There was a time during my misspent youth that The Smurfs and a friend I'll call Crissy combined to form a perfect storm of sin and fear within my Catholic school-girl heart.
The afternoon in question was unfolding like every other one that came before it. Crissy and I were up in her room playing with her Barbie and Ken dolls, making them take endless trips up and down in the elevator of their Dream House or cruise around the area rug in the pink convertible that Ken must not have had a hand in picking out. Sometimes, the two went on vacation to the other side of the bedroom where the horse was stabled.
For whatever reason we soon grew bored of Barbie and Ken and decided to walk over to the local McAlpin's store where the new Smurf toys were on display. And, right next to them stood the dragon lady. Actually, just a cashier who knew what a couple of kids up to no good looked like. I'm not sure we knew ahead of time that we were up to no good. At least, I know I didn't. But, at some point we decided that we needed a Smurf action figure to serve as a pool boy for Barbie's upcoming pool party. Only neither one of us had any money. What to do, what to do?
Crissy distracted dragon lady and I crammed a little Smurf into the pocket of my shorts. Then we ran all the way back to Barbie and Ken. After fishing the contraband out of my pocket we placed it on Crissy's dresser and sat there staring at it, as if the thing were some kind of Genie bottle and something was about to pop out of it. Only the more I looked at it, the worse I began to feel. It was stolen. I had broken one of the Top Ten. Now, I had spent enough hours kneeling next to my Mom on Sundays and coloring pictures of Jesus during CCD classes that I knew exactly what was coming next. Soon the devil would arrive to drag me down to the really hot place with no swimming pools for cooling off. And, the more I feared the fiery pit the angrier I grew that it was a stupid Smurf stolen and not Gargamel or his cat Azrael. Those were my favorites after all. I couldn't stand those Smurfs. And what did that say about me, that every Saturday I rooted for the evil wizard and his cat? Satan was going to make me his apprentice for sure. Slowly I turned my head to see the exact same expression of fear and dread on my friend's face.
"I feel really bad, Angii. We shouldn't steal. It's sooo wrong." Crissy said, echoing my thoughts.
"I know. What are we going to do?"
"We're going to burn in H-E-double matchsticks.", she replied matter-of-factly.
If the crime was undone then it would be like it never happened we decided. And, then we could assure ourselves a spot up in the clouds with all those lambs that were forever sitting around in Jesus's lap. Of course, the dragon lady was a concern. We hadn't been caught sneaking out the toy, but what if we were caught sneaking it back in? She would never believe we were returning stolen property. Enter a brilliant plan.
I grabbed the offensive Smurf and skipped home to find my little brother, Joe. He was tiny and cute; all big, blue eyes, freckles. Surely, the dragon lady wouldn't call security if he was found with stolen goods. Easily tricked into thinking we were spending some quality time together I walked him up to the shopping center. Once outside the store doubt crept in. Joe didn't know why we were here and what if the dragon lady did call security? What if my parents found out it was all my fault? I slapped the toy into his small hand and dragged him into the store, coming to stop just a few feet inside the door.
"Joey, go throw that Smurf toy over there on that stand."
"Why? There's no toys over here. Why do I have to get rid of it?"
"Just do it." I urged.
Obediently, he walked over to an outdoor furniture setting and placed the Smurf on a cushion. Then, I grabbed his hand and fled the store for the second time that day. During the walk home he was silent for a bit before turning those trusting eyes on me.
"Angii, did we just steal?"
"No. Of course not. We returned a toy, that's all."
"But, that's not how Mommy does it. Did you steal it? I don't wanna steal. I don't wanna get in trouble."
Yet another moral dilemma. Faced with breaking another one of the Top Tens, I questioned what to do. Should I lie or tell the truth? Did I just correct one sin to commit another?
"No, I didn't steal it, Joe. I called the store and they told me to return it like that. It's ok. Don't worry about it. And, don't tell Mom."
Mom never did find out about my short lived criminal career. That Smurf is the only thing that I've ever taken. Too much guilt to repeat another theft of any kind. Now, if only my lesson in lying didn't involve an Innocent's death. But, that's a story for another day.