Dazed and Confused
There are a couple of clichés I could throw at you here, DAC, mainly that women are capricious, and that it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, but the fact is that anyone can be fickle, and it’s everyone’s prerogative to re-evaluate, reassess, and come up with a different conclusion today from the one he or she came up with yesterday. Your girlfriend is experimenting with herself, expanding her options, opening herself up to new ideas. And she’s hardly a whack job: Nearly everyone has multiple piercings these days, and tattoos are as commonplace as blue jeans. She’s just catching up with fashion. If she starts wearing nothing but the dried blood of sacrificed goats, you might have a legitimate concern.
It’s also no great paradox to desire beauty in an ugly world; even saints and martyrs can appreciate lovely things. Just because she covets a piece of jewelry doesn’t mean she’d steal a starving child’s CARE package to get it. And the fact that she thinks you’d look hot in a Jeep probably has more to say about how she feels about you than how she feels about the car. I can’t promise she’ll love you forever any more than I can promise that you’ll always love her, but the fastest way to lose her would be to try to keep her the same. She may not need your approval for the changes she’s making, but she sure as hell does not need your disapproval.
I’m a 27-year-old woman, happily married with twin sons. I have a good job, and in my (very little) spare time I paint watercolors, so I even have a creative outlet. Everything about my life is terrific except one thing, and that one thing is making everything else seem false. When I was 15, I shoplifted some clothes from a local department store. It was only about $100 worth, and I had the money to buy them, but some girls I knew dared me, so to prove how brave and cool I was, I stole them. I was so relieved I didn’t get caught that I never did it again. Then I forgot about it, but a few months ago I was back in my hometown and I went back to the same store and was overwhelmed by this awful guilty feeling. It was so powerful that I almost went to the manager’s office to confess and offer to pay the money back, but I was afraid he’d have me arrested. I can’t go to jail, but I want to make some kind of reparations. Do you think it would be OK to send the store an anonymous money order? I can’t believe how much this is bothering me.
I’m taking a wild guess here, but I bet you’re not a high-ranking member of any political party, BB; with a conscience like yours you’d never have made it through your first election campaign. Your honesty is truly refreshing, and your desire to repay commendable, but as well-intentioned as your idea is, it’s no good. Not only was the loss written off years ago, businesses have to account for all their income, and it would probably cost the store more to figure out how to enter it into the books than the amount of the money order.
Shoplifting is an enormous problem for retailers, which translates into higher prices for consumers. So yes, what you did was wrong, but as far as the sins of the world go, your specific crime is pretty much what the Catholics of my youth would have considered a venial sin — worthy of five or 10 Hail Marys for sure, but hardly heinous enough to merit being sent to hell, and fairly easy to atone for without risking jail time or bookkeeping headaches. Find out what charities the store supports and make an anonymous donation. Or, if you prefer, you could make the donation in the store’s name. If you like, go ahead and write the store’s president a letter telling what you as an adult have done to make amends for your teenage transgression, but keep it anonymous; putting paid on your spiritual balance sheet does not require making your penance public.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201