So was he or was he not?
Was Michael Jackson a pedophile? Or was he just a very….OK, hold on- VERY strange guy?
A very pretty friend of mine is a single mother with a 14 year old daughter.
The other night, over a dinner and a glass of wine- as you do- I asked her why she was still single. How was that even possible, I asked, to remain single when she looked like that?
And she told me that she found it very difficult to bring a man into her life- and her house- when she had a young daughter.
Of course, I told her to stop being paranoid. That while she was still young, and her daughter was only a child, she needed to get out there and try to sort her personal life out.
But on my way back, driving in the dark, I was alone with my own thoughts and fears. And while only a few years ago I would have thought the woman was crazy to see a pedophile in every stranger, I now am a mother of a little girl myself. And I live in the UK.
I have no idea why, but since I moved here, every time I open a newspaper, I worry I might see yet another cute little face smiling at me: Missing. Dead. Dismembered. Little body found naked in a ditch. Every parent’s worst nightmare.
Back home, when I was about 10 or so, I remember crossing the road near my house, when a Volga pulled over, and an older man asked me if he could give me a lift. When I continued walking, he offered me some grapes. Like I was that stupid.
But overall, it felt safe. Of course, lack of any honest media helped. Even if something happened around us, we could not read about it in a newspaper.
Yet, I am convinced it had something to do with the neighbourhood community culture that was, and I hope still is, so strong back home. Neighbours knew what everyone was up to. They watched what you bought, and what you were wearing, and whether your rubbish bins were smelly.
So it must have been pretty hard to steal a child back home.
We used to play in the yard since we were little, with no direct supervision. We could spend all day outside, only interrupted by our mothers calling from the balconies, shouting across the yard: lunch time!
But modern western cultures are different. You are on your own. You could be living next to your neighbours for years without knowing anything about them. You will smile politely and say good morning, but you might as well be a walking zombie and nobody will notice.
So I wonder if we all just expect the worst now.
Like this friend of mine who is still single, because she is paranoid of bringing a strange man into her life.
I would like to think that majority of people are not sick pervs. I would like to think Michael Jackson was actually just really weird. And very different. But... had it been my child he had invited for a friendly sleepover, I would have taken no chances.