The Hite Report on Shere Hite (3 page)

BOOK: The Hite Report on Shere Hite
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Afterwards, my grandfather would pick me up and we would go, just the two of us, to a special restaurant for lunch together. It was a treat to eat in a restaurant, to be taken out all by myself, to sit across the table from each other, be talked to and listened to, my grandfather spending all that time just with me. Every Saturday I ate the same thing: meatloaf, creamed potatoes and orange drink, finishing it off with banana cream pie with meringue topping made of fresh egg whites. Delicious. My grandfather’s favourite, too.

The women behind the counter wore white cotton uniforms and hairnets. They always smiled and said hello, asking us how we were, as they dished up our lunches. They had cooked the food themselves earlier that morning. I remember their faces. Most had crepy, wrinkled, light white skin, very well washed, which I loved to look at. It made me feel at home, comfortable somehow. I admired those women, standing there. They were dignified and proud of their work. Stately, like statues of Roman matrons. I was happy to know I
could grow up to be like them. To work in a restaurant and have so much pride and dignity.

I loved to walk with my dog in the woods near my house when I was growing up. I fell in love with the forest. The trees were tall and at least one hundred years old, maybe more, maybe forever. The trees where I lived had never been cut down, since the land was not cleared for farming. These ancient trees were mostly oak and elm, with large rich green leaves in summer, changing to golden in autumn, and majestic brown trunks that rose straight to the sky.

My first love was the forest. As a child I thought it spoke to me, I felt the trees loved me, and wanted to help me. And then too, all kinds of small green patches of different grasses and wild plants grew on the ground, under the trees. If you looked down, each inch was intriguing and different, with crevices and unexpected things – sometimes a flower blooming, sometimes an old bottle top.

I liked the trunks of trees with their bark. You could see the brown trunks best in winter when there was snow on the ground. Then the dark brown bark stood out starkly, no moss or leaves, no green at all. I always had the impulse to throw my arms around the tree trunks and embrace them, especially the big ones, the ones your arms could hardly reach around. I wanted to feel their strength, their firmness against my chest. I did sometimes attempt this, but if I pressed my face against the trunk too hard, I was always surprised that it hurt.
The bark was too rough to press against so closely. It surprised me every time. I thought the trees would feel more alive when you touched them, but although they looked alive, they didn’t feel it. This puzzled me, and I wondered how I could touch them better, and feel the life in them.

I have a strong memory of my bedroom at my grandmother’s house. It was a small, very simple, but beautiful room. So simple as to be almost austere, it had a very special atmosphere. I remember it most intensely in spring. The room was square, with a high ceiling and the walls covered with a soft, ivory patterned paper. The furniture was blond wood: I had a small desk for homework, a matching dressing table, and a little chest of drawers with a full-size bed with a blond headboard. The bed had a white chenille spread. Just next to my bed there was a window, with sheer white ruffled curtains.

During school months, I usually went to bed quite early. I would lie there listening to the sounds of the trains passing by in the distance, or the last birds or the crickets singing, and once in a while a dog barking somewhere. Sometimes I would get up and go to the open window. The curtains would move gently in the breeze. If I sat on my knees, the window was just the right height for resting my arms, so I could sit there to look out and smell the fresh grass, and dream.

Beneath the window, its old wooden frame painted white, was a large, lush patch of dark green plants that came up every spring. For a few special weeks, lilies of
the valley would blanket the ground under my window with delicate beauty. The soil was dark and rich and moist, and the green shoots came up full and strong, displaying their hundreds of tiny white blossoms which exuded the most intense and luscious perfume. This perfume mixed with the night air and filtered through my open window. I would sit by the window and let the moist, magical fragrance completely cover me in the darkness. It was intoxicating.

I remember nights when the moon shone down on that little garden spot beneath my window – within hand’s reach – while I sat watching, wondering how the world could be so divinely beautiful. The moonlight shone brilliantly on the moist green leaves, as if specially for me, communicating some of its magic to me. I sat there for indeterminate amounts of time – maybe hours, maybe years, maybe eternity. Sometimes a stream of moonlight would touch the side of the house, making patterns as it filtered through the branches of the small tree we had planted nearby.

When summer came, I was still put to bed early, and it would be light for quite awhile outside. I wished I was still outside too, playing ball with some of the other kids in the neighbourhood. Sometimes I could even hear one or two of them shouting and saying goodnight to each other as I lay there in bed.

One of those evenings, a strange desire began to creep over me, a deep craving that seemed to be coming from inside my body, or all around inside, somewhere I could not reach. I soon discovered that the sensations could be increased by moving my legs around, with my
body pressed against the bed. If I grasped my pillow, facing down, I could get the best feeling. I began to pull my body against the bed until, instead of ending, the feeling grew and grew and became more and even more insistently demanding. I pulled and twisted against the bed, gripping the mattress with one hand. But no matter how hard I pressed myself against the bed, my body cried out for more. It was a sweet torture. I did not know what it was. One day, doing this, I felt a wonderful explosion deep inside my body. The pleasure was like an electric shock between my hot, writhing legs. I loved it. I wanted to do it over and over, and I did, again and again.

Now I did it every day. But soon I worried: had I broken something inside my body? What was it I was doing? Since no one had ever told me anything about their having such an experience or such a physical feeling, or loving to rub themselves, maybe it was unnatural. I began to wonder if God (He, as I thought of him) could see me. I was sure He could, as He could see everything. And if it wasn’t right, would He stop me, would He punish me somehow? But He never did.

These first ecstatic sexual feelings, in that white room with the moist fragrant air, lying on the bed with the white voile curtains swaying in the breeze at the open window, the soft summer sounds drifting in, and enveloped in the lightness of the room’s pale and airy colours with the faint rustling of the green leaves outside: all this is beautiful in my memory. This was a wonderful way to discover my sexuality – not hearing about it first through pornography or seeing naked bodies
displayed for profit on every newsstand, but just alone in my room, in my own bed, finding my own sensual self.

But what about your parents? I hear you asking me this …

OK, OK. It doesn’t seem so important to me, but I’ll tell you. I always lived with my grandparents; my parents were divorced after World War II when my father came home. They had only been married a month when he left, so my mother continued, as always, living at her mother and father’s house. So, even from the beginning, I was always there with my grandparents, being taken care of by them. I was more like my mother’s younger sister than her child. My mother was still finishing school.

My aunt told me later that when my mother found out she was pregnant, she exclaimed, ‘How could that happen?!’ My father went AWOL to come home and see me. There are pictures in my scrapbook of him in uniform holding me.

My mother … she was only a teenager when I was born, and the family (her parents) were scandalized. My parents were married secretly, but my father was away in the army. Naturally my mother kept on living ‘at home’, and I became their new baby, like her younger sister. When she and my dad went away, it seemed right for me to stay there, with my ‘parents’ (my grandparents) …

I liked my mother, but I was also a little afraid of her. I became frightened of water, because of an incident which happened one afternoon when my mother picked me up from my grandmother’s and took me with my cousins to the town’s swimming pool. I was about six or seven.

My mother was wearing a sexy black bathing-suit with open lacing up both sides, so you could see her flesh between the laces, starting from her hips all the way up to the sides of her breasts! It was extremely daring, and sexy. Several men were following her as she walked around the pool, engaging her in conversation – and I was tagging along behind. I was enjoying the afternoon, but at one point I wanted her attention. I remember shouting, ‘Mommy, mommy, look at how deep the water is – I can go into now! Look how tall I am that I can go into the deep end of
the pool.’

I jumped in. But I had misjudged it, and the water was over my head in an instant. I was going down, down, down, and my feet still were not touching the bottom. It was a mistake. I was in twelve feet of water, I was only about seven years old, and I couldn’t swim. I remember being on the bottom of the pool, and thinking, my mother will be here in a minute to get me, she is a great swimmer, she makes beautiful dives and has strong arms. I envisaged her diving in to get me. But still I was there, and nothing was happening. Then I noticed that my mouth was opening and forming the word ‘Help, Help’, even though I seemed to be perceiving it all in a detached way. I was amazed that my mouth was opening, saying ‘Help!’ and water was
rushing into it, while I sat there and felt perfectly calm. Detached. Remote.

Then suddenly a female lifeguard was there and put her arm around me and pulled me up – up, up and over the side. I remember how she looked at me when she reached me on the bottom: she was relieved to see that I was alright. I was surprised to see her, I had thought it would be my mother. Once she got me over the side, she had me throw up as much water as I could. My older cousin, Russ, came over and asked if I was alright. He tried to get my mother to come over and see me, but now she was standing by the water fountain surrounded by so many admiring men, chatting, talking and flirting, she didn’t even look my way. I got up eventually and limped along after them, still throwing up a little of the chlorinated water as I walked.

I never mentioned any of this to my grandmother or grandfather when we got home: they would have never let me go anywhere with her again, and there would have been a big row. That was one of the rare times I saw my mother – except for the year I lived with her, about two years later.

You might say, ‘That was terrible, she should have shown more concern.’ Yes, but I never saw her or my father. (And where was he showing concern at that point? Why is the mother supposed to be more concerned than the father?) So I never grew up thinking of them as ‘supposed to’ care for me. I just saw them as two people with certain stories, like when you meet people you don’t live with, you see them in their own time capsule – not in relation to you. Maybe this was partly
because I got tired of hearing my grandmother speak negatively about both of them. In a way, I envied them their freedom, whatever it had cost them, their ability just to walk away and live by their own rules.

How did I feel about her in that black bathing suit, with the laces up the sides cutting across her bare, plump flesh underneath? I was shocked and fascinated; she was really something to see. I wondered where she had got the suit, and how she ever had the courage to wear it. She was gorgeous.

My view was just about from her waist, as I was about half as high as she was at that time. So I was looking directly at her hips and her chest, which were large and athletic. She had an Esther Williams build – a star swimmer of the time. Her hair was a luxuriant, chestnut brown, medium long and wavy. Her body voluptuous. At home she always wore rather sexy underwear and sleepwear. At least I thought so, compared to my grandmother’s – the only other underwear I had really seen.

Her eyes were brown, but lacked some vital quality, a happiness or directness. They often looked nervously away from you, even when they seemed to look directly at you. Maybe it was just that you felt they never really saw you – or whoever she was looking at – I don’t think it was just me. In fact, I rarely saw her peaceful and happy. I saw her laugh, but not a laugh of pleasure from the heart, rather, a laugh of boisterousness, ribald joking with girlfriends.

She didn’t identify with a goody-two-shoes female world (our fundamentalist family thought she was a Bad Girl), but she wasn’t masculine either, not in today’s
sense of masculine clothing and hairstyles for women. Her body wasn’t petite, and her expression wasn’t controlable or submissive – she would just as soon tell you to go to hell as look at you. It wasn’t her style to let other people initiate conversation, she only really listened to topics she initiated herself. She had no time for the concerns of others, hers were too pressing. And her concerns were, first, her great dissatisfaction with her life, whether she should move, or how she could get out of her present situation, and second, where she could find some quick pleasure for the next few hours – with a man, going for a ride in an automobile, swimming, or to a movie.

She fascinated me, but I didn’t want to be with her.

When I went to live with my mother and her new husband for a year, the thing I liked best about living with them was their baby, my brother. I missed my grandparents. We were isolated, because we had the first house in a new development on the outskirts of town. The new house had no heating at all, for some reason. The huge, old-fashioned wood-burning stove in the middle of the living-room didn’t really heat the house, it was only warm if you sat next to it, and then it was so hot it burned you. My bedroom was cold and not furnished, except for an old khaki-coloured army cot from a surplus store.

BOOK: The Hite Report on Shere Hite
11.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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