My memories are not clear on what happened next - hormones have that affect on pubescent boys. I uncertainly remember what she was saying but I cannot recall even a semblance of an exact quote. What she did I remember with crystal clear, stop-motion photographic clarity. She rolled her upper body. The result of this roll caused her budding bust to become inescapably obvious. My entire body shivered in a way I had never personally experienced, but academically recognized as arousal. My higher brain functions received nerve impulses relaying the pertinent information of my face contorting into a visage of lust. In response, those brain functions (via the hippocampus) recalled their extreme hatred of the erotic source stimulus, and made a snap decision. The floodgates opened, adrenaline spread through my person, and my previously wanton expression snapped into abject disgust. I turned around and rested against the back of my seat while considering the previous few seconds of events.
Without touching me, without talking to me, and completely inadvertently, Jackie had made me lose control.
Individuals who remember me from that period of time, and who continue to associate with me to this day, understand I was a shockingly different person. Whenever I converse with my former peers, I’m unhappily reminded of my past behavior. “Remember the time you kept kicking Derrick‘s head into the bus window, and shattered it because he was throwing spitwads at you?“ ”The time you tryed killing that guy in 3rd grade with a protractor was scary.“ ”I stopped wanting to be around you when you punched out Sarah.“ I was a roudy kid, and I thank my family for what they did in the 8th and 9th grade.
None of those people had earned my hatred - Jackie, for trivial (in hindsight) reasons, had. I was scared, and my fight-or-flight instincts demanded retribution. But, the addled logic of my confused mind followed something along the lines of: if what she had done to me was reproducible, then responding with violence was not a prudent action. On that rare occasion, I controlled myself and sat in contemplation. My self-instituted quiet time did not endure as my best friend, David, poked his head over the ”poop brown“ seat. He looked at me, paused, and quietly noted he had seen my face. Another burst of adrenaline whirlwinded, and I unhappily realized as he had seen my face it implied other people could have too.
I stopped bullying Jackie, and for different reasons she stopped bullying me. However, my formative moment instituted a permanent irrational fear which mixed with puritanical influences and reacted as a mental disjunct. In times of extreme paranoia, I theorized women had the ability to affect men’s minds as a natural counter-balance to men’s ability to physically dominate. I felt modern society and the rise of institutionalized feminism formed a check to destructive masculine behaviors, but offered no balanced response to destructive feminine behaviors. Even times of rational thought, my chains of inner-logic are still poisoned. By unfortunate extension, I consider the development and enrichment of skills increasing the effectiveness of these two abilities with deep suspicion.
Thus, belly dancing and other modern erotic arts, left me in a contradictory mental state. The phrase ”belly dancing“ conjures (arguably racist) imagery a small collection of unidentifiably dark skinned men sitting cross-legged at table, taking pulls from a centrally located chrome hookah, filling the darkened and silk covered room with an aromatic smoke. An unknown signal cues one or more attractive, and silken veiled, slave girls to materialize from the shadowed corners of the room. They move their bodies in unreal contortions initially described in Oriental scrolls stored in gilded gold temples, and taught to them for the singular purpose of surviving the following moments. The men vulgarly eye their forms, satisfied with total control of their environment and their pulse quickening as each silently chooses which virgin they will deflower when the evening turns to night.
A week before I moved away, I dined with my immediate family located in the Seattle metropolitan area and moxiediosa. The entertainment for the evening was a belly dancer. Her performance was disconcerting in a way prompting confusion and uncertainty. This young woman was clearly aware of the effect her gyrations had upon her audience. Furthermore, I was not the only person unclear as to the proper social response. She smoothly indicated to more than one viewer her acceptance of their enjoyment. However, two issues rang clearly in my mind and I spent the remainder of the evening and night not being distracted by the skilled performance but, rather, probing my core personality.
The first issue was my ill preconceived notions of the art form itself. My Mother had recently announced her intention of self-improvement through learning belly dancing and applying selected techniques. She selected our dining venue as an opportunity for her to view an experienced application of her new interest. Both my Mother and our young collegiate performer shared an interest in this dancing style, and neither were easily categorized within my existing stereotypes. My reflections upon the unfathomable ambitions, drives and actions of women needed to be readjusted.
The second issue was my conflicted response to the performance. When I was younger, my world was composed of black and white contrasting behaviors and responses. Similarly to the development of the printing press, as I have matured the same black and white forms when viewed from a distance compose the grays of young adult life. Because I’m living through this transition, I have accepted any of my initial learned behaviors can (and often are) inappropriate for their respective situations. Had I not been preoccupied with my inner examination, how should my external response been controlled? A black and white world view demands one of two responses: appreciation or disgust. A gray world view, tempered with cultural norms, provides a complexity unable to be rashly decided upon. Displaying appreciation contradicts impressed asexual ideals, and simultaneously increases the weights for brashly masculine behavioral pathways. (moxiediosa sitting behind me was also not helpful.) Displaying disgust contradicts impressed cultural relativistic ideals, and simultaneously increases the weights for intolerant and willfully ignorant behavioral pathways.
It was obvious I sorely needed to carefully determine a set of situational responses, and institute a series of rules regulating their use. I then needed to both mentally model and physically encounter further contradicting scenarios in order to ensure practiced response application. Is this maturity?