My mom, Cameron Dorne, became my mom at age 13: that's not a misprint. It, me, was the result of a rape. Yes, the perp, some loner named Ewing Thorpe, went to prison for it; which fact did little to help my mother in her decision to keep me.
At the time she was minus her own mother and father: the former having died of hepatitis; the latter had likewise died but of prostate cancer. A new single mom, she was raised by her grandma Stella Martin a single mom herself.
All things considered, my mom was arguably the greatest mom of all time. Well, she was to me. I need to give a little of her history here, as I then knew it, because it's intrinsic to my own story which is what this writing is majorly about.
Interestingly, my first birthday also marked the beginning of my mom's first year in high school. At the time Cameron Dorne was short at five foot flat, a little chubby though not actually fat, intelligent, plain looking but by no means bad looking—I have pictures—and above all possessed of amazing foresight for one so young—a fact also intrinsic to this story.
Her high school years, seen to by great-grandma Stella, were miserable for mom. Well, she was raising a kid. She managed Cs, but had no time for clubs, no boyfriends, or many girlfriends either. She never attended a prom, a homecoming dance, or went to many parties. Her youth was safe, secure is maybe a better word, but not a whole lot of fun. But, she had me. I was her life, and much later I made the decision that I would do whatever I could to make it up to her: buy her a house, somethng. Had to do that for damn sure.
Like I said my mom had foresight way beyond her years. She graduated from high school at my age five, and got a job checking groceries at Nationwide Super Mart. The job paid pretty good and the benefits were good: the usual retail clerks union package. But, for her plans, the expenses she would incur in seeing to my education would far exceed what she alone was able to afford. She had to find resources quite apart from her salary.
Mom dated occasionally, but nothing ever came of her dates—read no long term relationships. And then, as I learned much later, mom had made the decision to dedicate her life to making sure mine would not be a mirror image of her own.
She did some research and essentially engineered my early life. At age six I found myself enrolled in St. Paul's Academy, at the cost of almost $30,000 a year. It took half of mom's annual salary even with her working 48 hours each and every week to do it. And, I'd find out later, a huge chunk of Grandma's savings, most of that gotten from great-grandpa's life insurance policy, as well to send me there. And that wasn't all, Oh no.
I found myself also signed up at Rosie Mitchell's School of Music and Dance; and, I was likewise sentenced to a young person's sports' facility owned and operated by a good 'ole southern boy named Jethro Hughs. Jethro dated mom on and off over the years, as I would later learn; but, as far as I knew at the time, it was only a casual thing not anything to write home about. I think mom got a cut in the cost for putting out for good 'ole Jethro, but I never really knew for sure about that.
Saint Paul's was nothing if not a first water elementary and middle school, and I mean first water. Every kid had an essentially individualized learning plan. Most of the 114 member student body was comprised of rich kids with no interest in socializing with a poor kid—relatively speaking—like me. But, by the time I finished the eighth grade, my favorite authors were Faulkner, Shakespeare, and Fitzgerald. Likewise, high powered nerd that I was, I was conversant with Wittgenstein's Tractatus—which no one with any hopes of having a life would ever read—and I had learned to absolutely despise Emmanuel Kant. Additionally Math became my passion; and, by the time I was fourteen I was already into Calculus and that mostly on my own, though with deal of help from father McHugh, my mentor at the school; and yes we all had them, mentors. So yeah, I was a genius and busy as hell and had no life; I mean if you were still wondering.
At Rosie's I had become proficient at ballroom dance, and the guitar. Mom had held out for the piano, but I just hadn't shown any interest in it, and it was the one of the few things she wanted that I just would not do. But, I did love the guitar. She gave in.
And my schema at Jethro's? It was gymnastics and later boxing. I specialized in the high bar and the rings in gymnastics. As for boxing I'd been in it and competing after age ten, that in the Silver Gloves: had a so-so record. That said, I was in super shape. I did have physical limits though: I was five-four and one-twenty on the eve of my first day in high school. And looks-wise? Well, I hoped I could say with a straight face that I wasn't actually ugly; I guess I was average looking. Well, like I say, I hoped.
Mom had seen to it that my high school years would not be the empty ones she'd had to endure. She'd done her best to see to it that I was ready-teddy, and I was. I had cooperated in her plans—mostly—and done my best. Mom and grandma Stella were proud to beat the band that first day, and so was I. At any rate, I was as ready as I could be. Mom sat me down the night before my first day at Central High and laid it out for me.
"Michael, we're here my beautiful boy," she said. What happens tomorrow is up to you. You're short like me, Michael, and that's going to be a problem for you, but not an insoluble one; don't let the bullies get away with putting you down. Take them down instead. The girls may look askance at you in the beginning because of your size, but they'll come around unless you turn into a whiner and a self-created loser. Be yourself and always do right by other people and you'll be fine," she said.
"I will mom. It's gonna be okay," I said.
It wasn't quite a riot, but my first day at Central was a trip and a half. Two thousand students: all hyper, loud, and running—to where was anybody's guess. Half of them were boys and half girls. I was guessing that Ninety-five percent of the boys were taller than me, and worse, forty percent of the girls were. And, yes, that was the main thing on my mind that first day.
The sheet of paper in my hands dictated my room assignments. Room A16, English 9A was first on the list. I knew, the class content; it was going to be way below what I'd become used to at St. Paul's; but I figured that to be a plus. I was on the hunt. I wanted to hook up with a girl. Well, hell, I was fourteen for chryssakes!
In junior high the boys had not been that much taller than me. But for some damn reason, the summer before me going to Central, every boy in the fucking universe got taller except me! But, no matter, it was what it was, and I had the tools, so I imagined, to compete—hopefully. Then I saw her.
Five-six or seven; a body to die for; hair tawny and long and billowing out around her shoulders. Bad news? She was on the arms of one who looked like a jock—a big jock. I sighed. I was going to go for it. I had an idea and I smiled. I caught up with them.
"Hi," I said. "My name's Michael, Michael Dorne. Might I ask yours, miss?" They stopped in their tracks and stared at me. Then he started to laugh. She smiled but didn't laugh. I looked up at him. Up because he was at least six feet tall.
"You can go, guy," I said. Miss..."
"Huh?" What?" he said, not believing, I'm sure, his ears.
"Sandra Hill," she said.
I focused my attention on the big guy, "Yes, Sandy and I have a date, and eventually she and I are going to get married," I said. "Here, I'll take her books." I held out my hands to take them; he'd been carrying them.
"Who the fuck are you, shrimp!" he said. "And, get lost while you still can!" He was almost sneering.
"Well, since you ask, your everlovin' and considerable better," I said.
""Look, Michael, you said Michael, right?" said Sandy. I nodded. "Yes, well, Michael, Roger here is my boyfriend. I'm afraid..." started my new love interest.
"Was," I said.
"Huh?" they said in unison. I smiled.
"Sandy, yes, you were his girlfriend. And, you can still be friend-friends with him, but you're going to be my 'girlfriend' starting now. Oh, I know this is sudden, and I know there's not supposed to be such a thing, but I fell in love with you at first sight. So, ergo, Roger is history," I said. She laughed.
"You're funny. We'll talk another day," she said. Then they were gone. I was still smiling. They were arguing as they walked. She didn't become my girlfriend immediately, as I had arrogantly announced; that would be some time in coming, but I had a plan, and she really didn't have the guns to hold off my assault, not over the long haul, not even.
During those early months at Central, I would stop and talk to Sandra from time to time, but she was adamant that good 'ole Roger Grimes was her boyfriend; she was nice about it. But, as she assured me, she had no intention of ditching him for me or anyone else. Likewise, she made the case that Roger was a junior and she was a sophomore while I was still a freshman albeit an interesting freshman. One thing else that was interesting, well, I thought it was interesting, she never alluded to my physical appearance: height, face, general smallness compared to her boyfriend, the hunk, when turning me down. I think she thought of me as amusing.
At any rate, things went along okay till the end of that first semester at Central. And again, I did keep up my assault on Sandra's Hill's psyche, but, it was still no dice, and then it wasn't.
.... There is more of this story ...