Barter sex

My sex life began with a bang (no pun intended) on April 22,1970.  I was a sixteen year old virgin.  I will tell the story of that rape on my new blog, the one I keep threatening to start, any time now.  I’m working the kinks out of it.

After that, I ran away from my artsy-fartsy home on the east coast, ran all the way to California to be a hippie, and promptly got raped again, in a big white metal bed at the home of a friend and her family. Guy walked right through the door, climbed on top of me: “Don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt.” Where DO they learn that pick-up line?  I left the next day, thingy chances on Highway One heading south to Santa Monica, where my friend had a friend who said she knew of a place I could crash. Only that didn’t work out the way it was supposed to.

After a few days of abject homelessness, too scared to sit down anywhere, too scared to go to sleep on the side of the road for fear I’d get raped again, I was offered a great deal: I could sleep on a cot in a crowded garage where a rock band practised, provided that I would sleep with the band members.

At that point it seemed like the best possible arrangement, since I would have a guaranteed place to sleep, and the people I would be having sex with were a known quantity and not just random people grabbing me off the street or coming in my window when I was asleep.

One kind of sweet thing was that the bass player took a shine to me and asked all the others to stay away, after they had each had a turn or two.  So I “belonged” to Spacey Tracey.

There wasn’t a bathroom in the garage so I used the yard.  The lady who lived in the house left her back door open for a while, so I would sneak in there when she was at work and use the bathroom, take a quick shower (I got to stinking pretty bad with all that sex and no shower).  Also I had no food and no money.  The cot in the garage was the barter deal. Tracey didn’t seem to notice or care that I was getting pretty gaunt.

On one trip through the dark kitchen of the lady’s house on my way to the bathroom I noticed that there was a bowl of those pastel poufy after dinner mints on the kitchen counter.  I grabbed a handful and stuffed them in my pocket.  That whole day I sucked on them very slowly, feeling them dissolve on my tongue, feeling the surge of sugar into my blood, a tiny flicker of energy enlivening my flesh.  My mind was dead, though.  Gone.

Once I discovered the mints I made sure to grab a handful every day.  That was all  I had to eat.  The band tried to get me to drink some Boone’s Farm Apple Wine one night.  It barely hit my stomach before coming up again.  Didn’t make much mess, though:  nothing in there.

Well, the lady finally wised up that I was helping myself to her bathroom and mints.  One day the back door was locked.  I told Tracey, sadly, that I would have to move on, or starve to death.  I was terrified at the prospect of leaving, because every night for a couple of hours I had Tracey’s body to cling to, and that was my whole world.  Yet I was truly starving, and had to find a saner situation where there might be both shelter AND food in the offing.

What’s interesting to me in retrospect is that I never asked Tracey for food.  I felt too ashamed and worthless to ask for anything more than what was offered: a place out of the rain, reefer when offered, the companionship, such as it was, of the band, and the barter arrangement with Tracey.

Later, when Tracey found out I was pregnant, he offered me money to help with the abortion.  I tried to reassure him by telling him it wasn’t his, but his face fell apart and I realized that maybe he had loved me, a little.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

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  1. Wow. That’s the kind of story you can’t make up. I’m glad you’re safe and not hungry any more!

  2. I’d say that publishing your memoir as a novel might be an amazing thing; even when writing about painful subjects, you have a real talent for drawing the reader in.

    I’m glad you’re not hungry anymore. That, I can empathise with..

  3. You must’ve pretty brave to run away to Cali. I’m confused why the local authorities didn’t offer you temporary housing/homelessness accomodation when you had nowhere to stay, or welfare benefits so you could buy food. But maybe you didn’t want that; you did say you didn’t feel you deserved it. I’m glad that it is in the past now, it sounds really scary to say the least! Though you’re certainly not the only person I know who has a string of bad stuff happen to them; I know someone in real life who has had an utterly unbelievable (for the wrong reasons) life (inc rape, though she didn’t realise that’s what it was till months later – she thought of him as her boyfriend -and by then she really liked him so didn’t call the police) and I’ve never been able to tell anyone about my experiences with the education dept of my local authority because it is totally unbelievable and if someone told me it, I’d tell them to get psychiatric help for paranoia. I have anxiety, it used to be much worse because of constant criticism; your post about “ruling tyrants” and “squashed” might fit, although for me it was only occassional and didn’t involve hitting. OK I’ve no idea what the point of this ramble was, and I’m not trying to say I get what it is/was like for you – obv, I can’t because that stuff didn’t happen to me, it was less serious stuff that happened. I have a fear of rape for some reason, I’ve always been scared it’d happen, or that I’d be jailed for a crime I didn’t commit, or have a heart attack.

    • Actually, one lived in fear of the local authorities. This was 1970, and they had absolute power. If they found a runaway girl on the street it was common for them to rape her themselves. So the best thing was to learn to be invisible, never turn your back to a door, and always have an escape route planned. Always.

      • So if the girl reported the rape, the other police just wouldn’t process the allegation? Wow things were bad back then. But I meant like going to the council or social work department, but then I guess in the U.S you have to be 18 to live on your own, so they might have put you in a children’s home or returned you to your parents, unless your parents agreed to sign emancipation papers. Here, at 16 you can live on your own so you’d get put in homeless accomodation (well it’s just a council flat the same as all other council flats, just temporary) till the council gave you a permanent council flat. And they’d put you on welfare. That’s why I’m always confused how people end up on the streets, but your blog is illuminating. There are people like that in my area, in Edinburgh I see a particular young girl quite often but I dunno if she actually sleeps on the street or not, she might just beg but have a flat, I dunno. Thanks for all yur replies btw. The guy didn’t mean to be insensitive, he just wanted me to get therapy which I didn’t need or want. He majored in psychology and was trying to get me to agree to therapy but it got loads better on its own without therapy, because I can recover and also can control my emotions to a degree. He didn’t realise this was possible.


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