Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 41: My new boyfriend is a troubled soul

When I came home from college after my first year, Pole, a young guy from Escalante, heard Margie was going to school in Escalante so thought to to be the first one to date her.  He brought his cousin Dean with him for me.  Dean was my age, a couple of years older than Pole, and had just graduated from high school that year and was trying to decide what he was going to do next.
I recalled being very impressed by him the year we were nine.  He came from Escalante with a group of men related to Alf Black who was living on the ranch at the time.  Alf was about Grandpa's age and he had told him he had a home for the rest of his life on that ranch. Alf would help with the chores but was generally company for Grandpa.
Among the men in the group of visitors to see Alf was his rich son-in-law from Salt Lake.  He had taken it upon himself to hire Dean to sing for them as they drove around the country seeing the sights.  I just could not get over a boy my age being hired to sing for this group of partying male tourists all day.  I could hardly bear it because they drove off after picking up Alf and did not give me any chance to hear this boy sing.
Now here he was, a blind date for me, to help his cousin Pole look good.  The two of them were very entertaining without yet singing for us.  Pole was a great story teller and Dean was the appreciator who would remind him of more stories to tell about their relatives and other characters in Escalante these boys seemed to have studied for years.
Best of all I was physically attracted to this boy as I had been to no other.  I had begun to wonder if I was even normal I had not gotten with a normal heterosexual boy until I was so old.  Eighteen years old that summer, having had only one or two dates with Alvin from Escalante who had been physically appealing to me, too, but not like this boy.  I feared however from hearing them talk that they were both quite bad drinkers.  I knew from what had happened to some of the Boulder boys that you could become an alcoholic at a very young age.
I don't recall either one of them drinking on our first date.  Possibly they were trying to make a good impression, but when we met them in Escalante a couple of weeks later to go to the annual mutton fry at Posey Lake, Dean was so drunk he was not even making sense.  He was sitting in the back of the car saying some very hostile crazy things.
I sent Pole a sharp questioning look.  He said, "Oh, he's all right.  He gets like this sometimes when he's been drinking."
I got into the car very warily.  This kind of alcoholic behavior I had not wanted to see from this guy so soon.  I thought it was a very bad sign.
I saw my friend Connie from Escalante later at the dance and she sort of hinted at why Dean might be upset enough to get drunk out of his mind.  He was beginning to sober up some by dancing, but he still was not his appealing self.  Connie said that Elaine, the girl who had more or less been his girlfriend in high school, was very upset with him because he was taking me to the Mutton Fry.  Connie was very hesitant to say much as she said that Dean had quite a temper and she did not want him mad at her.
Sure enough I saw Dean dancing with Elaine and after a couple of dances had gone by and he was still dancing with her I went by them and said something to him.  I had no intentions of ever dating him again. I did not like being humiliated on a date.
He immediately dropped Elaine on the sidelines and came over to me.  When I started to raise hell as we were dancing, I saw a look of such icy fury in his eyes I immediately shut up.  Well, so maybe the guy was suffering over what he was doing.  He obviously wanted to see more of me, but knew he was breaking his high school girlfriend's heart.  I knew how hard girls take those things. I didn't say any more to him about Elaine, but I was wary the rest of the evening.

Dean was soon acting as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  He said that as soon as I went back to school he was going to Montana to work on a dam.  An older guy he knew was taking him who could get him a job even though he had had no experience.
I was surprised as I thought going to Montana and working on a dam with winter coming on might be a job from hell.  He said he had to have a job and he could make more money there than any where else.
Well, September came as always, and I went back to school, with some relief.  Although I was attracted to this young guy as I had been to no other physically, I thought we were wildly incompatible every other way.  It was almost like he had street smarts but admitted to having loafed his way through school, hardly doing any work at all.  He bragged about being passed no matter what he did because of his popularity.
I told him I was very different.  I looked on every school I went to as an opportunity and always earned top grades.  I thought it was a waste of time to loaf your way through any school.  After all, you were only hurting yourself.
He looked at me as though I were the nerdiest girl he could imagine, but I did not care.  I wasn't going to dumb myself down for anybody.  Let him marry that other girl.  She seemed crazy about him.
I found out that Elaine's aunt on her mother's side as well as an uncle had married Dean's older brother and sister. Dawn and General, Petersen girls I had known quite well, had married Pole's older brother and Dean's older brother.  The two cousins had dated the Petersen sisters just as Pole and Dean were now dating two King sisters.  I was sure that Pole had set his cap for Margie the way he acted.  And he wanted company so he did everything possible to promote a match between his first cousin Dean and me.
The whole thing seemed increasingly absurd. Margie soon became impatient with Pole's manipulating too.  At first she welcomed a place to stay in Escalante with a friendly soul, which Pole provided with his sister Melba's help.  They all loved Margie and treated her like a million dollars.
Dean started writing to me, too, as soon as I got back to school.  I agreed to this mostly out of curiosity, but was shocked when a letter from him came in the most perfect handwriting.  I could see that Dean was very proud of his penmanship which was probably one reason he wanted to correspond with me, but he had very little to say.  And I came to think his handwriting was so rigid he would have a nervous breakdown if he had to scribble.
A far cry from my own handwriting which he complained he had trouble reading, so I began to send him typed letters instead.  It was not in me to turn down a willing penpal.  I was too fascinated by then with the letter form which is what I had come to rely on so heavily for connecting to the family.
I had taken to writing long analytical letters to all my sisters, whenever they responded to mine.  If we were going to talk and be good friends, we had to do it this way.  We certainly could not use the telephone.  Daddy was far too frugal a provider for our needs to allow that.
I was soon including Dean as a regular correspondent.  He did not tell me, but I found out years later that he was exchanging letters with Elaine all the time he was away from home, too.  There is nothing like making doubly sure you have devoted girl friends who will comfort a poor fellow far from home for the first time.
I took it that Dean found working on the dam at Hungry Horse extremely trying and difficult.  Along toward spring he said that he was going to join the Air Force as he thought that would be better than working on dams as a laborer.  And of course he would need lots of letters when he found out where he was going to be sent to do his basic training.

I was so excited when I found out he was being sent to a base camp not far from Los Angeles.  I had such a longing to get to California somehow I decided going to see him would be the perfect excuse.  This was of course probably something that the less aggressive Elaine would not even have thought of.  I was afraid Utah was going to become increasingly inhospitable for a rebellious girl like me.  I needed to find a place outside of Utah to land just in case there was trouble down the road.
I called up my cousin Winolia living in Woods Cross who I knew had a cousin in Whittier, California.  I proposed we go down there for the summer to find work, confessing that my new boyfriend Dean was motivating me to go to California to visit him.  She thought we could stay with her cousin, agreeing that this might be a great adventure.
I informed my parents that I would not even be coming home where they were sure to take me prisoner and hold me captive to hard labor, but wanted to go to California to seek employment for the first time.  I pointed out how I had sacrificed every summer to come home and help, and had never had the chance like other young people go out and get job experience.
It is possible that they thought I might be getting too outspoken for Utah, too, so they agreed to pay for my bus ride and gave me $100.  When that was gone and I still didn't have a job I would have to come home.
Dean must have been surprised at my devotion to him when I announced I was coming to California so I would be able to see him when he could get time off once in a while.  But he was quite agreeable.
He did not realize I was also scouting a new location just in case Utah did not continue to work out for me.  I was still worried about staying employed as a teacher even if I should become one.  I thought I needed other options.
Winolia and I were given the spare bedroom at her cousin's in Whittier who was very nice to Winolia, an unexpected but welcome visitor. Winolia soon found a job candling eggs.  I was hesitant to go after this kind of job. It sounded too much like ranch work to me.  In fact, after I had visited with Dean a couple of times, who made his way over by bus to the cousin's house, I was ready to bide my time until I had run out of money and had to go home.
Winolia had proved to be a very good chaperone.  She made it plain she was agreeable to Dean coming to visit me, but neither one of us were to get carried away if we were to keep in her good graces.  She did all this as my Uncle Joel would have done, quite diplomatically.
She seemed somewhat relieved when I said that I had better go home and visit with the family and do some work to earn my university expenses before I went back to school.  She said she was going to stay with her job another month and then would probably return to her family home in Woods Cross, either going to school or finding a higher paying job.
I held on to just enough money to take the bus home, or as close as I could get by bus. A family member met me as they had missed another hand doing the summer work.   They were glad to see me as bottling season was on.  It wasn't as though there wasn't a lot to do.  We never ran out of work now that Daddy's operation had gotten so big.  Nobody hardly even saw Mother, she was so busy.
All in all I was very satisfied with the adventure of going to California I had managed with the help of a connection to Dean.  I could see how he might continue to come in handy when I wanted to travel.  I fell so in love with the jacaranda and the bougainvillea and the palm trees around Los Angeles.  I kept thinking I must come back there. I wanted to go to New York but Daddy would think I was going to the ends of the earth and would not be safe, but California was within reach!

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