WASHINGTON—Addressing reporters from behind a row of juniper bushes, a coalition of sketchy single men gathered in Washington on Monday to protest the "negative, demeaning, and often hurtful" portrayal of strangers when it comes to the nation's children.
"For years, strangers in this country have been depicted in an unfavorable light," said Strangers of America president Paul Hughes, dressed in his usual outfit of trench coat, gray slacks, and colorful Yu-gi-oh! baseball cap. "These days, it's almost impossible for a stranger to wake up in the morning, drive to a nearby park, and spend the afternoon quietly watching from the sidelines without young boys and girls immediately jumping to conclusions."
"It's a sad fact, but most children won't even talk to us at all," Hughes, 33, added. "Not even the little blond-haired ones."
According to SOA organizer Charles "Smiling Chuck" Osterhaus, strangers across the United States have long faced discrimination, with parents, teachers, and other authority figures regularly spreading lies about their intentions and warning children to refrain from accepting any of the delicious, delicious candy they have to offer.
In fact, Osterhaus said, a recent survey conducted by the organization found that almost 99 percent of all strangers are not actually the "bad men" they are so often portrayed to be, and most really do have the latest video games and comic books waiting back in their awesome basements, where there aren't any boring rules and everyone can just have fun.
"Why should I be made to feel like some kind of monster, just because I happen to own a van, and enjoy driving that van around the city, with maybe a little puppy or an adorable kitty cat in the backseat?" said Chicago-area stranger Dale Phelan, adding that it's wrong to judge people based on how they look, or the fact that they've never had a serious relationship their whole adult lives. "I've heard some of the terrible things people say about us strangers, and to be honest, not only is it hurtful, but the whole thing just makes me feel kind of sad."
Added Phelan to a group of first-graders leaving a nearby library, "You wouldn't want to see your ol' pal Dale sad, now, would you?"
In response to what it called a "grave injustice" predicated more on fear-mongering and rumors than actual fact, Strangers of America announced that it would be taking a number of steps to restore the images of its members.
SOA chairman Kurt Brimer, who reportedly loves drinking orange soda, and especially likes it when the bubbles tickle his nose, told reporters that he would be holding a sleepover this Friday in an effort to dispel a number of ugly myths, and was inviting all children from the neighborhood, especially Brian or his brother Matthew, to attend.
Likewise, self-described "perfectly harmless" stranger Doug Shannow said that he was encouraging kids who still have doubts to just approach him anytime during the week, and he'd take them to McDonald's and prove that there's absolutely nothing to be afraid of.
"Even the word 'stranger' is offensive," said a local Denver resident, who looked vaguely familiar, though no one in attendance could place where they knew him from. "I'm friends with a lot of boys and girls, and I can assure you that they all know me quite well."
So far, however, the efforts of the nation's strangers don't seem to have produced any meaningful change.
"No way, Jose!" said Seattle-area second-grader Joshua Freeberg, addressing a nearby stranger lingering behind a local arcade. "You want to touch my wiener."