Being among the many for whom the Harvey Weinstein reports strike a chord
When I was a sophomore in high school, I wound up in a class taught by a man I initially considered to be an eccentric. He wasn’t like any of the other teachers at my suburban Bay Area school, and I didn’t know quite what to make of the guy.
I’ll call him Mr. X.
Mr. X was an intimidating figure despite not being a large man. He yelled to get our attention, and on occasion, he’d devour chalk—yes, the writing implement. I think he wanted to give us the impression that he was unpredictable, maybe even a little crazy. It worked. Not even the toughest of the tough kids messed with him.
At the same time, most of us liked Mr. X. He called each of us by our last name: in my case, Ms. Daugherty. It made us feel kind of like we were adults, at that age when you’re in a hurry to grow up. And he was funny in a borderline inappropriate way, which played well with a captive audience of teenagers.
A few weeks into the semester, fortysomething Mr. X started asking me questions about my home life—and learned I was the youngest of two kids being raised by a working, divorced mother. Shortly thereafter, the flattery began. At first, he told me I was intelligent, much smarter than my peers. But that soon transitioned to “sexy.” That’s the nickname he gave me, and he used it in front of my classmates.
I was your average, fairly naive 15-year-old girl who’d come up with a reason his intentions weren’t suspect. Like the time he invited me to spend the weekend at his house, ostensibly to go horseback riding with his wife—a twentysomething former student. Or the time he gave me a ride home after tennis practice and asked if anyone was there. He was just trying to be nice, I told myself. Then again, I was nervous enough to lie and say my older brother was home.
When my closest friends began hearing rumors that Mr. X and I were in a relationship, I confided in them some of the things he’d said to me. They told me what I didn’t want to believe: that he was a creep.
I found out they were right the day before Christmas break. One by one, as we were being dismissed from his class, Mr. X gave everyone a hug. But when I got to the front of the line, he picked me up, twirled me around and planted one on my lips. I was dumbfounded.
Over winter break, I started dating someone. Mr. X found that out when school resumed and shunned me. He then turned his attention toward a student in another period—a friend of mine who said she liked the attention. When rumors began swirling about them, she started isolating herself.
Two years later, after I’d moved out of town, more rumors surfaced about a relationship with yet another student. Mr. X ended up resigning from his job and relocated to Nevada—taking that student with him. Years later, I hear she left him and moved on with her life.
I couldn’t help but think of Mr. X following the reports of Harvey Weinstein harassing women in Hollywood. Under a different set of circumstances, I may not have been able to evade him.
I wish I could say that Mr. X was the only male figure in my then-young life who tried to use his position of authority for sex. There have been several others—the thrice-my-age, small-business owner I worked for right out of high school; the college professor who got handsy with me out at the bars a few years after that. Etcetera, etcetera.
Long story short: me too.