"I still love them and miss them," I answered, "But their families are freezing me out completely. I miss that little girl terribly. I really became like a father to her, and so the freezing-out really fills me with torment. I feel like a daughter has been kidnapped."
"Why 'freezing you out'?" the 22 year old son asked in front of his seemingly suitably mature 17 year old sister.
"Well," I said, "What happened is that the Vietnamese husband savagely brutalized his Vietnamese wife and daughter, for years. So, we helped the wife and daughter in the ensuing separation and divorce. While we were helping them, a Vietnamese-speaking Filipino girl I had never met before caught me outside of church one day and said, 'You Mr. Peter? Mr. Peter, I see you and I know you love that family, especially the little girl. You a gift of God to them. But, Mr. Peter, I heard the wife tell a friend in Vietnamese that one week from now she would falsely accuse you of trying to get into her pants, to get rid of you, because you shame her family and husband's family by helping her when they don't. That make you "inconvenient," Mr. Peter, so they put "heat" on her to get rid of you. She do that by falsely accusing you to everyone of trying to get into her pants. She is stabbing you in back, Mr. Peter, and it make me very, very angry. Try to love her anyway.'
"Exactly one week later, the Vietnamese mother did exactly as the Filipino girl predicted. She told her family, 'Mr. Peter try to get into my pants!' Her American step-father called me with rage. A Vietnamese client in Philadelphia said that his family in Ho Chi Minh City had called him and told him that they had just heard it from American relatives!"
The 22 year old brother from Colorado seemed surprised, while his 17 year old sister looked on calmly.
"What happened then?" asked the brother.
"Well," I answered, "Because I never actually talked to the Vietnamese family about sexual issues, they did not know something about me -- namely, that I had a version of MRSA with a 16% death rate colonizing my sexual aspect. I can't have sex with anyone but my wife, who, like me, is probably about 90% to 100% immune, at this point. I faxed photocopies of hospital cultures proving this to the Vietnamese mother's American stepfather, who was shocked and said, 'You'd never try to have sex with the mother under these conditions. I know you -- you'd rather die than endanger them! So, the mother is lying! I can't believe it! Pete, I'm sorry! The mother is lying!'
"But, I was still frozen out. I miss that little girl terribly, even after a year-and-a-half!"
The 22 year old guy and 17 year old girl seemed interested, and the conversation ended.
Later, the patriarch of the Colorado family came to me and said, "Pete, you were over the line!" Puzzled, I said, "How?"
"In front of my 17 year old daughter, you talked about how the Vietnamese mother accused you of trying to put your hands inside her pants!"
So, as the story was "whispered down the lane" in their family, the story had gotten twisted so that the Filipino girl's polite colloquial euphemism for an accusation of attempting sex was turned into an attempted assault-by-masturbation accusation.
I explained, with shock, "Actually, what I said was a colloquial euphemism. I said that the Filipino girl predicted that the Vietnamese mother would accuse me of trying to 'get into her pants' -- not 'put my hand in her pants.' And, your daughter is 17! It's time for her to be able to hear such stories! Life is made of this stuff!"
"Pete," the Colorado father responded, "My daughter was shocked. You really floored her. My 22 year old son was, too."
"But," I objected, "How can they watch television???"
"We don't have a television," he responded. "We have raised her carefully."
I apologized and shook hands -- but I was very shook-up.
Did I screw-up somehow?
Should 17 year olds -- even home-schooled 17 year olds -- be treated like extremely delicate china which will crack-up and collapse into junk if they hear that X accused Y of "trying to get into her pants"?
Worried about how I could talk in the 17 year old girl's presence later, I thought about the neighbors living within 500 feet of my house -- and we have one of the nicest streets in our town.
One neighbor was arrested for using illegal drugs to juice-up sex with his girlfriend.
Another neighbor used to scream, louder and louder and louder, to provoke her husband into punching her. She did this repeatedly.
Another neighbor cheated on his wife with the singer in his band.
Another neighbor cheated with an Asian girl who invaded the neighborhood screaming to the neighbor's wife, "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE YOU BITCH!"
Another neighbor sent the dog catcher to our house to have our cat killed when I refused to get medication for an injury -- the cat needed the pain, I said, to keep him from moving around, so that his injury would heal.
Another neighbor was a woman hooked on dating pedophiles, who incestuously raped her kids.
Another neighbor used to scream, "F--K YOU! F--K YOU!" for minutes at a time, at his wife, loud enough to bring down the heavens, in front of his 4 year old, whom he also invited to look at the nude girl who used to sun herself next door.
Finally, the Vietnamese family they had asked about were completely bonkers. The husband used to attack and torture his wife and little girl repeatedly, to keep them in line, and once, to punish his wife, he ransacked their house and cut apart the wife's clothing and shoes. He, too, used to scream, "F--K MY MOTHER-IN-LAW! F--K MY WIFE'S UNCLE!," again and again and again and again, for hours at a time.
Simple question: How can my Colorado's friend's 17 year old daughter walk down the street?
Still, did I err? Or, should our kids be insulated from such realities even up to 17 years of age?