By Norman Witzler
The sixties were nearly over. JFK’s goal of putting a man on the moon had just been accomplished that month, July 1969. I was there riding the very crest of the baby boom as a horny spectator. My 14 year old body was in full adolescent mutiny with fuzzy lips, pimply forehead, constant hunger, and painfull leg bones. I had just graduated from seventh grade as one of the smallest boys in the class. At the end of that summer I would be twelve inches taller, a gangly six-two, 175 pound child. My classmates thought I was a new kid. I was. God had played me like a Stretch Armstrong. Every girl was now shorter than me and so were most of the teachers. My voice had dropped an octave. Bully boys avoided me now. It was time to sort things out. Being an adult requires a game plan. I had kid toys. It was time to start thinking.
I had my 15th birthday in March 1970. The only good thing being 15 is that it is almost 16 – driving age. I think my dad knew I had already started driving his car, but it was just around the block doing my warm-up chore. It was my job the get his car ready in the morning which meant warming the engine and scraping off the ice. If I could only drive, then I could go on dates. Miniskirts were just not fair. In biology class I sat between two of them. Beautiful young girls wearing hooker clothes and sweet perfume were not going to help my grades. Jody was on my left and Annie was on my right. Jody would lean on my shoulder and sniff my shirt. On a horny scale of 1 to 10, I think my score was 38. I knew that this huge distraction was biological. Nature demands reproduction. Reproduction demands sex. Sex demands your attention. Mick Jagger must have been 15 once. “Can’t GETNO SatisFACTion!” resonated in my brain. Rich people acted differently than poor people. The main thing I noticed is that rich people had a lot fewer kids than poor people. I read “The Population Bomb” by Paul Ehrlich and learned that humans were headed for a Malthusian cliff. Too many people were having too many kids. A new hippie environmental group called ZPG (zero population growth) was hitting TV news. I remember one hippie’s sign, “none is fun”. That also resonated. I told my mother that I didn’t want to be a father, because having kids makes you poor and ruins the planet. Mother told me it was my duty to pass along my superior genes. Superior? My teeth cost my parents a fortune to get straightened out. Then there was the tonsillectomy, special corrective shoes, and a near fatal lung infection. I really wanted sex, about four times a day seemed about right, but I needed to defy nature to avoid killing my happiness as well as the entire world. Duty was for suckers. Duty was fueling Vietnam with thousands of young patriotic cannon fodders every damn year since I could remember. “WAAR uhUH uhUH what is it GOOD FOR? absoLUTELY NOTHIN! good GAWD y’all.” Flag draped boxes of duty were coming home by the hundreds every month. There weren’t a whole lot of rich kids contained in those obscene deliveries. My draft card was on the way.
Sometime in the fall of 1970 life got really serious. My dad, a self described simple country doctor, got liver cancer. He knew the odds better than anybody. Survival beyond a couple more years just didn’t happen. This was at a time when most people hadn’t seen a computor, pocket calculators didn’t exist and cancer was “the big C”. A cancer diagnosis then meant it was time to plan your funeral. He was probably our town’s favorite person and I was “the doctor’s son” from the time I was five. Waterville, Ohio was a quiet farming suburb of Toledo. It was Mayberry RFD with snow. The population was around 2,000. People would stop and tell me that we were so lucky to have such a good doctor in such a small town. He was also the county coroner, local EMS responder, crisis counselor, and made emergency house calls at all hours. During the flu seasons he worked himself to physical exhaustion. He quietly stopped breathing in his bed in April 1972 at age 41. Every member of our family felt him pass. My brother was next door playing basketball. He just dropped the ball and ran home. I was in the next room when the chill hit me. My mother, two sisters, brother, and I gathered on the big bed. Silence. Evidently it was my turn to speak. All I could think of to say was, “This is easier than seeing him suffer.”. At age 17 I was now the man of the house. I cursed God. My dad had worked himself to death supporting us kids. The long black hearse quietly rolled up the drive. James David Witzler was born in the Witzler Funeral Home of nearby Perrysburg and now the circle was closing. I inherited the keys to his cool-hot Malibu. It was like getting a wish granted from the devil.
For a high school boy having any car is great, but having a cool car was even better. You didn’t need to ride the herky jerky drafty noisy smelly bus. Girls noticed it. My social self confidence was nearing a level where I could actually start dating. It also didn’t hurt that my name was becoming a regular part of the morning announcements due to my fleetness of foot. My pigeon toed shoe alignment, never completely corrected, was a real advantage for sprinting a quarter mile. I was winning a lot of races for our school. Girls noticed that too. A few of them became track groupies. What I noticed about the small town girls back then is that it was dangerous to date them more than twice. Kiss them once and they started making plans for your next fifty years together. I was thinking just a few months ahead to college. My acceptance to Miami of Ohio came in. That ticket to college plus the de-escalation of the war was my combat insurance. That draft card in my wallet lost its power. What a relief!
Miami had a reputation as the best party school of Ohio and I can say it was well deserved. My virginity didn’t last one semester. I finally made the mistake of falling in love. She was a catholic girl which should have been a warning. We had gone through dozens of condoms over several months before she told me she needed me and also needed a large brood of rug rats right after we got married. Breaking up with her hurt as bad as my dad’s death. That wasn’t going to happen again.
Three years after college I finally got the type of job I wanted. Career was my prime motivator. Love would need to wait. It was 1980 and I was 25. One rule I learned from my older frat brothers was to never date someone you work with. Even James Bond, randy as he was, had enough sense to keep his hands off Miss Moneypenny. People at the office thought I was gay. Little did they know.
My job required a lot of air travel which provided an excellent way for me to observe people. I saw that children are horrible baggage to haul around in public. It amazed me that parents could avoid killing the little bastards.
Dating around was getting old. I wanted a wife who didn’t want to make babies. At age 29 I married an old friend. She was 33 and divorced with an eleven year old son who lived with his father. That marriage lasted ten years.
I’m almost 58 years old now and am happier than ever. I’ve had my own business for the last 21 years. Lady Luck gave me a wink 14 years ago and I ran into my perfect life partner on a Mexican beach. She has two grown children and three grandchildren. It’s nice being a “grandfather” and an uncle. Skipping that whole messy fatherhood thing was the way to go for me.
My advice to younger men is to realize that the world will always have plenty of women and kids whether or not you choose to jump into the gene pool.