rebekka arrmstrong is something special -- which comes as no surprise to her mom
"Somehow, I guess my mom knew I was going to be an unusual child," Rebekka Armstrong says, "so she figured she had to give me an unusual first name." Maybe it was the weird desert climate or the barren landscape of her home town of Ridgecrest, California, a small community in the middle of the Mojave Desert, or maybe it was all those loud noises emanating from the naval weapons-testing station nearby, but Mrs. Armstrong's clairvoyance was right on the money -- her daughter Bekki was not going to be your ordinary, garden-variety California girl. At the ripe old age of nine, Bekki started motocross racing and was so adept at it by the time she was 12 that the racing officials would no longer let her compete against girls. In those days, her favorite mode of dress was combat boots, T-shirts and Levi's. "Something hit me when I was 15," she recalls, "and I decided to become more feminine." Pause. "So I wore a dress over the combat boots." The quintessential tomboy, she preferred GI Joes to rag dolls, cowboys and Indians to slumber parties, disarmed Army-surplus grenades to Ken and Barbie. "I used to beat up the boys at school," she recalls. "I even broke a kid's finger once. I always went after the bullies -- you know the type. In high school, I didn't mess with any dudes, but I didn't take any guff from anybody, either. Did I tell you I started chewing tobacco when I was ten? I guess I just wanted to be one of the boys. I quit at 15." Ask Bekki where her tomboy streak originates and she won't hesitate. "I take after my mom," she says proudly. "When she was younger, she used to drag-race the quarter mile in a '67 Mustang fastback. She's had some pretty masculine jobs, too -- ironworker, construction, welding, roofing. She's got pretty big chest muscles." Bekki's close relationship with her mother is one of the most treasured aspects of her life. Mother and daughter have done practically everything together, from double-dating to discussing their most intimate sexual fantasies. "I started really opening up to my mom at 16," Bekki tells us. "You can learn a lot from someone who's already gone through it." For example, she quotes her mother's three cardinal rules on the subject of men: "Don't let men walk all over you, don't let a man get away with too much and never go into a romantic situation blind, because you'll always get hurt." As for the double-dating: "Mom looks pretty young," Bekki says, "so the guys we date are about the same age, in their late 20's. We've never fought over the same guy, though. I guess we have an unwritten agreement: 'This one's mine, that one's yours.' " Nowadays, Bekki's tomboy tendencies have mellowed. The combat boots are in the closet, the motorcycles are stored in the garage and she's not beating up bullies anymore. She does, however, sleep with a loaded deer rifle by her bed as protection against prowlers, and has recently developed an interest in drag racing ("I'm rebuilding a '57 Chevy two-door hardtop sports coupe with a 35 Stroker motor that puts out 657 horsepower at 7200 rpms"). On the other hand, "You should see me getting ready for a date. I'll spend hours on my toenails and make sure every strand of hair is perfect. When I go out, I like to look like a walking hors d'oeuvre." Pause. "Good enough to eat."
Photography by Stephen Wayda, Kerry Morris