It was almost 40 years ago, in the middle of the summer, and I was hanging with my friends at the Sev. We took turns going into the store for a snack, gum or a cherry Slurpee. Sometimes we got one of the older kids to get us a pack of Pall Mall lights. I stayed in the background, a spectator.
It was my turn for teen initiation.
“Hey Lis, you’d never do anything wrong, would ya? A goody two-shoes, that’s what you are.”
Looking down, I grunted, “No, I’m not.”
I didn’t like being predictable.
“I bet you wouldn’t steal anything, ever.”
“Maybe I would.” My heart sank.
“Oh yeah, then go ahead and steal a candy bar. Now.”
No going back.
With shaky knees and clammy skin, I tried to steady my breath as I pulled hard to open the front door and walked into the 7-11’s brightly lit foyer. Avoiding eye contact with the dark-haired cashier, I could tell she noticed me but turned back to her task of placing the doughy pretzels onto the oven warmer rack. I headed to the right and stopped in the middle of the candy aisle. There were so many options. The colorful rows stared back as I tried to decide quickly, needing to avoid my freak-out about to happen.
My analytical mind kicked in. I searched for something small. My eyes widened when I spotted the Chunky bar. With nuts. I palmed the silver jewel and shoved it into the right pocket of my jeans. Exhaling, I walked out.
I faced my friends’ wide-eyed stares.
“Got it.” And I pulled the candy bar from my pocket. Anticipating high-fives and the ultimate compliment, “cool,” I waited. Nothing. I slowly unwrapped the candy and took a thick, chocolaty bite to seal the deal. Still nothing.
After a long, quiet moment, one of them reported, “You’re gonna have to say that in confession, y’know.”
Quickly I responded. “I know.”
This scene flashed through my mind the other day as I approached my car after getting a 20-oz. from the Wawa. I poured the steaming coffee, found a friend in the store and chatted with her while adding my cream and sugar. I capped the coffee and since she was already finished with her purchases, we easily walked out together. I gasped. My coffee was still in my hand.
I immediately returned to the store and paid the young cashier, explaining my mistake. Laughing, he said it was not a problem; it happens all the time. Yes, I’m thankful for forgiveness. But I still can’t eat a Chunky bar with nuts to this day.
Lisa, oh I can feel that teen pain from years ago! And I know how these kind of choices we make stay with us for life. Let's hope that we can instill good choice-making in our children, while we also continue to practice it as good modeling for them. It is a constant challenge in life!
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