BLUE DENIM BIKINI
My rapist’s name was Steve. Steven Marsh. I mention that now
because he was my first. And because I had to see him in church
every Sunday. I was thirteen years old, and I swore I would never tell a soul.
For two reasons: One, because of that damn bikini. Two, I’m still in love with him.
Of course, it can’t be mistaken for true love. Which opens the big question; Is sex love?
I’m pretty sure that day at the beach inspired my addiction, although it could be something else. But I can’t think about that now.
I was about to turn fourteen that summer. Father was a preacher, strict as a nun. And he’d already disowned our oldest sister Diana for having a baby in her belly before she and Ron got married.
Margie was my protector when it came to Father. I couldn’t count how many times she’d covered for me. We weren’t doing anything bad. Just bending the rules a little. Drinking coca cola at the bowling alley, or breaking curfew. Father could be ruthless, sometimes violent in his reactions.
Margie was about to enter her senior year and I would be a sophomore in the fall. She was finally allowing me to associate with her offbeat throng of friends. It seemed she attracted an entourage of the cool. Yep, she was the coolest, and I was now almost a member of her cult. Or at least that’s how it felt back then; that day she invited me to the beach party. When she said it was going to be in Malibu, I was mortified.
I was excited and nervous at the same time because I had this ragged saggy old swimsuit.
I hurried down the street to complain to my friend Barbara.
“So what are you going to wear?”
“I can’t go,” I said.
“I can’t go because the only suit I have is for a kiddie pool”.
She popped up from the couch and yanked me up the stairs.
“Okay, she pronounced, “I’ve got this!”
Her parents were Jewish. They were very open minded. She had a wardrobe I gushed over. I had six brothers and sisters, and all I had in my closet were hand-me-downs.
Barbara pulled three bikinis out of her bureau drawer and laid them on her bed.
“I like this one… and this. How sexy do you want to look?”
I rolled my eyes thinking of the boys, “Of course”.
“Then try this one.”
The tiny bikini bottom fell well below my navel, with ties on each hip offering an inviting gap of bare skin that exposed my hip bones. The bra had two “V” cut-outs laced on a string and tied behind my back. I had to hold my hand over my chest so my ample breasts didn’t pop out when I bent over. I scrutinized it facing the full-length mirror, moving from back to front.
“This is the one.”
Barbara screamed, “Oh my God, are you sure?”
Two piece swimsuits were strictly forbidden by Father but I borrowed some of my sister’s mettle and stuck to my decision.
That Blue denim bikini was destined to haunt me for life!
Margie told Father we were going to a church party, which was partially true. She was my savvy big sister who I relied on and trusted. What happened that day wasn’t her fault at all.
We took off down Topanga Canyon that morning in the cute little VW Bug father had given her for her sixteenth birthday. We’d filled a basket with towels, Coppertone, a blanket and some snacks.
Margie pulled into a mom and pop sundries store in the canyon.
“What are you doing?”
When she stepped out carrying a small styrofoam cooler and three six- packs of Pepsi, I laughed, wishing I had her courage.
She slid open the sunroof and threw herself into the driver’s seat.
Margie maneuvered the s-curves downhill through the canyon with practiced expertise while the air gradually changed from burning hot to a salty sea breeze, our hair blowing crazily. And I felt euphoric when she turned onto Pacific Coast Highway.
The beach was one of those wide strands of sand dotted with lifeguard stands that backed up to a cliff with a path that led to the sand. We parked up top and trudged down the path to find the gang.
A concrete block building faced the beach with a restroom and an outdoor shower. It smelled of urine. Another path led to a building at the top of the cliff with a sign that read “Malibu Motel.”
I recognized the boys from school, and some older guys I’d seen at church.
“Hey, you all can use our bathroom instead of the stinky one.” He called. “Number twelve-B on the end”.
Margie waved, “Thanks, Steve.”
Sandy and Charlotte had just arrived with a few more girls from school. She seemed to know them all. Margie was the social one, making conversation while she sat cross-legged on the quilt.
She pulled the cooler toward her, “I’m thirsty, anyone want a Pepsi?”
I lay my towel on top of the quilt and stepped out of my sandals while I self-consciously pulled my tie-dyed rainbow patterned sundress off over my head.
One of the men whistled at me. I immediately did a belly flop onto my towel. I dug for the Coppertone in my wicker bag, turned over, and keeping my eyes down got busy applying it. I’d noticed that some of the men were sipping from cans of beer, and others, the high school ones, were tossing a frisbee.
Margie passed a bottle of Pepsi to me and I propped myself up on my elbows taking big sips of it. I felt the cold and fizzy refreshment, then buried my head in my arms.
During Margie’s introductions, I lifted my head. She was always the host, the guide, and it crossed my mind that I would never be like her. The difference is, I guess, I’m shy. And when she introduced me I wanted to hide, but raised my hand slightly, took another big swig from my Pepsi, and lay my head down returning to the sensual rumbling of the soothing waves that swelled and smashed themselves on the shore.
I should not have drunk that whole bottle of Pepsi because the urge to pee took over. I thought of walking out casually into the gentle tide like I did when I was a kid. But no. That could be much worse. I imagined how the heavy denim would behave when saturated with seawater and made up my mind. I would get on my knees and tie the sundress around my waist.
That done, I raised up and casually walked barefoot in the direction of the motel.
Why hadn’t I thought to wear my sandals? The sand was burning hot, and I had no choice but to run, dropping my sundress because my need was so urgent. I would pick it up on the way back.
Climbing the path, my bare feet were torn and scratched by sharp rocks and broken glass. I stopped twice to pick flakes of glass from my toes. I regretted I hadn’t headed to the public restroom instead.
Still. The motel room was cool and the air conditioner blowing on my sweaty body felt delicious. I stood for a moment in front of it. The room was a typical two double beds and a dresser with a mirror above it. The bathroom was conveniently accessible on my right.
I used the toilet and splashed cool water from the sink on my face and arms. I sat on the edge of the tub and let water run over my bleeding feet. I toweled them dry, then I inspected myself in the mirror, adjusting the suit. It wasn’t as indecent as I’d imagined. It’s funny how when everyone else is half-naked, you don’t feel quite so conspicuous. I relaxed, giving the suit another tug when I heard somebody come into the motel room. I froze, my back to the door, listening. I took a breath, and twisted the nob, peeking out. I saw nobody, but when I stepped out two large hands grabbed me by my shoulders and forced me down on the bed just two feet from the bathroom. I tried to scream, but he put his hand over my mouth.
“Don’t,” he said.
He fell hard on me and slid himself between my legs without bothering to pull down my bikini bottom. He humped and cried out, then rested, his mouth next to my ear. There was a sweet scent of beer on his breath, and for those short moments he was breathing hard, his heavy bare chest all gritty and salty next to mine. Mostly it was his scent that I would recall later. He smelled like the ocean. I closed my eyes tight wondering if he would kiss me. But he did not. He whispered something like “I’ll always love you,” but it wasn’t clear, and I wanted to love him back. I ran my fingers through his briny hair, “Kiss me” I whispered. But he pulled away too soon, and I heard the door open and close softly behind him instead.
I began to weep, my toes touching the cool floor. I stood and straightened my bikini bottom, and when I saw my image staring back at me in the mirror I realized I had a decision to make because I knew this man from church. I pulled myself together and walked calmly back to the beach as if nothing had happened. I made a point not to make eye contact with my lover. I could pretend it didn’t happen and vow to never tell a soul.
But that all changed instantly when I relived the pleasure of his body, his scent, and I still longed for that kiss. I dreamed of Steve as my future husband. I was sure he still wanted me because sometimes, in church, he’d peek at me from across the pew, and wink. I would close my eyes, and pray to grow up faster. I was already fourteen, and I believed one day we could be an acceptable couple in the eyes of our families.
I shied away from boys at school because I was after all, unattainable. I had given my virginity away and I believed it belonged to Steve.
Mother talked me into going to the movies with a young Christian boy. He was sweet, but he was a mere a child in my eyes compared to Steve.
My Steve was all man. Tall and slender, he wore Levis with a snap down western shirt and boots. His family owned a ranch in Laurel Canyon where they raised horses. His wink in church encouraged me to hold my breath and wait for him. He was going to University now. A big deal was being made about his future. It was only a matter of time, and I was sure he still wanted me. Most Mormon girls married young, so that was in our favor.
Father demanded that his girls should go to the church dances because he was insistent we learn ballroom dancing. Steve would often show himself in his dungarees and dress boots. When he did come, it was just like a date because he always danced with me. But when he didn’t show up I was forlorn and sat alone, watching out the window for him. It was tragically romantic.
That last night Steve started toward me during a waltz. He took my hand and pulled me to him and twirled me out on the wooden floor. He embraced me, and whispered, “Hello again.” I looked into his startling blue eyes. I was sixteen now, and he was what? Twenty-five?
“Meet me in the chapel, we need to talk,” he said.
I felt that delicious rush swim through my tummy, “Finally,” I sighed.
Steve’s back was to me, hands in pockets of his trousers that caressed his fine sturdy frame, his high heeled boots creating the romantic figure of male stature I had dreamed of.
I walked up the aisle on the soft carpet in my black patent pumps, “Just like a bride,” I thought.
He turned. “I need to apologize to you for what happened at the beach.”
“It’s okay, really”
“No, it’s not”.
“I forgive you because I love you”, I said
Steve reached out, grasping my forearms in his large hands,
“Samantha! Look at me. “
I tried to pull away, but he held tight.
“I’m asking you to please never tell a soul what happened between us because I’m engaged to be married. It would ruin me. Do you understand?”
I shook his hands off me, turned, and ran.
Steve retreated to his truck and sped away.
Weeks later I heard the couple had married and moved out of state.
Alone. I had never felt so alone. I became studious and focused, determined to re-sculpt something out of the ashes. I suffered severe bouts of private shame, blaming myself for being so stupid. When I finally graduated high school I moved out of Father’s house and away from the church that held such painful memories. Never again would I have a thought of Steve.
Margie freed me the day I graduated high school.
COMING SOON: Chapter Two of Blue Denim Bikini
Margie was adventurous as always. She had an entourage of friends and seemed to know everyone in L.A.
“Olaf’s having a big party tonight, ” she said.
“You’re going. Want to know why? Because you can’t keep hiding out all your life. You need to meet some people. When was the last time you had a date?”
I couldn’t tell her it was George Vandergarde in the 10th grade…
Samantha meets her first husband at Olaf’s party just prior to his tour in Viet Nam.