An Evening At The Pub
I have been recently in a pub I had not visited for a while, and was reminded of a rather shocking experience lived in this pub some time ago.
I was, then, having my dinner in the pub, as business had kept me in London later than usual. This pub is in the heart of touristic London and is always well frequented, but rarely packed.
At the table near me sits a family of obvious British tourists (cameras, guides, the lot). Both parents (incredibile dictu) and two children, a boy and a girl; the boy perhaps seven, the girl five or six.
I eat my steak and ale pie reading a magazine (this was before the explosion of tablets and wi-fi hotspots everywhere), when I notice something strange is happening. Mother and father are intently discussing some matters of theirs, and the children start to play some very strange games. At one point, the boy has the girl sitting on her knees on the floor, her head on his crotch, and is saying rather loud “suck! suck! suck!” whilst he holds her head rather forcefully in his hands, moving her head up and down in the way that mimics a sexual act of which I think he knew (and she did not) the full significance. The parents could not possibly have overlooked (or overheard) the scene, but continued to talk with each other as if something absolutely normal, not worthy of their intervention, was taking place.
My brain started to – as far as it can – work fast, with many questions chasing each other: what is happening here; do they really mean *that* (yes, they do); why the parents do not react; should I react; have I ever seen such a situation before (no, I haven’t); what experience do I have of children’s behaviour (zero); what can I remember of our games at my age (well, *not that*); have I forgotten, or am I in front of something very creepy here (no clue, but rather the second?). Am I just out of touch with the fantasy world of children, and applying adult malice to children’s games? But I can not remember such “games” at my age, and I am absolutely sure in my time *that* was not in the cards; not even imagined, let alone enacted!
In a public place! In front of their parents busily discussing with each other, but most certainly fully aware of what was happening!
Shall I intervene, I kept thinking; Is something happening here that demands my intervention, or the presence of two apparently normal parents must be enough to calm my fears me in this respect? In all this, a question kept creeping: what do I know? What experience do I have with children that would allow me to say whether this is “normal” or not? But still, why should it be “normal”? Was it in my time? Not that I can remember! But what do I remember? And can I (always a rather innocent boy, who had certainty only at almost eight years of age about “how children are made”) see myself as truly “representative” of the kind? If I shut up, will I will be called to answer by Almighty God for having seen and done nothing? But look, the parents are there, it all happens in their presence, and they are perfectly calm and unconcerned! What do I know? What do I know?
The scene was, in my eyes, straight out of Kafka, but then again if it’s happening it could be that I am a victim of my admiration for Kafka! What shall I do?
I decided in the end to throw a line in the sand: if the girl or the boy had only hinted at opening the zip, I’d have cried “stop that now!” even at the cost of a serious row. As long, though, as the thing did not become even worse I would do nothing, leave the responsibility to the parents and, in case, let the sins of the parents visit the sons, then no one ever gave me the charge to educate perfectly unknown children from the strenght of my perfect ignorance of what is normal behaviour in children of that age.
At some point (but after some interminable minute of “suck!suck!” Soundtrack) the matter settled, the children got tired o their “play” and after a while the entire family went away.
I am a man who tends to take his decisions once and not look back or being tormented by hindsight. The circumstances still make it very possible the parents knew best, and would have (rightly, if they knew what they did) resented any ingerence from a perfect stranger with no experience of dealing with children whatever.
But I still could not avoid thinking how long would it be (three months? Nine?) before the boy came to the idea of really unzipping his pants, forcing the sister on him in the same rather forceful (if clearly assented to) way he was using in the pub.
I can’t imagine any other cause for this behaviour than the boy’s exposure to porn, which again speaks books about the parents. Or perhaps I’m an idiot with no idea and no usable recollection of children’s behaviour.