My children love this story of my wayward childhood. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has something to do with knowing that I made childish mistakes just like they occasionally do.
My mother says she has no memory of this, but since it was, in my mind, up there with stealing a car and knocking over a liquor store, it is SEARED in my memory.
When I was in 3rd grade, I rode the school bus home from school each day. I came to realize that the bus made a stop right in front of a five and dime a few blocks from my house.
Now, every kid of the 70’s knew that “five and dime” was code language for “candy heaven”, so each afternoon I would stare out the window from my seat and dream of the candy.
All. That. Candy.
And then, as is often the case with the criminal mind, a sinister plan began to form.
I happened to take note that when I bought my lunch in the cafeteria, I could buy an extra carton of milk for 10 cents. I made mention of this to my mother, who happily complied with my request for the extra milk money.
Little did she know I had no intention of using that money to increase my calcium intake. Oh, I was going to buy milk with it all right.
Milk DUDS! Milk CHOCOLATE! Milky WAYS!
I had succeeded in redistributing some wealth and I was absolutely giddy. That afternoon, I sat nervously on the edge of my seat on the school bus and waited for the stop at the five and dime.
I was sweating bullets, and my little knees were knocking beneath my pleated skirt, but I got right off the bus and no one stopped me. I marched straight into the store, with as much pretend confidence as I could muster, and made my sugary purchase.
Oh the ecstasy! I walked home slowly, so I could savor my ill gotten gains. I finished it off right before I got there, threw the wrapper into a bush, wiped my face on my sleeve, and walked into the house to greet my mama in the kitchen.
Success! She didn’t suspect a thing!
I repeated this same pattern every day and I couldn’t believe my good fortune! I was actually pulling off my master plan without anyone catching on to my little scheme.
Until that fateful day. It was bound to happen and one afternoon it did.
I came home licking my lips and wiping my mouth, and I was just shoving my trash into the bushes, when I looked up to find my mother standing on the front porch with her hands on her hips.
She didn’t look altogether happy. In fact, she looked distinctly… livid.
You see, earlier, she had seen the school bus stop in front of our house and she waited for me to get off, like I always had before my life of crime commenced.
Only I never got off.
She panicked, thinking I had been kidnapped from the school yard, or maybe there had been an accident and someone was on the way to tell her about it.
I’m guessing it took her less than 2 seconds to figure out what I’d been up to when she saw me with the goods. Not to mention the horrified look on my face.
I won’t recount the details of what happened after that, except to tell you that I was very regretful and highly motivated to disengage in my misappropriation of funds and return to my law abiding and chocolate free ways.
So, now you know of my sordid past. Can we still be friends?
*Illustrations by Madison.