Rumspringa Gone Wild
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  • How old am I:
  • I am 32
  • Orientation:
  • I prefer male
  • Tone of my iris:
  • Cold green
  • My body type:
  • My figure features is quite athletic
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  • None


Defense Tech Dad Tom Shachtman spent the better part of the last few years, hanging out with Amish teenagers.


Support Local Journalism. the Cleveland Scene Press Club. March 14, News » News Lead. No amount of rubbernecking can stop her. The DJ approaches. Rodger Locher, a clean-cut city boy, is what's known as a "Yank," the all-encompassing term for not being Amish. You were wasted! Got any requests? Martha sits down with a Bud and bums a cigarette.

Her cherub face is framed by a starched bonnet, her squat figure submerged in a dowdy dress. As Akon sings about slapping gyrating butts, Tina and Martha lip-synch, bouncing their bonnets to the beat. Tyrna, hold my gone back through my drawers, they demurely mouth in unison. A drunk lady with a crunchy perm dances toward Martha. She grabs Martha's hands, trying to drag her onto the dance floor, which is little more than a space between tables. Martha resists. Martha shyly shakes her head no. The drunk perm dances back to her friends and knocks down a quick shot wild playfully grinding her hips along a man's thigh.

The smirk on Tina's face is a mixture of amusement and disgust. The way she climbs up and down them poles, lookin' like one of them Pretty Cat Dollsshe lip-synchs. Twister's is Tina's favorite hangout. It's hidden on an unlit, tree-lined road, tucked inside the Dutch Country Restaurant in Middlefield. To get to the bar, you're whisked through a maze of families polishing off platters of gravy and dumplings under intense fluorescent lighting. But the shoe-box tavern is a different world.

Twentysomethings gulp beers and shots with names like "Redheaded Slut. For Tina, who comes here almost every weekend, Twister's is everything her life isn't. Though her house looks like any other vinyl-sided suburban home, inside there's no internet, no flat-screen, no electricity. She lives by gas lamp, sewing her own dresses and hitching buggies in the snow. For the first several years of her life, Tina, the youngest of seven Rumspringa, spoke only Pennsylvania Dutch, a slow, lilting language that sounds more like an ancient Norse dialect than modern German.

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She didn't learn English until she entered school, graduating by the eighth grade -- as all Amish do -- to begin working as a babysitter. When she turned 17, she started her rumspringa -- the Amish rite of passage in which young adults are allowed to dabble in the indiscretions of our world before officially ing the church. Some people just drink Coke and play volleyball. She was already intoxicated by the chatter, the shiny silver kegs, the smoke of the bonfire and cigarettes, the dizzy dancing.

It was her first real encounter with Yanks. She found them fascinating. Their lives appeared woven of a more breathable fabric, free from the constraints of overbearing parents and ankle-length dresses. No one bothering them about where they're going.

Amish girls gone wild

She even bought a cell phone, which her parents still don't know about. Though the rules of rumspringa allow Tina to indulge in all of this, her parents still don't want these things around the house. This was made infinitely clear when her mom caught her sneaking in after a late night of partying. As long as Tina was still in rumspringa, she couldn't be shunned for breaking the rules -- a consequence saved for those who have already ed the church. She cared for him so much, she thought about leaving the Amish.

But if she did, her parents warned, the family would never speak to her again. Tina called off the relationship. When Tina was 20, she considered ing the church, but quickly realized it wasn't for her.


I like going to parties. I just like being around people and talking with them. Since there is no cutoff age, she plans to the church when she's either sick of partying or tired of being nagged by her parents.

Her interest in Yank ways, however, has expanded beyond keggers and midriffs. She'd like to go to college and become a nurse. She knows of one Amish woman who did just that, but when she finally ed the church, she gave it up.

She does things, she often says, because "that's just how it's done. She's ed by Locher and her friend June. June is Tina's partner in crime -- a ruddy-cheeked year-old with a devilish giggle.

She is lapping everyone by at least two Buds, not including the one she spilled on Locher's lap. She has already ed the church. But that hasn't kept her from closing down the bar on Saturday nights. She doesn't fear being shunned over a couple of Miller Lights.

The women make clear that their church is not as puritanical as outsiders perceive. Tina's is simply a group of about 15 families who take turns hosting Sunday services -- a community of sustained tradition, uncluttered by modern conveniences. Their isolation has more to do with preserving the old ways than any real disdain for Yanks. In Middlefield, there are dozens of these churches. Each has its own pastor and its own views. In June's church, it's up to each family to decide how to deal with disobedience.

Locher is one of the few Yanks who understand the subtle variances of their world. He dated an Amish girl -- a stunningly slender blonde from a family of eight children. She was sincere and grounded -- so different from the other girls Locher had dated. She peaked his interest in the ways of the Amish.

So Locher paid a visit to her pastor, hoping to sort out fact from fiction. Nothing else matters. I really respect that. He decided not to shun his son. His only rule is that his son must dress Amish when he comes to visit. Though he stopped seeing the girl, Locher still toys with the idea of becoming Amish. No TV. No car. Some are shunned forever.

Others return like prodigal sons. And there are those capable of navigating both worlds, like June's uncle, who left the Amish long ago. June mischievously eyes Tina. As forgiving as June's family may be, the law is not. While police elsewhere in rural Ohio focus on meth labs and wife-beaters, Middlefield's cops have a curious fetish for busting the Amish.

June was first pinched at She and her friends had killed a six-pack before hopping in a buggy to buy more. They noticed a cop trailing them and stuffed their mouths with Listerine strips just before they were pulled over. It was no use. Everyone was forced to take a field sobriety test.

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The Amish may be a minority in America, with about , people in the community across the country, but they are very well-known because of their traditional lifestyle that differs greatly from the way most of us live.


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