July 11, 2014
Okay, this is a confession. My excellent neighbor, Sister Irene, after laughing hysterically at my story, encouraged me to write this, AND since she has the woman’s perspective, I now tell the jury what a bad boy I was, and plea for forgiveness and for time served.
In 1968, I appeared in a slew of productions at Monticello College, an all-girls institution. I and six other boys lived on campus, at the north end, away from the hundreds of girls at the south end. Our sole purpose was to be in plays. Five of the seven boys were gay. You see where I’m going?
The set designer, Professor G., was the first hippie Alton/Godfrey ever saw. He and his wife R. and their baby lived in a small house at the north end. I would spend a lot of time in that house. And, since I was also helping build sets late at night, G. gave me my own key to Hathaway Hall, which housed the theater, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a scene shop, a ballet studio and offices.
I had no shortage of help, as boys from Alton were desperate to mix with Monty girls. Monty girls had a certain reputation, which local boys hoped would pan out. Had I wanted, I could have had a crew of 400.
One night, Professor G. asked me to rummage through props stored in the basement, under the stage, and weed out pieces which had no future. I had never been in the basement.
Or, as I would come to call it, The Garden of Delights.
I spent an hour wandering from concrete room to concrete room, wading through piles of fake walls and old furniture and plastic swords and shields, from long-ago productions. I was somewhere under the south hallway, when I spotted a closed door.
One final room was behind that door, and I went in and turned on a light and quickly turned off the light. In the opposite wall was a huge, thick window, looking out to the swimming pool, the deep end I knew, as I also illegally swam in the pool late at night. What was the purpose of the window? Judging swim meets, I decided.
The room was full of recently used props, some from shows I had been in. I found my wig from “Once Upon a Mattress,” the show I was in the night the astronauts landed and stepped on the moon, and four people, one of them my mother, were in the audience because most of the world was watching the moon.
I was picking up a prop chair when it began.
A Monty girl in a blue bathing suit suddenly landed in the water and bubbles poured out of her butt. More Monty girls plunged into the pool. Monty girl bodies hurtled into the water from the diving boards. Monty girls did cannonballs. Monty girls dislodged their tops, their bottoms, Monty girls tugged tops and bottoms, hugged each other in the water. One Monty girl dangled her legs in front of the window, stuck her fingers in her crotch and fondled herself.
This was the heaven talked about in the Bible. I, pimple-faced Gene Baldwin, had received a clear message from God.
And so I invited local boys to a viewing. Two of you who read my Chronicles were there. You know who you are. I could have charged admission. I would have been rich.
I started seeing Monty pool girls fully dressed on campus, knowing with certainty who had cellulite, who had warts, who farted, the shape of their breasts, the scars on their thighs, their peaches . . .
You think Calhoun County peaches are the best? Not even close. You eat Calhoun peaches as sublimation. God made women’s peaches (see my poem, “A Guide to Peach Eating”) and horny Man made fake sapid-slitted peaches that hang from trees.
And so I began my love life with Monty girls I had seen in the pool: T. and W. and A. and T. #2, and sweet K. and, the most beautiful girl I ever saw, D., a goddess, a flat out princess, brown all over (I already knew this, there was no white skin on her luscious groin), curly black locks of hair, mellifluous voice, biblical “breasts are like melons” breasts and blackberry nipples.
D. and I did it and did it and did it, under the tall trees on the front lawn of the campus, in my car, secretly in her room, in the tunnels that ran under the college, in the pond—in the pond!—at North Side Park in Alton (the first Genehouse was across from that park), on the old bridge that crossed the Mississippi—and the bridge was two lanes! Oh, baby. D. H. Lawrence had nothing on us.
One night I stupidly confessed to D. that she had been pre-screened. She laughed her finely-shaped ass off. And told me, never again was I to stand in the forbidden prop room. And I didn’t. Except for one last night when D. and I did it in the forbidden room, Monty girls plunging and adjusting one piece swimsuits and bikinis before our eyes.
On the nights D. and I weren’t doing it, I would visit with Professor G. and his wife R. One night, G. walked me outside and oh so casually asked, “Did you find the room?” I looked at him and my look told him I had been in that room, that sacred room, that holy place, that anti-Mt. Rushmore with peaches not faces, that Eden. I think I meowed like a kitten. G. laughed and passed me a joint.
I have searched for D. online. She is in her 60’s if she is alive. I can’t find her. It’s probably good that I can’t find her. After all, “you can’t go home again.”