Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stealing Magnolias

Just like everyone out there, I have a closet that houses all the skeletons I've been hiding all my life. The collection of bones have accumulated over the years as I hopped from one experience to another. From the outside, however, it looks like a gorgeous antique closet -- adorned with carvings of flowers and angels -- that contains precious jewels, family heirlooms, grand dresses and glass slippers. One of those things that people pay top dollar for at Sotheby's.

I have seemingly led a blemish-free life that therapists hate as my subconscious neither holds any traumatic ordeals or dysfunctional meanderings. I hate to say it but my parents did their jobs pretty damn well raising me -- hence, making it difficult for me to put blame on them for any of my psychological paroxysms. Just picture Meredith Grey, just as damaged and broken, without much excuse for being damaged and broken. And minus 95% of the whining.

When I was uprooted from my cushy life back at seventeen years old, my excitement was uncontainable. New life, new environment, new country, new friends -- and of course, independence! Well, not exactly as my parents were still financially supporting me 100%, but at least more independence that I got compared to living under the same roof as them. I realized how sheltered I was. This both scared and delighted me. I was thrown in a world where I was about to discover many new things.

Just like everyone, I had been foolish and I had been smart. After all, it was college. That's my excuse. I followed the herd. I drank and got drunk, I had cold pizza and swigs of vodka for weekend brunch (coffee and cigarettes for the weekday ones), I bought more clothes to make up for the fact that I hadn't done my laundry in weeks, I blew all my hard-earned cash on clubbing and going out, I *ahem* dabbled with things I knew I shouldn't be touching, and I incurred excessive credit card debts. Nothing especially out of the ordinary, but it was all new to me. However, the angel perenially sitting on my right shoulder kept me afloat -- with constant reminders on why I was there in the first place. Though admittedly, I did horrendous things, I still made sure I still maintained top grades, kept myself out of jail and made sure I graduated. It was the least I can do to thank my parents, right?

There was one instance, however, that brought my fast pace to a skidding halt. This time, my moral values came screaming at me -- and truly tested me for the first time. I was with a friend at that time. We just finished taking a horrible final in accounting and we felt we deserved a treat. We had ice cream and went shopping.

"It's getting cold, I really need a new muffler. My old one is already moldy and I could no longer see the colors in its original shade," I commented as I browsed around scarves, beanies, mufflers and mittens.

She picked up one of the mufflers and examined it. "Hey," she said. "This one's not too bad. It actually looks pretty warm." She tied it around her neck as if to prove it.

"Yeah," I said. "You should get it."

"Yeah, I should," she agreed.

"How much is it?"

Before I could get an answer from her, she was already out of the store -- with the muffler still around her neck! I stood there agape; my brain still trying to process what just happened there. I mean, she was supposedly my friend. How long has she been doing this? And when were the other times that she did this? If she got caught, I could go down with her. All these questions flooded me.

"I got you one as well!" she said as she triumphantly showed a second muffler hiding under the first one she lifted.

I took it, said thanks, and wrapped it around my neck. She was right, it was mighty warm. That was six years ago and I still have that muffler inside my trunk that has all my winter clothing. I still ask myself why I didn't say anything and why I didn't do anything about it. It wasn't the first time it happened, neither was it the last. And I don't know why I tolerated it.

I may have done so many ridiculous things in my life but I do have my boundaries. I'm not angel and I've never been. There are things I can let go -- whether easily or with difficulty, I can still let it slide -- but there are things I ought not tolerate. And going against the law is on top of my list. I have no reason to rebel and neither have I got a good reason to disregard my intelligence. I know what's right from wrong and though ethics can cause me to stray over a gray area once in a while, I find no reason to put so much at risk for a measly muffler (or anything, for that matter). If only fate decided to take the red pill on me that day, I would have lost everything -- my stellar scholastic and academic career, my family's trust, my independence, my life basically, plus I would be denied of a great future. All for a muffler? Shoplifting is still a crime and though I didn't pull the deed myself, there was no way I could explicitly prove that I wasn't an accomplice. If I were to go to jail for a crime, I'd make sure it was worth it like embezzling billions of dollars to a Cayman Islands secret bank account. Not a ruddy muffler!

I learned a lot from that episode. The gods were definitely looking down on me kindly that day as they gave me a sobering premonition instead of a rude awakening. I have toned down the risks that I take as a result of growing up and learning from my mistakes though I don't regret making any of them. My gut feeling has become my best friend especially now that I am continuously faced with new experiences that I've never encountered before. And I have become pickier with whom I allow myself to be surrounded with. Sure, I've made foolish choices before as to whom I let influence my life, but admittedly, they did show me another world that I know for sure I didn't want to be a part of. It's always a case of "the moon is rounder in another continent" but now that I've seen the other side, I'd like to stick with this one, thankyouverymuch. We do make our fair share of mistakes and there's nothing wrong with that as long as we know they were mistakes. And that they remain in the past.

As for friends, it is our choice whether or not we bite the bullet and get in trouble with our friends. However, true friends don't put their friends in a dangerous position without giving them a choice. It is, indeed, a good test to find out who our friends really are but it isn't a decision for us to make for them.

Big mistakes stem from small mistakes. And good friends keep you from those.


Blogger Confessions of a Born Procrastinator said...

Hmmm... A kleptomaniac for a best bud.. I wud check around my house twice everytime she did visit if i ver u... [:)]

P.S.: Do you think ur frnd is as good at flicking an Aston Martin as she is at Mufflers?? Sure cud use her help in that case... ;)

6:52 PM  
Blogger Aditi said...

"The moon is rounder in another continent" I have never heard that before.
Our friends do reflect a great deal upon who we are and who we wish to be dont they?

7:37 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I guess we have all done similar. We know the risk is not worth it but young people just don't realise the consequences of their actions. And it is so much easier for them to be caught now.

9:14 PM  
Blogger self taught artist said...

good read. love your honesty and thoughts about friends.

9:24 PM  
Blogger James said...

Interesting one Princess. I wonder is she still your friend now? Did it affect your friendship after that?

12:58 AM  
Blogger ThanKwee-Anajo said...

I think that most of us have skeletons in our closet pertaining to our youth. Most of us are just lucky that we never got caught.

I know a few people who stole something from a store when they were in high school, and I've heard stories from friends about how their kid got caught stealing when they were young.

But they all turned out to be great people with morals. In fact, the daughter of a friend that I know whose was caught shoplifting is now very active in volunteering for a variety of different organizations and is a really sweet girl.

I hesitate to be too critical of young people.

1:36 AM  
Blogger jellyhead said...

The way I see it, the fact you were so profoundly affected by this experience only reinforces what strong moral values you have and hold dear. We've all done things we regret.

Thanks for this thought-provoking and honest post.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Isn't life funny, we learn from the stupidest things that are done. Sometimes I think we fool ourselves into thinking that we are untouchable.
I, too, have had a touch of reality. Recently, I helped a friend of my daughters. But in the end she turned into a a person unable to tell the truth or take responsibility. I had to confront this 22 year old and record her so that my own backside was covered.

Why are people so deviant to people that help them or to anyone for that matter?

By the way ... I really enjoy reading your posts. They come from your heart and make you even more real. And that is a good thing...

10:21 AM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Brilliant as usual, Princess... and it is funny how we certainly cross the line sometimes never realize it until it haunts us back for the huge price we must pay. In your shoes, I would probably keep the muffler as a constant reminder to choose my friends wisely.

10:49 AM  
Blogger The Stormin Mormon said...

My friends always end up talking me into getting hurt, never getting into jail.

Usually the pain lasts longer than the jail time. But you do end up knowing what you're made of at the end of the pain! (And hey, a cool scar to go with it)

That and that every once in a while you pull off whatever stunt you were trying and look like a hero.

1:17 PM  
Blogger The Lad said...

Yes..All big mistakes rise up from small ones...
and yeah..Friends can save us..or drown us

6:44 PM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

but then again, good friends are hard to find. when you find one, hold onto them - love the, respect them, treat them good.

”A friend will tell you that she saw your old boyfriend – and he’s a priest.” / Erma Bombeck

7:59 PM  
Blogger StandbyMind said...

The best liine:

true friends don't put their friends in a dangerous position without giving them a choice.

Nice post Princess!!!!

8:48 PM  
Blogger Ceruleus said...

Hmmm... You write brilliantly! And an interesting write indeed!

8:58 PM  
Blogger the walker said...

thanks for the visit :)

you have a great blog over here and this post has really made me think. we do let our friends do stuff which we would never put our hands in... just to, kinda make them stick around.

keep dropping by :)

11:27 PM  
Blogger Ps said...

You know--the very same thing was done by a very close relative of mine. (somehow cannot call her a friend)
I did not say anything to 'give her away' but I was bristling inside just thinking about it.

In my books it is completely wrong, and just not acceptable.In her books it was 'innocent fun'

How will she like it, if she is at the receiving end? how can people be so selfish and not pause and think for a minute in the other's shoes?

12:45 AM  
Blogger (¯`•._.•[Raaji]•._.•´¯) said...

very good advices for students like me. I can totally relate to this as I am a undergrad student myself.
Its all about choices in college... choosing to do the right thing. Its hard, at times, but thats how it goes :)

3:38 AM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

The best you can be is true to yourself.

Everyone who touches our lives teaches us some lesson.

For that we should be grateful.

4:29 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

A lot of that sort of thing goes on in my area, to the point where half of the young ones I know wear brand new clothes that have a hole in them from where they ripped the security tag off. some even keep a running count on the amount in dollars they have stolen.

When an old poop like me brings up the moral/ethics issue there is always an excuse or a reason. Still doesn't stop me from giving 'em hell about it all and asking for some money from them because their fun is costing me money. Of course I never get it(and neither do they) but it is one of the ways I present it to them.

Yet consequences is not in the lexicon of most youth. "I see, I want, I 'd rather spend my money on cigarettes so I take."

I understand the underage logic, don't agree with it but understand that in order to know what is right you have to have done some conscience searing wrong at some times.



4:59 AM  
Blogger Aunty Evil said...

Found you via my blog, very glad you visited. I really enjoyed this read, and will be back later when I have more time to read some more!

Loved your insight, I agree with you, I fall short of breaking the law, I can't even bring myself to throw litter in the street, because I was taught not to when I was a kid! Therefore, I have a purse full of rubbish that needs constant cleaning out! :)

5:53 AM  
Blogger Still searching said...

Lovely post.. and so true!

7:07 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

Two things seem evident to me.
1)You are probably not going to hell for stealing a muffler and,
2)No doubt,you've become the kind of person that has made your parents very,very proud.
Nicely done!

8:03 AM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Nice post.. I appreciate ur honesty in sharing this episode

9:29 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Stealing? Def not my cuppa tea. If a friend of mine did that, I'd never wanna see her/him again.


10:44 AM  
Blogger Superunknown said...

good post.....You dont visit my blog this days huh ?

11:53 AM  
Blogger John said...

Very well written Princess. And not a list in sight ;-)

1:14 PM  
Blogger drips of paint said...

I guess really loving your friends is to be open about your feeling honestly about anything with is the best gift one can selflessly give to a friend....

3:58 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Growing up i had a few girl friends, we would horse ride. As we got older, we got friends that were boys..not boyfriends. They took us out. We went shopping. One of the girls tried on bikinis...then, when we got out to the car she showed me two pairs she STILL HAD ON HER!!! I almost died..and I didn't hang with her again really.

7:44 PM  
Blogger mathew said...

well nevr wonder they call life is a big circle..u learn more things every moment until it complete it..

9:45 PM  
Blogger Proxima Blue said...

Yes, like others have said, great post!!

I've had similar friends and wondered why I worked so hard to keep me and them out of trouble. I wouldn't have been in so much drama without them, but I believed they needed me, that I could help them make better decisions for lives, but they never did.

Eventually I learned that I had to let them go if I was going to make better decisions about my own life.
No one likes being the party-pooper.
Take Care.


11:17 PM  
Blogger Vengelyne said...

You learned a valuable lesson before a harsh punishment befell you. So it's all good.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

In college, I went shopping once with a friend. When we left the store and got to the car, she showed me all the jewelry that she had stolen. I was in shock. And terribly nervous. As I drove us back to school, I kept checking behind me for the blue lights and sirens. I never went shopping with her again.

It's a hard situation to be in, isn't it?

2:20 AM  
Blogger AVIANA said...

Hi sweetie,..

is that girl still your friend?

i've done plenty of foolish things in my time and i still do some now...i always find new foolish things to do....

whom you choose to surround yourself with is a good indicator of who you are as a person...if you choose to surround yourself around those who don't treat you well, or are willing to bring you down...then it speaks alot about the type of person you are....

it is a good lesson...thank you for the post.

3:29 AM  
Blogger The Black King said...

Well, there is always the difference between a friend and an accomplice. Perhaps, therefore, it is better to have a clever enemy than a foolish friend!

6:38 AM  
Blogger Princess Extraordinaire said...

Loved this post...interesting about friends..

8:33 AM  
Blogger Drama Div@ said...

I very much enjoyed this piece. most importantly, it's very sincere..

10:20 AM  
Blogger butterflygirl said...

Great post. Thanks for stopping by my blog a while ago. I'm just now catching up.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Superunknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

You have guts. It's not easy to admit your mistakes, especially to yourself.

You didn't rationalise away your part in the incident. Two thumbs up to you for that!

Great post!

6:23 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

awesome post........very moving........

12:20 AM  
Blogger Ancalagon The Black said...

I like, I like !! I have plenty of gray areas myself. I have my own moral compass and even though, they generally coincide with the rest of society, sometimes they don't and then, I brush with the unknown.

Its a lot of fun really. I like it. This post reminded me of something. Once, I had shoplifted a pair of slippers, for a gag.

Once I was out of the store, I went back in and put it back again in its proper place. It was just a demonstration to my friend to prove that I could do it.

With great power, often comes great responsibility.

And I completely agree with you as to the fact that if one were to go to prison, one should make it look good. Personally, I would siphon off Apple Inc. stock money and transfer to Microsoft. But then, thats me.

2:05 PM  
Blogger nlonve (nu-lo-ne-vei) said...

replace the 'best friend' with an 'older cousin', the 'muffler' with a 'novel' and the 'lucky escape' with 'getting caught'... :)

I was too young then, maybe 10 yrs old, my cousin on the other hand got the sounding of his life :)

Thanks for dropping by.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I wouldn't judge yourself too harshly.
When I was a student there was an all night Spar near our house, which we frequently went to for tobacco, rizlas, munchies, etc.
We paid for the tobacco and Rizlas, but we developed a bad habit of not paying for the munchies. It was really a sort of game, how many packets of crisps, Pepperamis, copies of Mixmag, etc, could be smuggled out.
We did caught in the end, and we did get banned.
It was reaaly just a stupid student phase.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Living On Video said...

And did you ever confront that friend?
Did you try getting sense into her head?

7:52 PM  

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