I have never been arrested, and that is really kind of a miracle, truly remarkable considering the amounts of bad I have done. Nothing in the way of harming anyone, as I have harmed myself most in my wrongdoing, but lets just say there are library books still checked out from the 70s, VHS tapes unkindly unrewound – my weakness is borrowing and my downfall is returning. Don’t lend me anything but maybe your ears and your eyes for but a moment. I am not a returner and if you come over for a potluck dinner and you leave your favorite glass casserole dish or heirloom Tupperware behind just make your peace with it because you will never see that shit again.
I am not going to outright steal, but if you unwisely allow something to fall into my possession then it’s your fault. Just know that and keep track of your stuff around me. The worst was when I borrowed a load of books from a friend and then never returned them, and then the friend asked for them back, which I should have done right away, but I put it off and put it off and put it off and then my friend died. It was sudden and it was unexpected and it was fucked up but I look at those books now and I cringe at my selfishness and stupidity and what is so dumb also is that I never read them.
Still this didn’t cure me of the disease of not returning what is not mine. My grabby hands and empty heart join forces to covet then take your shit. I do it from people all the time, but when I was little I did it from stores.
I was in a baby shoplifting gang that terrorized the old outdoor shopping center that Stonestown used to be before a roof was put on it and it was converted into what we now know as a mall. The leader of the gang had the notion that she could steal a sweater and return it using an old receipt of vaguely the same amount as the sweater was worth and then just take the money. Now I know this is a bad idea for a million different reasons, but back then it seemed BRILLIANT. I was the littlest one so I was sent to the adjacent jewelry counter to run a bit of interference and create a distraction.
The saleswoman looked tired and harried and watched the other girl behind me steal the sweater with bored eyes as she pulled out velvet tray after tray of gold bracelets for me from the glass display case. She laid them out on the counter and was staring at the girl stealing the sweater so hard that she didn’t notice me pull a handful of gold bracelets off the tray and slip them into my sleeve. I straightened my arm and caught the bracelets in my hand and then quietly tucked them into the front chest pocket of my denim jacket.
I walked around the jewelry counters more as my dumb friend with the now stolen sweater and the fake receipt tried to return it. There was some commotion and there was no money exchanged and the third girl in this children’s organized crime syndicate signaled us all to leave the store quickly.
We got outside and for a moment we were free and it was ok and we were laughing and scared and relieved and this was extremely short lived as we were immediately stopped by two women (my age now) who looked much like the famous comedy duo French and Saunders. They flashed their badges and asked us to come back in the store. We were taken into the inner sanctum of the store, behind the mirrored walls and employee lounges and I was separated from the other two because I seemed younger and weaker and easier to break.
They questioned me and I said I didn’t know anything and I didn’t do anything and that I barely knew those girls and that they weren’t in my grade and I just wanted to hang around with them and I didn’t know what they were up to and I think that is when my acting skills kicked in because the women looked at each other and one nodded to the other and they opened the door to let me go, and the gold bracelets in the front pocket of my jeans jacket felt heavy and hot but they still went undetected by the detectives, and I got away with it – a fairly decent haul. I was a real live jewelry thief, and I couldn’t have been more than 10.
The other two girls got sent down to the police station and their parents had to pick them up and they were in TROUBLE like all caps TROUBLE and yet they had nothing to show for it. I had these gleaming gold bracelets that could never be worn because my parents would want to know where they came from as we had no money for those kinds of things. I don’t know where those bracelets are now, but I would wear them if I did. Perhaps someone borrowed them.