Growing Up Juju (part 18 in a series)


Long before people knew me to be queer, they found me to be sporty. A “sporty girl” in the 1970s was basically code for being a queer girl. This was a time when Martina Navratilova hadn’t yet come out of the closet. I found it funny then, and quite hysterical now that she had to come out at all. She had bigger biceps than the middle linebacker on my high school football team. Martina was indeed, a sporty girl.

Anyway, sporty girls played every game there was and were busy during all seasons. I was in two basketball leagues in the winter, played on the high school volleyball team in the fall, the spring meant track and the summer was all about softball.

I actually was on a state championship softball team in 1980 and was picked all-state at first base two years in a row. You should of chuckled though at the aforementioned reference to the track team. Most people think of sprinters and jumpers when you talk track. When you are 5’11” and went right from size 6x to 16…..you throw the shot-put.

I sucked at throwing the shot-put. So, thankfully for you, this blog is not about track or any sport at all. Now, we can get to the 1978 Mercury Bobcat.

It was my first car, brand spanking new. I have told you before, I was spoiled and this is further evidence of that. My father died in 1976 and my mother re-married to a man named Lawrence. He didn’t hurt for cash and neither one of them wanted to tote me around to a million practices and games…biff, bang, boom, new car.

I didn’t get to pick the car, with the money goes the control. I wanted a maroon Chevy Camaro with a rear spoiler. Why did they buy me the Bobcat, Mercury’s answer to the Ford Pinto? It resembled the Pinto except it had a front grill that was on steroids. Blowing up after rear-end collisions would also have been a good argument for the future attorney….but we didn’t know that back then. The Camaro would have launched a 10th grader’s popularity into the stratosphere!

I had turned 16 in December of 1977, passed the driving test and received my license without a hitch. The Bobcat didn’t land in the driveway until about the first week of March of 78. After a few weeks of driving with my mother, the final examiner, I was released to drive for the very first time………solo.

Independence day was a Monday, I was set to drive to school and back with zero detours. The car was sparkling clean, my school gear was under the hatch-back, the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever….eight-track, of course….in the deck. Gas? Check. Pop-tart? Check. All clear for accelerating into my motorized future!

The drive to school was uneventful and I pulled into the student parking lot and took my place as a mobile sophomore. After a full day of classes I got my gear and headed to the track for practice.

The big girls that threw the shot-put practiced with the even bigger guys that threw it. So there I was, standing around the concrete square from which we launched those 16- pound balls, with 3 of the offensive linemen from the football team.

As one of the guys spoke to me, he began casually tossing the shot-put he had from one hand and back to the other. I could see his mouth moving, but I was drifting off from the conversation. My mind was on the drive home and what would be my soundtrack.

A shock of pain brought me back to the present moment. The shot-put had missed the big jock’s left paw and had come crashing down on my right foot. A 16-pound ball of steel landing on a human foot, that is standing on concrete….well that, my friends, is what you call a big hurt.

A friend drove my car home that day. The Bobcat sat in the driveway for the next 6 weeks, alone and longing for the Bee Gees. Bones had been broken, nerves had been damaged, and the sport of track and field was in my rear view mirror forever.

Sometimes in life, things come along too easy for you. It takes some sort of challenge for you to fully appreciate an award. After my foot was able to depress the gas pedal again, the Bobcat made a sporty girl proud.

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3 responses to “Growing Up Juju (part 18 in a series)

  1. Linda (Denison) Sass

    Six weeks with a sore foot and a brand new car sitting in the driveway waiting for you – wow, what patience you had to endure! :o)

  2. In college, I drove a 1973 Ford Pinto. I loved that car. Thanks for another wonderful story.

  3. Spoiled? No. Fortunate? Yes!

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