Among today’s news stories (Lindsay Lohan possibly going back to the slammer, protesters taking to the streets of Egypt again, and everything in between) was this one.
Yes, a woman gave birth to a baby in a toilet – at a circus, no less – and left the infant to die in the cold water. Stories like this always shock me, even though I should be used to them by now. The question I ask myself whenever I read them is this: Were there always this many crazy people out there or do we just hear about them now, because there’s so much more media?
I was talking about this with Michael the other day. We both grew up in leafy suburbs within an hour of NYC. We were sheltered, admittedly. And our young minds were definitely not on the news of the day. Still, wouldn’t we have heard if another kid was abducted? If a neighbor had fired gunshots into a crowded shopping center? If the woman down the street had given birth to a baby in a toilet?
“I think those things were happening,” said Michael, “but there was no CNN or Internet to tell us about it.”
“We had telephones,” I reminded him. “When something bad happened, people called each other. It was known as gossip.”
He shrugged. “Maybe you’re right and there are more crazy people now.”
We couldn’t decide, not definitively. Does anyone else have thoughts? All I really know is that these stories make being a writer more difficult than it used to be; nothing I could make up would be stranger than what really goes on in our world.