Larry's post[^] reminded me...
In July 1999 I walked a lot. Actually there's nothing all that unusual about July 1999 - I could make that statement about almost every month since about 1990. But July 1999 was cold and windy, so I added a trench coat to my normal apparel. I prefer not to wear a coat; it just slows me down and, in the climates I'm used to, I walk fast enough not to feel cold as long as it's reasonably still.
Doesn't always work; in Nice in January this year, whilst walking to the restaurant two hundred metres away in still air with a gentle snow falling I shivered so much I thought I was going to break my teeth!
Anyway, it was cold enough and windy enough in the aforesaid July of 1999 that I needed to wear a trench coat during my Sunday afternoon walks. My walk varied according to mood; sometimes north of Barkly Street, sometimes west toward Brooklyn, sometimes east to the Yarraville Gardens. On this particular Sunday arvo it was east. Arrive at the gardens, walk along the path. Some kids playing in the sandpit. Stop to watch. And then, without any good reason, I'm accused, by the mother of one of the kids, of being a paedophile! For watching a bunch of kids playing in a sandpit!
Let's review the situation. I'm wearing a trench coat. Under the trench coat I'm fully dressed. Including underwear. I don't have lollies (sweets) in my pockets. I haven't said a word. I haven't stepped off the path. I haven't gestured. Nor have I made eye contact with any of the kids. I'm clean shaven. I'm not muttering under my breath. Oh wait a moment, I know what it was. I lit a cigarette! Yeah, that has to be it.
Well, I knew I was totally innocent but, being 45 years old, male, single and without a current girlfriend I have to tell you I felt very vulnerable to idiotic accusations. One persons paranoia made me paranoid about walking through that park again. Yeah, I've been back, but all the savour of revisiting one of the places where I used to smoke with my mates when I was 9 has been leached from the place. And all because of one fool.
Not everyone in a trench coat is a child molester!