Once, a long long time ago, in 1986, when I was 14, I got this job babysitting during the summer. For just a few dollars a day, I kept an eye on a 9-year-old girl named Christy. She was a bad influence on me. First of all, she was a chronic shoplifter. We went on walks all over town and every store we stopped in, she would walk out with all kinds of stuff and share it with me. At the time, I’d never even considered the possibility of shoplifting. It was just something you don’t do. But by the end of the summer, she’d turned me into quite the shoplifting addict. Yep, I learned how to shoplift from a little girl that I was getting paid to hang around with.

One time, we were walking down an alley and a big chained-up dog jumps out at us and starts barking. So Christy takes out a can of red hairspray (that she’d just shoplifted) and sprays the dog in the face with it which shuts him up. The owner runs out of his house and yells, “Hey!” Me and Christy run away in different directions, losing each other. Probably 10 minutes later, I finally find her a couple blocks away. She says that she was so scared that she’d been crying, looking for me and thinking that guy would find her. It was hilarious.

She also got me hooked on the soap opera The Young & The Restless. I don’t know why a 9-year-old would be watching that show, but we watched it all the time together. And after she left that summer, I kept watching it for about another 2 years. Hmm, what else. We made prank phone calls together with my TRS-80’s text-to-speech program. She shot me in the chest with a BB pistol which left a bruise on me for a week. Luckily we didn’t have any real guns in the house. There’s so much more to the Christy saga that I guess I just can’t remember after nearly 20 years. But after that summer I never saw her again. She was with me in spirit, though, each time I shoplifted for the next decade. And the moral of the story is, if you have kids don’t let me babysit for you.

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