About two weeks ago, I was ripped from the headlines.
A friend sent me the link to a new “Law & Order: SVU” episode. “SVU,” in case you didn’t know, stands for Special Victims Unit — victims who are cuter, smaller or more heinously abused than usual.
So, it opens with a chubby-cheeked boy with curly brown hair about to leave for school, but first being patted by his loving mom.
“I can’t believe I’m letting you go to school on your own,” she says.
“Mom, everyone else in fourth grade does!” he replies.
She kisses him goodbye, and off he goes to the subway alone for the very first time.
As you may recall, I’m the mom somewhat famous for letting my own chubby-cheeked, curly-haired fourth grader take the New York City subway alone about three years ago, and then writing a newspaper column about it. I ended up on pretty much every news and talk show except “Oprah,” defending my decision. My son continues to take the train solo.
But I think you can guess what happened to the “Law & Order” boy seemingly modeled on mine. Or maybe you can’t — because not only was he murdered (duh), he was tortured first. Apparently, a mere child murder just isn’t gruesome enough to guarantee viewers will sit through the commercials anymore. So the SVU coroner uncovers the body and shows the exceptionally attractive detectives the cigarette burns all over the little boy’s chest. She also informs them that he was so scared, he wet his pants. (Nice touch!) And — just in case we watch it thinking, “Well at least it was fast, right?” — she adds that the boy was conscious every single agonizing second before being strangled by the very scarf his mom patted when she kissed him goodbye…. for the last time.
By that point, I was screaming at the screen. Actually, I started screaming the second I saw that boy, who looked like mine, except dead in the morgue, pockmarked by burns. It was way too real.