From the time I could remember, I loved the rush of stealing. The first time I did it, I was eight-years-old. My mom was in a pharmacy that doubled as a liquor store—which, now that I think of it, is ironic—getting legitimately medicated and self-medicated all in one convenient location. Anyway, my mother was buying bottles of wine for her evening party of one, and I was hungry and asked for a Baby Ruth. She was intensely counting change, and when I asked, she told me she didn’t have enough money to buy both her “mommy juice” and my candy bar, and not to worry, we had food at home.
Bologna. We had bologna at home, and she’d picked the mold off the bread for the morning’s toast, so did we really have what could be defined as food? Anyway, as she stood, fumbling with coins and stammering at the guy behind the counter to give her a second, I stared at that Baby Ruth, stomach hollow and grumbly, and I could taste the sweet chocolate dissolving over my tongue, and the salt of the peanuts combining with the richness of the caramel and whatever that delicious chewy stuff was in the middle. I later found out it was called nougat, and when I did, I laughed. It’s still one of the funnier words I have ever heard. What the hell is a nougat, anyway? I digress. So, there I am, eight-years-old, desperate for this candy I wasn’t allowed to have. And that was simply unbearable to me. I could feel the wrapper in my hands, and the little bit of chocolate on my fingers as I held it, and right then I could not endure another second without that Baby Ruth. So, I didn’t.
While my mom was busy flirting with the cashier over being short a quarter—I can remember her words. It’s just a silly old quarter. C’mon, what’s one, little quarter?—I snatched the candy off the shelf and shoved it in the pocket of my sweatpants. My heart was pounding so hard I was sure they could hear it, and at any moment, they’d turn around and see the candy bar glowing like a neon sign in my pocket, flashing: THIEF, THIEF, THIEF. When they didn’t and kept right on about their business, this rush of fulfillment and pride came over me. I’d just made myself dinner.
That night in bed, I began to get concerned about my mortal soul. My mom had this framed picture of the Lord’s Prayer on my wall, and I stared at it, paralyzed, absolutely certain Jesus himself was going to pop out of the frame, handcuff me, and take me straight to Hell without passing GO. Each night that week, though, it got a little easier to look at that photo, and I eventually convinced myself that Jesus was too busy watching out for the real criminals to notice me. And plus, what evidence would he have had? That candy was long gone, and the wrapper was out with the trash.
So, like, all this being said, I’m not evil, ya know? I’m not this great malevolent mind who plans in excruciating detail my next covert mission. It’s more a spur of the moment decision. I’ll see some trinket or bauble on a store shelf, or maybe we need something at the house, and this wave of excitement burns through me, then temptation creeps up behind it, so I wait for an opportunity, and I take it. It’s like, I’ll be standing in the back of a store, minding my business, leafing through a Bible I’ve picked up off the shelf, but at the same time, I’m slipping a pack of hair ties into my pocket, because my last one finally broke.
Getting caught doesn’t even occur to me.