Last week my copies of The Sun and Bust showed up within a day of each other. The Bust issue was a long overdue Men We Love, with an Ira Glass interview. Click on that link, and mouse over the bottom right corner of the magazine. You can turn the pages and look inside! But no Ira. You have to pay for Ira because it would be wrong to give him away. (Some part of me wants to type :word: here, but I will (sorta) not give in.)
The Sun also has a theme this month — stealing. They always run a section of reader’s letters (called Readers Write) that tie into the theme. You can read some of last month’s letters here. The letters are always my favorite part of the magazine. I was reading the current ones, the ones on stealing, and I remembered something I haven’t thought about in a long time. So, here’s my after-the-fact Readers Write letter for the Sun.
I think I was in junior high the first time I stole something from a store. Maybe once I nabbed candy from the Gibson’s drugstore where my godfather worked when I was little, but I don’t know if that’s a real memory. My mom walking me back over to return the gum (?). I don’t know if it really happened. In junior high, I stole something from the Hallmark store at the mall where all the kids hung out. I can’t remember what I took, but I do remember the weeks that followed.
A rumor started that a kid from another school had been busted for stealing because a store owner had seen him on hidden camera and then looked through all the local junior high yearbooks until he found the kid and called the cops and all sorts of horrible things happened. And, because I was painfully naive, I was certain, beyond a doubt, that the Hallmark people were gonna bust my ass.
Every night I’d lay in bed, obsessing over the fact that I was going to get caught; my good-grades image totally wrecked, my parents crushed. I’d possibly have to spend time in juvenile hall. And in the mornings it would be worse. I figured that from the yearbook they wouldn’t be able to know where I lived, so they would come and get me at school. I think I held my breath every day until 3. It finally passed, though. Either I forgot about it or summer came. Something.
By the time high school came around, I’d figured out that either you got popped on the spot or you got away. No cashier from Hallmark was going to spend a Saturday flipping through yearbooks looking for the kid that lifted the pencils. So I stole shoes. And underwear. Makeup, clothes, cassette tapes. Whatever. And I never got caught.
Until I did. Until the day that I was at a friend’s house doing homework and my mom showed up, speechless because she wanted to kill me. The police were at my house, wanting to talk to me about the huge collection of stolen CDs that I was hiding for someone named Debbie, who I did not like anyway. She worked at a record store, and once when I went to WILLINGLY PURCHASE a CD, she let me have it for free. I was not comfortable with that, because I figured it was a stupid way to steal. But, you know, free CDs were not something to turn down, either. I think I maybe got four of them that way. But, it wasn’t just me. It was Debbie, and twenty of her closest friends.
She figured out that they were onto her (REALLY? YOU THINK?) and called me. She said something about how no one knew that she’d given ME any CDs and could I take the ones that she had at her house so she wouldn’t get busted.
And, because I was still, despite my thievery, not the most worldly girl, I reluctantly agreed. The police showed up at my house soon after, and that’s when my mother came to get me. To say she was pissed does not even come close to doing the moment justice. I thought that maybe it would be fine if the cops carted me off. They seemed less angry.
I got home and produced the goods. I ended up losing some stuff that I had paid for, which really pissed me off, karma be damned. In the end, after all the talk of Juvenile Hall, I didn’t really get into any trouble. Or if I did, I don’t remember it. I have a feeling that my mom was most angry about the cops coming to the house, because, you know, The Neighbors and all that.
I did quit stealing things a few months before I turned 18. Luckily I was never addicted to the chemical rush of it, so I don’t miss it at all. I mean, you totally don’t have to put up the silver if you invite me over to your place. I’ve got no idea why I stole stuff. Just something to do that was a little out of character, maybe. Because I could. Because I wanted Calvin Klein underpants.