Sometimes our memories fill us with longing nostalgia; a brief flash to a simpler time. Sometimes, we don’t get so lucky.
I have many memories of unpleasantries, but there are a few I need to write about to ease my mind. I’m tired of these sick older men haunting my thoughts.
Many men are unaware of the struggles women face from birth to death. Even the women who are not conventionally “sexy” have problems with being sexually assaulted. If this bothers/triggers you, stop reading now.
I come from a family of pedophiles, although I am somehow the lucky one who they never touched. I thank my mom for instilling fear in my uncle’s dead heart from the beginning. Luckily my grandpa stopped those behaviors before I was born and my dad drinks the urges away instead of acting on them. None of these people are in my life, nor have they ever really been (except my grandpa who I love very much despite his shitty past).
Sadly, strangers who are fans of little girls were in my life.
The mall in the 90s was utopia for a child. So many bright lights, colorful signs, people to watch, and kids everywhere. At five years old, I cherished every second of every mall trip with my mom. Some days we’d invite my grandparents to have lunch in the food court with us. Not only was it exciting to have so many food options here, but there was an arcade right next to the tables we normally dined at.
This day, we were sitting at the table closest to the entrance of the arcade. My cousins didn’t join us so I was the only kid, bored to tears with the idle chit chat of my mom and her parents. After fidgeting around in my seat for an eternity, my mom gave me one quarter and said I can go play one game in the arcade. She could see the entrance to the arcade and promised to keep an eye on it (we frequently discussed the dangers of kidnapping and “stranger danger”).
She had no way of knowing the real terrible person was already inside the arcade, disguised as an employee. The second I walked in and exchanged my quarter for a token, he swooped down on me and initiated conversation. As a kid, I knew not to talk to strangers but he worked there; he must be trustworthy, right? Wrong. He immediately made a big deal out of my indecisiveness of what game to play and announced loudly to everyone that I didn’t know where to spend my money. Teenagers and kids glanced uncomfortably in our direction, ignoring my burning red face, and went about their business. The employee led me to a Mortal Kombat machine and opened it with his key. He gave me five free lives in exchange for a hug. A hug isn’t so bad, right?
In the midst of a way-too-intimate hug for this creep I noticed we were directly next to the door to the “back room” of the arcade. I backed up thinking “well, I’ll play real quick and leave. I’ll run if he tries to get me too close to the door.” My stomach was tense and my heart was racing. I quickly allowed my character to get their ass kicked so I could leave. The employee stood in my way and convinced me to accept his generosity by at least finishing my credits. I didn’t know what to do. I was in a crowded room full of people and I was terrified to my core. What was he going to do to me? My mom was so close but so far away.
As I tried to kill my character off as quickly as possible, this asshole stands with his waist against my shoulder blades; in hindsight probably rubbing his dick on me. He started kissing the top of my head and moving down to my shoulders. His pedo-mustache kept getting caught in my hair and I could feel his hot breath on my skin. This is when my intuition screamed “NOPE” and I ran out without a second thought. I still have never told my mom about this incident.
I still can’t handle anyone kissing my arms or head, 21 years later.
I shudder to think how many poor kids he lured into that back room or somewhere outside of his job. I wish I told my mom so that the police could have come taken him away.