Friday, March 19th, 2010
So, I have this neighbor – he’s an older man, probably in his late 60′s, maybe even 70′s. I sometimes run into him on the stairwell or in the parking lot, bringing in our groceries or whatever.
He’s always been super friendly. My front door is right at the top of the stairwell, so I often see him walk by through my ‘ice cube glass’ windows near my desk. When I moved in, he complimented me on the happiness my yellow hibiscus brought him when it bloomed. And I thought how nice it was that someone even noticed besides me. He looked like a nice old man, what I envision a “grandpa” to be.
Cut to a week or so later, when I’m tempted into downloading a Sex Offender Locator app for my iPhone. You can see where this is going. Grandpa indeed.
Not only are there a handful of the usual within a 5 mile radius, there’s one right on the floor of my building. A couple clicks later and I’m looking at the nice man who likes my flowers.
I made sure to read the offenses because I know there are issues with some of the placements of people on those lists — some 18-year-old’s girlfriend was 17 and she had a vindictive dad or… whatever. I’m familiar with that set-up, but I knew in my heart it wasn’t that. Not only was he old, the offenses were all… icky. It made me sad to think that this seemingly normal man is a pedophile. Or was a pedophile – have no idea of that sort of thing gets cured, but his mug shot wasn’t from 40 years ago, that’s for sure.
So, I decided that since I didn’t know the whole story (not that one could really defend that kind of behavior, but I don’t know the particulars and don’t want to), I would pretend I just didn’t know this tidbit and continue to be pleasant. I’d avoided him through some stroke of luck and only saw him once or twice in the last few months since I found out. Except…
Recently, it seems like I’ve run into him a lot. Since the new year, I’ve been crazy busy with work and not left the house much. I’m a hermit lately and one day a couple weeks ago I was getting into my car for the first time in a while and the Friendly Pedophile was just getting out of his. “Oh there you are! I’m so glad to see you — you know, I almost stopped by your place the other day to see if you were alright.”
Puzzled, I asked, “Oh? Why did you think I wasn’t alright?”
He smiled that big grandpa smile and said, “Well, your car isn’t always here. I usually see your car come and go a lot more and I noticed your car hadn’t moved in several days. I thought you might be ill. I almost came by to check on you, but I thought that might be presumptuous.”
I wasn’t sure how to take that. If I didn’t know what I knew, I would still think it a bit odd though kind, but knowing “grandpa has a magic lap”, even though I’m not his type chronologically, made me a little weirded out. I smiled and said, “Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m well, though, thanks! I just work from home.” DOH! I mentally smacked myself in the face for divulging that bit of information. What a maroon.
About a week later, I was sitting at my desk with my headphones on, singing at the top of my lungs. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a shape walking past my ice cube windows, which I generally ignore, but the shape paused, backed up and stood there for a sec, then waved at me. It was the Friendly Pedophile and he’d caught me singing Taylor Swift.
A few days ago, I was down at my car, digging through the mail I keep throwing in the backseat, looking for a missing 1099. When I got in my car, I noted that FP’s car was in his space, but he was not around. Yet suddenly, silently, he sidled up to me with his grandpa smile, holding an armful of cheap dishtowels from Costco. “You better clean out that red car there, missy!” he jovially chided.
A little startled, I turned and laughed politely… like you do. It was like he saw me go to my car… or maybe it was a coincidence. But he proceeded to tell me how he got all those towels for only $10 at Costco, that they’re thick and what a great deal! I told him I’d check them out the next time I was at Costco and let the conversation trail off with “have a good day” as I continued to look for my paperwork.
Normally, I’d think he’s just a nice old man who doesn’t get a chance to talk to very many people. I never see him with anyone else. And it makes me a little sad for him, as a fellow person. But then I’m reminded of his mug shot and how gross and abhorrent those things are, that I figure he’s made his proverbial bed. I can only assume he thinks I don’t know and I probably won’t ever let on that I do.
So, for now I’ll just keep my eyes peeled for him and continue being polite. He’s a human being, after all. Though I do feel like I’m observed more now than I’d like or realized.
Oh! There he goes… past my window. This time, no wave, but then, I’m not tempting him with the siren call of a teenage country singer.