While reflecting on my moments of shame I remembered this;
(apologies to those who have read this, years ago)
In between farm life and our move to the twin cities we had to live in an apartment in our small town of Foley, MN.
Living in the apartment on Pine Street ended up being a huge turning point in my life. Our complex and the surrounding low-income buildings were filled with what I like to call, Landfill Children. There was cleft-lip Aaron, who was in my then 2nd grade class, his older brother Corey, the Bopsy twins (can’t remember their names), Slutty Jerine and finally the Fussys. Yeah their last name was awful (it rhymes with you know what…). The Fussy kids acted like the Boxcar Children on meth, similar to bean plants watered with vodka. Beyond continually wearing their shoes on the wrong feet, they all donned the same haircut as their lumpy single mother, a mullet. I played with my new friends every chance I got and was rarely bored, a perfect distraction from divorce. During this social blossoming I even joined our local Girl Scout’s chapter, only to quit two weeks later when I discovered all we did was bake and visit old people.
I quickly became best friends with Slutty Jerine because she wore training bras and taught me how to spider swing. Jerine’s mom was a single chain smoking blonde with a newborn baby and an unhealthy addiction to Cinemax. It was thanks to her that I saw my first graphic “love” scene late one night while sleeping over. Little Red Riding Skank was bossy and often forced me to do things I wasn’t sure about. She told me that she didn’t have to pay for things, all she’d do is take them. “My mom doesn’t even care!” She shouted. Big surprise. “Like what?” I asked. “Lipstick, candy, toys, beef jerky. Anything I want.” Well clearly at the age of 8 I had an extensive toy wish-list and was easily convinced that a trip to Main Street was in order.
We grabbed a couple duffel bags, mounted our Huffys and headed to Coburn’s, the local grocery/everything store in our tinytown (roughly the size of Giuliana Rancic’s waist). I clearly remember shoving every Barbie down aisle 6 into my very own Santa Sack, along with a pack of Sour Grape Gushers. My bag was too full to zip and Dentist Barbie stood completely exposed as we waddled out the front doors.
While riding our bikes back home I turned to Jerine, “Wait… Where can we put this stuff!? I can’t bring it home, my mom will ask me questions and there’s not enough room under my bed.” SJ thought for a moment and then suggested we find a special spot in the woods, our very own secret fort to keep the stash. At the edge of the woods one of my brother’s friends approached us on his 10 speed and asked us what was in our bags. I immediately started to cry. “Oh shut the up!” Jerine screamed at me. She gave the boy a smirk and confidently said, “ It’s our homework thank you very much and she just got stung by a bee which explains her sudden and stupid outburst.” I sniffed and nodded in agreement and then grabbed my right arm squeaking, “darn bee.” The boy eyed us warily and then rode off towards the park. Minutes later Slutty Jerine and I were seated under big oak trees comparing our steals. I opened a pack of Gushers and decided I had found my new passion in life. I was basically a Robin Hood! I had just popped another fruit snack in my mouth when my brother came charging in, crushing twigs and branches underfoot. His dumb friend had followed us, seen our inventory and then had gone back to tattle, “Get home now! You’re in SO much trouble! They called the cops on you two,” yelled my rat-tailed brother. The cops? Oh my gosh. I was going to Prison! I cried the whole way home as my brother explained to me that I’d probably get sentenced to life and maybe get the death penalty. He kept asking me if I preferred getting electrocuted or hung.
When I got home my mom’s face was frozen in a mix of curiosity and terror. I was told to sit on the sofa. I took this moment to pray to the baby Jesus. I heard laughter coming from the kitchen and an extremely tall officer bent down over my trembling body. “ Ok, I’m officer blahblahblah, don’t cry, it’s okay. I need to have a little talk with you.” I briefly stopped crying and pulled my stretch pants out of my butt. “Do you know what stealing is?” Well duh, I’m not an idiot… or wait, maybe I was! Of course, that was the answer, playing dumb was surely the best route. I shook my head no. He then went on to describe the value of money and how we all need to work for money. I solemnly nodded and kept my eyes focused on the carpet. When he finished he handed me a cherry Blowpop and told me to “be a good girl now.” No handcuffs? A sucker? I was almost smiling except my mom was still watching and I knew better. After the cop left, my mom informed me that my loot had been recovered and I needed to personally apologize to the manager of Coburn’s and pay for the Gushers I opened. I did both of these things. The manager wasn’t as nice as the easily duped cop. Mr. Coburn banned me from the store for a year. The only grocery store in town!
From then on I had to sit in the car (remember that Minnesota winters are fatal!) and wait while my mom and brother shopped. They always gave the kids fresh cookies at the checkout lane and without fail my brother, upon returning to our 2 door rusted hatchback, would offer me part of his cookie and as I’d eagerly say yes, mouth watering, he’d lick it all over and say, “oops” and shove it down his throat. I credit my selfish brother for truly teaching me the valuable lesson of not stealing, had I been given cookies that year I might have decided shoplifting resulted in sugary treats and frostbite, not a terrible combination. As for Slutty Jerine, her mom didn’t care and I was no longer allowed to play with the whorey hoarder without parental supervision.
– The End