After everything that had passed during lunch on Sunday, I was a little concerned and, in the end, rather relieved when Monday passed without incident.
Aside from the benefit this was to my nerves, it also provided me with the opportunity to reflect upon the situation I had allowed myself to become embroiled in. Indeed, I mused and niggled and prevaricated over the issue for most of the day until, finally, there was no alternative but to sit down and address the position I had become embroiled in. So it was that, with my pipe freshly packed and a glass of JW Green close to hand, I sat down in my favourite chair in my living/smoking room and began an inventory of my sins of commission, my sins of omission, and the possible consequences of my actions or lack thereof.
Before I sat down to seriously consider my position, I had conventionally and perhaps somewhat lazily presumed that the most important consideration would be the issue of security, i.e., the degree to which Trudi's exhibitionism would remain circumscribed within some form boundary, remaining private to us and not subject to discovery by a third, and likely enraged, party.
However, even as this thought formed in my mind, I found myself wondering something far more fundamental, namely, what was driving Trudi to comport herself so? Surely if I were able to divine the factor motivating Trudi's actions, then I might be better able either to reassure myself that her actions would not constitute any kind of danger to myself, or otherwise find a way to withdraw my complicity.
As an English professor (retired) I was altogether acutely aware that I had little knowledge of those aspects of psychology of whatever formation which were required in this situation. Moreover, I was also keenly aware that I could not ask any of my former colleagues 'on the quiet' for their opinions, as this would only provoke their interest in my interest, thus an introduction to members of Her Majesty's constabulary and thence a roommate by the name of 'Big Jim'.
Alternately, I could seek guidance on this matter from the various repositories of knowledge which the internet lays claim to hold, both the more and the less authoritative. However, not knowing what I was looking for other than the unlikely combination of 'exhibitionism' and 'teenage female adolescent sexual development', not only might I activate some 'cyber-nannie' but I might also take a series of 'wild goose chases' as I followed what I considered as promising lines of inquiry, but which might ultimately lead nowhere.
Moreover, and though I knew it to be hubris on my part, I came from a generation who believed that it was possible to reflect on a problem, any problem, and come to some kind of ultimate conclusion that was not too far removed from the truth.
Thus I set to considering the first principles of my kerdankenexperiment.
What was the source of Trudi's ideas about people, about relationships, and about the exploding sexuality of puberty and adolescence?
Obviously, and especially given the closeness I had witnessed just yesterday when we had foregathered for lunch, it would be entirely natural and predictable that Trudi would turn to Sandra for the standard parental advice that is supposedly given to all sons and daughters.
But what was the character of that advice?
Was Sandra the kind of parent who finds such things a source of acute embarrassment and as a result of which neglects their child by failing to tell them the necessary 'facts of life'?
I dismissed that notion.
Sandra, after all, was already in the habit of leaving Trudi to take care of herself, having explained to her daughter that she would be 'spending time' with the euphemistic 'Ingliston Man'. Whilst Sandra might not, and probably had not, gone into the more intimate details concerning those occasions, that she had said as much as she had to Trudi was sufficient for me to reasonably believe Sandra was a reliable and ready source of at least the more rudimentary details of relationships and sexuality.
But was this advice anything more than perfunctory?
There had, I reflected, been no joking or teasing on such matters at yesterday's lunch, so I carefully reminded myself to consider such a theory as likely, but not proven. However, I also reminded myself that when Trudi had expressed surprise that I was not 'dating', her mother had swiftly curtailed her. Was this suggestive of embarrassment about such topics, or merely her belief that such topics were not 'suitable' for teenagers to be discussing with their elders?
I had no way of knowing, so I made a mental note to remember both possibilities until something more definite was shown in favour of one or the other.
Beyond Sandra, I conjectured that there would be aunts, cousins, grandmothers, and the suchlike to augment this imagined source of female/feminine advice, though both their existence and their input too was somewhat speculative, especially given what Sandra had said about the absent father and the absence of the groom's family from their lives. Sandra's having made these familial revelations without challenge or discomfort on the part of Trudi suggested that these claims should, at the very least, be taken at face value, at least until such time as evidence arose to the contrary.
With my assay as to the possible or likely feminine and female sources of Trudi's gendered consciousness, I next turned in my mind to considering what my former colleagues in gender studies might have termed the 'patrilineal' aspect of Trudi's family, and with it also the rather distant presence of 'Ingliston Man'.
Indeed, with both the father and his family effectively cut out of her life, this necessarily meant that Trudi's only familial recourse to the masculine was via her mother's family. This, though, was also a closed book to me, at least as yet, in that their constitution and presence had not been mentioned, the absence of which led me to presume that though Trudi may be possessed of the normal scattering of cousins, aunts, uncles, etcetera, I could not make any reliable determination thereupon. Again their lack of mention may mean nothing, or it may mean everything and so, again, I made a mental note to make allowance for both possibilities until evidence emerged.
This, then, left the nebulous 'Ingliston Man' about whom I could deduce little other than that, (a) Sandra was sufficiently taken with him to 'overnight' with him from time to time, (b) that Sandra was not ashamed of him, © that Trudi held some dislike or at least a strong lack of affection for him, (d) that Sandra was aware of this and respected her daughter's feelings on the matter. However, I did consider it reasonable to also deduce that, from her dislike or disinterest in him, Trudi would not be turning or deferring to him for 'manly' advice.
Whom did this leave as possible sources for masculine influence and experience in Trudi's life?
The first was her fellow classmates, and her teachers. Trudi had, however, made little mention of them, at least nothing of any substance beyond the generic moan of teenaged girls that teenaged boys were 'smelly and dumb' such as to lead me to suppose her to be as disinterested in boys of her age as many young women of her age are wont to be. I could be wrong and it may simply be that Sandra did not allow her to date, but given her 'development' in other areas, I felt I was somewhat secure in the belief that if she were so interested, then she would do something about it, and that something would leave its mark on her character. After all, Sandra was not there to supervise or control what occurred during those hours when Trudi was at school, wherein there was a surfeit of opportunity for 'interaction' should Trudi choose to avail herself thereof.
Again, then, no.
Lastly, there was the possibility that she might have some affection for, interest in, or respect for one or more of her teachers. Again, however, given the amount of time we had spent together and Trudi's lack of mention of any of her teachers by name, this suggested that they too had little, if any, impact or impression upon her.
Rather to my own surprise, as I realised this I also felt an unanticipated and so unexpected sense of relief that, in all likelihood, Trudi was therefore also free of any kind of adolescent crush upon any of her teachers. If she did so suffer, she would not have been able to avoid their mention, even by accident. There had been no such mention, so as I reassured myself that there was likely no such teacher who had captured her eye, I felt a somewhat curious pride that it was I whom had so captured her interest.
And this, of course, left myself as a masculine influence and presence in her life, but what was I to Trudi?
Was I, consciously or, more likely in my opinion, some unconsciously selected 'testing ground' whereof Trudi could try out various aspects of behaviour with what she must consider to be a 'safe' male, those behaviours either to modify or to employ when relating to other males?
Clearly this was possible, but this did not greatly address the sexual element; indeed, the sexual need that Trudi demonstrated in her behaviour towards and with me.
Moreover, there was no guile to Trudi, and consequently I found it hard to consider as realistic the possibility that her interactions with me were anything other than genuine.
But was this genuineness sufficient to provide me with the reassurances I needed concerning my own safety?
Perhaps contrary to all sense, I felt that it did in that, in my estimation and by my own evaluation, it did.
.... There is more of this story ...