Saturday, October 10, 2009


It would be easy to excuse my misspent youth (and not so youth) to the influence of those around me. "Peer Pressure" was something my mother was convinced was the root of all evil. "Don't give in to peer pressure!" she shrilled at me on a near daily basis, though she of all people should have known that if I did something, it was because it was my idea to start with. If anything, I was the unintentional leader. From that cherry jewel ring at the impossibly young age of 4 up until the last thing I ever stole in my mid 30s, I did it all not because some goofy friend was egging me on (though I did have my fair share of those), but because I WANTED to.

When I planned out my first B&E at the age of 14, I did it all by myself. There were no friends to encourage or goad me forward. My idea, start to finish.

The first car I jacked, a 57 Chevy truck with a bad paint job and, as I found out the second I tied the wires, no mufflers, was my idea. Oh I was coached by a boyfriend with a long history of car theft, but in the end, I and I alone crept up to that truck in the wee hours of the morning, wire cutters in hand, heart in my throat. Not once did I consider turning and running back to our truck.

My best friend in college, who elevated stealing shoes and electronics to an art form and helped me hone my shoplifting skills to a degree I never thought possible, can't carry any of the blame either. She may have helped me improve my technique, but I'd have kept boosting crap without her guidance and encouragement. She also smoked and drank like a $2 whore, but I didn't pick up either of those tricks from her simply because they held no interest for me.

It was never about the stuff I obtained, though I won't pretend the money I made from selling it wasn't sweet. Being able to wear high end designer clothing that I could never have afforded was a nice perk as well, but all that was just the icing on the cake. The real goal was the incredible rush I got during the planning and execution. Compare it to Christmas, if you will. All excitement and fun up until the moment you're sitting on the floor, surrounded by wrapping paper and now empty boxes, and you realize it's all over. The real fun wasn't in the gift, but in the anticipation of it.

Adrenaline junkies are nothing new. Extreme sports are full of them, people who travel the world in search of their next high in the form of base jumping, snow boarding out of helicopters, racing motorcycles, etc. Had I been more athletic I might have turned to sports instead of crime, but back then my only experience with sports was being forced to play basketball by my mother. Being very short and very white, I was an abject failure on the court and the subject of much derision by my teammates. Depriving my teammates of their valuables whilst no one was watching went a long way towards easing the pain, but I still hate team sports like basketball, softball, and above all, volleyball. I know, fuckin wah, but unless it's a sport where I'm allowed to beat the shit out of the other players (god I love boxing and hockey), I'm just not interested in playing. There's no rush in it for me.

Actually I begged my mom to let me take martial arts as a kid, but she refused on the basis that it would teach me to fight, and therefore make me an aggressive kid. She enrolled me in more ladylike pursuits, such as piano lessons, "safe sports" like softball and basketball, and art lessons. Perhaps if I'd gone to wu shu classes instead of 15 years worth of mind numbingly boring piano, I might have gone a different path.

Or maybe not.