Sunday, June 02, 2013
Honest Is The Best Policy
For me, being an honest and moral being was a learning experience, mostly by having my butt warmed when I transgressed a social norm. I had sticky fingers - in particular, the Matchbox cars that I did not own. I "liberated" them from my best friend (who had a ton, he wouldn't miss any) and the drugstore in town. After having to return the frankly tiny collection to my pal (yeah, what a pal I was) and paying the drugstore, stealing seemed far less lucrative than my initial thought. Or lack of thought; I sure didn't put in much before I acted. It seemed to me that a life of crime had better have a huge payout for the risks involved, and some payouts would never ever be enough.
And time went on, I was fairly honest unless other people were involved and I was a follower. This continued in my career as an altar boy.
I was generally paired with another Catholic classmate who I will call by his Confirmation name here. Those of you who know both of us will recognize his nickname. At any rate. Philip John and I were a pair, and we handled our duties in about as professional a manner as we were capable.
I suppose we'd been serving for a couple years when it occurred to Philip John that he could use a loose dollar from the collection plate once in a while. I finally gave in and took several bucks over the course of time myself. He even got so bold as to take a fiver once in a while. Beer money, he'd say.*
By then I'd realized I'd probably burn in hell, and had stopped helping myself. We were even so bold as to take a swig of the sacramental wine as well, but Lordy did it ever taste like crap. At any rate, things had settled into a routine. We were called upon to serve about once a month or so, and we were well into high school.
Then one day, Philip John was continually needling me about something and it was getting under my skin. He wouldn't stop, and my wolf pack classmates were more than willing to jump in at the smell of blood. My blood. I found this, as always, very tiresome and irksome.
So, I told Philip John that he'd better damn well stop that nonsense, or what he was doing to me would be a walk in the park compared to the bombshell I would drop on his a$$. That everyone would be on his case forever if I opened my mouth. I did not say what my secret was.
He ignored my warning, and one day as I was getting teased about whatever the hell it was that he had started, I unleashed my doomsday knowledge. I told everyone about how we had been taking money from the collection plate, and how I had stopped, but Philip John had not, even to this very day.
Somehow, I instinctively knew that I'd catch the slack even though I had done the exact same thing. The idea that I'd learned and stopped no doubt helped my cause.
And Philip John was quite unable to handle it - he stammered, totally embarrassed and spewed futile excuses the whole time. He could sure dish it out, but he was quite unprepared to take it. It was as I figured - no one got onto me about my part in the crimes, but they sure piled on Mr. Philip John.
To this day, he is known as The Guy Who Stole From the Collection At Church.
I feel bad about taking the money. I've since confessed my sins and done my penance. I will never feel sorry for getting my revenge on Philip John. I warned him, he ignored the warning and kept right on torturing me because he could. He's been paying penance of a different sort.
*Even though we were underage, we all had fake IDs and purchased lots of beer before we were 18 and could legally purchase the 3.2% brews available at all the regular commercial outlets. The good 6% was available at liquor stores only, and they were far pickier about age than the local convenience store.