Who should I be angrier with? My mother trying to give me a stupid thumbs up or the fact that I exclaimed to everyone at school why I was going to be late. Just kidding! I failed because of Midwestern enthusiasm!
I never went through a stealing phase in high school; I was too fucking scared of my mother.
When I was 6 years old, I was at the mall with my mom and we were at a candy cart manned by someone; not like now, where you stick a quarter or however much money in and the candy comes out, but someone who was paid to man the cart and dole out the scoops of candy by weight. My mother was speaking to the candy cart woman person and I was…oh, you know, just eyeing the goods, surveying the inventory, when I spotted something I couldn’t take my eyes off: Mike and Ikes. Weighing the pros and cons to how badly I needed the red one, I decided to take my chances and go for it. I stuck my little midget hand in to the plastic case, and grabbed my red Mike an Ike: the forbidden fruit. As soon as my hand left the case, however, I knew I was donzo because it made a plastic clanking noise and my mother craned her neck from the other side of the cart where she was talking to the vender and said: MARGARET. COME HERE. I obediently did as I was told and stood next to my mother. OPEN YOUR MOUTH she instructed. What was I to do? If I opened my mouth I was caught, if I didn’t, I was caught. So I just shook my head no, I wasn’t gonna open my mouth. Look fear in the face, I say. Well my mom wasn’t having anything to do with my nonsense, so she forced my mouth open as you would a creaky old bulkhead door after being sealed shut from a long winter and hooked out the half chewed candy I had illegally taken and growled to the vender: HOW MUCH DO I OWE YOU FOR THIS.
I could see fear in the candy cart lady’s eyes, too…and she said oh, don’t worry about it. My mother persisted and they settled on a coin amount of some kind.
On the way home I felt so much shame I sat in the way back of the car and hung my head. I knew I was done for because my mom was going to tell my father, then the whole family would know of my illicit behavior, and a pox would be put on my head for life: THEIF. I saw it all play out, even with the tacky black and white striped jail outfits with those awful pill box hats I saw in the cartoons. That night, I avoided my family entirely, too fearful of their judgement.
From that point on, I did not steal a single thing, even as peers around me began to have sticky fingers with Wet ‘n’ Wild because I knew Adrienne would find out and have more steam emit from her head than a Turkish bath house. My lessoned was definitely learned early on in life. Just goes to show you what a Catholic mom and some amazing guilt can do to the psyche of a young girl.
Bernie and Annie are dear friends of mine. Among many other things, they are avid environmentalists and lovers of organic food before organic was even a word that was trendy. When they are not at their home in Marblehead, they travel to the middle of Maine to be in their home away from home. aka: in the middle of nature with no humans.
On one such occasion, they asked me to go to their Marblehead home and water their plants. (for most, watering plants is not too big of a deal, as there are usually only 3 or 4 tops.) They have 3 floors, and on each floor there are about 6 different things to water. On the third floor, I was almost finished watering the plants when i heard a rattling of sorts within the house, but I attributed it to the wind rattling the windows outside.
As I was walking to the stairs to descend down to the second floor, I noticed a still yet breathing black leathery being on the third stair: a bat.
I froze in place, mid stride and slowly reached into my pocket to call bernie and annie. when bernie picked up, his voice was so cheery and happy to hear from me I almost wanted to punch him. In a very calm and monotonous tone I explained that there was a bat on the stairs and that I would not move from the place i was in until they figured out a way to remove the bat without my involvement. Bernie began mirthfully giggling and was explaining the situation to Annie, his more methodical and organized better half. (I say this with love; anytime he wants to show me something on the computer, he stares at it like a young boy at an aquarium then willfully resigns to the fact that Annie will be the one that gets him onto the right page and yells for her; she’s normally at least a floor up: ANNNNNIIIEEEEEE).
Annie gets on the phone and speaks in her calming former doctor voice asking me where exactly it is. I tell her and also reiterate the fact that I’m not moving until they (up in Maine) find a way for someone to remove the bat. Bernie gets back on the phone and I can hear Annie explaining to Bernie that I was serious and to not laugh. I could still hear a faint glimmer of a chuckle in his voice when he began inquiring about the bat itself. I told him it wasn’t moving to which he achingly responded: the poor bat! oh my god! I calmly and flatly replied: fuck the bat this isn’t in my contract.
They hung up the phone, made a couple of phone calls and within 10 minutes Tracy came to save my life. She was my knight in shining armor. That was one of the longest 10 minutes of my life waiting for Tracy to come take the bat out of the house. What if it decided to fly around? What if it had rabies? Did the bat liked the way I smelled? (If so, I was a goner.)
At 15, I fell in love. the kind of love where you don’t know if you want to laugh or cry, sing or throw punches, create or destroy. This feeling was powerful and potent. The difference between my love and most was that I fell in love with 8 million people, not one. I fell in love with New York.