Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Can Food Drive.

*This is the first installment in my "Flashback Project." Hope you enjoy it! And, don't write me any hate mail. These events happened when I was a KID.

Long ago (in the mid 80s) I did a really stupid thing.

Granted, I’ve done many stupid things but, this one pretty much took the cake.

On the whim of one of my “brilliant ideas” I talked my neighbor into doing a "can food drive around our cul-de-sac" one California afternoon. This actually translates into = we wanted free toys.
To fully understand why this was so awful, you need to know a few things first. 

One being, I was raised in a middle/upper class neighborhood. My parents did well financially. We had a swimming pool and a Mercedes and were definitely not poor.
Another being, I was spoiled, truth be told. But as a child, you don’t realize those sorts of things. Until later, of course.

My next door neighbor, K* was a lot like me (although, her family had 3 Mercedes, not one.)

K* and I got into all sorts of mischief over the years. But, to be fair, we were equally naughty. Once, we had drawn on the back of a neighbor girls dress with chalk, as she was headed to a wedding. Her mother, seeing the mess we made on her dress, marched down to our homes and demanded an apology. The little girl was a brat, but, we were definitely in the wrong. Even though, it felt so good at the time, haha!

(Interesting, random note - K* is now married to the former Cincinnati Bengals QB, TJ Houshmandzadeh.)

So, on the day in question, I got this idea.

I was about 8 years old and bored. I, along with K*, wondered if we could maybe get some free stuff by posing as supporters of our local church. (I realize, this is definite grounds for "going to hell.")

We set out, going house by house, ringing the bell and putting our best "sweet, innocent little girl" voices/faces on. It worked. Well, sort of.

At the end of the day, we ended up with about 20 cans of canned food. From our nice, trusting neighbors. We ended up with not one toy though.


So, what to do? Instead of, oh I don't know, just throwing the cans away or something, we felt we had to get rid of the evidence. We targeted a neighbor's house - one we felt was unfriendly and "odd"-  and decided our plan of action.

We would toss the 2 bags of canned food over his brick wall and be done with it. Like, it had never happened.

Wow, how stupid were we?

I now see how wrong this was. But, at 8 years old, I just had no concept. {Trust me - a few years later, I went through many life lessons of my own and now shudder at this whole debacle.}

We hoisted the heavy bags over the brick wall and immediately realized, we'd made a mistake - it hit his dog (or just scared it) - I'll never really know....and the dog immediately began barking like crazy. We sprinted off towards our respective homes (K's* was much closer than mine) and felt safe once indoors.

Obviously, we weren't as quick as we thought we were.

The neighbor saw ME (not *K) fly into my house and promptly rang my doorbell.

I hid in my downstairs bathroom as I listened to the conversation between my neighbor and (gulp) my Dad.

Long story short, K* and I both got called outside, in front of our parents/grandparents/neighbor to admit to our transgression.

We then had to return all the canned goods we "stole" to the proper household and also, apologize for being bored, spoiled little brats.

Yep, we were.

I seriously can't even believe we did what we did.

It just goes to show - you really have no concept of the real world around you as a child - until it is blatantly pointed out to you.

The memory of this now makes me cringe. Not 4 years later, I was a runaway, living both on the streets of Hollywood AND in my parent's home (like a fricking ping pong ball) - I learned so much, more than any classroom or after school special could have taught me.

Sometimes I think, the youth of our nation needs to experience something like being homeless. a runaway or poor to appreciate what they have. That may sound extreme, but, how else will children become adults? They have to be aware of right and wrong. even in the most extreme situations.

I can laugh at this now. Kind of. I think my parents can too, even though it was probably mortifying to them at the time (and would be to me now, as a mother myself.)

If it taught me anything (which, it DID), I became more aware of the social problems in the world. In a sort of reverse sense. I realized my true calling for social work, psychology, activism and such at a very young age. *I am so thankful for that lesson.*


Purnell Family said...

OMG....I love this story :) Have you ever thought about writting about your experiences that you had when you were a youth? I know I have...I have some stories...believe me....anyway my so my sister Ann just published a book and has some contacts. Ann and I are actually starting to work on a book that would compile several stories, if that is something that you are interested in we could have put your story in the book and you could get published as one of the authors. What do you think? Look forward to seeing you next Thursday!

And all that jazz said...

Thanks so much, sweetie!!!

Wow, Ann wrote a book? So awesome! I am so out of the loop, haha.

I actually have thought about writing about some of this stuff - and others. Just trying to find the time and motivation.

The book idea sounds fabulous - I'd love that!!!! I can't wait to see you Thursday too. We obviously have SO much to catch up on! =)