Combat ignorance. Read.
Because men in suits don’t touch little girls
I must have been about 10. The early 1970’s. We were traveling to Buffalo, to spend Christmas at grandma and grandpa’s house. Snow had closed the Buffalo airport, and the airline had put us on an overnight bus.
My parents were in the seats behind me. I sat next to a man a bit younger than my parents. He let me take the window seat. He was wearing a suit. Which wasn’t really common in that era. Not in my parents’ circles, at least. But he was cool. He asked me about school, and the music that I listened to. Way cooler than my parents. He actually knew the bands. Could quote song lyrics. We chatted about our holiday plans. My mom, who was only an arm-length away, was listening to the conversation, and interjected comments from time to time.
It was late, and we started to doze. At a certain point, I was aware of his hand resting on my leg. There wasn’t a lot of room. And he seemed to be asleep.
But his hand kept inching towards my inner thigh. It made me a little uncomfortable. At a certain point, I gently picked up his hand and put it on his lap. He didn’t seem to wake up. I started to doze.
When I woke up, his hand was there again. Unmistakenly between my legs. His finger resting tenuously against the thick center seam on my jeans. It was almost imperceptible, but it seemed like his finger was moving back and forth.
I picked up his hand again, and placed it on his lap. He really did seem to be asleep.
And then it happened again.
And for many, many hours, I pretended to be asleep. His hand would return to my thigh. I would pick his hand up, and gently place it on his lap. I did not sleep. I remained vigilant all night, moving his hand away numerous times.
I did not shout out, “don’t touch me!” That would have been rude. And he was very polite. I did not alert my parents. I mean, what would I say? It was not like he was doing anything wrong. We were all tired and in a cramped space, and I was being fussy. There was a part of me that was sure he really was asleep. That I was being silly. That it was my imagination.
I mean, why would a man even want to put his fingers between my legs? Ewwww.
When we arrived in Buffalo in the early dawn, the man made polite conversation with both me and my parents. As we got off the bus, he shook my father’s hand, and wished my parents a Merry Christmas. They smiled at him, and wished him the same. I smiled too as we said goodbye. It was the polite thing to do.
As we all disembarked and grabbed our overstuffed suitcases and prepared for our holiday festivities, the man’s wandering hand seemed increasingly improbable in my mind.
I knew that men gawked at women’s breasts and backsides. That those fleshy body parts were “sexy.” I suspected that men sometimes reached out and touched them.
And I knew about procreation, of course. The man had to put his penis in the woman’s vagina. But that was something they had to do, to have a baby.
No man would purposely try to put his HAND where my PEE came out. That was just gross. And he was a nice man. In a suit.
The more I thought about it, the sillier I felt. It had certainly been all in my head. I had probably even disturbed the man’s sleep, moving his hand so many times.
I pushed it out of my mind. And certainly never mentioned it to anyone.