I know there is absolutely no excuse for thievery. None what so ever. But….in my defense I did not know I had stolen it. This is the truth. As I know it.
As a child with many siblings we had many ‘things’ that were ‘ours’ but belonged to ‘one of us’. And if the sibling that something belonged to wasn’t around…. It was almost free for the taking. Until they returned and their belonging was quickly reclaimed.
And payment may have been exacted with a quick push, smack or “you’re a pig!”
Around the time of this incident I was not yet ten. I don’t think I was even eight yet. And our neighborhood was stuffed full with families with all ages of kids.
Across the street was a family with three kids. Next door was a family with nine kids. And some of them were so old. Even teenagers! Catty corner to our house was a house with two kids. I suspect they were extremely pleased to not have more siblings, or they were extremely bored.
There were other houses. Other families. Kids every where.
The neighbors had ‘things’ like we did. And though parents were likely to tell us to put things away. As often as not the neighborhood had child’s things all about it.
One day there was a bike left out. It belonged to a neighbor. I wanted to ride it. So I did.
When I was done with it I can’t even remember if I deposited it in our yard or theirs. Or someone else’s.
Disclaimer: I did not take it to take it. I took it to ride it. (Legally I am certain this is a good and solid defense.)
Then I was accused, outed, turned in. Or someone saw me ride the bike. I don’t even know.
I was told to go apologize. I remember it was evening, dusky dark but not pitch black dark.
I grumbled on the way there. I gave an apology but did not mean it. I did not know what I had done wrong. A bike was there. It needed ridden. I rode it. It was deposited there. Or somewhere.
This may or may not have happened on more than one occasion.
I remember being angry at being made to apologize. I remember being angry at the persons sitting there listening to my apology. I remember being angry about why I didn’t get to ride the bike when no one else was riding it.
I didn’t get it.
Bikes are meant to be ridden. I returned home in the dusky night and remember my feet on the ground wanting to grind the paved road under my sneakers to dust with my stomp and then foot drag. Stomp (in frustration and humiliation) and foot drag (slowing the process to home).
I think I might still be mad about that.
I would not on purpose steal a bike. But I would ride a neglected and forlorn lonely bicycle. Damnit. I think I am rebel enough to do it again!
*Another disclaimer: I would not steal a bike. But I might buy another lonely bike that needs to have someone ride it. And, by the way, I let others ride my bikes. Sometimes. Even if I have to call them ‘pig’ under my breath as they pedal away.