When my dad was a kid he got caught stealing- of all things- an ice cream sandwich.
I don’t think I have to tell you how he got caught. But a short conversation with the store owner gets messy very quickly on a hot day.
He told me the store owner casually stopped him on the way out and held a regular conversation with him. When the ice cream sandwich was good and fully melted down his leg, the owner abruptly ended the conversation with, “Hey, it’s getting close to about the time your dad gets home, isn’t it? I guess you want to beat him there.”
The bad news is that my father did not get to the house before his dad. The good news is he never stole anything ever again. And as a side note, he never cared much for ice cream sandwiches as an adult.
“Dad, really? Ice cream? Not the wisest choice.”
He said he hadn’t planned far enough ahead. Growing up, it was kind of the “in” thing to steal from the neighborhood store, but kids just kind of went in and spilled out in every direction. Somehow he ended up heading for ice cream.
For my mom the dumb “in” thing for kids was fruit throwing. You find a house with a fruit tree in the yard, steal the fruit, then throw it at the house.
“I remember doing it, and the whole time thinking, ‘this isn’t fun. Is this supposed to be fun?’”
So why’d you do it? I wondered.
“Just what kids did, I guess.”
Mom ended up spending more time with, and eventually moving in with her great aunt. It gave her a place to do the things she really enjoyed like reading, playing with paper dolls, and practicing baton twirling. Another reason to be so grateful to my great, great aunt.
For me, it was aimlessly roaming the mall for boys.
I hated the mall. I hated boys. And to this day I hate wandering aimlessly just to look for whatever I might find. But that’s what you did on the weekends. Go in and out of stores being as loud and obnoxious as possible and laughing at everything in order to appear happy and rebellious in hopes of attracting some stupid big head boy with your pseudo free-spiritedness.
As if boys at that age even knew what that was, what it meant, or what to do with it.
It was maybe my absolute most hated thing to do, and I probably only went a few times before I started coming up with excuses not to go. Periodically I would try again, always regret it and then go back to spending time at home or with my dad.
I remember one weekend at the movies with my father we ran into my standard circle of friends. I sank down in my seat and my father watched them like they were the movie.
“Do you act like that when you’re with them?” He didn’t look at me when he asked, which I later found out was his way of trying not to intimidate you so you could feel free to be honest.
“No, Dad, that’s dumb. Be an idiot, attract an idiot.”
He told me later that was one of his prouder moments with me.
After that we drove way further out to go to the movies all while my nerdy reputation grew to epic proportions at school. No one knew where I was on the weekends. They only knew that they didn’t see me at the mall. I never said where I was so they just assumed I was somewhere doing whatever uncool people did.
My dad took every opportunity to put the concept in my head that I didn’t have to be like everyone else, that I would always be happier being who I felt I was meant to be.
Life is hard enough to live without having to live it as someone you don’t recognize or maybe even like.
I’m grateful for that message and if I could pass on anything to those coming behind me that would definitely be one of the things I would pass on.
All these many, many years later a guy that I only knew in passing had scooted up next to me quietly only to say, “You’re different,” and then scooted away.
Later he would tell me that he had been determined to get to know me because “the quiet ones are always the good ones to know. The loud ones are lying anyway.”
Easy to see how we’ve since become friends, what with us having heard some of the same expressions growing up, although my Dad’s version of that particular saying was probably a bit more offensive to sensitive ears.
So I don’t have the same quantity of people to hang around with this days, but the quality is much better. And as horribly stressed as I’ve been for some months now, it’s very nice to find people I can relate to well. Sometimes we don’t even talk when we’re together. It’s more like a book club meeting with more reading than discussion.
And often times not even reading the same book.
And yet somehow still on the same page.
T.I. – Stand Up Guy
Heard this version for the first time just the other night. Awesome.
Little Dragon – Looking Glass (Trackademicks Quasar Gazer mix)
And later that same night…. Ayah – Keep Up