Just Another Woman’s Story About Non-Consensual Ass-Grabbing

My college had a unique schedule. We had fall and spring semesters like most places, but also had a lovely month in the middle there when students could have internships, travel, or take short classes on campus.

It was January Term.

Jan Term was one of the “deciders” when I chose Westminster (that, and a nice alumni scholarship, as my mom was a ‘73 grad). I spent my first Jan Term reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and taking hikes around the frozen New Wilmington countryside. As a sophomore I spent the month at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM, in a traditional loom weaving class, and following that, I was an intern at the Erie Art Museum.

Which brings me to my senior year.

I was an English major, and not far away, in the city of Youngstown, OH (also the place of my birth), a small literary magazine and printing press was still in operation. One of my professors knew the proprietor from ages back, and I happily signed up to be an intern at The Pig Iron Press.

Run by an aging hippie (I loved, and still love, aging hippies), the Pig was located in a 4-story building downtown, right around the corner from one of Youngstown’s coolest bars. Old Hippie Jim kept the first floor open to customers and operated a copy center, Kinko’s-style, to keep the lights on.

The building was something to behold.

The first floor had copy machines and a kitchen where I tasted natural peanut butter for the first time. The loft on the second floor featured overstuffed couches, a table with ashtrays, and stacks — yes, stacks — of dusty envelopes of poetry and short-story submissions that had been piling up over the years. The third floor had more stacks, an ancient Mac, and several Selectric typewriters.

The fourth floor was where he kept the costumes.

The basement was where we roller-skated.

Jim needed an intern to review submissions and help finish a book he’d been working on for a while, a history of the city titled Young’s Town.

I had a key to the place after my first day. I’d arrive just before 9 am, open up the copy shop, make coffee, and flip through the couple-few used books he had for sale, copies of On the Road and collections by Langston Hughes.

Jim would roll in around 9:30, disappear into the upper floors, and smoke weed. Around noon a few of Youngstown’s colorful residents would appear, usually in costume. They’d descend into the basement for roller-skating and smoking while I made $0.06 copies for folks off the street, most of whom would comment on the heavy smell of pot.

I’d brush it off with an excuse about incense.

We never had many customers in the afternoons, so I’d spend my time reading through the manuscripts (some sent in a decade before) and working at the old Mac, editing what would eventually become the book. Jim and the others would float about in a haze, telling stories and trying on funny hats. When Jim invited me and a friend to attend a local theatre production, I naturally accepted, and our evening of theatre, consulting the I Ching, and smoking weed in Jim’s old car, three abreast in the front seat, did not disappoint.

It was about mid-January when I noticed that Jim had started to stand a little close while I pored over the yellowing sheets of paper.

It was a few days later when he hugged me pretty tight when I was locking up for the night.

And it was the next morning when he came up behind me at the copy machine and rubbed his hand all over my ass, cupping each cheek through my thrift-store corduroys.

I stood at the machine, frozen. I was making copies of manuscripts to take home and read that night, so I needed to wait until the stack was done.

He moved away from me, and I finished out the day, avoiding him as much as possible. I knew he was high — he was always high — and likely lonely. I’d suspected something was going on with the roller-skating girl, but didn’t know for sure.

The Press at the time had a sort of advisory board, a board of directors, made up of local artists and historians, folks in the community who knew the Pig was special and wanted to keep it going.

The president of the board, and I’ll be damned if I remember his name, was a kindly straight-laced fellow, a cool guy who had become a confidant of sorts over the previous few weeks. We’d talk about books, my own writing, and give each other knowing looks when the building smelled more dank than usual.

I considered him a friend, and I told him my story.

He was nonplussed, but also very concerned. He told me that the board would speak to Jim, about this as well as his near-constant weed-smoking.

They did. And I was relieved.

I was also done with my internship. The month was nearly over, and I worked out the last few days, taking care never to be alone with Jim, putting the finishing edits on the book and making copies when needed. I told the story to my professors. Jim’s old friend was sad and disgusted. She felt guilty for setting me up there in the first place. But, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t mine, and it wasn’t the board’s, either.

That didn’t keep me from feeling guilty about it, though. I’d been chummy with Jim — I tend to be chummy with a lot of people, especially old and interesting people. I’d smoked pot with him. I’d sat in the middle when we got high in the front seat of his car. I wasn’t innocent.

Right?

It’s taken me years to tell this story. It came to light only this morning when I read an article in the Toronto Star about professors at the University of Western Ontario telling students that internships at Q were “off-limits.”

I, like many NPR-loving Americans, admired Jian Ghomeshi’s radio voice and frank interview style. I’d sent him flattering tweets a time or two and giggled with pleasure when he’d fav and occasionally respond.

I, like many people, sent tweets of support when I heard he’d been fired.

When the full stories emerged, I, like many women, knew that women don’t lie about this stuff. Why would we? What, pray tell, would we have to gain? Money? A brush with “fame?”

As I write this now, I’m thinking about the folks still involved with the Pig Iron Press. They don’t have a website, but they do have a Facebook page, and it looks like it’s still in business. It’s crossed my mind a few times that this might stir things up, reopen old wounds, or hurt a lonely, horny old pothead.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write it.

And the same goes for all of us. All of us — all the college girls who have been uncomfortable during a teacher’s evening office hours. All the women in jobs where we have to work hard to convince coworkers that we know what we’re talking about, despite our choice of clothing. All the moms at Target who are afraid to linger in the family planning section. All the church-goers who think the minister’s compliments are a little “off.” All the women whose husbands have hit them with guitars; all the girlfriends who have wanted to jump out of moving pickup trucks.

We have to speak up.

It’s scary as hell, but we have to do it.

The only way it’ll be less scary for our daughters and granddaughters (and who knows, maybe they’ll live in a world where this kind of behavior is as foreign as some Americans believe slavery to be) is if we TALK ABOUT IT.

That’s the first step, at least.

Thanks. I support you. And I’m listening.

This is dedicated to Kathy Sierra, Carla Ciccone, Lucy DeCoutere, Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Taylor Swift, the anonymous student at UWO, all my friends, my future friends, my daughter, sister, mom, nieces, and all women everywhere.

 

This article was originally posted on Medium on November 4, 2014.

Confessions of a Metal Edge Pen Pal

The Girls, 1988

When I was 11 I lied and said I was 13 when I submitted my full name, parent’s address, and list of favorite bands to Metal Edge magazine’s Pen Pals section.

Which was good because I was 13 when they published it.

I’d been a faithful reader of Metal Edge ever since my friend Annie, whose parents smoked Marlboro Reds in the kitchen and whose older brother played “Cum On Feel the Noize” in the basement had started decorating her room with its torn-out pages. We’d walk to the Rite-Aid not far from her house and buy each issue, taking care to get one from the back that hadn’t been fingered by other shoppers.

Soon my room was covered with long-haired, ripped-teeshirted Gods of Rock the likes of Rick Savage, Zakk Wylde, Stephen Pearcy, and Joey Tempest, their names discreetly printed in small white capital letters in the corner.

The Pen Pals page was newsprint like the other sections of the magazine not dedicated to preteen walls and promised the opportunity to make friends with metal fans world ‘round. On a piece of notebook paper I wrote:

Kate Daly
(house and street omitted to protect my parents, who still live there)
New Martinsville, WV
Likes: Def Leppard, Poison, Whitesnake, Europe, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Stryper, White Lion
Age: 13

and sent it to the address ATTN: Pen Pals. Each month I’d stand in the Rite-Aid and nervously scan for my name. I didn’t know they’d printed it until the first letter arrived from Japan.

They came from Sweden and Huntington, WV. Letters came from Minneapolis and Ontario and Nevada, and one day an envelope arrived from San Antonio, TX, decorated with the most beautiful artwork I’d ever seen.

Freddy Q. was an artist. Freddy Q. loved White Lion. Freddy drew an amazing rendition of the Pride album cover on a piece of typing paper and sent it in a legal-size envelope so it wouldn’t have folds. I wrote and told Freddy about my family, my tape collection, and how I’d stained the driveway spray-painting banners for the Def Leppard concert. I told him about my Swatch phone and how my friend Rachael and I met a boy at the WOMP-FM Monster Jam and called everyone in the Wheeling phone book with his last name, asking if Mike was there, and the $124 phone bill my dad was surprised to receive.

Freddy and I exchanged phone numbers and agreed that he’d call. I waited that night with my finger on the hook, popping it up on the first ring so my parents would assume it was a wrong number.

The voice on the other end surprised me. It wasn’t his Spanish accent or the fact that his deep voice made him sound at least 17; it was the fact that I was hearing the voice behind the slanted scrawl and the heartfelt pencil drawings. We didn’t have much to say.

Later that spring, around the time mom filled my Easter basket with To Hell With the Devil on cassette and Misty of Chincoteague in paperback, my love of the magazine had started to fade. I’d graduated to full-sized posters, Kip Winger in a Bastille Day tank-top and the iconic G N’ R band shot replacing the tear-outs. Freddy didn’t write after the phone call, but I’ve always wondered what happened to the boy in Texas who loved White Lion.

Maybe I’ll find him on the Internet.

 

Cover photo: The Girls, May 1988. L-R: Shauna K., Kate D., Rachael H., Annie K., Sheri E. Photographer probably Becky W. 

This essay was originally posted on Medium on September 16, 2013, and has been backdated accordingly.

My Boyfriend Is a Metal Head

Kirk Hammett

But we both like Zeppelin, so it’s ok.

I never miss a chance to talk about gear with an old guy at a picnic.

Late last summer at a pig roast in Buffalo, my boyfriend called me over to talk to an older guy who was dating one of his fifth-grade teachers. “Barry’s a musician,” he said. “I told him you played bass.”

“Yeah!” I said, pouring the head off my draft of Labatt Blue. “I’ve played for about 15 years now with a few bands in Pittsburgh.” I went into my usual spiel, how I started playing mostly surfy stuff, not Beach Boys but more The Ventures, yeah, we covered Telstar, Mr. Moto, Surf Rider. “We did some cool gigs, opened for Dick Dale a few years in a row, played with The White Stripes before they were on MTV. I have a Mexican p-bass, a ‘95, sounds great.”

“I’ve got a ‘67 Hofner, too,” (my companion makes a “Well, then!” whistling noise when I say this), “Yeah, it’s cool,” I respond, pretending not to notice, “You can tell someone had the pickguard on for lefties. I play with an Ampeg B-15 — have a B-100 for home, but I take the Portaflex to shows.”

“Ah, the best bass amp there is!” says my new musician friend as I nod knowingly.

“I’ve got a Les Paul custom with EMGs. Used to have a Mesa Dual Rec with a Marshall 4×12,” says my boyfriend.

“That’s quite a metal machine you got there,” says Barry the Musician.

I resist the urge to say it’s an Epiphone, not a real Les Paul, and make a joke about solid-state vs. tubes. But I don’t. Barry says he’ll friend me on Facebook and we decide to get some pulled pork.

I didn’t make the joke because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that he’s a metal head. I love his Metallica posters and his Children of Bodom CDs and his NIN tee-shirts. And I don’t care that he would probably buy a Flying V.

Tonight he’s downstairs picking out “Over the Hills and Far Away.” He really is a great guitarist. It’s not Bob Dylan, it’s not The Byrds, and we’ll never share a love of Leonard Cohen. And even if he doesn’t think the Troggs Tapes are that funny, he loves me.

And we both love music. That’s good enough for me.

 

Cover photo: Kirk Hammett, fanpop.com. 

This essay was originally posted on Medium on September 16, 2013, and has been backdated accordingly.

My Divorce Goes to Eleven

Or, why I’d rather be your bandmate than your wife

When I got your name in the Borders employee gift exchange, I knew you’d appreciate a thrift-store shirt and some salt-and-pepper shakers. When you asked me to the Bob Dylan show on Valentine’s Day just a few weeks later, and offered to drive even though your car didn’t have heat, I knew it might be something.

I bought a bass with my September paycheck and played that Halloween show just a month later, dressed as Roller Girl. We were in a band. was in a band. I was playing bass in a band!

And you were, well, ok.

We spent Saturday mornings making fliers with my bootlegged copy of Pagemaker and Saturday afternoons walking around the city, staple gun and Scotch tape in hand. I spent evenings after work designing album covers, buttons, and tee-shirts.

We got married because I think we thought we had to. It seemed like the next step in growing up, like going with mom to Penney’s to buy a bra.

But afternoons at guitar stores do not a marriage make. A trip to Memphis for analog mastering isn’t a honeymoon. Releasing a 7″ isn’t a recipe for happiness. And reverb doesn’t say I love you.

You were cool about the divorce thing. We cried, of course. But you understood when I told you that I needed someone who would dance with me. Not onstage jumping up on the last note, not behind me at a packed GBV show, but really dance. Like at a wedding or a reunion when you’re going to look like an ass and that’s the point.

You’d always sit there.

I’m glad we’re still in a band. I love it, actually. I love lugging my amp up onstage, I love my blue P-bass, and I love the songs we play. It’s part of who I’ve been, and who I want to continue to be. I’m glad it’s who I can still be without you.

See ya at the show.

 

Visit the hi-frequencies website.

Cover photo: The hi-frequencies at the Mattress Factory, December 2000. L-R: Kate D., Bill M. Photo by Melissa S.

This essay was originally posted on Medium on September 12, 2013, and has been backdated accordingly.