I suppose if you look at my blog regularly and don’t just look in on it once and swear off coming here for the rest of the life of our galaxy, you have probably realized that I live and die for cartoons and metaphors.
Seriously, the cartoon above is Mary Ann and Ginger with Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, a TV show I watched far more often in afternoon syndication as a Belmond Junior High student at the start of the 70’s than I did when it was originally on in the 60’s and I wasn’t watching with high levels of hormonal lust in my brain.
In the Fall of 1981 I began teaching Language Arts to eighth graders in Frank Newman Junior High of Cotulla, Texas. On the very first day of my teaching career, in the third period of the day, one of my somewhat stupid but probably also slightly evil male students announced to class, “Hey, you look like Gilligan!”
The show on TV, of course, was still running in the afternoons in syndication. And because the student thought I looked like the actor Bob Denver, and because he probably thought they could all manipulate me as a fool like the TV Gilligan was a fool manipulated by others on the island, my classroom would become known as Gilligan’s Island.
Ironically, in a few more years, about 1985, I ended up with basically two girlfriends. Mary Ann, the one I was actually chasing, was the teacher’s aide in my classroom who helped by translating all the bad words in Spanish used daily on the “Island.” And Ginger, the one that was chasing me, was the rookie Reading Teacher for whom I was the unofficial mentor since she was the white girl from Wisconsin who could only get the boys to settle down because she was good looking in their little brains filled with hormonal lust. Technically I dated both of them, because I asked Mary Ann out repeatedly, and she said yes to me for lack of anything better to do. I took Ginger places because she was my next-door neighbor at the apartment house, and she did not own a car of her own. And Mary Ann let me go on dates that Ginger asked me out on as long as we never talked about it using the noun “date” as something other than the sugary fruit that comes from a date palm.
Mary Ann didn’t like the noun “girlfriend” either, whether I meant Ginger or herself. She had been unhappily married before, and liked me better as a friend with no permanent attachments.
Mary Ann was also responsible for introducing me to nudists and naturists. Her sister who was deaf lived in Austin at a “clothing optional” apartment complex with her husband and child. It was a culture shock for me when we went to Austin for the weekend to see the musical “Cats.” I didn’t have to stay there since my parents lived in nearby Taylor, Texas. But after leaving her there on Friday night, I had to enter the place to pick her up again on Saturday. Oh my! Naked people! And not just hairy guys and fat women, but young ladies and kids in the pool too. I talked to some of them. They were all open and friendly, though they were sort of 70’s hippie-types. Mary Ann and I made a number of weekend trips to Austin, and I got to know the place well, though always exercising the “clothing” option. I began corresponding with one couple because of a mutual interest in stamp collecting. They put me in touch with a couple that sold naturist publications and traded stamps who also ran a naturist resort in Florida. They definitely got me into philately, but they also predicted that one day I would embrace naturism too. I have to confess, the roots of the obsession were already there before I got to know any of them.
I actually only saw one of the two “girlfriends” naked in the five year period I spent time with them both, and I didn’t marry either young woman. But I played the part of Reluctant Rabbit holding the Big Pencil (a metaphor that obviously stands for teaching ability) on the Island for 23 years. Those cartoonish ideas all came together to make me who I am. And I laugh about it… long and hard… with no regrets. I really kinda like who I am.