I just shoplifted a few items from Ulta, an overpriced makeup superstore.
Note: I’m not condoning shoplifting, or in fact, instructing any of you to do so.
As a matter of fact, this is a work of fiction.
If you get caught, and pull this article up on your phone to show security officers how you were led astray, they will laugh at you and they might chuck small objects at your head.
UGH. I KNOW some of you snapperheads are going to read this and become inspired to shoplift.
So, some basic rules.
1. Don’t shoplift at a store you frequent. Life is hard enough without having a reputation as the neighborhood klepto.
2. Don’t be greedy! Something small, please. Don’t try to jank a laptop from Best Buy.
3. Don’t boost around other shoppers. They will turn your ass in.
4. When you’re leaving, check to see if someone is following you. If they are, RUN LIKE HELL.
5. Wear shoes that are easy to run in (see # 4)
I had the money to buy what I wanted. As a matter of fact, I bought some things as well. That’s actually one of the techniques to avoid getting caught. Make a purchase.
So why did I steal?
Because. Like a whole lot of other things I shouldn’t do, I get a high from it.
I’m not a compulsive thief. I’m just GOOD at it. And I get a rush when I shoplift. It appeals to the rebellious punk buried alive inside me. It’s my “fuck you” to the man. (yes, I just said that).
But ever since I had a kid, I rarely shoplift. I don’t want to have to call Little Dude from county lock up to come bail me out.
There is honor among thieves.
Never shoplift from a small business which might be struggling to make it. You hit the big, obnoxious retail chains. The added bonus is that employees of corporate-owned businesses are often FORBIDDEN to interfere with your nefarious activities, because corporate is terrified you’ll sue them for assault or some other nonsensical reason. And half the employees don’t give a crap. They’re busy stealing out of the stock room.
I learned to shoplift from an expert. When I was in junior high my absolute best friend was Jayce, a white girl who lived outside the projects in a real house. Her older sister, Kelly, five years our senior, was the sister I never had – and my mentor in the art of the five finger discount.
Kelly and Jayce were the two sweetest girls on the planet. Kelly in particular had an angelic quality about her that made everyone adore her. Shoplifting expertise was so incongruous with her outward demeanor, no one ever suspected her.
She was also a heroin junkie, constantly bouncing in and out of methadone programs and rehabs. But that personality of hers – she was just so NICE, people overlooked this glaring flaw of hers. I know I did.
Jayce, who was in my grade, grew breasts one night the summer between elementary school and junior high. So began her foray into the world of bad girl-dom. I was a good girl, a nerd, an A plus student. Running with Jayce and Kelly allowed me to take the occasional trip to the dark side, the side with cigarettes and drinking and Jayce’s stories of the boys who felt her up in her backyard at night.
Every so often I would cut school and take the ferry from Staten Island into Manhattan with Kelly and Jayce. Enormous, crowded, utterly anonymous Manhattan was the perfect setting in which to learn shoplifting techniques. Kelly taught me how to locate the “blind spot” in a department store, where security cameras can’t see you. To use the receipt from a purchase to go back into the store and walk out with the same item, unpaid.
The three of us worked a classic team boost together. Jayce and I would act overtly suspicious, handle lots of merchandise, look furtive. The store detectives would focus all their attention on us, while Kelly would slip through the store unnoticed – liberating merchandise into her oversized tote bag.
She taught me how to go up to the jewelry counter at a department store, and confidently ask to see watches – and then pocket one practically right under the salesperson’s nose. That was one of my favorite moves. I have to punch myself in the face to stop myself from pulling that one in a crowded Nordstrom’s at Christmas time.
I frequently escaped my noisy five-brother household to sleep at Jayce’s house. My mom would sometimes give me a few dollars so we could buy candy or nail polish the next day. I used to have to sleep with my money in my underwear or else Kelly would steal it to buy drugs. I adored her anyway.
Kelly used to write her parents letters at night, telling them how much she loved them. I can still remember their mom reading them in the morning, rubbing the tears out of her eyes behind her glasses.
I wonder now if she was crying at the emotional content of the letters, or for her daughter’s wasted life. Kelly was a loving daughter, but she was a total delinquent. Her parents owned a little beach house on the Jersey shore, which Kelly used to break into routinely and rob. And leave notes apologizing.
I spent three years in junior high under Kellys’ expert tutelage. I was an avid shoplifter all through college. I hate to write that I’ve never been caught, because even though it’s the truth, I feel as though it will jinx me.
Jayce turned into a full-blown bad girl in high school. I was still trying to color inside the lines at that point, and our friendship ended. We never spoke after the ninth grade but we nodded hello to one another every morning, when I passed her outside the high school. All school year long she stood outside with the other reprobates in the morning, smoking cigarettes and weed.
One day, in my junior year of high school, the phone rang. It was Jayce. She hadn’t called my house in years. I knew why she was calling, before she even said it.
Kelly had died. She drowned in the bathtub early one morning, while high on heroin.
My heart broke into a million pieces. My mom wept bitterly. I reconnected with Jayce then, briefly, but intensely. My mother and I spent all three days sitting with her family at Kelly’s wake. Back at school, we resumed only our nod ‘hello’ in the morning. The last time I ever saw her was the day of my high school graduation.
I heard through the grapevine that Jayce got married and had kids almost right out of high school. I never spoke to her again. I haven’t even thought of her or her sister in years.
But this morning, when I put on my stolen lipstick, I though of Kelly, Fagin to my Artful Dodger. And I wrote this story in her memory.
Did you ever shoplift? What other delinquent activities did you engage in?
Can I call you if I need bail money?
Talk to me. I’m listening.
Follow me on Instagram. I take pictures in superhero underwear because I crave validation.