I was talking to a co-worker this morning about the days when I was young and lived in a trailer park and spent many hours in the swimming pool there. It sparked a memory from those days that I doubt I've ever told anyone in my family (not that it was life-changing or anything), and it shows how far society has come (or regressed?) since then.
It was mid- to late-60's, and I swam like a fish. My mother's only rule was that I not swim alone, but it was NOT my fault that other folks in the trailer park didn't like to get up at 7:00 AM and go swimming. I think people routinely called her at work and told her I was in the pool alone. She would tell them to go tell me to go home, I would trudge home wet and disappointed and pissed off (didn't they teach us NOT to tattle?) and wait for some grown-ups (anyone over the age of 11) to appear at the pool, and the whole cycle would get repeated the next day.
The memory that I'm writing about, though, happened on a day when the pool was fairly crowded, probably on a weekend. There was a guy at the pool with whom I frequently "flirted" and played around. He was probably in his 20's and treated me like a kid sister. An annoying kid sister he wished he could send to her room. I ALWAYS thought he was teasing, even if he wasn't, and I persisted in being annoying. I have no idea to this day what his name was, nor would I recognize him if he walked in my living room right now. I was probably 7 or 8 years old when this incident took place.
He was sitting on the edge of the pool with his feet dangling in the water, and I swam up to pester him. I sucked up a mouthful of water and demonstrated clearly that I was going to spit it on him. He told me, sternly, a gazillion times NOT to spit the pool water on him. It was a hot day, though, and I couldn't see any reason he wouldn't want a mouthful of refreshing chlorinated water all over his chest.
At any rate, he really DID NOT want that, and I spit it on him anyway.
He rared back and slapped my face so hard I could swear my teeth rattled.
If that happened today, what do you think might happen? Channel 2 would be all over it, an arrest would surely take place, and there might even be a lawsuit. I don't mean MY FAMILY, but in these litigious days, the family of the slappee would sue the slapper so fast HIS teeth would rattle. He would go to jail for being a child abuser and the trailer park would have to hire a security guard (never mind that we didn't even have a LIFEguard) and the child in question would be in therapy until her honeymoon.
The memory is kind of hazy, but if I recall correctly, that young man left the pool area pretty quickly after the incident. One of my cheeks burned from the slap, and the other burned with embarrassment. I don't think anyone had ever told me up to that point that I was anything but cute and adorable. I couldn't believe I had tarnished my relationship with this cool dude (he may have been a college student, but I'll never know) by being such a brat.
He may have left the pool because he was afraid I had a parent or a big brother who would come up there and kick his arse. Or he may have left the pool because an annoying little piss-ant of a frizzy-headed girl had ruined his mood for swimming and sunning.
If I HAD gone running home to tell what had happened, what would have been the consequences? My mother MIGHT have gone up there to tell the guy to keep his *$!#& hands off her daughter, even if she WAS being a brat. My eldest brother MIGHT have gone up there just because he was always spoiling for a fight. I think it's more likely, however, that provided with the details of what I had done, anyone in my family would have come to the conclusion that I got what I deserved.
After the embarrassment wore off, that's what I thought myself. I probably never told anyone in my family because they would have been happy to slap my OTHER jaw.