Thursday, September 22, 2005

It Takes a Thief

I spent most of my childhood being as well behaved as you could expect a small boy being raised by parents who had seen the iron hand of Nazism first hand.

Which is to say I was granted liberties that my parents were denied in their youth but there were expectations of obeying the rules and following along quietly that seems to be ingrained in the Teutonic psyche.

I say seems because we as a people are collectively still trying to explain Sturm und Drang. A bacchanalean romp half drunk through pre-goth literary forms, all the while shouting "I don't have the first idea what's upsetting the brass band!" All at the top of your lungs, waist deep in a city fountain being pissed on by the lead statue of some lucky cherub somewhere. I am still loath to even begin to explain it otherwise. Good men and women have died twisting this thing into a thesis that seemed a good idea after the eleventh Starbucks Grande del Tutte Grande double espresso.

I think it was Goethe who said it best: "Looks a lot fucking different when you sober up, doesn't it?"

Then Schiller chimed in with "Lets set up some ground rules" and you basically get a people that take obeyance and conformity a little too seriously.

As a child I was often told not to make a spectacle of myself, not to draw attention to myself and the basic tenets: Lying, cheating, stealing. Hell they were assumed. Don't cross that line boy, there' s hell to pay on the other side.

So of course, off I went.

I was a lousy liar.

I usually just cheated myself. My math skills were not what you'd call cutting edge, so I wound up digging deeper for change while my friend Dawn went home with the chocolate-marshmallow thing on a stick.

Boy did I cry there.

I had fat fingers. Forget card tricks.

But I could steal. And here's the thing. I always did it in the theoretical. Never actually pilfered a friend's toy, stole candy, made off with the last helping. But I did quietly watch what was going on, see an opportunity and understood how to exploit that opportunity. I never took the opportunity because I feared the consequences of being caught. I never wanted to risk the shame and humiliation of being branded a thief.

Until I was eleven.

Since reading books and riding my bike was not enough of a sport to satisfy my old man, I got one of the neighbors to sponsor my joining the juvenile league of the local golf club.

Don't ask me why golf. I think it was because two of my friends played and it was where the better kids hung out. And since I mistakenly thought of myself as a "better" kid, well, so I let snobbishness lead to my downfall.

I stole from the golf club.

It was insane.

Not only that I stole, but where I stole from and what I stole.

I stole a stapler.

Why, I have no idea.

Perhaps because I thought it would be neat to staple my homework together.

Perhaps, I was trying to emulate my old man. He worked in an office. He was surrounded by office shit. Maybe I thought that if I surrounded myself with office shit, he'd like me a little more.

Maybe I was just an eleven year old idiot. I'm leaning towards that one because I had already set fields on fire and would someday try and short circuit the neighborhood. Then I'd back my car out over myself.

Yep, I'm going with idiot.

I was in the golf clubhouse when I did it. The kiddie golf clubhouse actually. A plywood thrown together structure that housed about eight lockers and some wicker furniture that was ejected from the main clubhouse when the adults forgot to take the cushions off one winter and enough mold to make penicillin for Bangladesh subsequently grew on the cushions. Plus it probably brought back bad memories for Bud the pro about when he had one too many Manhattans and tried to find out once and for all if Mabel's tits were really as pert and firm as they looked to be under those tight little numbers she used to wear.

Lord knows if I were, say, fourteen instead of eleven, I'd have wondered the same thing. As it was, pert and firm referred to Jell-o at the time.

So in the kiddie clubhouse, I grabbed my golf bag, made sure that no one was looking and expertly stuffed the stapler (henceforth to be known as the gd stapler) down into the bottom recesses of the bag.

What the hell, I only carried a two wood, a three, five and seven iron and a putter. Oh, and I couldn't hit shit with any of them.

Still can't.

Ping, to me, is what active sonar does.

But enough. For good measure, I threw my golf towel over the gd stapler. Actually a kitchen towel, it did the trick and ensured that I would get off the premises with my booty secure. For, should the suspecting adult cry "halt" just as I was about to pass out of the hallowed gates, I could confidently smile and surrender my golf bag for inspection knowing he would not catch the tell tale glint of purloined office supply surplus discretely cached in the recesses.

Boy, I was good. And I knew it.

What I didn't know is that that was when it would all start.

postscript: And that my dear Kathryn, is the real cliff hanger. I'm sorry, I started this thing at the office then had to head out to buy a freaking can opener of all things and, $187 out of pocket at Target later, here I am, trying to put a proper post on line.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:31 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

so now not only are you talking in code to that other guy, you are embracing his love of the cliff-hanger, nice

6:30 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

$187 can opener --- does it cook, too??

12:27 PM  

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