One night in May soon after we got home, I heard on the 10:00 news that Michael Jackson had married Elvis’ daughter, Mona Marie Presley.
After all these years and the many questions people had of Michael’s sexuality, especially now that a young boy alleged he’d been molested by Michael, it was a shock to hear that he was married. It was another shock to hear his wife was Elvis’ daughter.
Dad was away on business and Phil was probably in bed; Mom came out of her bedroom, which she’d just gone in, and watched the news report. She said at the end, “Her dad must be rolling around in his grave!”
Phil started looking for a job, and I did not, since Mom said I might not have time for one, what with all the projects I wanted to work on that summer. (Also, I didn’t have a car.)
I had talked to Mom about working at the bank where she works, but when I said I was going to work on my Senior Honors Thesis, my Senior Writing Project and translating “Undine,” she said I probably shouldn’t get a job that summer.
If Phil and I were both successful in our dreams, we wouldn’t have to work at “normal” jobs. I wanted to be a homemaker so I would have time to write. But I told him that when we set out on our own, if I had to work for a while, I would, even if it was at a factory.
Phil, of course, looked in the Sunday and daily classifieds for jobs. I thought it was just his task, but on Tuesday the 24th or thereabouts he said to me, “Do you want me to leave in a few days because I can’t find a job here? You have to help me look in the classifieds!”
“HOW?” I said. “How am I supposed to know what looks good to you?”
“Just look for something I can do.”
I thought, and still think, he was being unfair (after all, I never asked my future husband to do this or vice versa), but I started looking. Yet more guilting over something that I wasn’t even doing wrong. It is the responsibility of the job seeker to search the classifieds, NOT his wife.
Phil got an interview for a sales job with a cable company before the end of the week. The company was in Mishawaka, a small town right next door to South Bend. You could cross a certain street and go from South Bend to Mishawaka. Though I didn’t know my way around Mishawaka, Phil took me with him to help find the company.
He wore one of Dad’s suits, baggy despite adjustments, but all he had. He hadn’t brought dress clothes with him, but the company wanted “business attire.”
(Why didn’t he bring a suit with him, knowing he was to look for a job? Afterwards, I bought him some clothes at the mall with my credit card.)
He went off, and I stayed in the foyer for a while, sitting by the receptionist. She was married to the head salesman or owner. She asked when Phil and I were getting married, and I said,
“Summer of ’95.”
“’95–that’s a good year to get married,” she said, not explaining this, and also said what year she married.
I did try for one job, though. Mom told me they were looking for workers at a nearby shirt-maker, which was a few blocks down from my house. So I went down one day (possibly Wednesday), braved the busy street there, and turned in an application.
I picked one up the day before, but the woman there on Tuesday didn’t tell me what another woman told me on Wednesday, that they weren’t looking for day workers anymore, just late-shift full-time workers.
Well, I didn’t want to walk down that way at 3 in the morning in South Bend. But she told me to put it in anyway, and she’d write on it when I wanted to work; if they wanted part-time day workers they’d get in touch with me.
It felt good to get the application in. I’d never done embroidery or shirt work before, and hoped I would just do silk screening if I did get hired. But it was close enough that I could walk there and not worry about how I’d be able to get there without a car. They never did call.
When summer vacation started, we didn’t have MTV but we did have the glorious Q101, with that Brit who talked like Daphne on Frasier (not that I watched Frasier yet). I don’t remember her name, but she was a lot of fun.
Once, as my parents drove me through Chicago, she said, “I was at this party last night with all men. Now, gehls, these men were just gorgeous! Unfortunately, they were more interested in each other than they were in me.”
Phil said he wanted to buy me a trousseau for the wedding. I thought that was cool, because I would love to have some new clothes to wear.
I didn’t go out and buy much of anything because classy clothes were too expensive and modern-day fashions were too boring, so then as now, it was hard to find anything I liked.
So I hoped this trousseau would have what I liked, and that he’d be able to afford such things.
(In those days, I’d never heard of Goth, and couldn’t just log onto a website to find Goth clothes. Not that I’d be able to afford them, anyway.)
I wrote a letter to Peter during this time, telling him about the engagement. I didn’t get a reply, and thought he was ignoring me or mad at me because of the misunderstanding fiasco back in early January. This wasn’t the reason, though, as I found out later. I don’t believe there even was a reason.
I just couldn’t get away from S–. Not only did both the Indiana and Michigan branches of my family start barbecuing brats the summer after I first started going to Roanoke, but now there was an “Enzo Pizza” in the Scottsdale Mall.
I didn’t know where they got the name from, but “enso” is often heard in S– (“Yah der hey enso”). Phil and I kept joking about it every time we walked by it that summer.
Memorial Day, May 30, 1994. As usual, we went to “look up ancestors” in cemeteries in Michigan, Dad’s favorite Memorial Day treat.
This time, Phil came along. In one of the newer and bigger cemeteries–which aren’t always as intriguing as the tiny, older one a little ways from Grandma’s house–I pointed out a tombstone that read PETER. (Peter’s real name is also a last name.)
Mom said, “Good place for him.”
Phil and I looked at each other in shock.
“After the things he said to some of the girls at church,” Mom said.
I blanched, considering that anything Peter said to girls at my church would have been said while I was still going out with him.
Mom soon explained that she wasn’t talking about my ex-boyfriend. Instead it was the music leader at church! He’d recently left the church because of some controversy, which I, being in college, hadn’t heard of till now.
Apparently he made a comment to a girl in the teen group, who was dressed for something special; the comment was, “You look good enough to eat.” I might even have heard of it or been there when it happened, because it seems vaguely familiar.
It’s possible that it wasn’t meant to sound sexual, but it was bad enough. There might have been something else said, too.
It came to the attention of the pastor. Then Church Peter and our own version of Sandi Patti, his beautiful blonde wife with the beautiful voice, left the church–along with that brood of cute little blonde-haired girls who had brightened up the church since the 1980s.
It was sad to see this controversy come to the church through a respected family.
[Update 2013: But Church Peter and his wife are still together, all these years later, so it could very well have been a misunderstanding. My mom even forgot all about it and agrees that it was probably a misunderstanding.]
One Sunday morning, one of our elder members of the congregation gave the sermon. However, he kept saying the same things and using the same stories over and over again. I don’t remember how he stopped, but someone may have mercifully interrupted him.
My dad said during lunch that the man may have been having a stroke while preaching. Phil and I looked at each other in shock. We later heard it was something else, but I forget what.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: