*The Guy at the Beach*

By Mamabear

My Encounter with a Pedophile

The following article has some rough language and situations that may not be appropriate for younger readers. Also, please note that although Iím a bit critical of my husband, this incident happened during our Sheeple days and marked a turning point for me in self-awareness and personal security issues.

I have presented the incident first, without interruptions, then copied the incident but added my comments.

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THE INCIDENT

We were on our dream vacation, having scrimped and saved for a couple of years, and I had just returned to our beachfront condo after running some errands. Hubby was on the beach with our kids, Jimmy (7) and Kathy (5).

I stepped onto the balcony to check things out. Hanging over the railing, I looked to my left and saw hubby & the kids. I also noticed a Guy walking directly in front of me, left to rightÖhe was about 35, pudgy, whiter than I am (Iím the Sunscreen Queen), and had a camera slung around his neck with a HUGE telephoto lens attached.

I went inside and changed into my swimsuit, then stepped out again onto the balcony and eyeballed my familyís position on the beach. I then looked to my far right and saw The Guy leaning against the seawall with his camera aimed down the beach. A little voice inside me said, "Hmm, I wonder what heís shooting, thereís hardly anyone on the beach todayÖmust be some pelicans or something."

I moseyed on down to the beach and caught up with my family, freeing hubby to frolic in the surf with Jimmy (several hundred yards away) while I built sandcastles with Kathy.

After a few minutes I dug out my camera and leaned wayyyyy over, trying to compose a vertical shot of my daughter while she was playing in the sand. I had completely fixated on her while trying to get a great photograph.

A deep male voice said, "Itís a perfect day for picture-taking, isnít it?" I almost wet my pants. I spun around, looked up, and saw the The Guy standing uncomfortably close to us. He wasnít even looking at me Ė he was staring at Kathy.

I mumbled something inane like "Yes, isnít it, though?" while scrambling up from my seated position.

Still looking at Kathy, The Guy raised his camera up to his face and said, "Mind if I take her picture?"

At this point, my Maternal Instinct meter finally pegged at 150% and I screamed at him, "No! F*&k NO!! Get the f*&k away from us!! And if I ever find photos of ANY of us on the Internet, Iíll hunt you down like a dog and rip your motherf*^&ing throat out, is that clear?? Now get the f*&k away!!!"

He calmly lowered his camera, never taking his eyes off Kathy, and walked away.

I was shaken and furious. About 10 minutes later, my husband and son joined us and I related the incident to him. His first response was, "Gee, donít you think you overreacted a bit?" After I pointed out all the particulars, he agreed that the guy was definitely off and probably a pedophile.

What infuriated me the most was what I didnít do: since I had a camera at the ready, I should have taken his picture.

THE INCIDENT WITH COMMENTARY

We were on our dream vacation, having scrimped and saved for a couple of years, and I had just returned to our beachfront condo after running some errands. Hubby was on the beach with our kids, Jimmy (7) and Kathy (5).

I stepped onto the balcony to check things out. Hanging over the railing, I looked to my left and saw hubby & the kids. I also noticed a Guy walking directly in front of me, left to rightÖhe was about 35, pudgy, whiter than I am (Iím the Sunscreen Queen), and had a camera slung around his neck with a HUGE telephoto lens attached.

I went inside and changed into my swimsuit, then stepped out again onto the balcony and eyeballed my familyís position on the beach. I then looked to my far right and saw The Guy leaning against the seawall with his camera aimed down the beach. A little voice inside me said, "Hmm, I wonder what heís shooting, thereís hardly anyone on the beach todayÖmust be some pelicans or something."

When I saw The Guy shooting a photo with a long lens on an empty beach, my subconscious registered this as not normalÖthere was really nothing to shoot, because the beach was almost deserted. There are many anecdotal stories of people who listened to their gut and prevented a bad situation. There are just as many stories of people who DIDNíT listen and found themselves in a hurt locker. Moral : listen to your gut.

I moseyed on down to the beach and caught up with my family, freeing hubby to frolic in the surf with Jimmy (several hundred yards away) while I built sandcastles with Kathy.

After a few minutes I dug out my camera and leaned wayyyyy over, trying to compose a vertical shot of my daughter while she was playing in the sand. I had completely fixated on her while trying to get a great photograph.

This is an obvious cardinal sin Ė not being aware of my surroundings.

A deep male voice said, "Itís a perfect day for picture-taking, isnít it?" I almost wet my pants. I spun around, looked up, and saw the The Guy standing uncomfortably close to us. He wasnít even looking at me Ė he was staring at Kathy.

Three things here:

(1) This guy invaded my personal space Ė a definite social taboo in most cultures. Unwritten social customs dictate that a personís circle of space should not be violated. For North Americans, our space can be quite large, anywhere from about 2 Ĺ - 10 feet or so, based on the social setting, the sex of the people involved, and the desired outcome of the encounter. For him to have walked up to a female stranger (who had a child) and gotten that close was a social no-no.

The study of personal space is called proxemics; this website has some fascinating info on it http://members.aol.com/katydidit/bodylang.htm

(2) He never made eye contact with me at all.

(3) Finally, for him to have initiated contact with a woman on the beach who was obviously attached to someone (he had to have seen my husband talking to me earlier) was definitely abnormal.

I mumbled something inane like "Yes, isnít it, though?" while scrambling up from my seated position.

Ladies, this is where we (and some men, too) frequently have a problem. As I was trying to regain some authority by standing up instead of sitting at his feet, I was STILL trying to be polite and not offend him. As a Southerner, and as a woman, I was taught to be polite, donít offend, and above all else, donít make someone feel uncomfortable. I should have been verbally blasting him right then.

Still looking at Kathy, The Guy raised his camera up to his face and said, "Mind if I take her picture?"

STILL no eye contact with me, and not even a flimsy cover story like, "Iím with The Podunk News, mind if I snap her picture for a summer vacation piece weíre running next issue?"

At this point, my Maternal Instinct meter finally pegged at 150% and I screamed at him, "No! F*&k NO!! Get the f*&k away from us!! And if I ever find photos of ANY of us on the Internet, Iíll hunt you down like a dog and rip your motherf*^&ing throat out, is that clear?? Now get the f*&k away!!!"

OK, OK, so it wasnít the Queenís English. I think I made my point with him.

He calmly lowered his camera, never taking his eyes off Kathy, and walked away.

STILL no emotion from him. Any normal man would have reacted with horror and chagrin at my screaming, rabid reaction and said, "Jeez, lady, sorry, I didnít mean to upset you!"

I was shaken and furious. About 10 minutes later, my husband and son joined us and I related the incident to him. His first response was, "Gee, donít you think you overreacted a bit?" After I pointed out all the particulars, he agreed that the guy was definitely off and Ďprobablyí a pedophile.

My husband is fiercely devoted to us, so his initial lukewarm response shocked me. Because of his reaction, I decided to conduct an informal poll. Of the 18 men who heard my story, 16 thought I overreacted. Of the 20 women who heard it, only one thought I overreacted. Wow -- what a difference along sex lines.

What infuriated me the most was what I didnít do: since I had a camera at the ready, I should have taken his picture.

CONCLUSION

Although stranger abductions are rare, there are cases where a child will be snatched even though the parent is present (we had such a case a few months ago at a local park). I donít know if The Guy thought I was an easy mark, but Iím sure my over-the-top reaction made him cease and desist. Although this isnít very objective, I want to add that he had nothing in his eyes Ė the lights were on but no one was home. I believe itís called a flat affect by psychologists Ė he showed no emotion at all, like a zombie. In retrospect, it was very scary.

I have been criticized for calling The Guy a pedophile when he actually made no overt moves toward my children. I say if it walks like a duck and talks like a duckÖ.

When it comes to my kids, you are guilty until proven innocent.

Think long and hard about letting your young son and daughter hang out solo in the toy section at Wal-Mart while you look at the camping stuff. I know I never will, not for several years.

Maybe when theyíre 35 and 33! J

Mamabear


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