Cupcakes and Criminals
I make to-do lists, but I never check any items off of any of the lists. I have a neat and tidy collection of old ink pens stored in a mug given to me on Valentine's Day 15 years ago, but none of the pens will actually write. I have a half-dozen beautifully framed prints obtained in my many travels, but no nails.
Why am I like this? I don't understand it, but I accept it and at times I even embrace it. I'm a dreamer and a schemer, but I'm lazy. I'm a ne'er-do-well and borderline criminal, but I've never spent a night in jail.
My life of crime began early, and was born out of pure necessity as is so often the case.
I had no allowance money left and no direct supervision, but I had my trusty bicycle with the banana seat and white, plastic basket on the handlebars. That meant I had access to all the charms Hart, Texas (pop. 1,300) had to offer in the summer of 1972.
Just a five-minute bike ride from my house was Alford's Cafe where for a handful of quarters I could have myself a cherry coke, and listen to Donny Osmond sing "Puppy Love" on the jukebox. I had access to all the quarters a gal could ever want or need hidden in a money bag at the bottom of my stepdad's underwear drawer.
He was treasurer for the Hart Lions Club, and I figured the Lions Club wouldn't miss four little quarters so I helped myself. I wasn't going to be greedy about it. I wasn't going to steal rice off the plate of a starving child in China. I just really wanted a cherry Coke. That's probably the same thing Bonnie thought before she met Clyde.
My crime spree quickly escalated that long ago summer day. I grew weary of listening to Donny Osmond and figured I'd head on over to the corner grocery store. I had a hankering for a package of Hostess cupcakes. What I didn't have was more quarters. You guessed it, I helped myself to a package and pedaled to the first empty alley I could find to devour my ill-gotten goods. Even with the bitter taste of guilt in my mouth those cupcakes, two to a package, were delicious.
I'd love to say my life of crime ended in that alley, but it's not true. That summer faded away and sixth grade began and the harsh realities of popularity jumped right up and slapped me in the face in the form of the great Burger Barn scandal of '73.
The Burger Barn was where all the cool kids ate lunch. There was just one problem. My mom bought me huge lunch tickets, good for a month at a time, but the Burger Barn didn't accept lunch tickets. Only the lunchroom on campus accepted lunch tickets. I wasn't going to be caught dead in that lunchroom so I just started a charge account at the Burger Barn. Problem solved.
I enjoyed burritos and burgers and fries and shakes for several weeks before the Burger Barn management requested payment of my rather large tab. Oops, I hadn't taken that into consideration. What to do? What to do? No problem, I'll just write a check. Where am I going to get a check? No problem. I'll help myself to a check out of my mom's checkbook which she keeps in her purse. How am I going to get her to sign it without a bunch of questions? No problem, I'll just sign her name for her. Problem solved.
I'd love to say my life of crime ended with that forgery, but it's not true. I got caught when the forged check bounced and the consequences were not pretty. Mom threatened to call the law on me, but she took pity and instead banned me from watching TV for a month. In my case, that was more devastating than being led away in handcuffs. She still let me continue to eat at the Burger Barn though so I guess I didn't really learn my lesson.
My next brush with the long arm of the law came several years later. I no longer had my bike. I had a newly acquired driver's license, and several friends who were enjoying watching the high-school football game with me. There was just one problem. We were cold and not dressed appropriately for a fall football game. What to do? What to do? No problem, I'll just borrow my friend's car, drive to my house and get us some blankets. Can I drive a stick shift? No problem, I'm an excellent driver and I can just fake it. No, I can't. The car stalled in the middle of a major highway. You guessed it, I caused a wreck. No problem, the car is still driveable so I think I'll just head on outta here 'til the heat dies down. Problem solved.
Where to go? Where to go? No problem, I've always wanted to see California. What will I do for money? No problem, once I get to California I'm sure I can get a job on the TV. How hard could it be? Even my ignorant self knew that plan wasn't going to work so I reluctantly turned the wrecked car around and faced the music.
I can honestly say that's where my life of crime finally ended. Oh, don't get wrong. I've been known to help myself to some pens from my place of employment over the years. They look great sitting in my Valentine's Day mug.