Monday, July 7, 2008

In which I profit from ill-gotten goods

Official seal of Edison Township, New JerseyImage via Wikipedia
When I was very small, there was nothing I wanted for Christmas more than a Cabbage Patch Doll. It was the early-to-mid-80s. Everyone wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll. It was my generation's Tickle Me Elmo. Better -- no two are alike, you know, and you can register your doll's name with the Adoption Agency.

Of course, there were none to be found. Anywhere.

My mom got her hands on a pattern and made me a fake; I honestly don't know if the head she used was official or a knock-off, but the doll looks good except she has no Xavier Roberts tattoo on the ass, and the shoes from official outfits don't fit her feet.

My dad had a friend who knew a guy who worked near a guy who sold the dolls in a parking lot. They "fell off a truck," if you will. They were insanely overpriced. My dad used this tenuous connection and got one.

When I found out about this, years later, I felt incredibly guilty.

My third birthday was very exciting. Not only was I a big girl, but the new baby would be coming soon. From what I can piece together from vague memories and stories, one of my uncles gave me, as a birthday present, a tiny pink bear that squeaks when you squeeze it. I asked someone to read the tag; he was "Made in Edison, NJ" so I named him Edison. I also proclaimed that I was going to give it to the baby. I saved it 'til my brother was born, took it to the hospital, and gave it to my mom for him.

When he came home, I took it back.

When I was a little bit older, my parents told me this. I felt so guilty, I didn't know what to do. I loved Edison; he was part of my bedtime lineup. Still, he technically belonged to my brother and I technically stole him. Several times I gave him to my brother, missed him, asked for him back.

My brother never really cared, of course.

To this day, I don't know if that bear is rightfully mine or his. I'm 25, he's 22. That's right, it's over 20 years since I gave the bear to him. Hell if it matters at this point.

I still feel bad.

My junior year of high school, I took AP Biology. It was a tough class, but fun, too. Mr. D. was a great teacher. Excited, a little crazy, maybe the tiniest bit perverted -- just as an AP bio teacher ought to be. His favorite time of year was when he got to teach about genetic deformities in humans. He was the guy who coordinated the SAT. I'm sure you had some version of him at your school.

Anyway, after the AP exam was done, all we really had to do was finish dissecting our cats. Since everyone was pretty much under control cat-wise, we decided to have a big celebration. We called it "D-week" in honor of Mr. D. There was snack food and a cake with an edible photo on top like they do now -- of Mr. D.'s head on a swimsuit model's body. He was all flustered and pleased and embarrassed and excited like an AP Bio teacher would be.

It was widely suspected but not confirmed that much of the snack food was stolen. A few kids in the class worked at supermarkets or drugstores and "liberated" items from time to time. I didn't know for sure. I was naive. I gave people the benefit of the doubt and enjoyed the candy.

There was a raffle. I won a camera -- one of the new drop-and-load ones. I was so excited. I took a few pictures of the class, and of Mr. D.

Then someone confirmed that much of the party stuff -- including the raffle prizes -- was hot.

I was horrified. Also, pissed. There was nothing I could do. I couldn't return it to the store anonymously, since I had opened and used it. I couldn't pay for it; I didn't know where exactly it had come from. One of my classmates was pissed off, said if I didn't want it, I should let them re-raffle it so someone who didn't mind could have it.

I still have that thing sitting around somewhere. I probably won't see it again until my parents die and I have to clean out their house. I don't think I'll ever use it. I would feel so wrong. Just remembering I own it feels dirty.

If I ever accomplish anything with my life, maybe someday history will look back and deem me worthy of two dolls, a tiny pink bear, and a drop-and-load camera.

The good

Well, it looks like the Catholic education worked after all. Kidding.

Honestly, if the above is the worst that can be said about me (which I'm neither confirming nor denying), I'm in good shape. I need to remember that.
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