"You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart. You’re heading for a breakdown, better pull yourself apart. " - John Cooper Clarke

Dancing with wolves.

Todd told me that on Saturday night he was going down to our local as they were celebrating their 25th anniversary. I called up my mate Tony down the road to see if he was going as I was thinking of going just to keep an eye on Todd.

Ok, I wanted to piss Todd off for no real reason whatsoever apart from the fact that he hadn’t come home the night before.

Tony called me to see if I was still going and I finally found a top, some jeans and yes, my kitten-heels that I have never worn before, but are so comfortable. That is not what my body is telling me two days later as dancing in shoes with heels that look more like spikes is Not A Good Idea.

Tony and I arrived at our local that was in full swing, grabbed a beer and searched for anyone that we knew. I spotted Todd at a table talking to a very pretty girl and her dad – it turned out that she goes to the same school as Todd. Todd and I were soon dancing together although he was making some rather suggestive moves during “Billy Jean” that I thought inappropriate when so close to me (due to the small dance floor – he didn’t do it on purpose) that I stepped back. One of my heels made contact with a man’s foot and I saw him limp away whilst glaring at me furiously.

We danced for hours which was good as I switched to orange juice so as to be able to stay upright in my spikes.

Somebody, however, was very impressed with Todd’s dancing and he and his wife were applauding him – and buying the boy beer. Well, he’s 16 and I couldn’t really say no. It turned out that the man, who Tony has known for years, works at one of the Flemish TV stations and was suggesting all sorts of things to Todd, such as hiring him as a dancer at parties etc. It all seemed very respectful.

The man drove his wife home but came back and carried on talking to Todd, right next to Tony and me. I noticed the beers had switched to Barcardi and coke, but Todd was still fine. I guess he has hollow legs. At one point I was asked to dance by some jerk who obviously thought he was far too good-looking for anyone else and offered to buy me an orange juice. I sat down with his friend and 15 year-old god-daughter who made it very clear that she couldn’t stand the man.

We got chatting and at one moment I had to pee so went off to the toilets. I chuckled to myself as I passed the men’s urinals only to see that the jerk had followed me in. But Tony was standing right next to him. If he hadn’t been having a wizz I’d have kissed Tony for being such a silent but excellent body-guard.

We carried on dancing until the early hours of the morning and finally Todd and I left with Tony. We saw the man from TV pull out in his camper-van and then Todd confessed to Tony that the man had tried to get it on with him. It was pretty harmless, just a stroke of the thigh, but enough to wake Todd up. The man had also offered to let Todd sleep in his camper-van…..

I felt shocked. I was never far away from Todd – the bar is too small, and Tony has eyes and ears in the back of his head. It was obvious that Todd wanted to talk to Tony so I let him carry on, and Tony gave him advice which I think made Todd feel better. The man in question also gave Todd a visiting card but on reflection, it didn’t say much about the well-known Flemish TV channel.

I should have gone to the police then, but Todd didn’t want to. He finally told his dad last night who will definitely go to the police, but as the parent who was there, I think that they may want a statement from me. I have no idea what to say as I am racked with guilt – but then no one else saw anything either.

Screw parenting manuals – all you need to do as a parent is to be there for them.

But sometimes not even that is enough.

25 Comments

  1. Audrey
    Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Jeez. Creepy. What an a-hole.

    Sometimes all you need to be a parent is a baseball bat, an attitude and a dark spot in a quiet car park.

  2. Nic
    Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I’ll probably get flamed for this, but never mind. If he’s old enough to go out dancing until all hours and accept drinks from strangers then he’s old enough to learn how to fend off an unwelcome pass.

  3. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I think that Todd could probably have handled it had he been on his own and you’d never have known about it. It’s not the first time he’s been out and about.

    Olivier was invited into someones car out of the rain once when he was 8 or nine when I was on the committee of the village Brocante. Fortunately they’d just been learning about stranger danger at school so he came and told us at once and we passed the word around – unfortunately we didn’t have a loud speaker in those days.

    I worry about Dom more than Olivier and I expect you are the same with the girls, but it just goes to show, no one is safe

  4. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Nic, I agree with you, and fortunately, Todd did leave the guy’s company.

    Anji, I agree with your first paragraph – had Tony and I not been there, he may well have never brought the issue up, but I’m glad he did. The pervert needs to be cautioned.

  5. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Wow. That is really creepy.

  6. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Hey Zed, I should imagine that Todd has filed this squarely under “Bejesus!” and will conseqently be a litte more wary next time.

    On a completely unrelated note, congrats on the Lifetime Achievement nomination – does this mean that you will be releasing a “Greatest Hits” CD this year? Praise indeed comes from Mrs VeryVeryBored who I caught reading your ‘blog over the weekend. Quite an achievement given that mine is generally referred to as “that silly website” / “waste of time” etc!

  7. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The man needed his head handed to him in a bucket, right then and there, if he hadn’t pulled away. It sounds like Todd handled it well all things considered. I’m glad his dad will be calling the police.

  8. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    He had people looking out for him, no problem. Putting aside prejudices, to be fair to the perv, Todd was drinking in a bar so he’s not technically a kid and by all accounts is a good dancer which probably sends out all kinds of signals to predators. So did the guy actually do anything wrong except offend people? He got turned down, Todd handled him well and learned a valuable lesson into the bargain. Take your leads from him.

  9. Dd
    Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Pat on the back Zoe, not only did your son acknowledge your presence IN PUBLIC, but also danced with you. He then confided in you.
    You are definitely doing something very right – and what a change in a relatively short time. The boy is growing up.

  10. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I agree, Todd did the right thing and thankfully, the place was so packed that nothing else could have happened. His dad went to the Police this morning because although Todd got off lightly and was level-headed about it, the perv’s next victim may not be so lucky.

    Dd, thank you – and yes, I’m proud of Todd, but am wondering whether or not he should talk to somebody.

    Mr & Mrs VeryVeryBored – thank you! Are those another two votes then?!

  11. Zandt
    Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Not knowing at what age one is considered an adult or able to consent legally in Belgium, I’m kind of with Nic and Richard on this one.

    I certainly understand, you as a parent, feeling that this older man coming onto your young’un is offensive.

    On the other hand, here in Texas, if Todd were 17 years of age, he’d be legal to do whatever he wishes with the guy sexually, and there would be no repercussions, because he would be considered capable of giving that consent freely.

    Which wouldn’t make the guy who made the pass a perv or a perpetrator — just a man who found a much younger man attractive, made a pass, and was turned down.

    I do, however, grok the protective feeling you have on the issue. And if Todd is not of an age considered legal to consent, then yes, by all means get the authorities involved. Interesting what difference perhaps a year makes.

  12. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Todd will put it down to experience and learnt a lesson, all part of the growing up and being a teenager.

    As others have said, You’ve done a fine job, Todd came to you, confided in you all good. Dare I say, all looking normal.

  13. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Zandt, the reason why I also agree with Nic and Richard, as you do, is because of Todd’s age. You can be served alcohol as of the age of 16 here (although some cafés differ) and so I guess it’s the same vis-à-vis sex (not something that I have really looked into).

    But your last paragraph sums it all up: as a parent, I feel that I should have done more, but realistically speaking, I couldn’t have. Todd did well, the person has been notified to the authorities but if it goes any further – only time will tell. It isn’t ‘normal’ for a 50-60 year-old man to go after a 16 year-old of the same sex when happily married.

    I don’t know. Maybe it is – lust is a horrible emotion.

  14. Zandt
    Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I think your last sentence has more to do with it than anything. I think the fact that the attraction was same-sex has zero to do with it; there are many sexualities, and would have felt any differently had it been a sixteen-year-old daughter?

    Our society’s powerful lust for the young and nubile isn’t new. And it’s not always lovely.

    And who knows what the nature of his ‘happy’ marriage is? It may be that he and his wife are agreed that partners external to the relationship are fine for them, and that makes a marriage for them. It’s not what I would do; but it is what some others might be fine with.

    Nonetheless, I applaud your concern as a parent, and the fact that your son confided in you and spoke with you about it openly speaks volumes about your involvement in his life and your relationship with him. I think that’s beautiful; wish I’d had that in a mum.

  15. Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    You’re right, the other victim, one he might meet elsewhere, might be younger.

  16. Anonymous, too
    Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    From the way I read this, both Todd and his mum had some close calls.

    Nobody’s immune to being on the receiving end of an unwanted pass. The difference is in how you handle it.

    However, it seems this incident made Todd uncomfortable. Maybe he needs to be reminded that a) he shouldn’t accept drinks from strangers; b) the bartender/barmaid can be an ally because they don’t want trouble in their establishment; and c) when something like this happens, it can’t hurt to call a cab or call a friend for a ride home. Oh, and d) it can help to raise your voice loud enough for others to hear you, while saying something like “What about your wife? Will she be playing, too?”

  17. Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    This blog is hotting up!! What an amazing story, and thankfully with a happy ending. (Todd comes to no harm and gets an necessary lesson in the facts of life.) I can’t say I’m totally sure where the police come in to this? Here in the U of K the age of consent is 16 for same-sex and opposite sex behaviour. Mebbe things are different in Belgium. Yet strangely, here you can’t drink in bars like that until 18, and many bars extend that further to 21 and even 25.

    You say this predatory gay man is a friend of your friend. Someone, somewhere, isn’t coming very clean with the truth! Oh, and the moment someone in showbiz starts to offer dancing work to a teenager, let every alarm bell you’ve got start to ring, camper van or no camper van.

    Angel, this story should be in Hello Magazine. You would get a thousand quid no bother.

  18. Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Peter, I checked yesterday and according to Wiki, the age of consent for homosexual sex is 18 (in Belgium). The police have sent a letter to the man in question ordering him to the police station. It appears that he is also a politician….

    Tony was shocked when Todd told him the news as he has known the man for years.

    It goes to show – who do you really know?

  19. Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Who indeed? In my experience, it is the least likely suspects who are the biggest pervs or creeps in private. The outwardly happily married man has become the bane of my existence since I’ve been single again.

    No, sir, I am NOT interested in a brief extramarital daliance with you. And yes, I am fairly certain I will survive without the honour. How IS your wife, by the way?

    Good for Tod. He’s a got a good head on his shoulders for a 16-year old. 50 to 16 is SUCH a creepy age gap. Ugh.

  20. Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Or Todd, even.

  21. Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    What sort of politician makes a pass at the son of the world’s most famous blogger? I ask you. What is the world coming to?

    More seriously… there are few males who make it through their teens without some advance from an older male. And the good news is they learn to deal with it, just like their sisters have to.

    We even have the term: “Dirty Old Man” exactly for that. (This comment comes from a very Clean old man.)

  22. Posted Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I can imagine this must be an awful experience. I do think it would be the right thing to report this to the police. The Ronald Janssen case proves such information can be useful.We don’t need witchhunts but alertness.

  23. Posted Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The perv has called Todd twice now. His father wants to change his number but Todd wants to keep his messages (he’s screening his calls) as it’s more evidence against the man who has been warned to back off Todd. Yesterday’s call was inviting Todd to sign all sorts of papers – either the police haven’t done their work properly (and they’re a good bunch here) or the guy hasn’t understood a thing.

    Apparently Todd had a pretty restless week but stayed at home last night with his dad instead of going out with his friends.

  24. Chins
    Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    i wish i had a mum like you, or atleast the gutts like Todd. i havent still come out to anyone about the entire childhood of abuse, starting at the age of 5-7 years. though its has been safe medically, but then the mental anguish is still there. and that cousin of mine has gone ahead and ruined so many lives, he is till out in open.
    still ravaging so many lives.
    2 years back he did get booked in police for some student of his complained (yes is is a tutor, just imagine the access he has to kids), but since then he has been shifting locations. n top of it all he is marriaged n has a 2 yr old daughter.(when he was booked in police his wife was 9 month pregnant).

    i do plan to come out and tell everyone. but i dont know when and how. there are so many lives associated around him , which will all shatter. Indian family system is so weird.

  25. Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Oh Chins, I am so sorry to hear that. Surely there must be something that you can do to save future lives being ruined? Good luck and I do hope that it closes a chapter of your life.

    Can you get counselling at all?