I'm in a reminiscent mood. It rarely happens. Yesterday when I wrote a few memories I had from years ago, it felt good. I think I've kept those years locked up in some spider web-by part of my brain because I don't like to remember it. I always say "I never was really alive until I was 13, because that's when I learned to think for myself." That's not entirely true, but it helps give me a reason to not revisit the earliest remembrances I have. I think I'll rifle off a few other ones therapeutically. You can be my counselor.
When I was probably 5, I had a dentist's appointment. I couldn't stand the dentist. He was always drilling and giving me gross tooth paste. This time was different, though. After the routine cavity-checking and teeth-cleaning, I was introduced to the treasure chest. It was glorious. It was a new addition at musty Dr. Cloud's office, which, looking back, seems huge. The lobby must have had a capacity of at least 400. And there were clouds on the walls. I think. The place later burned down. It probably wasn't all that big, anyways.
Back to the treasure chest. It really looked like a treasure chest. In my head, it was about four feet long, three feet tall, and locked tight. The dentist unlocked it, just for me, because I was so good obviously. The contents were as breathtaking as their container. Stuffed animals, action figures, candy bars, and every other reward I could imagine was in there. After much deciphering, I narrowed it down to either one of those shitty Styrofoam airplanes that you have to put together (the ones that are ridiculously flimsy, then when you finally wedge the pieces together and throw it, it hits the ground with such a huge impact that it breaks in two) and a little sticky blue figurine (the kind that you're supposed to throw at the window, and it 'climbs' down. It usually gets dirt particles on it by the third throw, though). How was I supposed to pick between two gifts of such great quality? I simply couldn't. I put the blue-guy in my back pocket and told the dentist I had chosen the one-throw airplane.
We got in the car, I buckled myself in my booster seat, and we left. I think we were still in the parking lot when I pulled the blue-guy out of my pocket, and my mom realized I took both.
"Do you know what you just did?" She asked.
"No. You stole. You took something that wasn't yours."
I knew what stealing was, but it hadn't dawned on me that that was the crime I had just committed. I had lied before, sure, but stealing was something in an entirely different vein. People who stole wore ski masks and black and white striped shirts. They broke into good guy's houses and took their money. I didn't want to be one of them.
"Am I a bad guy now?" I questioned.
"Well, you're not a bad guy, but you did something that wasn't good."
"Oh. So I'm both? Like The Incredible Hulk?"
"No. Just apologize."
I like that when I was small, everything was so black and white. You were either good or bad. That's all everything was. You could describe something as "good" or as "bad" and that's all you needed.
We went back, I apologized and gave back the plane (which I had opened. I'm pretty sure one of the wings was ripped). I felt terrible. It was a silent car ride home, I think. I just sat in my room when we got back to the old house. I buried my head in the pillow, and repeated "I don't want to be the bad guy. I don't want to be the bad guy. I don't want to be the bad guy." That's all I did that day, just pounded those words into my head until they were the root of every thought I had. Ideally, I like to think they still are.