Kleptomania, I think it’s genetic. Let me explain.
I got to meet my wife’s grandma for the first time I think when I was 18. They called her Brown Mom because she was always tanned, (like my wife). She lived in California and was relatively well to do. Know how I know? Because she used to give each of her grand-kids a hundred dollar bill for Christmas. That’s like $400 today! My first exposure to the Christmas gift was without grandma. We were dating and I happened to be over at Kim’s house a day or two before Christmas when the kids were all opening up the gift envelopes. Uh-oh, “only” $50 this year! You would have thought someone had died. All the kids were whining and looking for explanation, everyone but my girlfriend.
Kim’s always been pretty mature and private and I got to see this early. I admired her for keeping her cool while the nuclear meltdown was going on around her. Fifty dollars to me was enormous at the time. Not too many years earlier, my grandma was sending me a dollar for an A and I was damn glad to get it. Remember, I was the kid who bought his own underwear (link). Kim is generous herself. Anytime anyone asks her to do something for them, she’s on it.
Kim seems to also have inherited her grandma’s looks and skin too. They both have dark complexions and Kim’s cute like her grandma. But looks, complexion and generosity aren’t the only traits that Kim has in common with her grandma – they both like to sneak things into their purses.
Kim’s grandma was that well-to-do type that would stuff things she liked into her purse. I got to experience this firsthand once when she was in town visiting. She and her husband had a big motor home that they would drive cross country for visiting Kim’s family. But anyway, we were at Frisch’s one night. She bought us all dinner and then she saw something she liked on the table, so she quietly stuffed it into her purse and smiled at us. I don’t recall what it was, maybe a sugar bowl for the camper? Apparently she did that a lot and was never once caught.
“I’m a kleppa” – Edith Bunker
Grandma was a bad influence.
When we grew up in Hamilton, the town didn’t have many daytime kid hangouts, like a shopping mall. Downtown had a few department stores like JC Penny’s, Sears and a nice local establishment named Elder Beerman. They were all located on the east side of the river that ran through the town. My house wasn’t too far from downtown but Kim’s was all the way on the furthest point to the west. On the west side we had a small Woolworth’s which was across the street from Frisch’s. Woolworth’s was tiny. The big department store on the west side of town was called Woolco.
Woolco was owned by Woolworth’s but unlike Woolworth’s which was more of a small dime store, Woolco was a big full line department store complete with a small restaurant, automotive section, clothing, sporting goods, etc. you name it and Woolco had it. So Woolco was the place to go for daytime hanging out on the west side, especially if it was hot outside. They even had a decent pet department. The pet department was the favorite section my girlfriend Kim liked to visit. On rare occasion they’d have a puppy or two, maybe a kitten.
One day Kim and I went in there to ‘shop’. Shopping for us kids usually just meant hanging out, goofing off with no real purpose other than to kill some time together visiting all the departments. (Some things never change, do they). Every time we shopped in Woolco, we always visited the pet department last. It was sort of like eating a meal; you savor your last bite or you end with a nice dessert.
(Just as a side note, has someone you know ever reached over and stolen your very last bite of your dessert or a meal? It leaves you feeling empty, doesn’t it).
On this day, again we landed in the pet department. They had a fresh batch of cute hamsters. Kim fell in love with a cute fuzzy light brown one. She reached inside the glass tank to pet the little guy, but apparently he wanted to go home with us for when she reached in, he reached back! He had latched onto Kim’s finger, with his teeth! Kim let out a short shriek and tried to shake loose the little guy but he was having no part of it. So, (with hamster attached), Kim lifted her hand back out and placed it into her purse. He let go then. Instead of dumping him back into the fish tank, Kim decided he was going home with her (I guess she figured he couldn’t run away when the front door opened like Misty did).
We made our way to the checkout stands. I don’t remember what we had purchased, but obviously it was something otherwise we would have just skipped the lines and navigated our way past the door greeter. (Wait a minute, Woolco didn’t have a greeter, and trust me, I shudder to think what the Hamiltucky greeter is going to look like at a Woolco). I was afraid we were going to get caught. I could just see the headlines –
“Paperboy charged as accomplice in local hamster kidnapping”.
I would have a record and the other inmates would be calling me Hamster Boy, inviting me over to run on their wheel or to climb their ladders, yuk! To make matters worse, the hamster was actually GROWLING. I’m not making this up, you can ask my wife. The little guy was growling in Kim’s purse. I’d never heard a hamster growl before, it was kinda’ cute. The growling was audible so I remember while we were checking out, I kept talking; rambling is probably a better depiction. I was trying to drown out ‘little chatterbox’.
Well, we made it out of the store without Security chasing us into the parking lot. Later that day we had to buy a little house for the lad and Kim kept him until a ripe old age of 1 or 2. To my knowledge, my wife has never stolen another rodent again in her life…..although she’ll be quick to tell you that she married one!
No animals were harmed during the writing of this story.