My Favorite Mistake: Penny Marshall
Byline: Penny Marshall
On the perils of pity sex.
I moved from the Bronx to go to college. My mother thought New Mexico was near New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and New England. She had no idea about geography. So I ended up at college in New Mexico, and I was a city girl, thinking I had done everything. I thought I had had sex, but I hadn't. So I finally did do it after a guy had to explain what it was. A year later during my sophomore year, I met a very nice guy, Michael Henry, who was on a football scholarship. When Mickey (I called him Mickey) didn't make the travel team, he was depressed. I felt bad, and since I had already had sex once, we did it. I didn't think about anything beyond that I liked a football player--and being from the Bronx, I had never seen anyone over 5 feet 8 in my life. They're taller out West.
A month later, I missed my period. I went to the doctor and found out I was pregnant. I don't think they even talked about birth control back then. I had just turned 19 and he was a year younger. This was 1963--there were no legal abortions in the U.S., and I wasn't going to go to Juarez, you know? Girls then were going horseback riding to try to end their pregnancies. I didn't do that. I figured I made my bed, so I'm going to sleep in it. My third choice was moving to Amarillo. I'd never been there, but I was thinking I'd go and have the baby by myself. But instead Mickey said, Let's get married. He was a great guy. We ended up getting married the weekend John F. Kennedy got shot. All that was on the TV during our honeymoon in a motel was the funeral, which set the tone.
We were young and had no money. He got about $100 a month from his scholarship. I was in school, and after a while I quit college to get a secretary job. …