There seems to be an ongoing debate regarding the age at which one officially becomes classified as “elderly.” If you ask a ten year old, the number is thirty. If you ask a sixty year old, it’s eighty-four. If you ask our thief (notice how we’ve assumed personal ownership), the transformation occurs when your first AARP membership application comes in the mail.
Evidently, he had been staking out our mailbox for some time, anxiously awaiting the moment our elderliness would arrive. By the time Connie made the short walk from the mailbox to the front door, things were already starting to disappear. Before the ink was dry on the application, we were down one flashlight, a fly swatter, two caramel apples, and my favorite Calvin & Hobbes cartoon book. It was a good thing AARP included a postage paid return envelope because the stamps were gone too.
From that point forward it’s been one continuous crime spree. Rarely a day goes by without something being stolen. His items of choice are key chains and reading glasses, but on a slow day he’ll settle for a cup of coffee, my favorite ink pen, or one shoe.
Because of his fondness for footwear, and the fact that he doesn’t discriminate between my shoes and Connie’s, we’ve come to the conclusion that our bandit is a one-legged cross dresser with a foot fetish. By now, he’s collected enough of the aforementioned items to open a lock and key shop, his own optical center, and shoe store for amputees.
I’d like to say he never takes anything of real value, but the sparkle of diamonds and glitter of gold lose their luster when you’re stranded on a toilet and the half-roll of paper that was resting within arm’s reach gets stolen the second you glance out the window. Such thievery causes one to stop and reevaluate your priorities.
Over the years, as my hair has grown a more flattering shade of silver, I’ve become so used to our thief’s antics that I expect things to be missing when I look for them. There is one exception—tools. On several occasions, when Connie has a project scheduled for me, I have left tools in plain sight (his favorite place) to make them easy to pilfer, but he refuses to steal them. Either he, Connie, and Buster are in cahoots (bribed with pie and milk bones, I suspect), or he is even more opposed to work than I am.