Monthly Archives: September 2018

We all knew them

If you are a sexual assault survivor and are suffering after the last week, please reach out to experts who can help.

No, boys will not be boys.

No, this wasn’t just “the way things were in the 80s” (as if sexual assault was no big deal back then).

But yes, we all knew the rapey boys. the horn dogs. The predators. The ones who assaulted drunk people. Sometimes they gang raped, whole groups of “nice boys” raping a passed out person, one after another. Sometimes they held a person down on the bed and said you know you want it. Always after the victim was a slut. Almost always after people knew. Lots of people. Especially the young people. But a fair share of adults knew too.

Consent wasn’t an issue we talked about back then. The buddy system was. Go to a party without a buddy, you were asking for it. Stay at a party without a buddy, what did you think would happen?

No, it didn’t always happen.

But it happened enough that if it didn’t happen to you, you personally knew someone it had happened to.

My freshman year at university a police officer met with us before we went dancing at college night at a local club.

“If a person is too drunk to say no, it’s not yes. If a person changes their mind it’s not yes.

Use the buddy system.

Watch out for each other.”

Some people in the room thought the warnings were weird, but most of us knew the truth.

We’d watched people destroyed because there were men in our lives who viewed people as sexual objects, the end. We’d watched people harassed and bullied non-stop after getting caught alone at a party. Or for daring to speak up about their abuse.

A couple years later most of us in that room knew at least one someone who’d committed suicide after her rape at a party. All of us knew people who chose to keep the trauma quiet and move on with life because it was easier that way or because they felt they were to blame for their own assault.

I don’t know why I thought we’d changed as a society after those years.

I thought we’d learned, grown up. We’d read Speak. Consent was a normal part of conversation now. Wasn’t it?

But then this week happened.

We haven’t grown at all.

It’s still her fault or alcohol’s fault or boys being boys, as if rape were the norm. As if alcohol was a green light to sexually assault people.

But one thing has changed. People are DONE letting rape culture perpetuate without fighting back.

No one has to reveal their trauma. No one has to write their #metoo moment for the world to see and share and rage over.

But we can.

We can also make sure our children understand consent completely.

I heard a story on NPR about a middle school girl who led the charge to make consent part of sex education in her state.

She had to fight to make it happen because some legislators in her state said “consent” implied it was okay to have sex. Those legislators are the problem, and their days in government are numbered.

Whatever else happens after this week I hope it leads to constant conversations about consent, and I never want to hear boys will be boys again. Because no, most men don’t automatically decide rape or attempted rape is fine when they’re drunk. Not even if they’re teenagers.

*This week has left so many people hurting. Whether they choose to share their #metoo or not, those impacted by sexual assault have had the trauma constantly brought to the surface this week. Hugs to all.

If you’re hurting and can handle levity right now, my daughter shared this with me.

Language alert, but it made me feel better.

Big Chef In The Sky

Big Chef was the place. An old fashioned diner complete with a counter, a customer base of retirees composed of aging vets and the requisite crew of wait staff who could dish out the sass as quickly or even quicker than they took it.

When my father-in-law walked in, a chorus of “Lee” sounded around the place and he would say hello to all as he led us to the counter for a burger and fries or tater tots and hot chocolate or coffee and coffee and coffee. We weren’t there often, but Johnny was, and he wasn’t alone.

Big Chef is gone now, replaced this week by a new diner. The other patrons are almost all gone too. Cancer, old age, heart problems. Time does that.

I never understood the real magic of Big Chef until visitation for my father-in-law.

Everyone there loved Johnny. Many of them had met at Big Chef, and over the years he’d had them over for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Sunday dinners he cooked.

One of his Big Chef friends drove hours from Port Arthur for the visitation. Johnny served as an honorary pall bearer for that friend’s wife back in 2010. The man was a truck driver who stopped in at Big Chef regularly and ended up as much family as friend.

Another Big Chef friend lived across the street from Johnny. The World War 2 vet enjoyed being known as a grumpy old man even more than Johnny did. When he got sick, Johnny and a few other Big Chef friends checked in on him all the time and made sure he ate, took him up to Big Chef, went out to visit him at the Veteran’s Center when he couldn’t continue to stay at home. That friend’s daughter took Johnny to the hospital years ago when he had a blood clot and probably save his life. She was with Brian and Johnny when Johnny took his last breath last Friday at the Veteran’s Center.

Other Big Chef friends checked in on Johnny often over the last two and a half years as Johnny battled metastasized lung cancer. They were there for the car auctions and the time out in the shop working on the classic car collection, something the doctor said gave Johnny quality of life and would help him live longer. It did too. Until the last few weeks of his life, Johnny worked on those cars with his friends. Friends made at a diner first years and years ago.

Big Chef was a place.

But it was a whole lot more than that.

Johnny at the Big Chef diner counter

Eugene Johnny Lee

March 13, 1936 – Sept. 14, 2018

He was a good father-in-law. He will be missed.


Memorial slideshow