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Author Topic: Jimmies
Papa Moose
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There were two guys named Jimmy who lived in my neighborhood. One lived only halfway up the block. He was a few years older than I was, kinda pasty, short, and overweight, and lots of people used to make fun of him, but probably because he wasn't popular he hung out with some of those people anyway. He had a brother, Mike, who was tall and slim and I guess good-looking, but he was a couple more years older, and because he was "cool" he didn't hang out with us younger kids the way Jimmy would, at least not as much. They were Jewish, but I didn't learn that until a couple years later, when I found out their last name. Importantly, I found out their last name wasn't "Shalom," and so I was no longer impressed by what I'd thought to be a personalized doormat.

They were both pretty cool guys, though. I always remember that we'd make sure to hit their house on Halloween. They'd usually make a haunted house out in their garage, and you'd walk through and they'd make you stick your hand in a bowl of eyeballs (peeled grapes) or brains (cold, wet noodles). That was cool enough, but then their mom would be there at the end with a bowl of full-size Marathon bars. I don't know how many people even remember Marathons, but they were like a big long pretzely-looking chocolate-covered piece of caramel. Those were good, man.

But it's the other Jimmy. The scary, weird, lives-with-his-mom, early-30s-but-hangs-out-with-little-kids and laughs-at-stuff-that-isn't-funny Jimmy. That guy probably would have freaked me out if I'd paid more attention. He always looked like he forgot to shave today, had a goofy sort of grin on his face, messed up hair, and a slightly "off" look in his eyes. I mean, maybe I'm remembering things now that weren't really true then, but that's how I remember him. He wasn't mean or anything, he was just weird. I guess he might have been retarded, but I didn't realize that that was anything other than a mean thing to call someone when you were mad at them. Heck, maybe he just needed glasses, I don't know.

We lived right by a canyon, and whenever we got tired of foursquare or whatever we were doing, we'd go exploring. Well, not always exploring, because most of the time we knew exactly where we were going. There was a swing in a tree on the side of a hill. The rope was long enough that you could get a really good running start before sailing out what seemed like five stories over what we knew to be poison ivy. Now they tell me poison ivy doesn't grow in this part of the country, but we were sure that's what it was. If you let go of the rope, you'd be sorry, but when you held on, you'd swing back and ram into the hill if you weren't careful. So only the best of us went really high, because that's what the best kids do, right?

So one day at the swing, I get in a fight with David. I later learned that he was Jewish, too, or at least I think he was with a last name like Solomon, but I guess I'm not sure. I don't remember what we fought about, but it was probably something stupid. I mean, how important could something be when a couple ten-year-olds are fighting about it? Maybe one of us pushed the other too close to the poison ivy or something. Anyway, he's mad so he left using the regular way out. I was mad, but I didn't want to follow him, and I didn't want to swing by myself, so I tried to find another way out.

I got out just fine, even if I got a few scratches here and there, and one small tear in my shirt. But I went up the hill instead of down, and came out by the dirt bike track. That wasn't much, either, just a bunch of little mounds of dirt that were packed hard enough to ride on without the tires skidding, that went around in a big circle, and there was a jump at the end. The trick was getting up enough speed riding the bumps that you could get a really awesome jump. But there wasn't anyone there, and I didn't have my bike anyway, so I just started to walk home, 'cause now I knew my way. It was only a block from home.

But if I walked along the street, I'd pass right by David's house, and even if he wasn't home yet, he'd be coming out of the canyon where my house was, so I'd have to pass him, and I didn't want to do that. So I took the really thin path behind the houses, where it was close enough that you could probably slip down the mountain and die if you weren't careful, but I was always careful. I used to go that way all the time, and I'd pick flowers out of the people's back yards and give them to my mom, and not even just when I'd done something I'd get in trouble for. So I was a sappy little kid, but my point is I'd gone that way before and I knew what I was doing.

But about halfway between the bike track and my house, weird Jimmy was there. He had his pants down and he was holding himself, only he wasn't peeing, and he was facing out instead of facing the fence. I stopped and I guess I looked at him like he was supposed to say something, so he did. He was like, "You should take off your pants, because the wind feels really good." And he had that same weird look in his eyes.

Now I'd peed in the canyon I don't even know how many times, so I knew what it was like to have my pants down, but this was something else. I didn't exactly know what it was, but I could tell it was something he wasn't supposed to do, or else why would he be back here behind all the houses? Plus it's not like it was a really windy day. The problem was, either I'd have to get pretty close to him when I walked by, or I'd have to go back the other way and face David, or I might fall down the mountain and die.

So I just told him "No" and went ahead and kept walking. And for a second I thought he might say or do something else but he just watched me walk by, at least until I couldn't see him behind me any more. I didn't look back, so I don't know. As soon as I figure I was out of sight, though, I ran the rest of the way home, and climbed up the little hill to the gate leading to the back yard and went through and closed it behind me. If there'd been a lock I probably would've locked it, but the fence was only like three feet high anyway, so it wouldn't've mattered.

When I came in the back door, mom just said "Hi" and asked if I wanted a snack and I said yes, so she gave me an apple or something. We had about a 50/50 shot of getting good food or healthy food, but apples were some of the best of the healthy food anyway. Either way I didn't really care, though, 'cause I was still weirded out by Jimmy. But who's gonna ask if I didn't talk about it first? It's not like mom would say, "Oh, and did anyone pull down their pants for you today?"

I never told anybody about it before now. And to be honest, that's pretty much the last thing I remember about Jimmy. I don't remember ever seeing him after that, so maybe someone else did tell. Maybe if he'd still been around I would've said something, but with him gone I didn't need to, right? And it's not like he did anything to me, either, but he just kinda stood there. Holding himself.

But now I have a son, and I'm gonna have another one soon, and probably more after that. I have a ways yet before they're old enough to understand something like this, too. Heck, I have a ways before I let them go anywhere by themselves. And I don't live by a canyon any more.

But now I have to tell them. I have to tell my sons that there are people out there that do bad things. Maybe my dad never had an experience like this, so it didn't occur to him to warn me that it could happen, but I have to tell them. Because I went through it, I have to tell them. Because I don't know how they would react, I have to tell them. I have to ruin the innocence of my children's lives.

Damn you, Jimmy.

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Papa Moose
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So as I started writing this true story of my past, it felt more like short fiction, so I embellished very slightly, and added details about which I'm unsure. This may even have been a tactic to distance myself from the story. I even considered submitting it to dkw for the guess the author contest. And yeah, the humor in the title was intentional.

But in response to general parental worries, ongoing discussions of Onanism here at Hatrack, a thread about pedophiles at Ornery (scratch that -- discussions at Hatrack about Onanism and a thread at Ornery about pedophiles [Smile] ), and a story shared with me a couple days ago, this story decided to leave the safety of my subconscious and impinge on my collection of more vivid memories.

Heck, it's possible that this particular page from my past is precisely why I've made so many Onanism jokes while remaining discomfited by discussion of the actual topic. How Freudian.

So it's not a landmark -- I already passed that, and it's a long time before I'm ready for another. I just thought I would share it with you, because (a) I probably needed to get it off my chest, (b) some of you would care, and (c) the type of people who would make fun of me for this tend not to remain at Hatrack, because they realize they don't belong.

--Pop

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katharina
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Wow.

[Frown] I don't know. I don't know how to tell your kids without ruining their innocence, but then, if life is all about growing up, it's going to happen anyway. I'm sure you'll do it with grace, wisdom, and all the love needed to both arm them and calm them.

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mackillian
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[Frown]

...though, Pop, I have to admit that your thread title make me think of sprinkles (for ice cream). In NH, we call 'em jimmies. [Smile]

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Slash the Berzerker
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Jimmy is one of a thousand reasons why I don't have kids.
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Christy
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You know, the wonderful thing is that he didn't come after you and you didn't have any troubles with him aside from seeing a bit more of him than you would've liked.

Yes, there are many weirdos in the world, but the glimmer of hope is that not all of them are looking to harm others.

It is a hard task ahead of you. You need to teach your children love and compassion, but you also need them to be aware that not everyone in the world is loving and compassionate. Somehow, I think you will do well. [Smile]

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T. Analog Kid
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Glad you were able to discuss it, Pop.
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Ryuko
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At least you're not teaching your kids the opposite, that everyone in the world is their best friend. A healthy medium is the best way to go.

It's strange the kinds of things that bring back memories like that... (hopes she doesn't have anything like that lurking in the cobwebs of her memory... [Angst] )

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ClaudiaTherese
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Papa, I'm glad you got it off your chest. I'm glad that you still remember, though, because it will make you a better father. [Group Hug]

I hope the memory doesn't cause you too much pain.

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Icarus
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I don't have anything meaningful to add, so

(((Moose)))

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Narnia
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Thanks Moose. It's a good story and I'm glad that you weren't harmed.

You're a pretty good writer too, I love reading your posts. [Group Hug]

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Ralphie
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I always wonder what make the Jimmys of world become like that.
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Zotto!
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Wow. [Frown]

*echoes Icky's comment*

(((Papa)))

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Ryuko
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((((((Pops))))))) <---- Should have been in earlier post
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larisse
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Wow... PapaMoose. A very sobering post. Reminds me that I was far too trusting of strangers as a child. Also, I tended to wander off or move several paces fore or aft my parents who had their hands full dealing with my two younger brothers. I am sure it wasn't for the lack of love from my parents, but a feeling of trust that I "knew better" than to walk off with a stranger or let someone hurt me. Still... I was just a little kid. Having said that... I think most little kids "know" when someone, whether it's adult or child, is just not right. Sadly, it's more of a matter of not be strong enough to fight back.

As a child, I knew this older boy on my street who kept a lot of so called "girlfriends". These "girlfriends" were often younger than I was, and I believe I was around ten years old or a bit younger. He would pick them and watch movies with them in his family's rec room which was their garage really. I honestly can't tell you if anything bad happened to them, but his over affectionate nature made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

Thank goodness he never picked me though... well I think he tried once and I refused to go with him. From that day on, he was quite hostile to me. Sometimes overtly so, but I doubt he knew what subtlety was being about twelve or so. I never did like him to begin with so I paid it no mind. But, I also remember feeling like if I told an adult something bad would happen. Not to me, but to someone else. Perhaps, I was thinking of my brothers because he was also known as the street bully.

I do remember being careful not to go down the sidewalk near his house by myself, though.

He may very well have been just a bully as a kid, but he had a cruel streak to him. Hopefully, he grew out of it.

Oh... and {{{{PapaMoose}}}} who is a very brave dad indeed.

[ September 11, 2003, 03:07 AM: Message edited by: larisse ]

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ak
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(((Papa)))

In some ways maybe the world is getting better, Papa. I happened to talk to my nieces (17 and 14) the other day about what to do if boys or men bothered them, if they followed them in the car while they were walking, if they whistled and hollered at them, or gave them any sort of attention that they didn't like, or if they didn't go away and leave them alone when requested to, and both of them looked at me utterly shocked and said no such thing had EVER happened to them!

That really pleasantly surprised me because I was 12 the first time something like that happened to me and I remember it making me very uncomfortable, but I had no idea how to handle it. It was pretty much a constant, too, until I got much much older. It happened continually. I remember the repulsive older guy I worked with when I was 19 who used to come into my office and rub my neck. Somehow the world has changed between then and now, for the better. So maybe such lessons as we have to give to our little ones will remain for them just shocking things parents warn us about, that never do really happen, and you know how paranoid and overprotective parents are. [Roll Eyes]

[ September 11, 2003, 08:01 AM: Message edited by: ak ]

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Icarus
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quote:
I think most little kids "know" when someone, whether it's adult or child, is just not right. Sadly, it's more of a matter of not be strong enough to fight back.
I don't know. I guess you're right, to a point, but I also think there's a lot more to it than whether or not you are strong enough to fight back. Many if not most victims of molestation are coerced or persuaded, but never physically forced.
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larisse
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I agree Icarus. It is not only a matter of physical strength, but mental and emotional strength as well. Sometimes children are so needy and desparate for love, they cling to the first person that demonstrates it despite any misgivings they may have about the person or situation.
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Icarus
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Ah. OK, that clarifies it. I can agree with that.

[Smile]

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jeniwren
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Pop, a situation in our neighborhood last year brought this to the forefront for me and while I hated to have the talk with my son, I am glad I did.

He thought that it was bizarre that anyone would think it was fun to take off their clothes outside and play in the woods. He could think of all kinds of reasons why it would be stupid. Then he promised if anyone ever suggested he do it, he'd say no thanks, then come tell me.

My fear in talking with him is that he'd develop unnecessary, outrageous fears, as I remember doing when my school taught me about "inappropriate touching". But he just thought it was weird and stupid.

That was beautifully written, Pop. I'm glad you shared it with us even if the subject wasn't one of the finer moments of life.

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Papa Moose
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Thanks for your responses, guys. Helps me to think these things through.

I admit, about an hour after I posted this I was thinking to myself, "Dangit, why didn't I make it a landmark?" The topic didn't arrive in my brain until after I'd passed 3K, though. Ah well so it goes.

In the grand scheme, I myself wasn't damaged by this guy, at least not to any measurable objective extent. Maybe there's junk going on in my brain because of that incident, but maybe not.

Larisse -- yeah, maybe the understanding of such people does come naturally. I mean, there was another guy who lived on the next block -- halfway between my house and David's actually, but on the other side of the street from the houses that backed the canyon. He was actually pretty similar -- never quite shaven, lived with his mom, early 30s, pot-belly, and every time I saw him he was wearing the same blue cardigan. I swear, either that thing was worn every day for 10 years straight, or he had several identical ones.

Thing is, that guy never weirded me out. I mean, he'd say hi when people walked by his house (he watered the lawn a lot, and always in that sweater). I'd see him on the way to or from the nearby shopping center, and he'd wave and say hello, and just keep on going. Maybe he was just satisfied with his life. He still lives there, as far as I know -- I saw him watering his lawn there a couple months ago when I was visiting my parents. Looked almost the same, but no sweater.

And you later comment struck me, too. Sure, I noted in the story that my dad never warned me of such things (neither did my mom, but somehow I saw it as dad's job, if it were to be done). However, I certainly had all the love provided to me by my parents that anyone could ask for. I mean, I wasn't one of those boldly confident people in junior high who was comfortable being himself and asking out the prettiest girl in school even though she might say no. I was shy as all getout. But I was also strong enough in and of myself that I could function without the constant affirmation from my friends that I was and always would be cool. (This doesn't mean anyone here at Hatrack needs to stop telling me that, though.)

So I suppose if I had to choose between my parents informing me that such things could happen and raising me in such a way that I could deal with them when they did, I'd go with the second. And that's what I got.

I'm luckier than most people.

As a side note, I appreciate those who've said it was well-written, and I'm curious as to what made it so, in your opinion(s). I've thought about doing some serious writing before, so it would be helpful to be critiqued a bit. I know as I re-read it after posting (though not all the way through), I noticed that at the beginning of the fourth paragraph, the "we" was unclear. But rather than critique it myself, I'm wondering what others might have to say about it. Thanks again.

--Pop

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