I was in the kitchen, listening to Trevor Noah’s memoir on the bluetooth speaker I’d gotten for music festivals. It sits atop the stove and whenever I’m cooking or cleaning it’s always on Spanish news or gangsta rap or old school Usher or whatever. Something to sit in the background and make it all nicey nice. This time though I was stuck on this part about Noah and one of his friends getting caught stealing. The friend, a darker South African boy was being reprimanded, while everyone watched the scene on video. They couldn’t recognize Noah and thought he was some white boy, so essentially he got away with it.
I was reminded of the time I’d gotten caught stealing those Gundam Wing models from K-Mart. I forget who was with me, but it might have been Jonathan? Who knows. I had to go back for the paint though. I’d been getting bolder, and just building the models and putting the stickers on wasn’t enough. They had this special paint for them, shit was expensive too, but I was an artist. I needed it. I was almost out the door with two of the models after stripping down the packaging in the bathroom when I told my friend.
“I’m gonna go back for the paint,” like a dumbass. To this day I’m not sure why I thought I’d get away with it. I do remember I needed that paint though. I loved those damn models and around that time I still thought I’d be an architect (I’d decided that cartoonist wasn’t a high enough paying gig). Anyways, I went back in, grabbed the paint headed straight back out through the door but as they slid open a security guard grabbed my arm. I froze. When it came down to it I was still more soft than furious at this point in life. The guard didn’t even say anything and I’d already started sobbing, like a dog who just ate the trash or chewed the computer cord I frowned, held my head down and just knew. I just fucking knew.
You know who else knew? Jojo did. When I dropped packaging from the cheeseburgers in the trash; mind you, he begged me to have cheeseburgers for dinner and was behaving pretty well so why not. This fucker had thrown his entire lunch from school in the trash: both sandwiches, the chocolate yogurt he begged me to get, the snack crackers, tropical applesauce and juice. I had just asked him how that chocolate yogurt was because we’d disagreed on it’s potential “deliciousness” and he’d told me it was “awesome.” When he saw that I saw, he froze. Then he started stuttering.
“I.. but.. Because.”
I hadn’t said anything, but he couldn’t say anything. He started crying heavy and stomped in frustration.
“Do you remember what you told me a second ago? Go ahead and explain yourself, you have to calm down though,” I said. Not gonna lie I was kind of amused but kept a serious face.
“I didn’t want you to be mad at me,” he said.
“Because I didn’t eat my lunch. I forgot it.”
“So, why wouldn’t you just eat it tomorrow instead of throwing it away?”
“I don’t know!” he yelled. He was crying even harder. He flailed his arms and twisted his body around.
I wanted to be more angry, but the trash was empty anyway and his lunch was still wrapped.
“Take it out and put all your food in the refrigerator for tomorrow,” I said.
He couldn’t really believe it. He started to ask me if I wanted him to do pushups or flutter kids but then he caught himself. “What should I–”
But he didn’t feel like he’d gotten away with anything either. Instead, he went into the living room and quietly started doing his homework, neatly and taking his time, without my having to tell him. I guess any other time I would have been furious at the bold lie, but my mood was more like, oh, kids do the darndest things.