Death of an era

the other day, i watched a guy walk into taco bell holding a little girl’s hand.  she was 8 or 9 years old.  i imagine he was somewhere in his forties.

she was neatly dressed and well-behaved.  she stood quietly in line as he ordered food, filled up drinks at the fountain, and took their seats at a table in the corner.  she sat upright with perfect posture, as the man carried the conversation.

she did exactly as she was told.  she had little or no personality or expression.  was she mad?  was she in trouble?  was she just a shy little introvert?

i kept watching and my mind kept wandering.

i hate that i live in a day and age where skepticism wins out over innocence and wholesome.  i hate that i didn’t just see an older dad or a younger grandpa with their little girl.  i hate that my imagination saw more.  i hate what jerry sandusky did.  i hate what countless others have done before him.

it bothers me that middle school or high school boys can’t be babysitters easily.  it breaks my heart that there are not lots of young men teaching in our grade schools.  it’s a tragedy that every action that a man has with a little girl (or little boy, for that matter) is put under the magnifying glass.

a couple of nights later, i pulled my little friend brooke up on to my lap, so she could show me what she had made.  i love brooke.  she is bright and outgoing and precocious.  she is also trusting and her life is an open book.  i take her friendship with me very seriously.

and as she sat on my lap, looking me right in the eyes and talking a mile-a-minute, my mind wandered.  i wondered what people might be thinking of me.  was anybody thinking i was crossing a line?  i hope not.  i wasn’t.

we finished talking and she hopped off and went on her innocent way.

and i mourned the death of an era that will never, ever return.

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