I have about 6 or 7 different blog posts swirling in my head and don’t know which one to write. So instead of that, I promised I would post parts of the life story I wrote at age 21. It’s going to be long and I was thinking of saving it for if I ever write a book. I think it needs to be told and it explains so much about how I relate to people now. This is why I can’t have friends or don’t want to have friends or can’t let people be too close to me, etc. I can’t blame a single incident for scarring me, even if it did last 2 years, can I?!
So this is entirely written by my 21 yr. old self, I will have my own current day remarks at the end of this. THE BEGINNING:
I met Diane in 8th grade and we were closer in the next 2 years than any two people could be. She was the same height as me but thin with long red hair (she would never call it red but auburn! ha!). She was really intelligent yet a lot of fun. We were together practically all the time. Every weekend either she would come to my house and stay overnight or I’d go to hers or we’d just get together and spend the day or just go rollerskating at night or swimming at the YMCA. We weren’t exactly alike because we each had different tastes and opinions but we managed to share and respect eachothers. That’s where Kathy comes in–we both knew her and somehow got thrown together and decided we liked the combination. Kathy was 6′ tall with brown hair and very outdoorsy, while Diane was a totally indoor person. Diane loved to sew and bake and play ping pong, records, etc.
Kathy was just the opposite and would rather do everything outside–camping, swimming and all the rest. She even liked country music, while Diane was partial to heavy metal and rock. I honestly doubt if those two would have gotten along at all if I hadn’t been the intermediary. I was exactly half of each of them (so to speak) because I enjoyed both indoor and outdoor activities. The 3 of us spent a lot of time together at slumber parties and going sledding near my house on Mount Tom or ice-skating at McDonough Park. We were like the 3 Musketeers but everyone called us “Roger’s Angels”. (more about Roger in another post).
One day at lunch in 10th grade, Kathy, Diane and I were sitting together and Kathy brought up the subject of a square dance up in Greenwood where she went all year round because her parents had a cabin in the woods. She had been telling us for over a year about this boyfriend she had met up there named Jonah and he was Amish. She wanted to know if Diane would go with Jonah’s brother John and she’d get Jonah’s best friend Joe to take me. We’d never met these fellows but she assured us we’d like them and have a good time. Joe was just perfect for me she said, he wasn’t Amish but a minister’s son that had a rebellious streak. The only problem was the dance was a week away and we (Diane and me) didn’t know how to square dance. We’d done it in 6th grade but who can remember all the stuff to keep you from looking like a complete idiot. I suggested Diane and Kathy come over one night during the week so we could learn and practice and we sort of turned it into a party. The week nearly flew by while the 3 of us were anticipating all the fun we would have and what it would lead to. Then I got a phone call from Kathy on the night of the event. I remember I was ironing my corduroys (I never ironed!) when the phone rang. She was crying hysterically and she could hardly calm down to tell me that there had been a car accident and the 3 guys were injured. She said she didn’t know the extent of the injuries but that Joe had almost died. Even though I didn’t know him I was overwhelmed with sadness. Not only because I had missed a much looked forward to date but because Kathy told us that John had a broken arm and Jonah had a broken leg. Joe was in intensive care. Each day we inquired about their health to see if they were improving and she would faithfully keep us updated. Shortly after this Diane met Todd and lost all interest in John and I can’t say I blamed her.
Kathy, on the other hand, was telling me how Joe was paralyzed from the waist down and how he had given up the will to live. She said everyone was trying to get through to him but nothing worked. She said she was going up to see him in the hospital that weekend and got the bright idea that I should write him a note (or maybe it was my idea to say how sorry I was about what had happened and how I hoped he’d hurry and get better to take me out!) to cheer him up. I thought what the hell and wrote on plain notebook paper, no envelope and gave the letter to Kathy at school. I didn’t really think about it at all over the weekend but on Monday when Kathy came back she handed me a sheet or two of typing paper folded small with no envelope. This letter was my first real introduction to Joe Johnson. It was Oct. 1977 and I was 15. He was very nice in the letter and said that he did indeed intend to keep our date once he got on his feet again and that he’d appreciate it if I’d be patient and bear with him. He told me about himself, his younger sister Sue, his parents, what he liked and disliked, when he was getting out of the hospital, etc. He said he always typed because his handwriting was so awful, so his mom had brought the typewriter from home in special to use.
I was so touched that I wrote back, telling him about myself and this started a long postal romance of sorts. Kathy was the “middle man” and would give the letters I wrote to Joe, either to Jonah when he came down to visit, or to anyone else that lived up there when she went to the cabin, which was practically every weekend. I was hearing from Joe and writing to him about every 2 weeks. I was learning so much about him and actually all the people that Kathy knew up north. I was overjoyed when Joe got out of the hospital, even though he was in a wheelchair. According to him and Kathy both, he was very athletic and was not the type to sit around and be held back. He started rehabilitation so he could eventually walk again. I can safely say that I helped him through it all and was by his side every step of the way even if it was only by mail. Kathy kept promising to take me up to her cabin so I could meet the whole gang. Jonah had 8 or more brothers and sisters besides John and I had practically all their names and ages memorized so that when the fateful day came about I could make a good impression. I would have settled just to meet Jonah (someone who knew Joe and could give me the whole picture so I wouldn’t be deluding myself) but since he’s Amish and they don’t have phones or allow those of that religion to talk on the phone unless there’s an emergency, I was disappointed that I couldn’t even talk to him when he came to visit Kathy. She would call me up and taunt me and say, “Jonah’s here for dinner” and I’d say “Put him on the phone, I just want to say hi” but she’d never let him or me. They were also forbidden to have pictures taken so I had never seen a photograph of him but Kathy had told me enough so I had a mental image of him etched in my mind to this day. Thick black hair, dark eyes, 6 feet 3 inches tall, big boned but neither fat nor thin. As for Joe, Kathy finally relented and gave me a picture of him and after that I was even more nuts about him…he was dressed in blue jean overalls with no shirt underneath, a dark tan, blonde hair, gorgeous blue eyes and a smile that could win anyone over. On the back of the photo, though, it said Mark (scrawled in a hurried hand). Of course I asked Kathy about this but she casually dismissed it by saying that either Nancy or Sandy (her twin sisters that were a year younger than me and 2 years younger than her since she had flunked a grade in school had written that while talking on the phone. She insisted they both had a crush on a guy named Mark and while on the phone they had absentmindedly written that while daydreaming. According to her they wrote Mark on everything even their homework assignments. I didn’t think too much about it because I was so enthralled by the guy’s looks. Then as usual I started worrying that even though Joe liked me, would he be able to stand me when he saw me face to face or even in a picture?! I discussed this with Kathy and we decided to have a little fun and send the picture of a very beautiful pen pal I had at the time and see what he thought as I passed her off as being me. I finally owned up to my naughtyness and sent a picture and told him how I had feared he would reject me for not being every man’s dream. Well, he told me straight and direct that he didn’t judge people on how they look because he’d been judged that way as a dumb farmer. He said he thought I had a wonderful personality and my looks were fine by him. I was quite thrilled and was walking around as if the cat had swallowed the canary and went back for seconds.
We were still writing and getting closer than ever. I told him things I’d never told another living being. I honestly don’t know why either except it was so exciting and seemed forbidden. I usually wrote the letters at school (sometimes at home) and I don’t think my parents even knew I was doing it and no one at school really knew it either except Kathy. In a way, this brought us closer together and we were constantly talking about the guys. Joe was making wonderful progress and finally was able to hobble out of the wheelchair with the use of a cane. It seemed like it had taken forever to get to that point.
Even though he wasn’t getting around so well, he promised me he would come visit me. It was all planned to take place that June 1978. The last day before school let out for the year, Joe would be coming to the school and go to half of Kathy’s classes, then come with me to half of mine so I, too, could show him off. I hadn’t spouted off to anybody that he was coming but I made myself perfect (or the closest I come to that) and couldn’t wait to see the expressions on everyone in class when he came in on my arm. I was so nervous that morning when Kathy and I met in the hall before the first class to await Joe. Naturally, I was kind of alarmed when he didn’t show up by the time we had to part company. Kathy didn’t get the least bit upset and just said she would chew him out good when he did show up, which she assured me would definitely be by lunch. She said she should have warned me that it was typical of him to be late. I was literally on the edge of my seat through the first four hours of that day’s classes and not one single thing the teacher said registered. I was so happy just dreaming about how great the whole summer be after the first initial confrontation and we hit it off. I was counting on that. I went into the lunch room where Kathy was waiting and there was no Joe in sight. I asked her if she’d heard anything from him. She said no, something must have come up and she would get to the bottom of it after school, if he still hadn’t transformed. I had lost my appetite and sat listless, wondering if he had chickened out and realized he didn’t really mean what he’d said. As you may have guessed, the day went without us ever seeing hide nor hair of him. I was depressed (funny how in the span of a few hours I can go from the highest high to the lowest low). Kathy called to tell me Joe had called her to say that his car had broke down while he was driving out of town–he was 18 and had just bought the old junker. His passion was working on old cars and apparently he hadn’t done enough work on it. He told her all the things that had to be fixed and how he just didn’t have the money for that now. So our meeting would have to be postponed. Okay, I could deal with that if I had to.
It wsa what started next that I wasn’t prepared for. Kathy told me one day that her family, especially her parents didn’t like Jonah for some reason (it escapes me now). I think it had to do with Jonah buying her things or something equally dumb. Anyway, she told me they forbade her to see him anymore and got angry when even his name was mentioned. Thus she told me not to mention any of those folks she was friends with, to even her sisters because they would tell her parents and she would be in big trouble. It was the whole star-crossed lovers theme, since she claimed she always managed to sneak off to be with him on the sly. that summer (’78) I went on a week long canoe trip with Kathy, Nancy, Sandy and other people from their church. Kathy is unbelievably religious so she had talked me into it. I enjoyed everything including the bible study, but thrived on the outdoors even if I did get 2nd degree burns on my legs from the sun. Also that summer, Diane, Kathy and I took Driver’s Ed. I lived 2 miles from the h.s. but Diane lived only a few blocks and Kathy lived even closer, only in the other direction. We were tentatively planning to drive up and visit all those fine fellows once one of us got our license.
It seems like it was the fall of ’78 when Joe suddenly disappeared. it’s not quite as simple as that but I guess neither Kathy or I were keeping in touch enough to know what he was planning. Finally Kathy got in touch with Jonah, who told her much to our dismay that Joe had moved to Bismark, ND with his parents because his father got a job as a minister at a larger church. We didn’t hear from him for a couple months and we couldn’t write to him since no one knew his address. Finally one day I was delighted when Kathy passed me what I thought was just a note but I could tell from the broad grin on her face what it really was. In the lovely letter Joe told me how sorry he was that his move was so sudden and that he didn’t get to see me before he left. Then he went on to say how busy he’s been since they moved but how now he wanted to keep in touch. I was kind of put off after all this time of just writing and hoping for something that would never be but Kathy was always reinforcing my hopes about what a great matchmaker she was and how I’d be thanking her for getting us two together. After a few letters back and forth (still sent with Kathy’s to him to save postage) the spark was back and I devoted a lot of time to writing those letters. No, I wasn’t going so far as to say I loved him but you know how it is, it’s fun to get mail in any way, shape or form and he was like a good friend. It was heading into winter and Kathy wasn’t seeing so much of Jonah but he did give her a lovely down filled coat. Our lives went on much the same except I was still in touch with Joe. He even wrote me in long hand once.
Then in Nov. ’79 on the night of our orchestra concert, while I was warming up in the big room we had class in, Nancy and Sandy came over to me. They were both in the band and were going to warm up too because that night was a special concert where the band and the orchestra played together. Right before we all were going out on stage, they dropped this bomb on me. I still can’t recall exactly how they brought the subject up but they mentioned something about me writing to Joe. I said yes and they told me that that very day Sandy had gone into Kathy’s bedroom looking for something and had run across the huge stack of letters I had written to Joe. I blanched, there must be some mistake. No, they said that there was even a letter started to me sitting in the typewriter on Kathy’s desk. They informed me that there was no one called Joe in existence. I quized them about this and asked what about Jonah and John and all the rest? They were just made up Sandy said, none of the Hauert family knew anyone else in the area of their cabin and even though there were Amish people up there, they had certainly never spoken to them. What did all this mean? I couldn’t put the pieces together, I was in such shock. Well, I saw a picture of him, I reminded them and they had me describe it. Then they said the guy really was Mark in the picture and in fact he was there at the concert that night with his fiance. He was just a counselor that all 3 Hauerts had at camp and didn’t know very well.
The twins said they had taken the letters to their mother who read every last one. That made me sick to my stomach. How many people had read my innermost feelings? I flipped out when they told me their mother had confronted Kathy about the whole thing and she hadn’t said much just that it was a joke. I WAS FAR FROM LAUGHING. HERE WAS MY 2ND BEST FRIEND WHO HAD LIED AND DECIEVED ME FOR OVER 2 YEARS!!! By this time it was time to go out and perform. I was shaking and almost hysterical but I knew I had to do it. I did the best I couldn’t concentrate on the music at all. All the little things kept running through my mind, like what she had written in my yearbook the previous 2 years. Now when I look back and see the “autograph” I feel like pulling the pages out but whether it’s there or not, I will never forget what a fool she made out of me. Excerpt from 10th grade’s yearbook: “Perhaps you may never even remember me. I hope you will never forget me. How about in 20 years we can meet out at the tree fort (a place we were at a lot, it was by her house). Don’t forget to bring Joe along too. I wonder what we’ll look like in 20 years. Don’t you dare bring along the 14 snots you’ll probably have. You are definitely coming up to the cabin.” Excerpt from 11th grade’s yearbook: “I sure hope before school starts again that Joe comes to visit us. If he doesn’t, I’m so tempted to ride out there (Bismark, ND). There’s a bunch from the cabin that want to go out in Sept. and surprise him for his birthday. That’s only if he doesn’t show up. Oh well, we’ll just have to keep hoping”.
After the concert I was walking around in a daze. Nancy pointed out the Mark “Joe” guy and sure enough it was the guy in the picture. I thought I would vomit. Nancy told me that tomorrow we’d all meet after school and find out what the hell was going on. I was stone silent on the way home and my parents didn’t know what was wrong. I didn’t want to tell them about it until I knew the full story. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t true. I went up in my room and dug out the shoebox full of “Joe’s” letters. I sat and stared at the box of letters for the longest time and couldn’t bring myself to read them. Finally I took one out and read it. The full realization hit me. I could tell by the writing style that it was Kathy. I had sort of noticed this before and when I mentioned it to her, she had said her and Joe sounded so much alike because they spent so much time together. Little things started to make sense to me that I had never found strange before. Like: the name on the back of the picture was wrong, how Kathy never let me send a letter to Joe directly or give me his address or phone number, how she kept saying she wanted me to come up to the cabin but all along she had no intention of getting me anywhere near there or she would be found out. How somehow or another Joe’s plans to visit were always foiled by car accidents, car trouble, etc. It was like a light had dawned in my brain opening up showing how when homework was too much or Kathy was too busy, Joe would never write. i do believe she might even have been trying to break it off by having Joe move away to Bismark, ND, or maybe she was getting fearful she would get caught. SHE IS THE MOST AMAZING LIAR AND WHAT AN ACTRESS! I still marvel at how she could be crying like she was when she called to tell me we wouldn’t be going to the square dance because of the dreadful accident. I grew violently angry and threw the letters across the room.
Suddenly I broke into sobs that have probably never been rivaled since. I cried most of the night even though the next day was a school day and the last day before Thanksgiving and Val would be coming to stay. I was still weeping when I picked up the letters and put them back in the shoebox and place them back in the depths of my closet. Of course, I wasn’t anxious about school the next day but I was curious to find out what Kathy’s excuse was for putting me through hell and playing with my life. I saw her during the day but she ran away from me, trying to avoid me. I could hardly contain myself ’til the end of the day, I still tried hard to pretend it wasn’t my friend who had betrayed me. After school in the hall, Nancy, Sandy and I waited for Kathy to show up but when she didn’t, Nancy went to get her. Mrs. Hauert was picking us up after school. Suddenly Kathy appeared with Nancy, Kathy had her nice down filled coat on from “Jonah” and was obviously trying to get out of this meeting. I did all the talking and in a cool, calm, collected voice, I said to her that I was really trying to understand why she had done it but I couldn’t. I asked her to explain and that I wasn’t made (even though I was steaming) and that I would forgive her if only she would tell me WHY. WHY OH WHY. She couldn’t look me in the eye and wouldn’t even speak to me. I kept asking her why and that I needed to know or I would never be at peace. She burst into tears and fled the building. Geez, I didn’t know what to think except that I would never get an explanation. We tried to follow her because in her state who knows what she would have done. Her mom conveniently showed up in their truck and we got in and searched the streets for her. She was walking in the rain and when she saw us coming she ran faster trying to escape us. At this time I got to exchange a few words with Kathy’s mom who didn’t think the situation was at all serious! Boy, that upset me more than anything, that she so obviously needed psychiatric help and her mother scoffed it off insisting that Kathy was just playing a practical jok on me. FOR TWO YEARS? I mentioned to her that kathy had said Jonah had bought her that coat and Mrs. Hauert exclaims “Why that’s nonsense! WE bought there that coat last Christmas!” The more I thought about it the more I realized that everything Kathy had said in the past few years had been a lie! I couldn’t think of a single thing that she had said that was true! And how could I ever believe her now?
No one knew to what extreme this “pretending and make believe” had come to except myself and Kathy. Not a single person knew each individual lie as I did. We finally picked Kathy up a few blocks from school and she only got in the car when I got out and pulled her in showing her I didn’t blame her. Hah! Once inside the truck, she kept crying and hiding her face, refusing to look at me or speak. Somehow something had clicked and Mrs. Hauert said she would consider taking Kathy to a psychiatrist. I felt better already. One thing Mrs. Hauert insisted on was that I never tell any living soul about the whole incident.Not anyone at school especially. Since my parents raised me to keep my mouth shut, I was excellent at keeping secrets. What happened later made me wish I hadn’t been such a “good” person.
After being driven home, I had about 15 minutes to collect my thoughts before Val arrived. We were going to Minneapolis to see YIPES! in concert. My mom was leaving for work when I got home and I desperately needed to tell her what happened but couldn’t because of no time. I didn’t get the chance the whole weekend. I was quite a wreck the whole time Val was there but I hit it well. But still, every time my mind was at rest, it would flit back to that horrid ordeal. I never told Val about that incident until a year ago and it had little effect on her since she didn’t go through it. Besides, who could really believe such an incredible tale, anyway? I don’t believe I would if someone told me. The only other person in the world that knows is my mom who was a great help to me but the whole ugly mess remains unresolved inside of me. It wasn’t so much a disappointment that there was no Joe, I could handle that. It was the many hours lost spent writing to a nonexistent person, talking with Kathy for hours about people who weren’t alive nor ever would be. It was the fact that she was playing with people’s lives–I thank God that Diane didn’t get “involved” with “John” in the same way I did “Joe”. This taught me quite a lesson about myself. I still trust too easily in some cases but not like I did then.
I had only 2 things on my mind after that it was GET EVEN and REVENGE. I thought about it constantly but I never did anything. I would have enjoyed nothing more than to tell our friends, Diane and Roger especially, what Kathy had done. Not so much to get them to dislike her but to prove that it had happened and give me sympathy, I think. She had told lots of people about Jonah and I was itching to see her made a fool of. At school I went on as if nothing happened (to respect her mother’s wish) and acted as friendly as ever to Kathy–always remembering she was “sick” and that she would be getting help and stop her evil ways. The thing that put the stake through my heart though was that after that Kathy was very cool to me like I had ruined all her plans and she would never forgive me. She went so far as to keep everyone I found dear away from me. She talked about me saying mean things and I ended up eating lunch alone. That was about all it took and I was ready to bring out my “proof” (the letters from “Joe”) for the whole school to see. I’m really not that kind of person though and my mom kept assuring me that someday she’d get what’s coming to her. I found that hard to believe. Especially when I heard from Kathy’s mother that they had taken Kathy to a psychiatrist and after one appointment had told Mr. & Mrs. Hauert that kathy had many deep rooted psychological problems that would take years to resolve and that she displayed psychotic behavior. I heartily agreed but then Mrs. Hauert sprung the biggie onme. Kathy refused to go and since she was over 18, they couldn’t force her to do it against her will. And besides, she went on, they couldn’t afford it and she still wasn’t convinced that the whole thing hadn’t been one of Kathy’s “acts or schemes” to get attention. Thus, Kathy went unpunished, unreprimanded even and there I was feeling that my world had fell apart. I would see her at school and know that there was no justice, life just wasn’t fair. Not too long after that my mom convinced to throw out the entire box of letters because every time I looked at them I became miserable. No sooner had I done it I regretted it because I now have no “proof” that it happened and in an odd way I need that to this day to convince myself that it wasn’t just a horrible nightmare. All I have to remind me is the deep emotional scars left behind. THE END.
After reading this again I am struck by my willingness to believe no matter what. I am a pretty logical person and if things don’t add up, I can usually figure it out and say so. The fact that Kathy had a ready answer for any question that I had helped to keep me snowed. I would have totally never fallen for this if I actually believed anyone could think up such an elaborate ruse. My mind just doesn’t work like that so I had/have a hard time coming to terms with those that do. What did she have to gain? Basically, she was the cat and I was the mouse. I was her plaything and she could toy with my emotions whenever the mood struck her. If only she had channeled all that “creativity” and imagination for good instead of evil. She would be a best-selling author now.
This would’ve made a good episode of a tv talk show where they confront someone who has done you wrong in front of a live audience. I really don’t ever want to cross paths with Kathy and feel sorry for anyone who has in the ensuing years. I’m sure she still thinks she did nothing wrong. Meanwhile, I am ashamed that I fell for her tricks hook, line and sinker. I’m not a dumb person but feel very stupid. This was a time before computers and the Internet. All the crazy things people are capable of and I’m always the one who thinks no one could possibly do that. My conscience is always working overtime and I forget there are others who have none.