19 December 2011

Can I help you?

The Living Room

I was 14, when a friend I was with got caught stealing a double Chicago album in the Willow Oaks Shopping Center just before Christmas. He was older and his father was a famous Air Force Ace as well as Thunderbird pilot. My friend was detained by the store and police were called.

That afternoon the Ace visited my home with his son. I was called downstairs by my father and we all sat in our living room with Danish furniture and a white Flokati rug. My fathers paintings were everywhere. Some were, I like to think, tasteful nudes. I don't think the Ace painted.

He told my father his son was arrested for shoplifting and that I was I with him. My father, who didn't have much use for me at this age, sat on the edge of the sofa and looked my way. "Is that true?" he asked. "Yes." I said, and said nothing more. There was silence and I looked at my friend who was staring at the Flokati rug.

The Ace suggested I was the lookout and that it was probably my idea to steal the Chicago album. My father turned to me and I told him I didn't even like Chicago, that my friend had been stealing anything that wasn't nailed down for as long as I knew him, and that he told me about stuff he stole before he ever met me.

My father, a major, turned to the Ace, a colonel, and said, "There you go." The Ace looked at his son and asked if it was true. The son nodded. The Ace suddenly looked small and dark in our bright living room. He left with his son taking the dark with him. Nothing else was said by my father.

40 years later I still obsess over shoplifting paranoia. If I don't buy something a feeling of dread comes over me. I'll be stopped. Questioned. Accused. By a famous Ace. And then I remember my father... and how bright it was in that living room.


Main Line Sportsman said...

Great anecdote....but instead of completely ratting out your friend...maybe a simple "no" would have sufficed...

Suburban Princess said...

Main Line Sportsman...perhaps his friend didn't need to try to take Trad down with him? Serves him right.

David V said...

If someone is throwing you under the bus a little struggle on your part is to encouraged.

Brohammas said...

who cares about the kids here? (sorry Tintin). How bout two adults investigating kids stories and accepting responsibility without self defensive rank pulling and position jockeying.
Hats off or salute? I'm not wearing a hat or uniform so big thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

What was it about that double Chicago album, did they just beg to be shoplifted. I had mentioned my fondness for that album to a guy I was working with, he said I'll have it for you tomorrow. Seems he was accustomed to going down the mountain regularly on similar nocturnal omissions. How, please, does one spirit something the size of those old LPs out of a store?


Anonymous said...



M.Lane said...

It seems that there was [post shoplift] a lot of honor in that room all the way around.

As for the album, I loved Chicago and I still do, but I wouldn't go up the river for them.


tintin said...

Main Line- I think this memory needs a bit more detail. He ratted me out and backed down when we were in the same room with a Green Beret and an Ace. I don't know how we even fit in that room with those two men.

Suburb Princess- I always felt bad for him. His father retired and they moved away shortly after this. His dad was famous and that didn't help their relationship. My dad wasn't famous and that suited the both of us just fine.

David V- I'm not so sure it was bus as much as it was a deuce and a half.

Flo- Up the shirt and down the pants. I think this was more about attention and his own way of being an Ace than anything else.

Anon- What?

M Lane- There was. The dads both called each other by their first name. I didn't really know what I seeing at the time. I need to work on this so that others can see it. I'm afraid I haven't done a very good job.

Anonymous said...

Where is the Willow Oaks Shopping Center? What was the trad listening to at the time?

Oyster Guy said...

Ethical dilemmas aside, I am struck by the levels of trust and confidence exhibited between the fathers and between the fathers and their sons. In these more partisan times am sure an attitude of 'my kid right or wrong' is much more common. Good story.

tintin said...

Anon- Hampton, VA. I saw The Magic Christian and was really into Badfinger. McCartney's first album was my first cassette. Beatles ST from Let it Be album. Anything by any of the Beatles. I was awed by the ST to Shaft. Hadn't seen the movie but made one up in my mind just listening to the music.

JKG said...

What a lot is packed into that little drama.