My Favorite Pedophile
Elvia was my first pedophile . During the early years of WWII my father worked in a Mexican Copper mine. He was a mining engineer, and we lived in a hilltop compound above the mine, near a small village. My mother taught school there in English, using the Calvert System, a British mail order curriculum that completed 8 grades in 6 years. I had been raised in many small mining towns, often with one room schools, where a curious child may tend to leap frog ahead of his years. Not quite 11, I was ready to start high school at the end of the year.
To make it possible for my mother to teach, we had a cook, whose younger sister, Elvia, was housekeeper and laundress. On weekdays both my parents left early for work, while I went off to school about an hour later. Elvia was young, flirty and playful; she soon began to ‘goose‘ me as I walked by, while her older sister frowned in amused disapproval. I found the game enjoyable, though I didn’t know quite why; perhaps the rich nerve endings about the anus are particularly sensual.
In the morning Elvia began to wake me for school, and of course, our game continued. I was beginning to be affected by early morning testosterone rushes, the sort of angry erections that mortify young boys on school buses. It soon became quite enjoyable to rub my little member up against a willing Elvia herself. There is no doubt in my mind now where that game was headed. I was probably being ‘groomed’.
But the game ended. WWII wore on. Eleven year olds were older then than they are today. I finished grade school that summer and was immediately sent to California. My Dad gave me a brief lecture the night before I left El Paso, stressing two points: First, that one has to judge others carefully; to welcome new friends, but be alert, and avoid those who would do harm; and second, to use a condom.
I had no idea what that was or what it was for, but it was something I didn’t want to talk about. He seemed to consider me much more aware than I really was. The next morning put me on a troop train headed for Los Angeles; someone stole my money but soldiers fed me, and I went on North to the Sacramento Valley.
A scoutmaster was my second pedophile. He was a music director for a radio station, able to invest most of his energies and appetites into the work closest to his heart: his scouts. He had acquired for the troop a twenty-acre piece of land on a lake near the Canadian border. To finance, build and maintain it was a year round activity requiring continuous paper drives, magazine sales, ticket sales and participation in an annual fund raiser: a Sigmund Romberg operetta.
There were periodic work trips to the lakeside camp including a two week construction session just after the ice broke up, two weeks of camp itself, and– for older scouts–a summer-ending two week canoe trip to the border waters.
I advanced rapidly through the ranks of scouting and the Scoutmaster began take more interest in me. I became an Eagle Scout by age 13. After a weekend trip to clear heavy spring snow off the camp buildings, we all returned so late that I stayed with him at his home one Sunday night. I trusted him implicitly. Moreover, he was always affectionately gruff, dominating and assertive. Again, I was being groomed.
His method was to introduce young boys to the pleasures of prostatic digital self-stimulation, as an initial step in masturbation; and as the first step to pederasty. If that is hard to picture, think of the crude expression: “sitting around with your thumb up your ass.” That best reflects my Scoutmaster’s method of instruction. (Our language contains many other more or less subtle references to pederasty: flipping bird, the fist, ‘up yours; asshole; fuck you man, etc.) Bill’s purpose seemed not to harm, frighten, or prematurely to penetrate, but to, imprint; to teach; the lesson was not at all innocent, but fortunately very brief. I did not find the experience unpleasant. And yet, what I remember most unwelcome was his full mouthed beard barbed goodnight kiss. I started college that fall, left the scouts and never returned.
Humans are normally, both innately and overtly, at least as sexual and sensual animals as any other. Our children are not asexual beings, but are simply less developed. Their behavior is partly learned, despite the current dreary politically correct cant that insists sexuality is chiefly, if not wholly, inborn, or ‘discovered’.
It is patently absurd to hold that sexuality is inborn while other measures of societal behavior are not. That dogma ignores the clear fact that we are all capable of learning many sorts of behavior; and that our earliest experience is very significant. If my second episode of pedophilia, had been my first – or a continuing– form of interpersonal sex, I am sure it would have influenced me more.
I hold no resentment for my assailants. Maybe that is because of my own good luck in escaping their potentially harmful influence so quickly. Surely they are both dead now; as surely I will follow. The Scoutmaster left me Romberg, the North Woods and Waters. Elvia left me sweet memories of cheap perfume,
Silky-cinnamon skin, and playful sensuality. Perhaps she pre-empted the more powerful and technically more skilled pederasty-devoted Scoutmaster. That is why, of the two, Elvia will always be my favorite pedophile.
The silent ‘b’ in ‘doubt’ speaks of more than its Latin root; because there is more than meets the eye there. The silent b is sacred in the best sense of the word. In doubting there is recognition of, and reconciliation with the unknowable, the numinous, as Joseph Campbell would put it. There is more than meets the eye in cinema as well.
During my focused, timeless young years I ignored movies. They were frivolous, a waste; fans of movies were somehow pitiful, like people with diabetes. Now, in my reflective years, I doubt either conclusion. More, I reject them. After retirement, unaware of the beauty and power of idleness, or of ‘record, pause, and rewind’ I began to watch some movies. In no order of significance there were: Tango Lesson and Yes, La Meglia Juventud, The Legend of 1900, Monsoon Wedding, The Golden Door, The Lives of Others, The Visitor, to name only a few. That is not to minimize other genres of film, but to reveal my own proclivities; the list reveals my own limitations of course; I tend to be overly reflective. Yet it seemed to me that one day people will look back at this time as the golden age of cinema, with the reverence we have for Shakespeare’s works. A great film is as complex a matter as a moon landing, involving so many disciplines I don’t have the energy or wisdom to name them all. I concluded that cinematic art, like all art, is the product of a time and a set of circumstances that are never duplicated. I gradually became so captivated that I took a screenwriting course, and wrote a script.
But when I watched the film, Doubt, written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, I recognized my own screenplay, set in another environment, with only a little different focus. The universal details are so true to my own experience, that I am certain they are distilled from life. Family and friends of writers will often find themselves ‘written in’ somewhere; and this film is surely evidence of that fact.
To be specific, the details I find so telling include:
1) The Priest, even if he were proven a flaming pedophile, is not an evil person. There are no unmitigated villains.
2) The Principal, the head nun, severe, judgmental, and unbending, knowing she must act though in doubt, and will ultimately be over ruled by the ‘system’, heroically defends what she feels are the best interests of her school and its students.
3) If one must find a villain, it is life itself, which forces each of us to live in a separate realty. Much misunderstanding, isolation, and conflict results.
4) The boy’s mother, living her own separate reality, knows that the possible or likely sexual abuse is inconsequential in view of the obvious benefit to her son.
5) The young nun, who is drawn into the conflict, has not yet been sufficiently humbled by her own life to define her own values; she is limited to those she has been taught. Life assaults us all; we survive and grow if we are able to do so. But we don’t know who or what we are until that process takes place. We are like Augusto, principal character in Miguel de Unamuno’s Niebla, who realizes he only lives when he suffers.
As for me, I shall never write a great script. But I will always be grateful for those , like John Patrick Shanley , who can, and who do. As I read about this author director, I realize his life has not been easy. But he has made much of it. More, to make films like this requires the devotion of many. I am grateful to you All.