And one day, it became too much for Michael “Squints” Palledorous. And he did the most desperate thing any of us had ever seen.
We all saw what happened that day at pool when Wendy Peffercorn rescued Squints from the deep end and fell subject to one of the oldest tricks in the sexual predator handbook. Squints was removed from the local pool that day and immediately became two things: a persona non grata at the local pool, and to his friends, a legend.
The court of public opinion ruled less favorably. The local news debated how big of a problem the small town had on its hands. The PTA questioned whether the curriculum needed a full reset. The town paper spoke to the Palledorous’ neighbors, who were all too happy to point out the delinquencies they had noticed, but kept to themselves, through the years. After a Huffington Post aggregator picked up the story, the national outlets ran with it.
On Fox News, the Squints story was framed to enrage their base. A victim of PC culture and the most recent example of American white men being guilty without a shred of evidence. The President tweeted that Squints reminded him of himself as teen, and just look where he was now.
Redditors dove deep through Squints’s Facebook and Twitter accounts,pulling out examples of his penchant for toxic masculinity. Membership to an all boys baseball club. A habit of ogling women. Routine terrorization of neighborhood pets.
On the other side, CNN declared Squints a white child of privilege, while MSNBC ran panels with victims of sexual misconduct, identifying Squints’s relevant characteristics. Meanwhile the The New York Times Sunday Magazine featured a cover story, “America’s Real National Pastime: Boys Being Boys.”
Barstool Sports featured Wendy Peffercorn as Smokeshow of the Day and doxed her parents’ house when they asked to take it down. Eventually they settled on “She wasn’t that hot anyways.” Breitbart wondered why she smacked her gum so provocatively in front of pubescent boys if she didn’t want to be kissed. It wasn’t until Ellen Degeneres invited Wendy onto her talk show that anyone even thought to get her side of things.
The town paid Wendy for the rest of her summer hours, but asked that she stop lifeguarding, as the community pool became a cesspool for news cameras and TMZ reporters. In classic fashion, she was doubted, had her motives questioned, and was shamed into a summer indoors.
He was 12 at the time, so he did not have to register as a sex offender in California. A judge instituted a restraining order between Squints and Wendy Peffercorn, which quickly became moot when his parents, humiliated and publicly ridiculed, sent Michael to a boarding school.
One by one, the latchkey baseball gang fell apart. Smalls’s mom, worried about the boys’ influences on her son, forbade him from going back to the sandlot. Yeah-Yeah and Ham started playing with another team, while DeNunez was sent to a specialty pitching camp. The last straw was when Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez stopped showing up, after getting advice on maintaining his All-American image, so that colleges wouldn’t rescind upcoming baseball scholarships.
Squints didn’t return home for years, and when he did, few things remained as he remembered them. With the crew long dissolved, Squints’s childhood constants were missing. Even baseball, with its increasingly long games and inability to update with the times, never had the same excitement.
Legend has it that Squints married Wendy Peffercorn, but that was debunked as an internet hoax, stemming from an Infowars spin-off. Squints took a bartending job at the local Buffalo Wild Wings, which was built over the old abandoned sandlot. He gave up his signature thick framed glasses as the final piece of disassociating himself of his past, only ever thinking about the glory days when he got to watch Benny “The Jet” play for the Dodgers, during his night shifts.