Sticky Fingered Youth

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for this blog.

The end of MJ’s naps hurt my ability to write. Spring break made everything worse. But the near-fatal blow came today. In the form of a pre-schooler. With a weakness for SLRs.

This morning, at one of L.A.’s most innocent, life-affirming, and wholesome events–the Easter egg hunt put on by Mt. Washington’s Self Realization Fellowship–my camera disappeared out of my bag. Stolen.

By a four-year-old boy.

Or so says my daughter, who apparently witnessed said event, although she failed to mention it until later, when I was frantically turning my diaper bag upside down searching for the missing object.

“I saw a little boy walk away with a silver camera. From your chair. Was that the one?” she asked, all blue eyes and insouciance.

“Uh, yes.” I worked hard to keep the exasperation out of my voice. “That would have been the one.”

She nodded gravely. “I saw it. He took it away.”

Shit. Really? And now what was I to do? There were approximately 200 possible “suspects” at said event. As I gazed around at them each one transformed, in my mind, from the innocent young lad they first seemed to be, to the sinister, Dickensian pickpocket they apparently were.

“I’m sure it was an accident,” said Mike. “It’ll show up.”

But it didn’t. Not after I re-scoured the area where we’d been sitting. Not after I asked the helpful woman in the yellow sari at the lost-and-found table if anyone had turned it in. Not at the face painting table, the temporary tattoo station, or the beading area. No camera. No apologetic parents with red faces. Nothing but a lot of sugared-up kids. And their parents taking pictures of them with their very unstolen cameras. Grrr.

There was a moment of hope. We were standing in a field covered with discarded plastic eggs. The age 3-5 hunt had just taken place. I had, momentarily, forgotten about my loss. I’d been lost, instead, in the enjoyment (and mild amazement) of watching scores of adorable kids descend on a field like locusts in sunhats.

Anyway, there we were, standing around, watching our kids rip open packages of sour-patch kids with their teeth, talking about how fetching it all was, when suddenly Myra-Jean lifted her arm, pointed her finger at a young lad nearby and said “That’s him!”

“Who?” I asked, crouching down to her level.

“The boy! The one who took your camera!”

I looked at the “perp” she had fingered. A tow-headed young man, probably four. He was running in and out of the lavender bushes, batting at foliage and ducking his head to look for unclaimed eggs. He appeared innocent enough. Kind of. But actually, there was something suspicious. A meanness around the lips. An entitlement. And his pocket. Was it bulging? Hard to tell.

Dubiously, I looked at Mike and the couple we’d been talking to. “What do I do?”

They laughed and shook their heads. There were several jokes. The phrase “J’accuse!” Nothing useful.

Sighing, I turned back to Myra-Jean. “Sweetie, I need to be certain. Are you sure?”

“Yes. I saw him take it.”

In the end I did nothing. Or almost nothing. I did walk up to a few groups of parents, the tow-head’s included, just to see if possibly any of them had spotted a stray Powershot. They hadn’t, of course. As for my imagined Willy Sutton, he was too busy hoarding eggs to worry about what anyone else was doing. Which made him even more of a criminal in my book. Each child was supposed to get only seven, for Pete’s sake. Where were the authorities?

Anyway. Without the camera it’s gonna be tough. Oh, I’ll buy another one, eventually. Used, on ebay. If you get an older model they can be quite cheap. But first I’ll wait a few days to see if I hear back from the sari lady. She did, after all, take my number. She seemed quite confident that someone could turn it in.

The Easter Bunny could also be real.

If he is, I hope he skimps heavily on a certain kid’s basket. Just kidding. Mostly.

7 thoughts on “Sticky Fingered Youth

  1. Pingback: Map of the (Water) World | thumbstumbler

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