One Way Ticket to Tom Jonesville

October 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

What do you do when you are young and feel alone in the world? I went home from school one day, and I stayed home. While Tom Jones’ isolation was forced upon him by TB, at the age of twelve, my isolation was by choice and withdrawal, at the age of sixteen. How do you tell your parents you don’t want to live? After crying day after day, week after week, month after month, I finally told my parents that I could not, would not go to school for one more day. It was just too painful. I remember my mother in tears, made me, in tears, go outside the next morning and tell my best friend and her mother, who were my regular ride to hell, I mean high school, that I wasn’t going to school that day.

It took my friends a while to notice that I wasn’t going back to school. How could I tell all of my normal friends that I was so not normal that I thought about driving off a cliff? How do you tell the belle of the ball, the brainy secretary of the student body, and the girls-at-lunch that I can’t see them any more because I am going to take my little self – ironically, I felt so small – and just disappear?

Tom Jones

By the time he was sixteen, Tom Jones, was more than making up for his two years in isolation — he married his childhood sweetheart and a month or so later, became a father. Living his adolescent life by being sexually active, he took the fast train to adulthood. I have always been fascinated that he has never talked about having a wife and child at such a young age as a burden. In fact, in many articles, he has spoken of it as having made him “feel like a man.”

At sixteen, I certainly did not feel like a woman. I didn’t even feel human. I felt like a freak because people would stare at me or make comments related to my height and/or skinniness. I felt alienated because the bullies always managed to get away with teasing, even when my mother went to the school to talk to my counselor about it. I felt alienated because my friends didn’t…or couldn’t… really understand the heart-pounding depth of pain from teasing. They were just trying to survive their own teen years. And I had never fully revealed to anyone but my mother how anxious I was about life in general, so no one really understood how my own young fears were fueled by the torture of teasing. I just wanted to disappear.

And that’s what I did. I disappeared. I stayed home. It was 1969 and there was Tom Jones and his voice to comfort me. I took an adolescent girl’s trip to Tom Jonesville, and didn’t leave that part fantasy, part reality world until I… well, you’ll have to take the journey with me to see how my coming of age story turns out and the many ways…  the singer saved me.

Tom Jones

Note: Once I entered the world of Tom Jones and his legions of fans, I received many photographs taken by many fans throughout the United States via “snail mail,” back in the old days when there were no PCs and Internet. Most of these photos are not labeled with the name of the photographer. If you see your photo of Tom Jones and can remind me how/where/when this photo was taken and would like a credit, please feel free to contact me at

The Amazonian Anomaly

October 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Growing at the speed of light, by the time I was 16-years-old, I was six-feet-tall.  Shortly thereafter, I was two inches taller than my six-foot-tall father.  To make matters worse, I weighed only about a hundred pounds, because everything went into growth spurts.  And this was long before being boney thin and anorexic looking was considered cool and chic.  In my time, being a skinny Amazonian girl was simply an anomaly.  And fodder for relentless teasing.

Them Legs

I got pushed and pulled and knocked into lockers, and tripped by mean boys who found pleasure in stepping on the back of my shoes, pulling off my heels, and watching my gawky long arms and 36-inch inseam legs flail and fall toward the ground.  The teasing felt relentless.  Definitely not good for a sensitive child…  I was always amazed how even total strangers would make careless comments such as, “How’s the weather up there?”  Ha-ha.  Or, “Your chest is at my eye level.”  Ha-ha.

It all came to a head when my 6-foot-2-inch body could no longer hide behind my parents, who could not protect me from people making thoughtless comments that made me feel self-conscious and freakish.  And I could not hide behind my friends, who could not protect me at school, where I was fearful of what nerve-wracking “torture” the day might bring.  It felt like Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were in my head, singing, “Nowhere to run, baby.  Nowhere to hide.  Nowhere to run, baby.  Nowhere to hide.  Nowhere to run, baby.  Nowhere to hide…”  Little did I know that I would I would run to… the singer who saved me.

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