Crimes of Passion

Posted: August 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Miss Kate, Mom, Other Mothers, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Parenting, Preschool, Shopping | 1 Comment »

I can’t wait to see what the first thing will be that Kate steals.

Today I was stunned to see bras at Target that appeared to be marketed to six-year-olds. The triangles of fabric comprising the cups—in bright blues, pinks, and yellows, with colorful contrasting trims—were the size of a pirate’s eye patch. If those bras were intended to support a sagging breast, I’ll eat my nursing pad. They could fit squirrels.

After 1.7 beers in the Grippie family’s backyard tonight, I opened up on this topic. The sorry state of the rush to adulthood in this country, that is.

Kate, for all I knew, was already grossly delayed in owning a bra. A milestone of apparel ownership that I have every intention of staying on top of so as not to leave her, or Paige, tragically behind the pack as I was as a kid. It’s true. I was the last girl in my class to get a bra. The adolescent trauma of it all still grips me with an uneasy feeling, bringing to mind the florid tones of Love’s Baby Soft perfume.

My tardiness was due mainly to my inability to tell my mother what I wanted. All the girls at school had bras. And not just any bras, Sassoon bras. (Someone at the 80′s-era jean co no doubt got a big thump on the back and a promotion when she suggested they break into the training bra market.) Anyway, my awkwardness in discussing this subject was one part New England prudishness, and one part fear that my old-school mom would never understand that my need for the bra had little to do with mammary support, and everything to do with social survival.

I will not allow my daughters to suffer the same delayed-ownership-of-unnecessary-bra fate!

And yet, half of Kate’s preschool class may already be clad in the latest La Perla Preschool Demi Cup when school starts in two weeks.

Amidst my boozed-up-on-barely-two-beers rant, my friend, who I’ll call X since I’m uncertain what the statute of limitations is for her crime, and truly hope I won’t be implicated as her accomplice since I’ve been made aware of the details of the offense… Wait, where was I? What I’m trying to say, is X listens to my diatribe, then casually tosses out, “The first thing I ever stole was a bra.”

Um, helloooooooo? This pre-teen factoid is such an utterly perfect and tasty life morsel (even to me now, sober) I was shocked to think it wasn’t the first thing she said upon our introduction a year back.

“Hi. My name is X. I shoplifted my first bra.”

Just when you think you can’t love someone any more than you do, they wallop you with a brilliant gem like that.

Well, one stealing story deserves another, right? And since I never went to sleep-away camp or got a perm or took a same-sex partner to prom—since I missed out on so many of puberty’s best life-intensifying moments, I wanted to bond about thieving.

I was hardly a Dickensian pick-pocket mind you, but oh, I’ve done my share of shoplifting. One—well, really three—items started my limited career, and later (and finally), I nabbed a greeting card from a long-deceased Providence store called Ashby Dean. An establishment whose demise I no doubt accelerated from depleting them of one unit of their belated birthday card inventory.

To summarize: In my lifetime I’ve stolen a total of four things. (Though really, I’m not dead yet.)

At nightfall, the evening of my first foray into the thieving life, I tossed and turned in my sheets. My heart was filled with anguish, my conscience wracked with guilt. Sleep seemed an impossibility.

I went to my mother’s room. She was sitting up in bed, reading. It could have been very very late, since Mom was a hardcore night-owl. Or maybe it was just, like, 8:30, since I was pretty young at the time and had a correspondingly early bedtime.

Me: “Mom? What happens to people who steal?”

Mom: [casually looks up from her book] “They go to prison.”

Me: “Oh, okay. Well, good night then!”

She let a few minutes pass. Minutes in which, back in my bed, I began sobbing at the thought of a lifetime relegated to horizontal black-and-white striped jumpsuits. Even if those stripes might be slimming.

Eventually, she came in and sat at the edge of my bed.

Mom: “Do you have something to tell me?”

Me: [wincing] “Yes. I… I stole something. Three things, actually.”

Mom: “Would you like to tell me what those things were?”

At which point I got up, went to my bureau, and pulled down a lacquer box with a gold and orange leaf design that my Dad brought me back from a business trip. I opened it, turned it over in my palm, and dumped out three seeds.

Seeds for purple flowers of some sort. A blossom so beautiful its image compelled me to tear a wedge off a paper Burpee pack, and hide the seeds away in my pocket. If only I’d thrown them out my window to sprout a tall vine climbing into the clouds, the course of my life might’ve taken a very different turn.

But I digress.

The next day my mother marched me into Almacs. (That’s the kinda weird local grocery store you shopped at when you lived in Rhode Island back then.) Some pimply-faced stock boy was piling up heads of iceberg lettuce, like they do. I swear I’d be able to pick him out of a line-up today. (Yet somehow I have difficulty remembering my husband’s birthday.)

Mom pushed me towards the kid, and made me recite, “I’m sorry. I took these and I shouldn’t have. I will never do it again.”

I dumped the seeds from my clammy hand to the kid’s clammy hand in an exchange which can best be described as deep contrition meets utter confusion.

The kid muttered some, “Okay, yeah” type thing. My mother, I imagine, gave him some kinda high sign for the role he played in her parenting life lesson, and we left.

So tonight X explained that she used a yellow raincoat her mom bought her to smuggle the bra out of the store. She never said whether her mom found out. Or if, when her mother saw it in the laundry weeks later, X easily covered up her crime with a, “That bra? Oh, that’s Betheny’s.” (“And the joint you’ll find in my jeans four years from now? Also Betheny’s.”) Maybe her mother did figure out the unethical origins of the undergarment, but didn’t enforce the zero tolerance policy my mom ascribed to.

At any rate, the conversation got me all excited to see what it is that Kate and Paige will steal some day.

And reminded me that, for so many reasons, it’s never to early to buy a girl her first bra.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Crimes of Passion”

  1. 1 X said at 1:49 pm on September 3rd, 2009:

    Dying! So. funny.

    And never told my mom. This was the same week that I “matured” and starting doing my own laundry, to cover up my crime: “Honey! I’m so proud of you scooting down to the basement like a little church mouse and doing your own washings.”

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