Crime of Opportunity


Once, I took a photo of Tommy Hilfiger.

To be clear, I did not particularly WANT a photo of Tommy Hilfiger – but I took it anyway. Because THERE HE WAS.

My husband and I were sitting with our then pre-teen son in the restaurant at the Beverly Hills Hotel – a location we had chosen BECAUSE my husband deeply wanted to scope celebrities. He happened to be sitting with his back to the table in the side room. So when I ID’ed Tommy Hilfiger (and that’s a proud moment for me, since I am a famously unobservant person), Jonathan was very excited.

“Take a picture!” he said.

“Yes! Yes, of course I will!” I was all caught up in the thrill of being near someone who was – at the time – the host of some reality TV show that we were watching.

And then the lovely hostess at the restaurant came up to me and asked me – so kindly – to delete the photos I’d just taken of a guest at her restaurant and I was simply smothered in shame. I didn’t want a photo of Tommy Hilfiger; there was nothing I was going to do with it. I had been crass and rude and horrible and I was a lowly worm.

I didn’t delete the good one, though.

The unwanted photo (suddenly *I* was the loathsome paparazzi) is a crime of opportunity. A crime that does me NO GOOD AT ALL – it is a break in my moral code. It betrays a weakness of character.

And that break happens all too often, I’m sorry to say.

A few days ago, my Body Dynamics massage with the astonishing Gwynn lined up like an astral eclipse with my standing work-out with brilliant Barbara; I had about half an hour between the two. I was sitting in the waiting area in the interval and thought – I know. I’ll go stretch some muscles in case Barbara wants to go outside and run in the icy monsoon raging in the streets.

I put my coat down on a little side table the PTs use for their computers… and there, right next to my large overcoat, was an innocent little tennis ball. Someone had been using it in their work-out and accidentally left it behind. No crime there; we’ve all walked away from equipment without realizing it.

But I had JUST had a conversation with Gwynn about fascia in the feet, and she’d advised me to roll my feet on a tennis ball for a minute or so every day – just to loosen up the fascia. And THERE WAS A TENNIS BALL.

I’m ashamed to tell you that I stuffed that tennis ball in the pocket of my coat and turned away quickly, thrilled at my daring and at the acquisition of an item I HAD NO USE FOR.

To be sure: I have a can of tennis balls sitting on a shelf in my bedroom, purchased expressly to roll out sore muscles. I did not need the tennis ball I stole.

I repeat: I did not need it. I stole it anyway. It was a crime of opportunity.

I began a calf stretch and darted a glance guiltily to my coat.

I switched legs and my brow furled. I was wrong to do that. Not only am I fortunate enough to not need to steal, but I was stealing from people who I sincerely regard as my friends. What the hell was I thinking?

And just as I was edging over to my coat to retrieve my ill-gotten loot, Barbara appeared and wondered what I was doing – so I had to explain why I was pulling a tennis ball from the pocket of my coat. She looked at me as if I was insane – which, yes, please? May I plead temporary insanity?

I left that ball where I found it and did not take it – but I was a bit shaken by the experience. I’m almost sixty, for Pete’s sake. Wouldn’t you think I’d have learned that just because you CAN take it doesn’t mean you SHOULD take it??!

And then – o, my friend… who can resist the crime of opportunity??

That very evening I’d gone to Panera to pick up my dinner – a nice, healthy salad. (Okay, a sandwich and a bowl of soup; don’t judge me.) (At least, don’t judge me for my menu choice!)

The crowds were thick around the to-go area, and a woman in front of me finally lost her temper. To be fair, she not only had a small child with her but could prove by her receipt that she’d been waiting 25 minutes for her food. I know that because she made it very clear to everyone around her. The people behind the counter ducked their heads like battle-hardened soldiers and kept working.

She finally got her food and left, only to return. I need my DRESSING!

I had empathy for her; she just wanted to get out of there with her child. The place was busy. We all snap from time to time, and the experience made me grateful that I wasn’t starving, didn’t have a small child with me, wasn’t expected at home at any particular time. I waited stolidly in the crowd and practiced keeping a neutral pelvis while I stood tall.

And when I got home with my dinner… GREAT GOOGLY-MOOGLY! Someone behind the counter either got my order wrong or wanted to silently thank me for my patience… because in the bag was a cookie the size of a dinner plate.

God damn it.

Now I was on the horns of a dilemma. I’ve been pretty successful in managing my sugar; I’m going with two no-sugar days followed by a day in which I can have a treat… and the Day of the Accidental Cookie was, actually, a treat day – but I was going with my sisters to the spa at the Hotel Hershey, where chocolate is a constant presence. I was saving up my treat day for a spa blow-out.

(Honestly – a cup of hot cocoa… or six… while dressed in nothing but a heavenly robe in a room that ought to be the study of a British nobleman, complete with crackling fireplace, leather armchairs, and near-silent attending servants… THAT is my idea of a spa!)

But here was this cookie. GOD wanted me to have this cookie. Who was I to say no??!

What to do, what to do… This was a crime of opportunity. I didn’t ask for the cookie – I didn’t WANT the cookie. I had plenty of food to eat, and a good reason to NOT eat the cookie. If I ate the cookie, it was Tommy Hilfiger and the tennis ball all over again. I was old enough to know better.

I ate it, of course.

It was lemon. Really, really tasty.

You can gird your loins for the challenges you know are ahead. You can make a plan and stick to it. You can be the most moral person in the world… and suddenly life will present you with irresistible temptation.

The only thing I can think is: you have to pick yourself up and keep going. Not only is tomorrah anuthah day, Scarlett – but TODAY is another day. Keep trying to be good. Keep trying to resist. Sometimes you return the tennis ball and sometimes you eat the cookie.

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Sorry I took your photo, Mr. Hilfiger. I don’t even know where it is anymore. And – quite horribly – I now realize that because I’m lifting this image without permission from Google Images, I’ve AGAIN taken your photo improperly. Sigh. I just can’t win with you, can I??!


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