Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
If you’d asked me before the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings how I felt about them, I’d probably have told you I felt resigned. There was no question Kavanaugh would get through. The Republicans had the votes. Was I happy about it? No. I understood that the Supreme Court with Kavanaugh on it would lurch even further to the right. I understood many if not all of the implications this would have for women, for labor policy, for the environment, but I didn’t have any strong feelings about the man himself. Honestly, I didn’t know much about him.
It was on the night of the Fox news interview that I decided Kavanaugh turned my stomach. The interview was awful. President Trump didn’t like it because he thought Kavanaugh came across as a wus. I didn’t like it because I thought Kavanaugh came across as a shameless liar.
Now I don’t know what it’s like out in small cow towns in the Middle West. Maybe out there, eighteen-year-old boys do really still their raging hormones by going to church and doing community service, but over here on the East Coast, in well-heeled suburban towns and on toney prep school campuses, they pretty much drink, chase girls, and generally behave like idiots.
And lo, one-by-one people came forward to say Bart, oops, I mean Brett Kavanaugh, did behave like an idiot: he was a hard partier and a nasty drunk. Naturally, most of the people who said this weren’t Republicans. Prep school and Ivy League Republicans are a fabulously loyal bunch. Loyal to one another.
I don’t care that Brett Kavanaugh drank too much in high school and later in college. If we’re going to disqualify everyone who drank too much in high school and college, we’re not going to have a judiciary or a Congress, but I didn’t like the way he lied about it. His lying was ICKY! That’s right, Mr. Kavanaugh, it was your ickiness that turned me against you.
After his icky television interview, we had the public screaming fit. I don’t know about you, but I come from a family who told us not to scream and shout in public. That shouting really bothered me, the rudeness to the senators, blaming the Clintons! “Wow,” I thought. “He wants this position so badly he’s willing to do anything to get it, even a pretty good imitation of Donald Trump.”
Some people say they don’t know whether to believe Kavanaugh or not. Well, as far as I’m concerned, when you shout and scream instead of answering the question, you probably did it. And don’t tell me the fact Kavanaugh denied it means he didn’t do it. All the big guys who’ve recently gone down for sexual harassment and sexual assault denied it in the beginning, vociferously, until more witnesses came forward, and then they were suddenly seeking treatment.
Of course, there weren’t any other “credible” witnesses. Maybe. Or none that are talking. Or none the FBI were able to interview in the few days they were given. I’m glad Senators Collins and Flake were satisfied with the investigation. I really am.
So as the confirmation dust settles and the Supreme Court swings into action cutting a wide swathe through all the advances we’ve made over the last few decades, I have only two words to say to Justice Kavanaugh, President Trump and Senators Collins, Graham and Flake.
No, I wasn’t raped, and no one put a hand over my mouth and held me down and laughed at my fear. But when I was fifteen, I had the experience that every single woman on the planet has had at least once: the experience of being in a room with someone who wants something from you that you don’t want to give. And he’s stronger than you are. And the exit is behind him.
It was at a party. No, I wasn’t drunk and yes, I do remember where. Actually, it wasn’t supposed to be a party. It was supposed to be me sleeping over my friend’s house, but she invited some people over. Where were her grandparents at the time? I don’t remember.
I do remember my friend’s friends were wild and drunk and . . . boring. I remember I went upstairs, got undressed, put on my nightgown, and went to bed. I figured I’d pull the covers up over my ears, go to sleep and they’d be gone in the morning. I can’t remember if I forgot to lock the bedroom door, or if it didn’t lock. That’s right, President Trump, I can’t remember, but when I woke up some time later, there was a boy I didn’t know in my room. He was drunk and he had some ideas about what we could do with one another.
Somehow, I don’t remember how, I got up and got the lights on. He made specific suggestions. When I told him to get out, he repeated them and came closer. The thing I remember most was his silly smile as he reached out and touched a part of me no boy had touched before. I remember that I backed away and started screaming. I remember realizing how loud the music was downstairs. I remember trying to assault him with an equally ear-splitting barrage of noise.
Eventually, he decided I wasn’t worth the trouble, and backed off, calling me the names they always call us when it doesn’t work out the way they wanted. I slammed the door and somehow got it secured. I don’t remember getting dressed, or packing my stuff, or getting downstairs to a phone. I do remember calling my father who’d always told my sister and I we could call at any time of the day or night if we were in trouble.
It rang a long time and when he answered, I could tell he was startled someone was calling so late.
“I have to get out of here,” I said. “I can’t stay here.”
He asked no questions. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
Forty years later, I wonder what went through his head as he drove into town that night? Did he think he’d find me bruised, bloody, drunk or crying? Did he think we’d end the night at the hospital or the police station?
I don’t remember how I got out of the house, but I clearly remember waiting at the bottom of the driveway wondering if someone from the party, the boy or someone else, was going to come out and challenge me. No one did and my father pulled up in our old paneled station wagon about twenty minutes later.
When I got in the car, all I said was I was okay, and that I didn’t want to talk about it. My father accepted this and to my recollection we never did discuss what happened. As we drove home, we were both numb with relief. My father was relieved I seemed okay and that I’d believed him and made the call. I was relieved my father had told the truth: he’d always come if I needed him.
Did this experience scar my life? No. Did it teach me a thing or two? Certainly. It taught me not to be naïve. It taught me to be more careful.
I saw less and less of my friend after that night and eventually we went our separate ways. I never saw the boy before that night and I never saw him after it. But he was there. Smiling and reaching. Assuming I was available because he wanted me to be.
“This isn’t good,” I remember thinking as he approached me. “I have to think fast, do something so this doesn’t go badly.” I thought the same thing when I saw the photo of Kavanaugh at his swearing in. I’ll be thinking it again on Tuesday, November 6th on my way to my polling station.