Junior Prom, Teen Pregnancy & Date Rape

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a Father’s protection.”

-Unknown

            With clammy palms, furrowed eyebrows and nervous perspiration dripping from his temples, my Father took his handkerchief and uneasily wiped it across his forehead and let out an apprehensive sigh.

“Darlingy,” as my Father affectionately calls me, “let’s talk about date rape.” With a shaky voice and eyes unable to meet mine, he sounded surprised that he had enough fortitude to say the words in the first place.

I was 17 and this was how my then-62-year-old Father started his talk with me about the opposite sex. Even though having “the talk” seems to be a rite of passage for most adolescents, I did not expect this topic to come up at all in my lifetime. My parents are old-school. They are nearly 20 years older than some of the parents of the kids in my grade, and while their parents are products of the Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s, my parents were toddlers during World War II and survived through it and its devastating aftermath; in many ways, to this day, my parents are still living through the what they had lost during that war. They are traditional and did their best to raise my siblings and I in a culture that traveled much faster than they could keep up with.

When I was in Middle School, sex education was being taught in my health class. My parents refused to sign the permission slip allowing me to participate on the days a public health educator would come in with their life-size posters of the human anatomy and reproductive systems. Consequently, I ended up having to sit in the classroom next door, which was always filled with a bunch of unruly and obnoxious kids my grade. Being in the Honors Program with well-behaved students for most of the day made these sit-ins particularly uncomfortable. Hey, don’t judge me. I was a 13-year-old know-it-all who unsurprisingly knew nothing at all.

So as a senior in High School, when my Dad finally sat me down for a serious talk about boys and dating, I was jarred. We lived in a small, 3-bedroom house in Kahului, Maui, where the walls were thin enough to hear someone whisper from the other room. I heard my parents do just that the night before conversing over which one of them would have to discuss the topic with me. As far as I know, neither of my 4 older sisters had this talk with my parents. An older sister says it’s because out of all of us girls, I was the most boy-crazy. That may have been true, but boys weren’t necessarily giving me any attention at that stage of my life. So when I told my parents a boy asked me to be his Junior Prom date, they pounced on the opportunity to make my awkward life even more embarrassing than it already was.

Tod Gushiken (BHS c/o 2001) was smart, popular, well-liked and respected. Why he asked me to be his date, I wasn’t sure. Maybe he found out about how I got stood up to my Sophomore Banquet and felt bad for me. Or perhaps because I was a Senior and he was a Junior, he thought it would be super rad to bring a “cougar” as a date. Whatever the reason, I agreed to go. Considering my parents had to endure the heartbreak of my Sophomore Banquet fiasco, they had reservations to my going with Tod to his Junior Prom. Would I get stood up again? Would I know how to handle a situation if it made me uncomfortable? Poor, Tod. He was being judged and my parents hadn’t even met him, yet!

So here I am, sitting across from my Father at our dining room table, and he wants to talk to me about date rape. My eyes grow wide and I give him an expression much like this one:

shocked photo

My Dad didn’t mince any words or waste any time getting to the point. He doesn’t ask if I like a boy or if I had any guy friends. If you’re a boy I went to school with, and have had the rattling experience of calling my house when my Dad answered, you may have gotten more than you cared for. Throughout Middle School and High School, my Dad had me make a list of boys who were allowed to call. If you were a school project partner, your name was most likely on that list. If it wasn’t, you weren’t allowed to 1) talk to me, and 2) ever call again.

Kyle Barreras (BHS c/o 1999) was one unlucky caller. When Kyle called one morning, my Dad looked at the list, didn’t see his name on it (because I forgot to write it in), and yelled, “SON, DO YOU MEAN TO ASK FOR MY DAUGHTER WITHOUT A PROPER GOOD MORNING?!” then, slammed the phone back on the receiver. (Imagine hearing that in a Filipino accent. Anything can sound mean with a thick, soulful Filipino accent!). Poor, Kyle. My Dad actually recalled this incident when he was in town last year and asked me to apologize to Kyle if I ever saw him again. I haven’t seen Kyle since I left Maui in 2000, but thank God for Social Media.

Kyle, if you’re reading this, my Dad says he’s sorry. I am, too.

After a few seconds of initial shock, I asked my Dad to elaborate about what he meant about “date rape.” He looks up at the ceiling, deep in thought, figuring out the right words to say. In an almost-whisper—because my 12-year-old sister was nearby—he finally says, “Sometimes when teenagers go to prom, they feel obligated to go to a hotel room afterwards and…watch a movie.”

Confused, I say, “But Tod is dropping me home right after.”

“Well, what if Tod, instead, wants to…watch a movie?” he retorts back.

Why is my Father obsessed about whether Tod wants to watch a movie with me?

Then it hits me.

I was a teen in Maui during a time when teen pregnancy was on an unprecedented rise. A trip to the movies often meant that a boy and girl branded their relationship as “official”…and it was in these “official” relationships that high schoolers had their babies. Looking back in hindsight, my parents had a skewed but not-too-inaccurate notion that watching movies led to teen pregnancy. As fellow classmates started getting pregnant, too, my parents did their best to keep me and my sisters from becoming teen mothers. To this day, I thank them for their vigilant efforts. They did the best they knew how. I am not going to knock them for how seemingly ancestral and conservative their methods appear to be to our modernized culture today. It worked for me, and that’s all that matters.

“Dad, I promise I won’t watch movies with Tod.” I said exasperatingly.

My Dad appeared satisfied with that answer.

“Ok,” he says. “I’ll let your mom know.”

And with that, he got up slowly, shuffled his way to his bedroom and closed the door behind him. What he did in there, I’m not sure. He probably offered a prayer of thanksgiving for the grace God gave him to get through that talk with me; or he probably took a nap since it seemed like that brief conversation sucked all the energy out of him. No matter the case, that, ladies and gentleman, was the extent of our talk of The Birds and The Bees. Two minutes, tops, and it was over. But, I took it to heart. It was enough for me to obey.

This memory left a deep impression in me. As a middle child, I often felt invisible. My older sister, Ruth (BHS c/o 1996) was a basketball prodigy at Baldwin. Every weekend was spent going to her games, cheering her on, and helping my Mom cut out every newspaper clipping she was in and shining her trophies and medals. When she was announced “Player of the Year” by the Maui Interscholastic League for Basketball and Volleyball in the same year, I forgot I existed for a little bit. I felt like my parents may have, too.

My baby sister, Rachel, is a musical genius. She was 3 years old when she sang a solo in her first concert, age 4 when she picked up the guitar for the first time, age 6 when she picked up the ukulele, and then taught herself to play the bass and electric guitars. In addition, she is an exceptional songwriter. Every year, she would find a talent competition somewhere and win it. . As the fruit of my parents’ old age (Mom was 45 and Dad was 50 by the time she came along), she held a special place in everyone’s heart that she continues to hold to this day.

Unfortunately, I am neither an athlete nor a musical prodigy.

Considering that my birth order places me in between these two extraordinary individuals, I often felt passed over and unimportant. However, the very fact that my Dad took the time to talk to me about something he never talked to my other sisters about, somehow made me feel…seen. As a teen girl still trying to figure out where I fit in and trying to get past my awkward phase, this talk with my Father made a difference in me that I carry to this day. I saw his daily struggle. I saw the weight of the responsibility he felt for his 6 girls. Imagine your Father trying to protect you in a world you know much more about than he. He believes it to be his duty to protect you from what he thinks is harm, but he can’t comprehend the culture and he is frustrated. This is how I saw my Father during that time in my life: a frustrated, misunderstood, unprepared Warrior and Protector of the Realm.

But he tried his best, and for that I am grateful.

If you absolutely need to know how Tod’s Jr. Prom went, I can say with all confidence that it was super fun! (That’s the inner 17-year-old in me talking).

JR Prom

Tod was a great date—attentive, and a gentleman. We didn’t watch any movies, literally or figuratively. Rather, he dropped me home immediately after the event, walked me to my front door, offered a friendly hug, and left. I guess, if you’re going to be someone’s memory, make it a good one!

I hope I have been. I can’t say the same for JerkFace. Though all hope isn’t lost, I hope Kyle can say the same for me, despite the incident with my dad. As for Tod, he certainly was a good memory.

Tod, if you’re reading this, thank you again for an awesome night. Your parents should be proud they raised such a respectful and kind person.

He was a class act then, and judging by his IM response when I asked for his permission to be a part of this story, he seems like a class act now.

FB IM

So, here’s to good people, good times, and great memories!

But most importantly, here’s to my Dad—-a great man who refused to be intimidated by the modern culture he was unaccustomed to, who fought profusely for the well-being and protection of his children the best way he knew how, for guarding our front door with an iron first, and protecting my heart with a tenderness made of steel.

And here’s to the man (or woman) in your life who did the same for you.

 

DISCLAIMER: All names, people, and images in this post are real and have been used with full-knowledge consent by the individuals mentioned.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Guada, you are such a talented individual. Your writing is outstanding, and your singing is second to none. I’m fortunate to have known you for many years. God has blessed you with a Christian husband and a sweet little girl. You are “Special!”

  2. Once again, you brought tears to my eyes. I grew up without a dad. My step dad was there, invisible in my life. To hear the way you talk about your dad makes me wish i had a protector as such. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

  3. I always thought that you had a beautiful voice!! You were/are talented as well! You Delos Santos girls were just plain amazing! I love all of you and your parents! 😀

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