Youthful Misadventures

“That Time We Got Mistaken For Hookers”

When I was 13, right before I started high school, I used to hang with a girl who lived in SE Minneapolis named EO. One day EO and I had taken the city bus down the Mall of America to meet up with our boyfriends. Yes I was one of those mallrats, it was the 90’s, it was a thing.

It was a pretty good day, EO and I had worn dresses because we wanted to look nice for the boys and a fun PG13 time was had by all. Eventually it was time for us to get on another city bus and head back to EO’s house. Except, EO in her infinite 12-year-old wisdom (I was 6mo older than her) had forgotten that Sunday bus routes were different from the rest of the week’s routes and there was no route after 3pm that would take us anywhere near her house. The closest we could do with our limited money would be to take the line that would drop us off at 35W and Lake St. EO’s house was down near 44th and Lake St. To those who know the area, they know the long trek that awaited us, for those unfamiliar let me assure you it was around 50 blocks, altogether, to get to EO’s house.

We had tried, once getting off the bus, to call EO’s mom, but she wasn’t home from work yet, we only had the one quarter so we couldn’t call anyone else as this was a time before there was such a thing as plentiful cell phones just given to teens by their hardworking parents. We decided there was nothing to do but start hoofing it. We began to walk down Lake St towards EO’s house. We got down to Hiawatha just as it was beginning to get dark out. As night fell we started to become a bit more nervous about our long walk ahead of us.

As we passed by the grocery story EO decided we should cross the street over to the south side. We crossed at the light but seconds after we started our east-bound trek we heard a car slow down behind us. A man leaned out the passenger window and asked us “fine ladies” how we were doing that night. We ignored the man and kept walking. The car, with no traffic behind it, continued to match our pace. The guy asked if we wanted a ride somewhere and we just kept ignoring him and walking down the sidewalk. Another car appeared behind the vehicle forcing the car to finally speed up and drive away. We felt relief and briefly discussed it amongst ourselves.

It was short-lived, however. A couple of minutes later the car was back. The man, more insistently this time, tried to engage us in conversation. He asked us if we needed some money, that we could make quite a bit of money. I turned and told him we weren’t interested. He replied that women not interested in making money shouldn’t be wearing dresses walking down Lake St in the dark. I ignored him and turned back to EO and kept walking, already regretting saying a word. Another car came along and forced the vehicle to drive forward again. By this time EO and I were extremely nervous.

I saw the car stop a block ahead of us and park, the guy got out of the passenger seat and started to walk towards us. EO and I began to panic, we looked around and we were walking right past a Rent A Center that was still open. We dashed inside immediately. We went up to the counter and begged the salesman to please let us use his phone. The guy refused. We told him there was a scary man outside trying to get us to go with him and we really didn’t feel safe. He started to hesitate but finally let us use the phone. We called EO’s house again and this time her mom picked up. We told her she had to come get us right away. She didn’t seem too happy but said she’d be there in 10 minutes.

We thanked the salesman for letting us use the phone and begged to be allowed to stand inside, quiet and making no trouble, until EO’s mom came for us. He wasn’t going to let us but one of us (I honestly can’t remember if it was EO or me) started quivering our lip, letting a tear emerge, to emphasise how afraid we were to go back outside and so he relented. We stayed in his sight near the door until EO’s mom pulled up outside. We thanked the salesman and dashed outside to her car. As we got in her vehicle we saw the creepy man still leaning against his car half a block up the street. It was a scary realization that if the salesman hadn’t let us stay inside that man might have forced us to go somewhere.

I should’ve vowed then and there to never again use public transportation, but sadly I was young and it would take one more lesson before that sank in. I will say this, I never again left the house with no money.

The Warning Signs

We are all too aware of sexual predators lurking in the shadows, watching people from afar and targeting victims online. However, how many of these deviants managed to keep their dangerous nature completely hidden from their family or friends? I ask this question because it has recently come to my attention that someone I know has been showing early warning signs of being a sexual predator. This is a young boy, not yet a teen, but his actions towards younger girls in his family have been alarming enough to cause certain parents to forbid he be anywhere near their daughters. His own parent appears to be in denial about the gravity of the situation and the rest of the family doesn’t have the authority to address the problem in any way other than to reiterate that his behavior is unacceptable. The problem solving part of me says take this kid aside and ask why it is he thinks it is ok to act the way he acts, and why does he want to act that way, but I doubt I would get any honest answers from him and it would only cause strife with his parent. It makes me wonder what will happen when this boy gets older. Will I one day hear about him being arrested for sexual assault on someone? Will I have to protect any future children of mine from him? Why is his parent seemingly so unwilling to address the issue to try and stop things before they progress to worse actions? How many other young children showed signs of creepy behavior that were blown off by their parents only to evolve into much more dangerous predators as they got older and stronger? What is one to do if a kid hasn’t broken any laws and you don’t have the authority to put him in counseling, yet you know damn well if nothing is done the situation will only get worse? I just don’t know what to do with this information…any suggestions?