On a couple of these vacation summers and weekends in between, I became well acquainted with Perfect Patty, a child of one of my family’s Polish friend’s. Perfect Patty’s mom who had been a Catholic had become “saved” and converted to being a Baptist. Perfect Patty is of course not her real name, though I have named her such since her holy roller of a mother tried very hard to make sure her daughter performed perfection in all aspects of her life. Perfect Patty became a Baptist too at a very tender age, and not so coincidentally so did her little brother. Their dad remained a Catholic and stayed with his fundamentalist fanatic wife and his family, though sometimes I witnessed some definite frustration coming from him.
But I digress; I spent some time during a summer or two at their northern Ontario cottage being prayed over (during her/my devotions) and listened to her plans for her children to become missionaries when they grew up. I found it all very unlikely watching her son hang socks from his ears to play doggie. I did notice though that nothing would deter her from her dream that her children were going to serve the creator of the universe on her behalf, a different sort of social climber you might say and a lofty goal at that. She was extremely judgemental of all manner of things and it was very scary and upsetting when she kept digging for dirty details about my parents’ troubles that had led up to their separation and divorce.
I had a little radio and tape machine which was monitored for sinful music; I was not permitted to do my jazz dancing as it was a sin and an affront to God. Ballet was acceptable because it was art. Nor could we play cards because it could lead to gambling. I found the whole thing to be strange and scary. Perfect Patty and I built a fort and hid our card games of war in there one whole stay so we could have some fun in peace.
Strangely enough I happened to come across some severely hot ‘n heavy historical erotic fiction on Patty’s mother’s bedside, which we eagerly read with fascination and giggles at Cleopatra’s salacious sex life spelled out in vivid and delicious detail. (I wonder sometimes if I can ever find that book again!)
One visit also introduced me to one of my first big crushes on a Polish/Canadian boy, whose parent’s cottaged in the area and were acquainted with my host family. We really liked each other a lot and wanted to spend time walking together, playing tether ball or just talking and horrors, maybe touch hands. While lying in bed one grey day I could hear Patty’s mother speaking to the mother of my boy crush. The conversation hurt me so badly I walked in a confused daze for painful days. After grilling me the previous nights and bringing me to tears about my mother’s behaviour (devotions again) and praying over me by evening, she was calling me a slut’s daughter to the other mother, while I lay listening in the other room. I could not be trusted. I was a danger to that innocent boy.
We two young crushes secretly exchanged phone numbers but his mother made no bones about the fact that she did not want her son associating with the likes of me. It could have been what it should have been, a sweet young summer romance kid style, but it wasn’t. Overall, it sure was a very eventful series of visits; my introduction to heavy historical erotic fiction, falling for a cute boy, sexual shaming and the love and paranoia of Protestant Christianity all in one big sweep.