The Criminal in Me

Today I’m going to delve into my darker side.  I think any decent mystery writer has to be able to access their criminal tendencies, in order to create believable villains.

For the most part, I was the epitome of a “goody two shoes” when I was a kid.  My brother was the one who always got in trouble for starting fights, or not doing his homework or chores.  He was the one who tried lying whenever he could, and got mad when he didn’t get away with it.  Me?  The first time I got truly punished was when I was ten.  I don’t remember what I had done, but when my mom asked me what sort of deprivation I wanted (we got to choose our own punishment), I actually begged to be grounded.  David (my brother) had been grounded tons of times before, and my curious nature wanted to know what it felt like.  Lemme tell ya, I never asked for it again.

My mom always told me how she trusted me to make the right decision.  She knew I wouldn’t lie to her either.  I used to hate when she’d say that to me, because it seemed like a done deal; like I wouldn’t get credit for being a good girl, since it was already expected I would be.  I now wonder if that’s what prompted my first foray into crime.

Back in Michigan, we would shop at Meijer.  For those of you who don’t know, Meijer was the first store of its kind (I believe).  You could shop for groceries (including produce), clothing, books, pet supplies, automotive needs, etc, all in one store.  They even had a video rental place, a take-out pizza place, a cafeteria upstairs (which is now a McDonald’s), and you could pay your bills there.  It’s similar to what the Super Wal-Marts are now, but still better, in my opinion.

Anyway, while my mom would wait in the cashier line, I wandered around the racks of earrings that were nearby.  I would look at what was on display, then I’d look below the racks.  Beneath was a treasure trove of unmatched earrings.  I’d look through them, find one or two that I liked and slip them in my jacket pocket, my mom none the wiser.  This was during a time in the 80’s when it was cool to wear mismatched earrings, so it was an even bigger bonus for me.  Not the work of a hardened criminal, you say?  The guilt I felt after I’d swiped them sure made me feel like one.

From the ages eleven to sixteen, I was also quite a bit of a snoop whenever I was on a babysitting job.  Partly because people fascinate me – you can tell a lot about a person by what s/he stocks in the pantry or medicine cabinet – and partly because I wanted to see how well I could snoop and put things back exactly the way they were.  Like I was a covert spy, who had to gather information on these people, undetected.  I never went looking for anything terribly personal, and I never took anything.  I was simply interested in seeing how well I could rifle through a kitchen cabinet or something, while making it look like I’d never even opened the cupboard.

The only other delinquent proclivity I currently possess is that I tend to drive at least ten miles over the speed limit when driving down the highway on a road trip.  Apparently I have some sort of good karma with this, because I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket; something in the Universe always tips me off, and I’m able to get my speed back within the limit moments before I see the cop car that would have otherwise caught me red-handed.  My mom says that her sister has the same karma, so maybe it’s an as-yet undiscovered hereditary gene.

I also have often thought I’d be able to devise a really good, and totally unsolvable bank robbery.  But, the fact that I give money back to a cashier if they give me more change than they should tells me that I’d almost certainly give the money back to the bank within days, if not minutes.

Okay, okay.  Yes, I’m still basically a nice person, but I hear the same thing about Stephen King, and we all know the twisted things he’s able to write about.  Maybe that’s how he’s able to be such a nice guy; he allows his darker side to surface in his writing.  That way, it still gets to be explored, just in the safety of fiction.  I’d be willing to bet that many mystery and horror writers have that same ilk — really nice people who can be so, because they allow their seedier sides to run rampant on the page.

How about you?  What felonious tendencies have you experienced in your life?  C’mon, you can tell me…I’m no snitch. 😉


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dana
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 09:57:25

    HAH! I once shoplifted a box of Milk Duds when I was five or six and felt so guilty after I eaten them that I took the empty box and buried it under a bunch of horse manure so no one would ever find it. A few years later I revisited shoplifting with a few Ice Cube chocolates, but I make a lousy crook ’cause of the guilt. I also speed about 10 miles over on the freeway, but have gotten more cautious about that and only when I feel it’s safe to do so. .


    • Alyx Morgan
      Feb 04, 2011 @ 10:06:51

      LOL Yep…I’m convinced more & more, Dana, that you & I were separated at birth or something. 😉 Though, I don’t think I’d have resorted to putting my hands in manure to hide the evidence. THAT’S serious guilt, sister!


  2. Loni Emmert
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 10:56:28

    Never admit your crimes in writing. Unless the statute of limitations has passed.


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