The Forbidden Fruit

One evening after play practice, Brach stopped into a corner store for a quick snack before heading home to study. As she paid for her selection, the young man behind the counter held her hand long and thoughtfully as he took the money. “No lady this pretty should be out alone at night,” he said. His nametag read “Adam.” Brach withdrew her hand quickly but felt a strange excitement at Adam’s flirtation. He laughed at her gesture and her red face as she hurried out the door. Over the next few weeks, Brach found more reasons to stop in the store on the way home. Each time she earned Adam’s patient smile, and before long she began to see that he wasn’t being offensive that first day–he was just being friendly. Adam was slightly older and a little dangerous, and represented all of the things Brach had never done. Actually–as Adam suggested–all the things her controlling, overbearing parents had never LET her do. Maybe this guy was right. Her parents had forced her into a little princess role.

Shortly, Brach’s behavior began to change. She left play practice early and waited for Adam to get off work. They jumped in her car for an hour of smoking and driving through the park. Adam wasn’t “into” all the stuff she wanted to do, and though he didn’t put it down, he told her repeatedly, “Man, why do you want to have all that responsibility?” He was right, you know. It was her parents who made her run for class president and be in the National Honor Society. It was never her choice … I mean, how come nobody ever asked her?

The Turning Point

One night Adam asked if he could drive Brach’s car, and she complied. “For that, you deserve my thanks,” he said, and pulled a different-looking cigarette from his pocket. Janie loved what happened to her when she tried that smoke. Adam drove faster and faster, and she couldn’t control her laughter. He suddenly pulled off the road into a grove of trees and smothered her with urgent, pent-up kisses. Brach’s heart heaved and she embraced him as his strong arms held the rest of her in place. After a few minutes, she started to panic and pushed him off. Adam relented and sat back, lit a cigarette and started the car. He drove back to the corner store and got out, laughing and shaking his head. Brach jumped into the driver’s seat and sped home. In the safety of her bed, she cried, knowing full well she had escaped a great deal more than she’d ever imagined. Although Brach was not yet 18, she’d been exposed to a different side of life. She would be more careful next time, but she had to admit there was something about Adam that was very exciting.

Janie and Tom didn’t know what was wrong with their little girl. They smelled the cigarette smoke on her clothes when Janie did the wash, noticed her grades were slipping, and that she slept a lot later on weekends than she ever did before. Soon arguments at the dinner table became common, and the once clean and well-maintained car they’d given her looked like junk.

What happened here?

Reality Check

I am quite sure many parents are silently nodding as they read of these circumstances. No matter how hard you try to raise your children with a perfect environment and all the proper influences, lying in the bushes is one improperly raised home-wrecker who can ruin another person forever in no time at all. And it goes both ways. Many a girl has ruined a young man as well. See, here’s what happens: creeps and bums and tramps and users all travel incognito. They come on with charm and grace, and represent something cool or forbidden but the disaster that they promote leaves good people in their wake, and they not only ruin individuals but entire families.

How do we recognize a creep? It really isn’t that hard. There was a fellow thinking about running for president a few years back, famous for creating a notion in another administration called “family values.” This man married his high school teacher, a woman substantially older than he, then had an extramarital affair and divorced her while she was fighting cancer. He later had to be pursued for support. He would like the country to embrace family values. I would like him to sit on a flagpole.

I recall a man who marched with the greatest emancipator known in modern times. Unfortunately, that first person has ridden that reputation for years, telling people constantly how they should live their lives. But this man fathered an illegitimate child and had her moved and supported from funds gathered by and for charitable organizations. Recently, he smiled and spoke kindly in front of a microphone but seconds later whispered something so crude about a presidential candidate that it cannot be printed here. That’s called hypocrisy, my friends, and it carries extra weight when it comes from someone who deigns to speak for others and tells the rest of the unwashed masses how to live.

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