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Rebecca

Levi says the only time he ever stole anything was when he was five. It was a pack of cinnamon gum from Skagg’s Alpha Beta in Salt Lake City. When they got back from the store he took it out back and ate the whole pack at once. I know you all saw this coming, but he now HATES CINNAMON GUM.

Last week, he has having a conversation with a friend and asked the friend what his dad did for a living. “He used to be the manager of Skagg’s Alpha Beta in Salt Lake.” And so Levi poured out his whole and confessed to the manager’s son. “I’ve been wanting to say that for years,” he said. I wasn’t there to witness this scene, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my husband cried as he pressed a crumpled dollar bill into the friend’s hand. “Promise me you’ll give this to your father?”

Levi told this story when his parents were here this weekend. (To give a proper sense of setting, you should know that when Levi’s parents visit, within hours our kitchen always has two or three varieties of cheese, a cut of dry salame, and a bowl of fruit. I love this about Levi’s parents. At the moment of this conversation, however, I’m pretty sure we were passing around a massive triangle of Toblerone. Best in-laws ever.) Levi’s mom had great stories about when she closed a scrapbooking store she owned in Arizona. “You wouldn’t believe,” she said, “how much money people sent us.” The guilty, who at one point or another had stolen from her, sent her letters and apologies and money. The general tilt of it all: I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time now.

Then Levi’s dad added his story, about the time someone stole a small and lovely piece of art from his company’s booth at a tradeshow. He wrote about the thievery on the company’s website. “Sometimes, we come across something so beautiful that we think we have to have it,” he said. Two weeks later, in an unmarked package, the piece of art arrived by post.

Then Levi was at it again. He told about the time he was in an indigenous village in Guatemala and caught young boys stealing from him. Their parents whipped them good and then, after the public display, a father came to Levi and explained his problem. “When you caught my son, you scared his soul out of him. Without his soul, he will die.” The man asked Levi for a lock of hair. If the boy inhaled the smoke from Levi’s burning hair, the soul would return. Levi obliged.

I wanted to join the conversation about all of these great stealing stories, but felt restricted for two reasons. One, a canker sore the size of Rhode Island on the side of my tongue has made most communication this week painful. And two, I don’t have a good stealing story.

I think I might have stolen something when I young, and I think I might have had to go back to the store and apologize to the manager, never to repeat the offense. But I’m almost positive that’s actually a false memory. One I’ve heard so many other people remember that at some point, I subconsciously decided it happened to me too. This is a trouble with having a lot of siblings.  I think it was my little brother Michael who stole the gum. Or Sara? Daniel? The point is that somebody stole and we’ve all felt guilty about it for years.

I’m starting to get reckless here. All I’m saying is that if you’ve stolen something, you should give it back. And if you’ve had something stolen from you, it will probably turn up.

And if what you stole was my baby’s little pink stroller, the one she asks for every morning, her absolutely favorite toy, well then, there’s the matter of your soul…

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