Like a lot of children, I went to church at the behest of my mother. I spent the majority of my time there pretending that I was a robot or a detective (or a robot-detective) and wandering into places I did not think I was allowed. Sometimes I would write notes, sign them as Jesus Christ, and hide them all over the building. I found sermons that didn’t involve some sort of magic practically unbearable and would stare at my shoes or doodle on scraps of paper until something crazy caught my ear. I could never resist a good story and The Bible is absolutely chock-full of them.
Sometimes a loaf of bread and some tiny cups of wine would come around and everyone would eat and drink their tiny portions all together. I found it off-putting that they all partook in unison and asked around about it often. Someone eventually told me that eating the bread and drinking the wine meant I had accepted Jesus into my heart and that it represented consuming his blood and body. This was a concept that I found immediately terrifying, so I would always pass on communion without participating and never bothered to get baptized either. Outside of the singing bits, I really was a pretty half-assed Christian.
Church just did not do a whole lot for me, but that didn’t keep me from actively participating. Usually when my boredom was about to peak, the minister would call us all up front for children’s corner. This was a “private sermon” just for us kids that took place in front of the entire congregation and involved him asking questions that had to be answered into a microphone. I hated being put on the spot but liked using the microphone. Most of them ended with him saying something like, “I guess God must really have to love us to do something like that, wouldn’t he?”
Then he would dismiss us all to our respective youth group leaders where we could learn the biblical basics. Outside of my single read-through of the bible as an adult, this is where I acquired the majority of my information on Christianity. While there were a lot of people helping out, the entire operation was run by a man named Sam, who I didn’t much care for. Sam was the type who would always put his hand on your shoulder or ask for hugs that lasted too long. His red face was always too close to my face and his breath smelled crazy. On a few occasions I would see Sam outside of youth group and he’d chat up my family. My mom would always comment on how nice a man he was and I’d tell her that there was something about him that I didn’t like.
My primary qualm about Sam was due to the fact that he was basically the Michael Jordan of child molestation in my neighborhood. As a little kid, you are immediately taught to stay away from strangers but you’re never given any useful pointers about how to handle familiar creeps. I recall a few brief “bad touch” conversations but was not particularly well prepared for the dangers of the friendly pervert. If I ever have children, I am definitely going to prepare them for all contingencies. I’ll try to be nonchalant, so as to give the maximum amount of information without scaring them into a few weeks worth of nightmares.
“Listen, this is going to sound crazy but there are a few people out there that are going to want to touch your butt or your pee-pee and it’s your job not to let them. So, unless I say they’re cool, don’t let anybody ever touch your butt. It’s just one of those things.” -Father of the Year
I must not have been alone in being ill-prepared either because Sam had a pretty illustrious career as a pedophile before finally getting caught over a decade later. Either this guy was a total mastermind, or molesting kids isn’t nearly as difficult as I originally assumed. I don’t really recall him being master strategist though. There were a few occasions where he followed me into the bathroom and asked me if I needed help, but I always said that I was good and don’t actually remember ever being outright molested. Maybe I just wasn’t an attractive enough child, maybe I was clever enough to avoid him or maybe I just blocked the traumatic memory of it happening. He definitely broke new ground for creeping me out though. He was the only adult I felt perpetually uncomfortable around. The frequency at which he hugged us was alarming and he was always finding excuses to rub our backs or talk one-on-one with his mouth close enough to moisten our cheeks with his breath. I even remember him fogging up my glasses.
I don’t tell this story a lot for reasons that should be immediately obvious. Child molestation is a very touchy subject for most people and I have a tendency to inject humor into even the darkest places. But, I assure you, I do not endorse pedophilia. I do, however, have a partial solution to the problem. It might not be a terrible idea to spend some extra time listening to our children. I could not have been the only person to have told my parents that I didn’t like Sam and that there was something wrong about him, but he was in his sixties before he was finally caught and convicted. Kids say a lot of stupid and nonsensical things, so it’s easy to dismiss them or tune them out, but there is usually an actual message buried somewhere in there. My parents were good ones but I remember visiting them during college when my mom told me that he went to jail. She asked me if he ever did anything to me and I think that was probably the first time anyone had ever asked me that.
A few years before I found out that Sam got caught, I worked with a man named Norm. He was the type of person that would tell you stories that were really entertaining but that you also sort of wished weren’t true. I liked working with him even though he preyed upon everyone with less fortitude. He’d inquire about their sexual exploits and tease them but keep his distance. He was a character and, while off-putting, entertained me by just being strange. Then, one day, he told me a story about his daughter and a custody battle that made me like him a lot less. I just want to remind everyone that these people are out there.
Wow. Just, wow. We should really listen to our kids. I know I try to listen to mine. Somehow I managed to avoid the pedophiles growing up, but I know so many people who were parasitized by them.
Wow, Matt, I really admire you for writing about this subject, which is something some people don’t even want to think about but if we want to protect kids, we better be pretty frank with them. Kids know (as you did) when something is not right. My so-called grandfather took every opportunity to put his hands where they didn’t belong and when I told my father about it in later years, he just looked at me like he had no idea. You were lucky, Matt, and I am glad.
Judy, as usual, I agree with your take on things. Ignoring a problem, no matter how taboo, doesn’t help to solve it.
I very much appreciate your thoughtful writings – both funny and not so funny. You are a brave man.
Not good, especially that he was in his sixties before he was convicted.
I’m a survivor and I know just how much that can screw up your life.
God Bless my friend.
Unfortunate to hear that. However you can use your knowledge to help others cope and avoid such unsavory situations.
Wow, great entry, Matt! Thanks for sharing. I hope your memory is accurate, and that Sam never touched you. I hate that he touched all the others.
And the Norm cartoon is very disturbing.
Norm was my boss at the time.
Very honest. I like that. Well done, Matt.
In 2nd grade, mom gave me some money to take my little sister to the bakery and get doughnuts. A few other neighborhood children went along. I led a gaggle of kids, aged 4 – 7, to the bakery so we could have a doughnut. It was a two mile walk and I was the oldest in the group. Back in 1977, this was not considered strange. It was also a small town and the odds of running into people you knew were very high.
By 5th, or maybe 6th grade, it started to change. I rode my bike over to a friends house. She lived over a mile away. A guy in a car was driving really really slow. It was very odd and caught my attention. We never had any of these ‘stranger danger’ warnings or anything back then. But it really put me on guard. He followed me a short distance and took some shortcuts through a couple wooded lots where a car couldn’t go and lost him. I got my friend’s house and told her about it.
We got on our bikes and headed to the drug store for some snacks and then head to the beach. Oddly enough, this big fancy drug store was in the building that used to be the bakery. The bakery closed and I think the new store was a Ben Franklin. Here, we ran into the same guy. He was wearing loose shorts that were too short and clearly no underwear. We could see the head of his wiener (to use the term of that era) hanging out of his shorts.
I don’t remember what all he tried to say to us, but I know my friend and I were being very uncooperative. He asked for directions to the beach. This was a small town and the beach was very obvious and was probably the most distinctive feature of our town. This told us that he was probably not a local person. We told him were it was and raced our bikes back to my friends house and totally skipped the beach.
We played at her house for a while and then I went home, riding my bike as fast as I could, keeping a lookout for that car. I had been a little freaked out when the creep had followed me earlier and then turned up at the store. The next day at school, my friend told me that she had told her mom about it. Her mom had heard on the news that night that the guy had been arrested for bothering girls at the beach. Girls as in late grade-school to middle school age rather than girls as in females in general.
This was the day that my worldview changed and the world went from a basically safe place (meaning that sometimes people were mean and you were not always happy but you were ‘safe) to a dangerous place where you didn’t trust strangers and you paid a lot more attention to the people who you knew but you didn’t like.
It was about the same time that the After School Specials t.v. show started to air and talk about stories of abuse, neglect, and other stuff that people normally didn’t talk about. I now think about how much the world seems to have changed. Once, a child of 7 could lead other children, who were practically toddlers still, on a 2 mile walk back then and now parents can’t even let kids play outside without parental supervision.
I think that can still happen and I don’t feel like people have changed much but that we’ve focused on scaring people instead of ignoring things (like we did before). We should try to confront issues confidently and encourage our children to do the same.
Thank you for sharing a good story and using the word “wiener” too. It brightened my day and enriched this website.
That last one, I have no words. There are some disgusting, horrible people out there
Without a doubt. We’re all on a sliding scale but some of us seem to have fallen off the bottom. The weird thing about that last comic was that I wasn’t sure if he was a total child molester or just a really stupid creep.
…maybe at that point it just doesn’t matter.
You know, it’s sad to say, but I think most adults can probably remember a person from their childhood who was just a bit creepy. There was a dude who lived up the street and we always found him creepy. I think it may have been because his greetings always seemed so over exaggerated and his smile just a little too wide. I’d purposely ride my bike in the opposite direction if I ever saw him coming. My mother’s response to me was always, “He’s harmless.”
I’m glad you trusted yourself and not your mother.
Me too! Better safe than sorry!
Super disturbing. It makes you wonder how many people like that are out there. But I agree with you wholeheartedly: people should take children more seriously than they do.
It shouldn’t be ignored to be sure. It’s unsavory so I think most people just like to ignore the problem. I have no idea how many people are out there but here are some studies I found: http://yellodyno.com/Statistics/statistics_child_molester.html
Completely disturbing. Our priest liked alter boys. They finally caught him. Tsk.
I love your style. Thanks for sharing this personal story.
It’s interesting that stories of this nature often involve “church folk”. I guess it’s a pretty convincing cover.
I love YOUR style.
I suppose a cover would be helpful for the average sexual predator and it gives them access to children too. Still, I hate to think of a world where everyone is suspect of anyone who has a passion for helping children.
They should change ‘stranger danger’ to ‘uncle danger’ to make it a lot more relevant.
And fas or things that happen in churches – are priests blind? Oops – answered my own question there.
I think the Church draws in people who need help and welcomes those that offer themselves to it. I’m not trying to make a case that churches are full of perverts though. This could have easily happened at school or through a friend of the family, which is where your “uncle danger” PSA really comes into play.
Nope, sorry. The churches are full of dysfunctional people – the nunneries and seminaries especially.
The hierarchy of the church knows this but they themselves are products of the system.
There is a systemic hatred of women in the Catholic Church. Mary Magdalene being portrayed as a whore for example.
Now I think that there is no god but this abuse of women as an entire group needs to stop and the collective madness known as the church need to end.
I’ve no reason to disagree with you, it wasn’t the point of my post. If I were to get into organized religion it’d be an easy six posts.
I love your blog, so much that I usually share it, and will again today. My stomach sunk when I read the title of this particular article, and I was instantly offended, “Pedophilia:not always funny”
Is it ever f*cking funny??? The only reason I make pedophilia jokes is because I can’t go around shooting creepy motherf*ckers is the face. I also make jokes about gun laws; the guy who shot all of those children in Sandy Hook was visibly strange (how’s that for profiling).
YES…….. KILLERS, RAPISTS, and PEDOPHILES are EVERYWHERE!!!!! I am going to pray about it after I re-read this article….
FYI: Educate your kids for sure, but do so knowing that knowledge does not keep children from being molested. I was educated throughout the process. If you really want to keep them safe, keep them away from creepy freaking people- this includes relatives!!!! Keep them with YOU!!!!! My mom tried to tell me that she had no idea that anything bad would happen to me after she placed my in childcare around seven. She hired a woman to watch me who’s entire house smelled like urine and who’s children were dirty and unkempt. The conditions were so deplorable that I had to slip on shoes to make it to the bathroom at night because the roaches were so thick. I remember them crunching under my feet. Maybe my mom missed the cock roaches, they do sleep during the day, but the signs were visible, RED.
PAY ATTENTION: your life depends on it.
It’s alright to be offended so long as the message comes through as clear and the story can be viewed somewhat objectively. Thanks for the share.
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It feels really weird to “like” this, so let me explain myself. First, I appreciate your honesty about the man who made you so uncomfortable. It is really awkward to touch on such a subject. I respect your bravery. Second, I like the way you intend to talk to your kids about it. That’s exactly how it should happen. We should always make sure our kids are comfortable with us to be honest without the fear of judgment. I think a lot of bad situations could have been avoided if such communication was the norm.
I don’t think I was being brave, I was just telling a story.
I think you handled this delicate issue very well and I completely agree with you that parents should listen to their children. Unfortunately it is hard to do this when the child seems to be stroppy, unreasonable or aggressive. What I mean is that you cannot just jump in as a listening parent saying, “I’ve ignored you and talked over you for years, but now I am worried about the local child molester so I am all ears.” That just won’t work. The listening relationship has to begin a lot earlier!
This is probably why most people should reconsider breeding. It’s hard work many are unwilling to do.
i enjoy your blog. I adore your illustrations. I find humor in dark things. I also know when the line is to be drawn. I am very passionate about sex offenders in general. Please check out my blog one day. It’s brand new. phreaklab.com or just click my icon.
Well said. It made me appropriately queazy.
Reblogged this on Dirty Little Mind.
I imagine that having children would make this a horrifying subject to think about. And because I like to look at all sides, I imaging that a pedophile would read these stories and become terrified at the thought of being caught. If I were a prisoner, the harsh judgement I would pass down on these kid fuckers would make Dr. Hannibal Lector look like the bald black guy from Seseme Street when I was a kid…what was his name? …GORDON! However, being neither a parent, a pedophile, NOR a prisoner, I find these stories to be hysterical. So keep ’em coming!
Sorry but your comic just made me roll in laughter. Especially the last one.
Please, more jokes. I find humor in mostly anything especially books. What I don’t find humor in is when some real person is harmed, hurt, or killed. Books can do what is illegal or impossible in real-life.
The thing I find very WEIRD and mostly IGNORED is how America keeps sexualizing kids on main-stream media. Yep, you heard me clear. Teens are taught by the fashion industries to expose their bellies or their legs and wear heavy masque make-up around the eyes. Toddlers and Tiara is parents exploiting their children for extra cash on stage by a judge and the mothers are heinous hecklers. Dance groups have put kids as young as 8-years olds in costumes that look like their meant for 25 year olds.
Then these dance groups doing all these weird and very ADULTISH type dancing while dancing to suggestive songs in these dance-groups. Don’t tell me some people shouldn’t be parents because there’s a lot that shouldn’t. And no, I don’t look at parents to be innocent when majority of the time it’s them who are allowing or dressing their kids up to look the way they do. And what about the mystery and often hush-up of Teen-Sex? Why is it the schools teach sexuality is okay and this indoctrination of homosexuality being “okay” do they NOT think teens are going to go out and have sex? How about Perry’s “Teenage Dream” lyrics bombarded with undertones of sexual mischeft? Do they NOT think the homosexuality advocates are RECRUITING young people in their ranks to replenish the old homosexuals that will die off from aids or age-related problems? Oh boy. Just take a look at youtube and find it out yourselves. There’s homosexual dudes on there that like filming muscles of young-looking “gay” guys and even other young gay guys do it too. Why is this always being excused now they think homosexuals aren’t capable of this stuff? How about the unfortunate fact that molestation is 7 more times likely to happen because of incest of a family member or “family friend”. Yea,i’m talking about those too. Strangers are taught to be avoided, but what happens when it’s “close at home”? You know like, people that are suppose to be “trusting” lol. How does one deal with that? Are there any signs or clues to watch out for? Why does it often go undetected and someone ends up molested because of it? It’s just taught “avoid this! That helps really no one if they end up getting molested anyway because the signs were ignored.
I wonder how many Child Molesters tune in everyday to watch their favorite show of the week Toddlers and Tiara provided by yours truly public media broadcasting stations? How about the public beaches where everyone strips down?
But here’s the catcher that is often unexplained. What about ADULTS who like to dress up as INFANTS? Literally like infants. They crawl in cribs, they hold bottles, and they POOP in their DIAPERS. What about adult females who put their hair in pony-tails and romp around as “cheerleaders” or “valley-school girls”. What about guys who are attracted to flat-chested or small-breasted young women who have the ‘baby-face’.
This is the questions that often remain unanswered. Where does the DESIRE of youthfulness actually come from? And also, why is it legal to get married in the US at the age of 14 by parent and or court approval in certain states?
Why are kids allowed to watch R-rated movies with blood and sex in them when their meant for adults. Why is it taught at an early age that young people should be attracted to the bodies of breast-enhanced exaggerated and often Hollywood-like females? Why has the average young male more than likely has seen porn in his life? Why are females always placed in the roles of innocent damsel-in-distress roles in terms of sexuality and only men are capable of sexual things? Why have songs like “I Love Little Girls” around?
Why do females in particular heckle about wanting to stay or look younger than their actual ages? Why do people shave their armpits and other parts to be considered attractive? Isn’t hairyness a sign of maturity?
Why is sex or nudity in general often associated with shamefulness in America? If people would talk about the realities of teen-prengancies or teen sex, maybe even actually educate more people about sex instead of hiding it then maybe things wouldn’t be as bad and more educated and informed decisions would happen instead.
But one has to admit, America does have youth-fetish problem. Often times though it’s swept under the rug and the entire focus lands on Molesters. In denial. I say this because a nation cannot focus on one thing yet supplying things like Toddlers and Tiara and what about these adults that love dressing up like kids in baby clothes and having sex? Diapers? Pony-tails? Skirts??? Soiling themselves out of arousal?
Where is the bigger picture in all of this?
I don’t know. It’s a mystery I’d like to get to the bottom of.
Top notch post, the comic perfectly represented an unsavoury situation without alienating the reader. I love the father of the year quote.
The one thing I can actually take pride in is my high tolerance for the absurd. But Norm strayed too far out of the fucking norm. The cartoon him is already giving me shivers–I cannot imagine standing near the guy while he’s saying those lines. Actually I could. I’d get out of that bar [here I am assuming] and work up as much distance between him and myself as possible. Earth officials should send people like him to Mars for all I care. He could suck up all the poison he wants out of that planet and finally do something good for humanity. I’m not certain what but just get the hell away from Earth and take all the other pedophiles with you Norm and Sam. It’s all I ask.
Kids should be listened to. I’d rather talk to them than some “sensible” adults out there. I know they have truths to tell because I’ve been a kid once, too. One who was terribly afraid no one would believe the uncomfortable truths she has to say.
Being near him when he told me was a fairly surreal experience. I think I was eighteen or so.
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