My 10-year-old neighbor Eden is determined to find out the worst thing I’ve ever done. It’s a question she apparently asks anyone who sits still near her for longer than a minute.
Her: “If you tell me, I’ll tell you the worst thing my mom ever did.”
Me: “If I told you the worst thing I’ve ever done, your mom would kill me.”
Outside a morbid curiosity or boredom, I have no idea why Eden wants to know this sort of thing. Maybe it’s what kids learn from social media.
Despite repeated requests and abject pleadings, Eden only knows the 19th-worst thing I’ve ever done, which was to put 40 rounds of .308-caliber ammunition through the unoccupied car of a guy who was bullying me in high school.
Note: Oh, calm down. It falls under natural law. A guy who sticks a smaller guy’s head in a toilet shouldn’t leave his ride in an unpopulated area.
I don’t look at this as a confession. I only admitted it to Eden because she kept bugging me. But 19 is all the further we’re going on the scale of my personal crimes.
Do I feel bad about it now? No. I’ll tell you what I do still feel bad about. It’s having that @*$#*! and his buddy forcibly pull down my pants in a crowded hallway.
The good news is that not everyone thinks like me.
Approximately 80 years ago, a kid stole a stop sign in Midvale. Today, he still feels so bad about it that he recently mailed an anonymous letter of apology to Midvale from Texas.
“I’m trying to remember the things I’ve done wrong, and try to do restitution as well as I can,” he writes, then goes on to add, “I wish to be forgiven by the Lord, so I am sorry, and truly repent.”
Included in the letter was a $50 “for a stop sign, OK?”
I can’t even begin to imagine following this guy’s example. I’d have to spend every dollar I earned and every day I have for the rest of my life to even make a dent with this kind of restitution.
Since I’m not going to, there’ll be a lot of things the Lord will have on me when I’m dead. Either that or a lot of my past (and current) behavior will have to be summarily dismissed.
For starters, I can’t remember most of the bad things I’ve done that are bad. Things as insignificant as stealing a municipal sign wouldn’t even register on my radar anymore.
The earliest bad thing I remember intentionally doing was when I was 7. Mom caught me trying to get my 4-year-old brother to try out a parachute I’d made from a tablecloth.
Even though we were only on the second or third floor of the apartment building we lived in, she was mad and sent me to my room for the rest of the afternoon.
Seething with the unfairness of it all, I perched a large metal can filled with Tinkertoys on the top of the door and called my brother in. The can hit him in the head (I think he still has the scar) and he screamed about as loud as I thought he might if the chute had failed.
It took me years to feel bad about that, but I do now. It’s a rotten thing to do to someone I was supposed to care about.
I have to admire the guy from Texas. The point is that all of us — especially if you’re like me — should try a little harder to make some kind of amends to the people we’ve thoughtlessly hurt.
For that, I’ll have to start making another list.