I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way: Episode 3.

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Poor Jessica Rabbit! She was an exemplary wife, a good cook, and obviously very patient since she put up with Roger all the time. Yet everyone immediately assumed she was a harlot, because of something she couldn’t help AT ALL: the way the animators drew her.

I know just how Jessica Rabbit feels! If you’re a homeschooled girl and the animators drew you with curves, you’re automatically seen as more sinful and more suspect. I remember getting in huge trouble for playing with Barbies at a little friend’s house. It didn’t matter how well-clothed the Barbies were: they had boobs, therefore they were “immodest.” They could be dressed in burlap sacks and they would still be immodest.

I assumed that in order to be a good person, you had to have a perfectly flat chest. I didn’t want to be one of these immodest people with boobs! Oh, no, sir!

Anyway, I grew boobs, but not for a long time yet. I believe I’m still in 1999. This fall, we got in the van every week and made long treks up to the birthing center (I think it was in Dearborn?) for Mom’s checkups with Baby O. It was rainy and dark on these trips and it felt a little surreal (Michigan felt that way a lot). We stopped at Salvation Army once and I bought a tiny white metal bunk bed for my dollhouse. I was building a huge dollhouse out of boxes on the Ping Pong table in the spooky basement. It was very elaborate and had different construction paper wallpaper in each room. I didn’t have a dollhouse family, so my Liddle Kiddles with their long pink and blue hair had to live there instead.

November: Baby O was born. We were all at Grandma’s. The birthing center wouldn’t let O be born there if she was more than a week overdue, and she just barely made it. Mom went and walked around the mall for 5 hours on the seventh day, and ate a pint of caramel ice cream, and that evening she went into labor just in time. (It reminded me of the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho.) I was so happy to have a real live sister! I rode Grandma’s bike around her circular drive standing up and singing “I have a sister!”

November/December: We all had chicken pox except me. Even Baby O had it. Christmas was that amazing Christmas when I got the Polly Pocket village. L was disappointed with whatever his present was and I very smugly told him he should be thankful for what he had. I didn’t often get to be a more holy person than L.

Sometime during this winter mom started having us leave every Lothlorien service and hang out in the church library because Pastor Elrond brought up unapproved topics during his sermons. He talked a lot about “sex” and “fornication” and “homosexuality,” which he pronounced with great emphasis on each syllable: hoe-moe-secks-shoo-ality. He was bald and short and had a very high voice. I used to lie in bed at night and puzzle over what he could be talking about.

I read all the Mandy books while I was hanging out in the church library that winter. One of them was mis-bound and halfway through, the book started over again just when it got to the exciting part. That was maddening. I also found it exasperating that Mandy had a boyfriend, Joe, who she could not or would not admit was her boyfriend. She just tossed her silky golden hair around and said “Joe! You know we’re just friends.” Otherwise the books were very exciting, though.

The Orcs started pressuring us to eat their diet around this time. Mrs. Orc gave my mom a big comb-bound handbook about “The Hallelujah Acres Diet: God’s Plan for Health.” Reverend George Malkmus, who wrote this book, believed that God’s plan for health was eating the way people did in the Garden of Eden: raw fruits and vegetables, with no protein, animal products, cooked or processed foods. It was also important to drink a big glass of special green barley grass juice every morning. You could order this grass juice from the Hallelujah Acres website.

The Orcs eventually left Lothlorien and started going to Máhanaxar Baptist Church, where the sermons were usually not about sex, and they wanted us to come too. I remember we were over at their house for dinner once and all there was to eat was this raspberry-colored soup like tea, with big pieces of onion floating in it. It was disgusting.

We were able to eat less and less stuff as that winter went on. I remember doing laundry in the big yellow laundry room downstairs and singing to myself “Meat and Eggs and Cheese and Bread – that’s what with which I love to be fed.” I asked Mom “Why can’t we eat meat and cheese any more?” and she said “They’re not really healthy and they have a lot of hormones in them.”

I felt guilty for wanting to eat things that were bad. I remember being super super hungry.

At least I had a plastic tooth appliance to chew on, 4 hours a day. It looked like a sports mouthguard and had been prescribed by our dentist Dr. Bifur Bofur Bombur DDS, a Korean man with rubber gloves that squeaked in your mouth. I had a cassette tape that said “Bite…Release…Bite…Release” for 4 hours. I carried the tape player around with me and was very conscientious about biting and releasing. It did eventually straighten out my teeth and I never had to have braces, which was nice.

Mom did random candy checks to see if we had been given any candy at church. If we had, we had to turn it in. One Sunday in spring, she asked me, “Did you get any candy in Sunday School?” I really wanted to eat the roll of Smarties so I said, “When do they ever give the fifth graders candy in Sunday School?” Later on, I was so conscience-stricken that I went and confessed and turned the Smarties in. As a punishment, I had to give up my “Sunday cupboard treat,” the once-a-week caramel we WERE allowed to eat. I thought that was no fair.

Around this time I first heard that death row inmates were allowed to choose whatever they wanted to eat for their last meal. I thought that was no fair either. I gave some serious thought to what I would pick if I were ever on death row.

I guess we first visited the Orcs’ church, Máhanaxar Baptist, around Christmastime, because they were making announcements about their Christmas program that night. It was a fairly normal, mainstream conservative Baptist church. The pastor’s name was (not) Tom Bombadil and he had a glass eye. I still fit into the black and white plaid dress when we visited, so I clearly hadn’t started my growth spurt yet.

Our family also went to the Christmas party at Dad’s seminary. There was a tampon dispenser in the ladies’ bathroom and I wanted to know what that was for. Mom said “I’ll tell you about that later” and hustled me out.

Around Christmastime, while I was lying in bed one night, I suddenly figured out what Pastor Elrond was talking about. In a blinding flash of insight, I put the pieces together and realized that people had sex by bumping their bottoms together. I carried this terrible knowledge around for years and did not tell anyone.

To be continued!

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