Thursday, March 29, 2007
CP's short life of crime
Thank God for Dale and his story about a childhood brush with the law. If it weren't for him, I would never have anything to blog about.
I was a bad kid sometimes, even though I usually hid it quite well. When I was 7 or 8 (true ages here!) I developed a fondness for shoplifting candy from our neighborhood Rexall drugstore. It was really quite brave of me to shoplift, after having witnessed the shame my brother suffered when my dad cut Bill's hair off after he got caught stealing a candy bar from the Jewel.
That punishment was pretty traumatic for my brother. I don't even remember how he got caught - I think the store called my dad or something. But when Bill got home, all hell broke loose. My dad, usually one of those mild mannered sorts, went ape-shit on his ass, whacked him good a few times and then dragged him outside. "Sit down in this chair!" he screamed.
"Why, what are you going to do to me????" Bill stammered in reply.
"I'm cutting your hair off!"
It was like 1971 or something, and my dad was a public school teacher - enough said. At that time, it seems that adults figured most bad behavior in boys had something to do with their hair coming down over their ears. A crew cut was the only sure fire way to make a son behave.
As the dreaded haircut commenced, a passer-by would have thought my dad was skinning Bill alive, the way he bellowed, cried and generally carried on - all to no avail. My dad tore away at those mousey brown locks with the kind of furiousness normally displayed by victims of war criminals and people who have their enchiladas thrown away.
At one point my mom arrived home from work, came out on the patio and found my brother bawling, my dad hovering angrily over him with the electric clippers.
"What are you doing to him???" she said, alarmed.
"Bill was shoplifting candy at the Jewel! So I'm cutting his hair off!!!" was my father's not-so-cheerful rejoinder.
Now it was my mom's turn to go ape-shit. She grabbed her purse and started whacking Bill, who hadn't yet finished crying over the involuntary haircut.
The whole thing was actually kind of traumatic to watch - I felt really bad for Bill. But in my classic style, I still thought to myself "Well I guess I'll never do that! Or at least I'll never get caught like that dumb ass!"
Flash forward a few years. I was at the Rexall Drug with my friends, and decided to snag myself a nice Chunky with Raisins as I had grown accustomed to doing from time to time. Yummy! In my usual manner, I walked down the aisle, cupped my hand over the Chunky and then held it carefully against my pants as I headed toward the door.
I felt my heart go right up into my throat when the store owner grabbed me from behind, pinned my arms down and dragged me to the back of the store. "All right, I'm calling the police," he said.
The police! Man, if Bill got his hair cut off, only God knows what will happen to me if the police get involved in this, I thought. I prepared myself for the worst, although I could not even imagine what that would be.
When we got to the back of the store, the owner ranted and raved at me, God knows about what - I was barely listening because I was so preoccupied worrying about what my parents were going to do to me. I'm pretty sure I head the words "go out of business???" a lot, and I just kept saying "I'll bring you thirty cents tomorrow, I promise!"
Eventually he asked for my phone number, and I gave it to him - like a dumbshit. Then I was dismissed.
When I got outside my friend Karen was waiting for me.
"What did he do???" she asked.
"Nothing really. He just yelled a lot, told me he was going to have to go out of business, and then made me give him my parents' phone number. They are going to kill me," I replied."
"And you just GAVE it to him??? You gave the guy your parents' phone number???"
"Uh, yeah...what was I supposed to do?"
"Thomas, you're a dumb ass! You should have given him my number! My mom wouldn't even know what the guy was talking about if he called!" Most of my friends were a few years older than me and much more worldly. Live and learn!
Later that afternoon, I was home in my bedroom when I heard the phone ring. My mom and I both picked up different extensions at the same time. I recognized the voice immediately: it was the store owner. I almost suffered a mild heart attack.
"Hello, is this Mrs. H?" he said.
"Yes, this is she. How may I help you?"
"Ma'am, your son Thomas has been hanging around the corner drug store too much. You might want to keep an eye on him."
"Ok, will do. Thank you for calling." Then they hung up.
Hanging around the drug store. Keep an eye on him. Hung up.
I could not BELIEVE my good fortune. I would have to wait years until my next crew cut - which did not occur until my junior year of college when I hacked off my hair in a fit of rage over the humid weather. (Unrelated story.)
Despite my overwhelming gratitude to the Rexall Drugstore owner, I never did shop in his store again. For which I've always felt just the slightest bit guilty.