Gina always loved performance. She saved my neck one time. It was a middle school play. We went to a local elementary school and I only had a few lines to say.
But as I stood on stage and stared at all the marveling faces, I froze. I was so lucky I was paired with such a seasoned actress because she simply whispered my lines to me naturally as a reminder! She had my part memorized too! The awkward, clumsy kid I was, I actually didn't get the hint right away. She had to repeat it twice to me. The play went on and it was a success. Afterwards, when we were back stage, she boasted slightly, teasing me that I needed help and she saved me. I lied telling her I knew my lines all along. My pride didn't ever allow me to thank her.
Gina had told me what had happened. She would often stay after the other kids to get some extra training. And he was good, he knew what he was talking about. She became a better performer because of him. She had overcome so many fears and her own slight stuttering issues because of him.
But one practice session, like any other practice session, he was working with her on her posture. She was used to having her form molded. He would push the shoulders back. Place her feet at just the right positions. This was all normal but for whatever reason, this day was different.
It started with a slight sensuous touch right down the spine of her back. His words were, "This needs to be smooth". He continued to explain how each part of the body told a story and together they needed to convey a congruent message. His double closed fists spread out to flat palms facing downward as he emphasized the word "message".
The session continued as he went back to his seat, looking up at her. They continued to go through lines. "Stop, stop, stop," he said and he walked back up to her standing there.
Gina used to always wear short shorts. I don't know why but it was actually something people identified her with. Perhaps, she wish she hadn't that day.
"Your legs are all wrong." He continued to expand on his theory of the body being one fluid piece where all the parts needed to be flowing. "All the way, from here to here." He slid his hand so high up, she felt as if he was inside her shorts even though wasn't. And she had never been touched that high up her leg by another person.
When Gina was telling me, she said she felt a sexual tingling. She just froze. Perhaps it was that it was unexpected. Perhaps she didn't want to let her coach down because she looked up to him so much. Perhaps, she sought so badly his affirmation because she did not have the affirmation of her father.
As Gina continued to tell me, she said that he had taken off her shorts and ... She could not even continue at this point and I never found out the details of what followed. I just sat across from her and watched her cry. I did not know what to do. Should I hug her? Should I tell someone? Should I, should I, should I. But I was just a kid. I had no clue what to say to her or how to help her.
About a month later, we found ourselves sitting together again, talking. Everything at the school had changed. The rumors flew around. Gina actually told me, she wished she never opened her mouth in the first place. She wished things were just as before. She missed her coaching sessions. He was like a father to her. The father she never had. And by opening her mouth, she lost him, someone she cared about. She even defended him as a misguided sensitive man who made a mistake. Tears would flow as she spoke but she seemed so clear in her words.
Gina and I lost our friendship as life took us to different high schools. To this day, I am saddened by everything that happened. It is crazy to know that a single moment can overturn a lifetime of work. In a sense, her courage and words allowed me to find my own voice. And because of that, I thank her for her bravery.