Sunday, September 25, 2005

Guilty as Hell

Boy was I ever.

I think I got about seven minutes of pure stapling joy out of that stupid clerical appendage before it dawned on me that, my using it in public, in the open would lead to certain uncomfortable, prying questions for which I had no plausible answer.

"What's that?"

"Looks like a stapler, but let me check. There are stories of rabid feral dogs surreptitiously entering innocent suburban homes disguised as common office implements. Dunk it in water, it doesn't howl. Yep, this one's no dog, it's a stapler. Or at least if it's a dog, it isn't rabid."

You know, as I think of it, I never had a weight problem as a child. Being sent to bed without supper for answers like that surely played no small part.

"Where did you get that stapler?"

"Uh, followed me home? Can I keep it? I promise to feed and walk it every day. I've named him Butch. He answers to it."

"What..."

"I confess, you got me. I'm as guilty as sin. I stole. I know you told me never to steal but I did and I confess. I was at the golf club and I wanted the stapler so I stuffed in my golf bag and snuck it out like the lowly thief I am. Of course this means I've embarked on a life of crime and everything you've warned me about is going to come true. It started with that first "C" in math because I didn't apply myself and yes, I'm going to wind up a lazy bum with no prospects of gainful employment and I'm going to rent and never own and my choices in carpeting are going to be limited to industrial grade browns and greys and the neighbors will be mortified that they raised their children within sight of me, the scourge of the town and surely they're going to expunge me from the population rolls one of these days for the sin of theft and never amounting to anything. I'm so sorry!!!"

"...did you do with the garden hose nozzle? I can't find it."

"Never mind."

I instinctively knew I was going to get caught. I was going to be thrown out of the golf club, into jail or juvenile hall, ostracised, shamed, shunned like a self-availer-of-modern-things in some suburban-middle-class-Amish-family. "And Samuel, this hair dryer of the hand, it lets you look into these men's hearts and see the evil?" The only thing to do, the only right thing was;

Hide the evidence.

Which I did. We had a stone wall out back of the house. It was a dry stone wall that separated the neat suburban yards where we had raspberry bushes until my mother tore them all out and planted azaleas in their place, her confidence in the food supply chain unequalled in modern society, from the old farm that still stood in what was now the middle of town.

It was easy enough. I pushed a few rocks aside and stashed the hateful symbol of my moral downfall in. Never to be found. Never going to get caught. Except for the kid I was with that witnessed the dastardly deed and I could always cast doubt on his character and veracity. After all, his family rented.

But I never really got over it. I carried guilt around for months. I didn't ever go back to the golf club that summer and, when I rejoined the next year, the first time I played and went to the kiddie clubhouse after the first round I was reminded of my sin the way a toaster in the shower reminds you of the downside of electricity.

There it was: Proof positive of my having disrupted the natural order. A sign that read:

-Anyone guilty of stealing from the golf club will be immediately and permanently suspended.

All that was missing were the words "This means you bunny boy. We know, we're just now getting around to proving it."

They had me. A year hadn't made a difference. Winter didn't make them forget. They were still scouring the clubhouse to make sure they hadn't misplaced the stapler but once that was done they were coming right to my house and were going to see just what was in that stone wall.

That was the only round of golf I played that year and the last round I played at that club, ever. My old man groused about the waste of money on clubs for something I started and never finished, as usual. My mom told me to do something outside of the house so he didn't get pissed off that I wasn't golfing. I, never wanting to deal with that mortifying guilt again, dis-associated myself with any of the neighbor kids who thought that five finger discounting from the local candy store was a thing to do when you're bored.

I also never stole. Ever again.

Someday somebody's going to take that stone wall apart and wonder how in the hell and why there's a thirty year old stapler stuck in there.

And I will probably feel the last twinge of guilt when they do.

And then go back to straightening paper clips.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:08 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

yeah --- you're killing the spammers!!


thanks for telling the tale --- ever think of randomly sending the golf club a replacement stapler in an effort to assuage your guilt??

2:10 PM  
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