Been Caught Stealing

Once. When I was five.

Actually I’m not sure if I was five or six or whatever. I just know that I was little.

young Jen

One day I went up the street to play with my neighbor friend Sherry. I left empty-handed and returned with Sherry’s rosary. When I returned home, I was so excited about my new possession that I didn’t bother hiding it.

Mom, of course, marched me right back up to Sherry’s to return the rosary and apologize.


Learn from my mistake, would-be shoplifters and thieves. Hide your loot.

Why did I steal a rosary of all things? Because I wanted to be Catholic, damn it!

I am the product of a mixed marriage. My father was (is?) Catholic. My mother was raised Baptist. When they tried to get married in her Baptist church, they were denied. No Catholic church would even consider it. A United Methodist church agreed to marry them so that’s the church my mother has attended ever since.

I was raised United Methodist in a small town where most people were Catholic. When I heard that their church had kneeling and something called genuflecting, I felt cheated and definitely wanted to quit my church to become Catholic. It was all so dramatic and mysterious. I mean, some of my friends even left school early periodically for something called CCD!

While my mother scoffed at the notion of my father taking over management of my religious life*, she indulged me by buying me something I could hang from my bed like Sherry did with her rosary. I was appeased, mostly.

And I never stole again.

I can’t help but wonder, though: had Mom looked into the future and realized her daughter would eventually identify as an atheist, would she have handled the situation any differently?

*Dad really enjoyed the opportunity to sleep late on Sundays when Mom, Nana and I went to church. Can you blame him?

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