Like many parents, the Serb and I are complete wusses when it comes to anything involving children in peril. We’ve also become extremely wary—some would say paranoid, but I say better safe than sorry—when it comes to leaving our kids alone with, well, anyone. As far as I’m concerned, my job is to view people as potential pedophiles until they show me otherwise.
The events of a few years ago prove my point.
My mom was visiting just after my daughter was born and we capitalized on the trustworthy babysitting by taking our then five-year-old son to a wave pool.* It was a long weekend in May and the pool was packed with families. Within minutes of entering the water, the Serb and I both spotted him—a creepy-looking dude with a crazy pompadour that reminded me of Chris Isaak if Chris Isaak had been a meth addict.
We immediately steered our little flotilla of flutter boards away from him, but we kept a wary eye on Mr. Creep. He was there by himself, moving through the water like a shark searching for prey, which, it turns out, he was. He hovered behind groups of young children who were flopped on pool floats, just staring at them like they were lunch.
Parents, especially mothers, have a sixth sense when it comes to perverts. We don’t always listen to it, but certain people give off a malicious vibe that cannot—and should not—be ignored. The Serb was on high alert, ready to bust out some aquatic Krav Maga moves if Mr. Creep lingered too long near the kids. We noticed a lifeguard staring at him just as intently and knew that we weren’t alone in our suspicions.
Soon enough, my son had to pee and we left the pool for the washroom (I realize that he was likely the only child who has ever done this). While I was waiting on the pool deck near a lifeguard, one of his colleagues rushed towards us.
“Did you see him?” she asked, breathless. “I think it’s the same guy, but I can’t be sure.”
“We’re watching him,” the lifeguard replied.
I couldn’t help myself. I leaned over and asked, “Are you talking about the perv with the Elvis hair?”
“Yes!” they replied in unison.
The lifeguards informed me that Mr. Creep had been frequenting their pool for weeks. Always alone. Always during the family swim. Always lurking near the children. I was told that he couldn’t be prevented from entering the pool unless he was caught doing something inappropriate or other patrons complained. Five minutes later I’d completed a formal written complaint.
We left the pool shortly thereafter, our day ruined. As we turned out of the parking lot, a police cruiser pulled up to the pool entrance. We knew the cops weren’t there for Mr. Creep because the lifeguards had told me that the manager would be informed of my complaint when he was in the following day. We hoped that the police presence would act as a deterrent for Mr. Creep if nothing else.
That night we were enjoying a beautiful roast beef meal prepared by my mom when the phone rang. It was the police. Mr. Creep had been arrested that afternoon “following an incident with a young girl.” I was asked to come to the station immediately to prepare a statement, based on my complaint. I almost threw up.
To Be Continued…
*You have to understand, the Serb and I go bonkers for waterslides and wave pools (we used to skip work to hit the slides…before we had kids).