The Candyman...But Way Worse
My personal true crime story to make you never trust a secret admirer again
This true crime story is my own, and I hope you enjoy...or more, are as unsettled by it as I am. For the context of the story I am AFAB non-binary and use they/them pronouns, this takes place when I was in 7th grade (2010), before I was out.
In middle school I was not cool, but not necessarily hated, just the quiet weird kid. So safe to say, I did not attract many fellow middle school suitors. Until...one day I stopped at my locker between classes like I always did to find a roll of Smarties (the American kind) with a note sitting neatly on the top shelf of my locker. The note said something along the lines of “your smile is beautiful.” Nowadays that would be a big BARF from me, but middle school me thought it was sweet. However, my mom worked at the school so, with my low self esteem, I figured that it was her since she liked to write cute notes and give me candy, stuff like that. Very on brand for my mom.
I promptly ate the candy and forgot about it...until it happened again. This time I still wolfed down the candy like the sugar hungry child I was but remembered to ask my mom about it. She said that it wasn’t her.
HOLY SHIT! This must mean I have a secret admirer, right?! I was going through the list of every person I liked and trying to figure out who it was. That past valentines day I had slipped an anonymous note into my crush’s locker signed with my initials (which nobody in my grade shared...I didn’t think that through). What if it was him??? My little undeveloped brain was going absolutely bonkers at the idea.
Then I realized...our lockers all have combination locks on them. Hence me having to slip the note to my crush through one of the slats. There is no way that someone without a key was able to put those notes on the shelf in my locker no neatly. So, I went back to my mom and asked her if she was helping anyone do this and she again said no. Happy little me was fine with letting it go on as a mystery, I was getting free candy of course!
My mom, on the other hand, went into full on suspicious parent mode. Since she worked at the school she was able to go to the principal, without me knowing, to see the camera footage from the hallway outside my locker. Little did I know that this was not the cute middle school romance of my dreams. The person writing cutesy notes on colored construction paper, tying it using ribbon to a piece of candy was the SCHOOL’S JANITOR…….
What the actual fuck. Fortunately, until this point little me did not know the feeling of being afraid of men but boy oh boy did I learn that day. As an adult looking back I completely understand the feeling of discomfort, fear, and vulnerability. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and I still do to this day thinking about it. He took away my feeling of safety at school, which was not fair and was not his right to be able to do. But, this is not the end of the story.
For weeks afterwards I had to walk the hallways and see him staring at me, see him going in to clean the girls bathroom and having to walk across the school to another. I hated him.
The worst part? My family knew him. My mom was the Girl Scout troop leader for my younger sister and he was the dad of one of her scouts, one of my sister’s good friends. This is how he knew me and picked me. After a few months my mom succeeded in getting him fired, he was never going to work at the school again. The next year I had completely forgotten about the incident, repressed memories and all that.
Fast forward to junior year of high school. I was in the color guard and my band was taking a trip to Disney World to march in the parade. We were 4 hours into the 24 hour bus trip when I realize that not only was HE on my bus, he was one of the chaperones for my group. FUCK. NO.
I texted my mom asking if the incident was a dream or a fabrication of my imagination and if it was the same man...she confirmed. She called my band director and told him the whole story and I promptly switched busses, away from my best friend. The director pulled me aside later to apologize, apparently the whole band had gone over the chaperones in class and asked anyone to come to them if they had issues. It wasn’t marching season so the color guard was not a part of the band class during the day, hence why I did not know about this until I KNEW.
The rest of the trip was hell, my anxiety was through the roof and every turn I was watching out for him. I remember on our last night we all went to see a fireworks show on main street and he chose to sit about 5 feet from me. It was the worst experience you could possibly imagine. There was nothing that could be done, we were across the country together in a group of 150 people.
I have not had contact with him since then, nor my sister’s friend, and I hope never to again.