to the back shelter at Brookside Park during thunderstorms. They seemed terribly romantic times; I wish I could remember them better.

Martial artists, international students, random bartenders—alcohol opened the door to a shadow of intimacy for me, so otherwise isolated. But fear drew a boundary: the clothes always stayed on—if a drunken revel seemed headed towards nakedness, ingrained dark-closet-terror took over—no matter how blotto I was.

Like that night when I passed out and the next thing I knew my friends had gone and I was alone with an unknown man, who was trying to guide me into his bedroom. Probably he just wanted to put me to bed to sleep it off—but I refused to pass the threshold. It was snowing outside, but somehow I navigated my Pinto across town without obvious incident. Except that when I woke up next day, I couldn’t find my glasses. I panicked, because I couldn’t remember what the guy’s name was, or exactly where he lived. Fortunately I found my glasses on the passenger seat of the car. I guess I was having trouble seeing on the way home and thought taking them off would help.

That Greek fellow almost made it through my defenses, with his suave kindness and bottles of special brandy from Cyprus. But still terror wouldn’t let me go there.

Even at that party just a few weeks ago, at the apartment of some of the men from the International Students group. After consuming a vast quantity of self mixed screwdrivers, I burst into uncontollable weeping and they put me to bed in another room—fully clothed. Thankfully Gina was there, and she and Rustam sat with me all night, concerned that I might do something drastic as I alternately slept it off and cried out my woe. The next day she told me that I’d kissed every man in the room before breaking down.

The male stripper night had freaked me out because of watching men become naked. But my clothes always stayed on—until tonight. Tonight I’d crossed that boundary.

I went to the wedding next day at Memorial Lutheran Church, unable to meet the eyes of anyone. The groom looked like he had a bad hangover.

story by bobbie jo morrell, all rights reserved

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