Watch any newscast after a local crime has occurred and you're guaranteed to see an interview with unsuspecting neighbors. Shocked and horrified faces, jolted from their normal routine (usually without makeup or hair done) They can be heard saying things like ' I am so shocked, he seemed like such a nice guy'...and the like.
That wasn't the case last month when a local softball coach was arrested for sexually assaulting a young girl who played on his team.
No one came forward to say how shocked they were.
Because they weren't.
Well, I wasn't.
Because this news was not about some random coach somewhere else, coaching someone else's kids.
This was about a coach who once coached a team at our field. Our Levittown field, where I have spent many a season helping myself to other people's loud conversations in the bleachers. You know, because I'm a writer and that's what I do. I observe everything from the cheese -fry -eating dads to coffee -sipping- moms, to young kids kicking rocks or having a catch.
I've also observed creepy behavior. The kind of behavior that catches your attention once, and you never forget it. Things that just don't look right.
Like a grown man greeting his softball players, and other young girls, with a hug. Creepy. Creepy followed by a whisper that 'something here is not right.'
Enough to convict someone of being a pedophile or a rapist? No.
Creepy as hell? You bethca.
Creepy because I can't think of any occasion where it would be necessary for a grown man to hug a child who he is not related to. A grown man hugging a young girl just to say hello, looks wrong and feels wrong.
When I was in college, earning my Elementary Ed certification, I recall the warnings we were given from our professors to never touch or be touched by a student. Not even a those little kindergartners who want to hug you hello, hug you goodbye, hug you because they love their teacher. Never.
It is by no means necessary, or appropriate.
So when you bare witness to creepy things and you hear that whisper, do yourself a favor and listen.
Because you know what happens to people who miss the whisper, they are soon subject to the scream.
And in this case, it was in the form of a mugshot in the morning newspaper.
It's too late when it's a scream.
It means lives are already changed and ruined forever.