Dear Creepy Guy Talking to My Kid:
Let’s be frank. I don’t know you. Or at least, not that well, if you are a person we see consistently. An alarm bell just went off inside while I watched you try to engage my child in conversation. Maybe he picked up on this, and maybe he didn’t, and years of being forced to smile politely and speak to “strangers” have done their work, and my kid is now dutifully answering your questions. He is shy, and everyone new sets his alarms off when he first encounters them: relatives, neighbors, teachers. For years we have forced him out of his comfort zone “for his own good,” so that he could function in society.
So now my alarm is sounding. It’s not that you did anything overt. It’s just…something about you.
You are “creepy” to me.
Comic Alonzo Bodden says that “creepy” is a woman’s word. We know exactly what it means, who is, and who isn’t. He’s right: I can’t put words to it – it’s in my gut. That’s not fair? I’m sure it’s not. It might also be prejudiced. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. We are being told over and over in our society that being judgmental is wrong. In some cases I would definitely agree. And in others, not being judgmental, or not using judgment, has cost people very dearly. I once listened to a lecture from an FBI agent who had the terrible job of tracking down lost children. In the majority of the cases, she said, the parent (usually the mother) had a gut instinct that something was wrong about the situation or the perpetrator (who is in most cases, known to the family), and she ignored it, to the fatal end of her child.
Believe it or not, I am an optimist, and I generally like people. There is a good chance that you are a nice person, in which case, you probably have a nice Life (karma, and all that). I could be way off the mark, and you are a kind, good-hearted guy, who loves kids, so when you encounter them in public, you like to engage them. Or, at the very least, you are harmless.
I don’t give a crap. I can’t.
Unfortunately, some truly horrible people have completely ruined that for you. It is a small percentage of the population, I know, but the cost is too great. I am not willing to risk the life of my child in order to make you feel better. It is my job to protect him. It is my job to give him a healthy relationship with that alarm bell in his gut, and it starts by me honoring my own. I’m done with “Political Correctness” dictating that I am not allowed to judge you based on your appearance. You appear creepy to me, and I judge that unsafe. It doesn’t matter what race, age, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, or size and shape you are. From my personal experience, creepiness knows no boundaries.
Oh, don’t worry: I am cordial to everyone. I won’t embarrass you in public. You will hardly even know that I feel this way about you. You won’t notice the slightly clipped way I speak to you, the tightness of my smile, or that it doesn’t quite reach my eyes. I am a very warm person by nature – just not to you. Our conversation will end quickly, and my child and I will move on with our lives. And then he and I will have a very warm and loving conversation, reminding him about “don’t knows,” “kinda knows,” and “safe side adults.” (from the best video about “stranger danger”)
If I am wrong about you, and you are a good and kind person, I wish you well. And if I am right, and you are a creepy pedophile, lying in wait for your next victim, I hope you die a most painful death before you can even lay one finger on another person.
Either way, my behavior towards you is not going to change.
P.S. To the female perpetrators: Even though my radar doesn’t pick you up as easily, I’m working on it (for more on how to ID a pedophile).