Allan Turgeon, Thank You for Your Decency*

My husband, Ed.

I don’t believe it.

And I won’t stay silent when people say, “Boys will be boys.”

My husband isn’t and never was like that.

Nor is my son.

My son, Byron.

And I’m certain my father never passed through an abusive phase on his way to becoming a fine man.

And neither did Allan Turgeon.

Decency in College

As with most of my 40+ year-old memories, what I recall of Allan is a little fuzzy.

Allan as a young frat guy.

When I was a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, he was a senior.

Or was I a sophomore?

Both of us were part of the business school, and each of us grew up in Maine.

And for some reason I can’t recall, one week-end we drove to New York City  —  Allan, me, and his classmate and friend, Joey Nocero.

When we arrived in the wee hours they permitted me to stand between them like Debbie Reynolds flanked by Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.

Then we danced down Broadway in the rain.

That memory is clear.

I won’t stay silent when people say,
“Boys will be boys.”

And the other thing that remains vivid is the hotel room we shared with its solitary, double bed.

When I first saw the layout, I didn’t experience fear or panic so much as a rush of concern.

But the feeling didn’t last.

Allan and Joey said the bed was mine as the two of them grabbed pillows and slept on the floor.

True Colors

The next time Allan showed his true colors was at the end of his last semester.

He invited me to a fraternity dance, and I joined him there wearing an outfit I’d sewn in high school along with stilt-height wedge heels.

But memories of the party itself are unclear.

I know it was crowded and loud.

Thank you, Allan. Your decency helped ensure that I experience life without lugging around heavy scars.

And I’m sure alcohol was a dominant feature.

By the end of the party I was ready to crash in Allan’s room and call it a night.

But he refused.

“You’re not staying here.

“You can’t be around these drunk guys,” he said.

So he drove me to my dorm where I sleepily, if innocently, said good night.

In Hindsight a Gift

I am one of the two-out-of-three women in this country who has been spared sexual assault.

Yet I know the anxiety that accompanies fear of violation.

What woman doesn’t?

Allan near the end of college.**

And whether that alarm bell is taught or acquired, I can’t say.

I didn’t have it growing up, and it’s not part of life now.

But in between, worrisome moments were frequent.

So thank you, Allan.

Your decency helped ensure that I experience life without lugging around heavy scars.

And while I understand that feeling safe in the world isn’t shared by all humans, it’s only recently I’ve come to appreciate how rare my reality may be.

Take Action!

•  Thank someone who made your life easier or better.

•  And read about the simple lessons Mr. Rogers exposed us to.

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. Her website is

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.  — C. West

This post was written in beleaguered anticipation of the Kavanaugh Supreme Court vote.

** Allan Turgeon still lives in Maine. He has been married 37 years, has two sons, two very young grandchildren, and, I imagine, he’s still doing the right things.

12 thoughts on “Allan Turgeon, Thank You for Your Decency*”

  1. Beautiful story, Ellen. What a good friend Allan was to you. I’d like to think the Kavanaugh types are a small minority. And of course, alcohol is at the root of much destructive human behavior. Your blog provided a welcome ray of hope. Thank you!

  2. I’ve been a victim of sexual assault, and relived it during Ford’s interview. I have dealt with it in the past. But I find it unbelievable that as women, we should ever be treated as Ford was that day. We have a long way to go 40 years later.
    Thanks for sharing, Ellen.

  3. Thanks so much for saying this, Ellen! I had the same reaction and similar recollections. The only time I’ve ever been white-whirly drunk, my buddies Gordon and Steve took me back to my dorm room…and said good night.

  4. Thank you for this post. The old “boys will be boys” mentality needs to change and we need to remember that boys can pass into manhood without the ritual of abusing women. And another thought, if you did something you are not proud of on your way to adulthood, own it and change your life , try to keep someone else from making the same mistake.
    Our country sank to a new low this week. The lowest moment for me was hearing Trump humiliate Dr. Ford. I have shed some tears this week.

  5. Oh El….My knight in shining armor was a young man that I did not know! It was winter at the University of Maine and the year was 1974. I found myself in an unfamiliar place; my “friends” had abandoned me! I began walking back to my dorm and felt a tap on my shoulder. A kind, young man asked if I would permit him to walk me “home”. He safely walked me to the front door of my dorm and made sure I was inside and then nodded and headed back to Phi Eta Kappa!! Not all male college students are inebriated, lying rapists. Unlike Dr. Ford, I was fortunate. Truly enjoy your blog dear friend! Love to you and Ed xoxo

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