Dear Margo: Growing up with older brothers, I was exposed to sex early through the magazines, parties, etc. that came with them being in high school and entering puberty. I was even sharing a room with a teenage brother who snuck his girlfriends in while I was “asleep.” On my block, there was a group of us, boys and girls, who would play “doctor.” My problem: When I was 11 or 12, I was asked to babysit a neighbor’s kids. One of them was a girl about 6 or 7 with whom I played doctor until I saw a fear in her that stopped me dead. I had not touched her sexually; I just did what doctors did when they looked at you. I did not understand her response. This never happened again.
As I grew up and learned more about life, I realized I had more or less molested her. For more than 30 years, I have wondered whether she is OK and whether I should reach out and try to explain it all. My wife thinks it was not enough to impact her, that there is a chance she does not even recall it. I just want another’s view and some direction. — Lost
Dear Lost: Your growing up was obviously quite sexualized because of the older brothers. I would hope that most sitters did not/do not play doctor with the little kids in their charge. Good sense would just seem to dictate that.
Thirty years is a long time to wonder about something and then decide to maybe check into the matter. I would not pursue the incident with the victim, because no mater what you would say, if she felt molested, she was molested. There is always the chance that the fear you saw in her eyes had to do with someone who had been molesting her in a more determined way. Forgive yourself for this unfortunate misstep, and if the residual guilt is too hard to handle, a session with a therapist could help you put this to rest. — Margo, forwardly
Of Cake in Your Face and Bended Knees
Dear Margo: I have two wedding-related questions, just out of curiosity. (I am married.) What’s with the bended knee business when men propose? I find that kind of 18th century.
And what do you think of couples smooshing the wedding cake into each other’s faces? I have seen this done a few times and can’t figure it out. — Inquisitively
Dear Inq: Well, I’ve probably had more experience with this than most people, and no one I’ve known (or married) ever got down on one knee. I know it happens, however, from reading the Sunday New York Times wedding section stories. I have to think it’s done with a touch of irony and perhaps a wish to bow to the traditional. It certainly is one of those gestures whose meaning is immediately understood.
As for the cake, I’d probably belt a guy who did that at the cake cutting. I see no humor in covering a bride’s face with cake and frosting when she’s all made up and wearing a gown for her big day. In fact, it strikes me as a vaguely hostile act, for reasons that elude me. The symbolism of the first slice of wedding cake, by the way, is that the bridal couple feed it to each other as a gesture of sharing and taking care of each other. — Margo, properly
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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