I never went through a stealing phase in high school; I was too fucking scared of my mother.
When I was 6 years old, I was at the mall with my mom and we were at a candy cart manned by someone; not like now, where you stick a quarter or however much money in and the candy comes out, but someone who was paid to man the cart and dole out the scoops of candy by weight. My mother was speaking to the candy cart woman person and I was...oh, you know, just eyeing the goods, surveying the inventory, when I spotted something I couldn’t take my eyes off: Mike and Ikes. Weighing the pros and cons to how badly I needed the red one, I decided to take my chances and go for it. I stuck my little midget hand in to the plastic case, and grabbed my red Mike an Ike: the forbidden fruit. As soon as my hand left the case, however, I knew I was donzo because it made a plastic clanking noise and my mother craned her neck from the other side of the cart where she was talking to the vender and said: MARGARET. COME HERE. I obediently did as I was told and stood next to my mother. OPEN YOUR MOUTH she instructed. What was I to do? If I opened my mouth I was caught, if I didn’t, I was caught. So I just shook my head no, I wasn’t gonna open my mouth. Look fear in the face, I say. Well my mom wasn’t having anything to do with my nonsense, so she forced my mouth open as you would a creaky old bulkhead door after being sealed shut from a long winter and hooked out the half chewed candy I had illegally taken and growled to the vender: HOW MUCH DO I OWE YOU FOR THIS. I could see fear in the candy cart lady’s eyes, too...and she said oh, don’t worry about it. My mother persisted and they settled on a coin amount of some kind.
On the way home I felt so much shame I sat in the way back of the car and hung my head. I knew I was done for because my mom was going to tell my father, then the whole family would know of my illicit behavior, and a pox would be put on my head for life: THEIF. I saw it all play out, even with the tacky black and white striped jail outfits with those awful pill box hats I saw in the cartoons. That night, I avoided my family entirely, too fearful of their judgement.
From that point on, I did not steal a single thing, even as peers around me began to have sticky fingers with Wet ‘n’ Wild because I knew Adrienne would find out and have more steam emit from her head than a Turkish bath house. My lessoned was definitely learned early on in life. Just goes to show you what a Catholic mom and some amazing guilt can do to the psyche of a young girl.