Okay, this is super weird and creepy. No, I mean it, it's super creepy. So then, you've been warned...
At the light rail stop I walked past what seemed to be a nice father and son. The kid, who looked to be about ten was running around wrapping string around his dad and laughing, dad was laughing, I smiled as I walked by.
They sat not too far in front of me on the train. The kid pulled out a book, pointed out pictures to his dad and all was right and adorable with the world. I'm always curious what kids are reading these days. Would it be some cool new kids book or maybe an old classic like Hop On Pop, or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish? I peeked and saw the the young man was sharing with his father some hard core porn. I blinked twice. Could I really be seeing this right? I looked again. Yep. Hardcore porn it was. In fact, it was the kind of porn that advertises other porn, so each page was jam packed with penetration and tongues and well, all sorts of stuff.
I didn't know what to think and I certainly didn't know what to do. I looked around hoping to find an example to follow. Only one other person seemed to have notice. She looked nervous and avoided eye contact.
I started to have really weird thoughts. I remembered that I had looked at porn when I was a kid. I got bored of it after awhile. I wondered if this was really going to harm the kid, but then it occurred to me that the porn wasn't the issue so much as the relationship between this kid and this older man, who I now realized wasn't necessarily his father. Why did this man want to share this with the kid? My friend Cole's dad let him pretty much look at whatever he wanted to look at, but he didn't look with him. They didn't share happy moments together checking out porno while riding around town on the light rail at 10:3o in the morning. Should I engage them?
I imagined starting a dialogue.
"Excuse me, I wondering, is this your son that you're sharing porno with?"
"Mind your own business, fuck off, don't you oppress me cracker."
Oh wait, did I mention that they were black? Is it relevant? Yes, it's relevant, because our cultural differences made me less likely to respond, especially as I was in the minority on the light rail and worried about being the uptight white dude trying to tell other people how to live.
I imagined my well reasoned response, "Sir, you assume too much. I am just curious about the art of parenting. You see, I may be a father myself some day, and I wonder, should I perhaps share porno with my son or daughter?"
Yeah, my imaginations a bit nuts, but I wanted to know what the hell this guy was thinking. I became increasingly concerned that this was a sign of something bigger going on. If this was okay in public then what was going on in private. I remembered the recent case where the boy was found after going missing years earlier. His captor's neighbors just though they lived next to a father and son. I started to think I had a moral obligation to take some action. There were no cops around, but there likely would be some on K Street, where I planned to get off the light rail.
I exited on K and so did the man and the kid, after the kid tucked his porno into his coat. I looked around. No cops. I made my way to Bryna's work. I was dropping off her library books on my way to school. No cops the whole way there. What's the expression, never a cop around when you need one. I told Bryna what I'd witnessed and she was thoroughly yucked out. Seeing her response I felt guilty for not having taken action.
I headed to class and there they were again coming out of the mall. The kid looked at me and I looked at him. He looked like a regular kid. I didn't see anything discernible in his gaze, nothing that said "Please help me." If anything I thought I detected a hint of "What are you looking at?"
I looked around, still no cops. My phone rang. It was my boss. I talked to the boss and then I went to school.
Should I have acted?