Sunday, May 19, 2013

WHAT DO I DO TO STEAL? (Or Cheat or lie)  blog

First, you must understand that I am four square honest. I don't have no truck with sliding into dishonesty. Of course, as a lad I had no such qualms. My first dishonest act, when I was ten or eleven was to steal a fishhook from the local Sears. Understand that in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn the only water I knew about came in a bathtub, the sewers or the Gowanis canal. Understand that the latter was almost mythical; I have never seen it or knew anyone who had ever seen it so the notion of using my illegal hook to catch fish misses the point. I stole for the excitement of it.

I had not known of such stealing until a few years before the above when I saw a little old lady steal three bars of candy from a theater vendor. In those days, the wares were open to all and the expectation was that kids would do the dirty. That an elderly woman would commit a criminal act changed my perspective about honesty and women forever.

In the night, my friends would raid local warehouses and wanted me to join them. I would gladly have done so except my parents, incomprehensibly found evening tasks for me. I'm convinced now that they bought a piano to keep me too busy to embark on a life of street crime. Sometimes I think I might have become a master-burglar much like Raffles who confounded the Surete, certainly a more exciting pastime than, yawn, doing psychology. Lost opportunities have a tendency to haunt us.

Because of my parent's malign influence, I became less criminally active and pretty soon I would not lie, cheat or use foul language. My friends thought I was a paragon of absurdity though I admit they knew not such words. But, I was content to be as I was and then, I married. After marriage, not before but after, I discovered that my new wife was a thief who upon arriving home would boast of her achievements in pilfering. It did not take me long to understand that her family was pretty much the same. Her younger brother whenever he had the chance shoplifted or smuggled cigarettes or stole TV sets from motels. During holiday season, he'd work at Macy’s or Gimbels and always, I mean always came home with piles of loot. To her credit, his mother, while giggling and accepting his “presents,”
always told him he “shouldn't.”

Whenever she wanted something but thought it over priced, Marilyn would “acquire” it. Her family mantra was, “They're all crooks so stealing from them is just getting back a bit of one's own.”

Marilyn gradually shifted toward honesty, though sometimes I emulated her. Imagine, you have a lamp and an obscure part of it became inoperative. The small part was available only from the manufacturer, otherwise, toss the lamp. Well, I found a similar lamp in a shop and lifted that part. Damn them for turning me into a crook.

Some of you know that I was an indifferent student so some cheating was for academic survival. Obviously, it worked because here I am with PhD and all the appurtenant perks. Do any of you suggest that I return the degree? Good luck, goody-two-shoes! It turns out that we trailblazers showed the way to current students who apparently never honestly take a test.

OK, so crime pays, but with advancing age, I have come to realize that civilization requires some trace of honesty so I now provide that trace. I don't steal or cheat thus preserving our basic tenets of decent behavior. I have again become a paragon of absurdity. Well, most of the time.

If there is something you want, just steal it
And, if convicted you can always appeal it.
For any massively fraught crime
Judges might fine you a dime
And suggest you not be such a dimwit

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