girl on the left is physically repelled from him
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On May 17, 1987, an arsonist set fire to Petty’s house in Encino, California. Firefighters were able to salvage the basement recording studio and the original tapes stored there, as well as his Gibson Dove acoustic guitar. His signature gray top hat, however, was destroyed. — Wikipedia entry for Tom Petty
One of the things that adults do to keep children safe is to repeatedly drill safety mantras into their head. Don’t Talk to Strangers. Don’t Accept a Ride Even if They Claim Your Mother Sent Them to Pick You Up. The quantity of time spend doling out these warnings is wildly out of proportion with the actual number of child abduction by strangers. I mean, I get it: better safe than sorry. It’s not like kids are so busy anyway, they can take 10 minutes out of their play-doh schedule to listen to some sensible warnings.
There’s a strange effect on kids to hearing the stern warnings so often without knowing the actual stats on kidnapping. I thought the likelihood that someone would attempt to abduct me at some point was statistically about….. 80%. As far as I could tell from the amount of time adults spent warning kids about How To Not Get Abducted, I assumed most kids are snatched at some point or another.
One of the other misconceptions I held was that the main goal of a child snatcher would be to raise me as their own child, because I was just so button-cute and adorable (again, due to parental overloving, my estimation of my own cuteness was probably way out of wack). My abductor would be some well-meaning couple who were unable to have children of their own. Perhaps they set out that day on a mission to snatch a kid from school, perhaps they only got the notion once they saw me (a blond moppet with a sparkling personality, full capability of coloring mostly within lines, and peerless on the monkeybars), and impulsively realized that I was the perfect child they had always wanted.
I blame this confusion on a late ‘80s panic over several cases of missing children in the news, as well as the popular 1990 YA novel Face On The Milk Carton, about a girl who discovers the people she thought were her parents are actually child-snatchers who thought she was cute. Adults never want to tell little kids about what child-snatchers actually want to do (rape and murder you), so you’re left own your own to assume their motivations. What possible reasons could an adult want to abduct a child other than to raise her as his own?
The other danger that kids are drilled on over and over to the point they assume it’s inevitable is fire. Each year, hours would be spend doing fire drills (to be fair, schools in my town did have a weird history of catching fire; the jr. high burned down over the summer after 8th grade.)
I remember watching a fire safety video many times that showed a cartoon of a family’s footsteps as they arrived at their pre-arranged meeting spot outside in case of fire. My family did not arrange a meeting spot. This caused me great concern, but I felt to junior in the organization to bring it up to the CEOs, even though I was certain that a house fire was inevitable.
My bedroom window had one of those stickers that alerts firemen that there’s a child in that room, which I stared at every night as I fell asleep, somewhat secure in the fact that the firemen would be more likely to save me as flames engulfed my home.
The thing I mulled over most was which of my stuff animals I would save, and in which order I would save them. Having finally set a plan gave me some piece of mind. Here was my final order of who to save:
I wonder if Tom Petty regrets not having planned in case of fire as well I as I did.
That’s some fucking deep shit, man.