When I was about twelve, two of my cousins (sisters) came north for a couple of weeks to visit.
We’d only recently become close with these girls (long story!), so it was a treat for my sister and me.
We were like stair steps in age — but totally different in appearance.
As fair as my sis and I were (thanks to our blond-haired father), they were dark with attractive Italian coloring.
One day, we decided to go swimming. But back then, the pool required females to wear swim caps.
Horrid, rubbery things, often decorated with fake flowers and sporting a strap beneath the chin.
So your nasty hair wouldn’t soil the pool water, I guess.
(Say, how come guys didn’t have to wear them?!?)
Because our cousins didn’t have swim caps, Mom and Daddy drove us to a store and sent the four of us inside with money for the purchase.
We stood at the shelf for a long time, giggling at the styles. Finally, our older cousin decided on one, but noticed its box was marked a couple of dollars more than the rest of the caps on the shelf.
“Do you think they marked it wrong?” she asked.
Probably, we all agreed.
Then someone (I don’t remember who) had a brilliant idea.
“Let’s just take it out of this box and exchange it with one from a box marked less.”
Part of me wanted to argue the right-from-wrong aspect of that, but I held my tongue.
Even back then, I knew how important scoring a bargain was!
So we paid for the cap and returned to the car.
Once settled in the back seat, we couldn’t stop ourselves from bragging to Mom and Daddy about our deal.
They were horrified.
And drove right back to the store, shooed us inside, and demanded we admit to the sales clerk what we’d done.
And pay the difference.
If that wasn’t mortification enough, before we were permitted to go swimming, we had to go to Confession.
And tell the parish priest.
By the time the third one of us showed up behind the veil and started in on our story, he asked in exasperation, “Just how many more of you are out there?”
And that, my friends, is how my parents reinforced the “stealing is wrong” lesson!