Last updated Thursday, February 14, 2008 9:42 AM . Best viewed at a monitor resolution of 1024x768 or better.
Editor's note: in true Dragnet fashion, his name has been changed to preserve the fond memories of others.
Ah, yes! Teddy Mikkelson, the rapist!
I first met Teddy at my new church, after my parents broke up and I moved with my father to my grandparent's house. Turned out he lived two doors down behind my grandparents. It was the fall of 1958 and Teddy walked into my Sunday School class bedecked with a long row of attendance medals hanging on his chest, one for each year. I was impressed! I'd never stayed in one place in my life for as many years as he had perfect attendance medals for Sunday School.
Soon I was an Acolyte and quickly discovered that so was Teddy. He was also in the church choir and could play our huge organ. He seemed so damned smart and I was jealous! I tried very hard to get close to him. We played together in my grandparent's backyard with other kids in the neighborhood… board games, hide & seek, you name it. I really, really, really wanted to be his friend but, though we shared many of the same activities, I always sensed a wall between us that he would never allow to be penetrated.
One day in the spring of 1959 he came over to my grandparent's backyard and told me the wheat had been replaced on the back of the penny with the Lincoln Memorial and I told him he was making it up. He bet me he could prove it and, like the naive idiot I was, I took the bet. Looking back on it today, it seems that was the first instance where I fell victim to his need to show how smart he was and how dumb I was.
In the fall of 1959 I attended my first Boy Scout camporee and Teddy was assigned as my tent partner. I had been masturbating since I was seven years old and talked Teddy into doing it with me that night in the tent. For me it was the personal connection I had been longing for with him. Despite the intimate encounter, he maintained that impenetrable wall.
During the summer of 1960, our scout troop did two weeks at Camp Pahaquarra up on the Delaware River ten miles north of the Water Gap. I tried out for the Mile Swim patch which was given for doing 96 laps between the docks down at the camp's waterfront. It took me an hour, I was the last one out of the water, and I could hardly walk for the cramps, but I made it. For the last ten laps or so, Teddy had been standing on the docks cheering me on and when I crawled out he offered to help me back up the hill to my cabin. I was grateful for the assistance, but more importantly, for his attention. Back at my cabin, he had me lay face down on my bunk and started massaging the cramps out of my legs. For me it was the most positive attention I had ever had in my life up to that point. I don't think I thought of it as a boyfriend type of thing, but it really meant a lot to me.
Before I could enjoy it too much, he rolled me over, pulled off my swim trunks, and started masturbating me, shattering the warm fuzzy feelings I was having. And as soon as I ejaculated, he left, never to interact with me until a winter night in 1961 when he rang the front doorbell at the house my father had built and we had moved into after seven months of living with my grandparents. My father and stepmother were out for the evening and I was watching a movie about Lindbergh's 1927 flight on the TV in my bedroom upstairs. Teddy had never come over to my new house in the two years we had lived there. That he was here after dark really surprised me, but I let him in. I wanted to watch the Lindbergh movie, but he was very insistent and once both of us had our pants back up, he was out the door and headed home.
That spring we had another Boy Scout camporee and I had volunteered to play an Indian in a skit our troop was putting on. Teddy suddenly appeared at the flap of my tent and offered to help me get my loincloth on. I needed the help, but once again his help was nothing more than a ruse to get into my pants and he disappeared as soon as I climaxed.
Our paths diverged in high school but I still admired him from a distance. I heard he went to Rensselaer after graduation, but that was the last I heard of him for the next thirty-some years. In 1999 I took Pat to meet my father in New Jersey and show him the neighborhoods in which I grew up. During our stay I walked the two blocks over to the old Mikkelson home and rang the bell. Teddy's mom was still there, remembered me fondly, and told me Teddy was now living in California… less than twenty miles from where I live in Oakland!
Okay, so I grew up to be a gay man and perhaps those seeds were incubated during my tween years with Teddy. Surely by 51, everyone is secure with their sexuality regardless of what may have transpired in their youth and can talk comfortably about the past without guilt. I didn't want Teddy any more; I had Pat. But I was curious to know how his life had turned out and how our several rendezvous had affected his life. So, I called the number his mother had given me when I returned to California thinking he'd be delighted to hook up with someone whom he'd known since childhood who, despite having moved 3,000 miles from home, still lived just twenty miles away.
His tone on the phone was brusk, demanded to know what I wanted, and when I suggested it might be nice to to get together for coffee or dinner, said he was too busy just now; perhaps some other time. I waited a few months before calling a second time, thinking perhaps I had called the first time at a very inconvenient moment. Again I got the brush-off with the annoyed tone in his voice. Was he afraid I'd blackmail him? Had he truly thought so little of me back in the day? A combination of both? Whatever was going through his mind it was clear to me that he never wanted to hear from me again. The nearly identical reaction I had received from my uncle, who at age 14, had introduced me to male sex when I was 7.
Maybe it's the seven years of therapy I went through that allows me to talk about such things openly and without guilt. It doesn't seem to me that there's anything to feel guilty about. We were all growing up and that's what growing up is all about. Still, there's that curiosity in me that really wants to know what was going through the minds of others during those times. There's no desire to pick up where we left off but rather a need to know how shared experiences led to different paths in life. A need to know where I misunderstood the actions of others. Clearly my childhood experiences with Teddy had a profound affect on me; I just wanted to know what affect I may have had on him. Sure, I can make an educated guess based on his reaction to my phone calls and I'd probably be on target. But misreading people has been a constant shortcoming in my life and straight answers from them, I believe, would contribute to my own enlightenment.
Sleep well, Teddy. Hope you've found the answers you need.