Garry was the neighborhood pervert. Or the most obvious neighborhood pervert. He rode around on his 10 speed bike, circling the neighborhood aimlessly. Kids liked him at first, for no other reason than that he was an adult who seemed to have nothing to do. Adults who have time and inclination to just hang around kids are hot properties as far as the kids are concerned. At first.
He had another thing going for him. He knew Karate. He didn’t just say he knew Karate. He knew it. He was a black belt. He had the white suit and the, black belt to prove it (we saw the belt,we were no dummies). On top of that, he could do stuff that looked cool. Once or twice he’d invite a group of kids to his garage to watch him break patio blocks. He did a whole stack of them, with quarters in between each one. It impressed the boys, anyway.
Other than being a grown up who could smash patio blocks and had lots of spare time on his hands, I’m not sure why the girls talked to him at all. If I think back, it was flattering to have an adult (he was my patents’ age) who wanted to talk to me, just to chat. And to a 9 year old, the fact that he was still living with his mother didn’t seem weird. I lived with mine.
So we’d tease him, calling him “Mr. French fry” and pretending to try to catch him on his bike. He always made it point to say hi to us if we were up at the park and he happened to be riding by. Lucky for us, he rode by a lot when we were out. He lived kitty corner behind us, so sometimes he’d say hi to us over the fence. He’d ask us to come and visit and have a pop and chat.
I did a couple times. I remember three times. There must have been times in between that weren’t memorable. How I had the lack of judgment to return the second time, I do not know. And the third time… What the hell? At least partly, it was about not being able to lie convincingly and say I was busy. I don’t know. I was kid. I was dumb and easily lead astray. He was a grown up. He seemed to be so interested in talking to me. He asked if I had a boyfriend, because I was so pretty. He grew up in the neighborhood, so he could tell me about my mom when she was a kid.
He sat on the lounge chair in the back yard, offered me a pop. I sat and chatted with him about god knows what. Eventually as we were chatting Gary put one leg on the ground instead of out in front of him. This allowed his genitals to hang lazily out the side of his shorts. Maybe they were special Karate shorts that gave one’s penis the opportunity to breath deeply of the fresh air. Maybe it was an accident and he didn’t know.
All I know is that the sight of a man’s penis makes me, made me feel afraid. It’s getting different, not so jarring of a fear now that I’m a married woman, but it feels primal. I remember recently reading with great relief and recognition about the typical reaction of men and women to naked people. When men see a naked woman they generally have a feeling something akin to hope or lust. When women see a naked man, she tends to have a reaction of fear, or danger.
Evolutionarily it makes a lot of sense. A naked woman is just one more field to plant your seed in if you’re a man. If you’re a woman, a naked man is possibly about to totally limit your options as far as which crop you’ll be tending for the next 9 months (or 4 years, even) . You have only so many seasons. But I digress.