I know exactly how many times I have stolen and what I have stolen and I’m not proud.  The two times, as a kid, I took from places like Newberry’s and Orbach’s, and both times caught, were a great lesson.  So, I would never do that again.  Stealing towels from hotels with my father was a given, and I stopped that a very long time ago.  I could and would also steal ashtrays, usually for my dad, from a restaurant in Europe maybe.

I’ve known some kleptos in my life.  Some real ones.

It scared me when I was stolen from.  Personally stolen from.  When I was 15-years old and lying in my bed in a mono-induced near-coma, a friend darted around my bedroom.  I followed her with my eyes because I couldn’t even lift my head, that’s how ill I was.  She touched everything in my room, holding her notebook and schoolbooks in her hand.  There was no reason to be holding all of that, as she had just arrived to visit me.  Something seemed so shady about this visit.  This friend would walk all around me, from one side of the room to the other, and would touch some items like my Indian print, one-of-a-kind dress.  Suddenly it was folded and put in between her books.  I had witnessed the abduction of my favorite dress!  Too shocked to say anything, I let her leave.  With the only strength I had, I reached over to turn my radio back on.  Peggy Lee’s “Is that all there is?” played over and over and over as I remained a hostage in my Rip Van Winkle state.  I never confronted her.

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Then there was the time I switched apartments with my friend’s sister.  I went to live back east and she took my Malibu Beach pad.  When I was in New York, I had dinner with the brother-in-law of the girl who was in my house.  First thing he said was, “So, you don’t mind that all your clothes will be stolen?”  At first, I thought this guy is kidding, right?  He wasn’t.  When I came home, some of my favorite vintage clothes, bought at the MGM auction, were gone.  To my astonishment, when I addressed the issue to this friend, she admitted it, said she was sorry and would like to repay me in a terribly expensive Yves Saint Laurent scarf.  I just wanted my one-of-a-kind, groovy wardrobe back.  I’m so not the designer label girl.  I didn’t push things and within a few months, I was given this red and black scarf that I would never end up wearing.  Never.  I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

Numerous times in my life I have flashed on the one time I did steal from someone I know.  I was at her house; she lived alone with her brother and no parents during high school.  I was only there a few times and once, my other friend and I were in the bathroom where 5 or 6 freshly dyed, purple tank top       T-shirts were hanging to dry.  We didn’t know what came over us, but we grabbed one apiece after some crazy rationalizing that she had four others just like it.  Stealing from a person is nothing like stealing from Newberry’s.  I was wracked with guilt over it for years.  I ran into her in my 40’s on some commercial auditions.  We exchanged phone numbers a few different times, vowing to stay in touch.  I called her and revealed my deep, dark, purple secret.  I said I have something to confess.  You had these purple T-shirts, why so many?  They were calling out for us to steal.  But, I’m not a thief and would like to know how to make it up to you.  She was so lovely.  Said she had no recollection of said shirts.  She told me her son was in training to sell these knives and would I mind if he came to my house to do a demonstration since he needs to do them to get his certificate, or whatever it is, to sell the knives.  I was relieved he wasn’t in circus school and needed me for practice in throwing knives.   He came over.  I’m so lame, I didn’t buy any.  I was broke.  But if I could go back in time, I would buy at least a paring knife for God’s sake.  The incident was never discussed between us again, but I haven’t been on many auditions.  We are currently Facebook friends.  She is a gorgeous and forgiving person.

I’m generally pretty honest, especially when it comes to paying bills.  If I see that someone hasn’t charged me for something, I will point it out to them.  Or if I am, let’s say, handed a fifty, the cashier thinking it’s a twenty, I’ll hand it back.   But I have a tiny confession: I still steal.  Serrano chillies from Gelson’s.  On a pretty regular basis.  I throw a chili in the same bag as the cilantro.  They don’t find it in there and I’m not charged.  I tell them about it all the time.  They don’t seem to mind too much about that 10 cents.  I can still sleep at night.


Is That All There Is:
Purple- Apple- Slaw -Recipe

1/2 medium head red cabbage

1/4 cup finely minced white onion

2 Fuji Apples, peeled, cored and finely diced

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons milk

In a large serving bowl, toss together the cabbage, onion, and apples. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice, and milk. Pour dressing over the cabbage mixture, and toss to coat. Chill until serving

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7 Responses to “Kleptomania”

  1. robin says:

    ahahahahahaha! still laughing!
    especially about the serranos!
    you crack me up….

  2. Julie Phalen says:

    Somehow it made me feel better that some of your vintage collection was stolen. I had beautiful antique purses, jewelry, and clothes stolen from me by a woman who lived upstairs in my house. They belonged to my grandmother, who was in the Ziegfield Follies, so you can imagine what treasure I had. I have way too many clothes, ( my closet is as big as a room) however I miss those pieces to this day. Another time my teenage house sitter stole clothes from my closet, it was easy to see since it seemed she liked black! I never got those back either. My room and closet, now has a lock. I like the pepper story, I will have to try that one, however at Ralphs, they feel the bags. Guess I could do it in self check out hee hee. I do steal jellybeans, out of the bin sometimes, while filling my bag. I am also a produce taster, especially the grapes!

  3. Judi E says:

    So funny reading this, as I just now returned from a dinner with a girlfriend where I was describing my teenaged klepto years. I stole everything, all the time from stores, never from friends. Never got caught. One day I just realized it was karmically a very bad thing to do, so I stopped and never stole again. So funny to come home and find this piece! Sorry about your stuff. A friend of my stepmother stole my very first cell phone that I paid a fortune for. I knew it was her but I couldn’t prove it.

  4. Hoov says:

    8-). 8-). (y). (y)

  5. dawn says:

    just when I thought that was all there was, there was a slaw….

  6. pauli says:

    What a classic – we have all been there and then some. I had all my grandmother’s jewelry stolen from our condo by a professional burglar (who happened to be a murderer as well and ended up on America’s Most Wanted). Three years after this incident (I filed a police report with detailed descriptions of the jewelry) I got a call from the FBI wanting me to fly to Houston to testify against the murderer/burglar. I actually got one of my Grandmother’s rings back that he hadn’t melted down or dismantled to sell. Thanks for sharing your serrano story!

  7. Jennifer Dudley arbaugh says:


    Ha! The Rocky Beach house.. ! I remember your closet alll to well. A long rack with a long piece of tiedye material slipped over your marvelously funky clothes. IF I weren’t 5 ft 8 I would have worn your skirts and dresses not to mention slamming size 8 ft into your tiny shoes. Oh GABE my giant bro in law. How I miss him so. He bought me the fancy scarf .. I never wore it either… xx Jenn

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