“Kleptomania is defined by a number of features including a consistent tendency to steal items not needed for personal use or monetary value. The objects are stolen despite that they are typically of little value to the individual, who could have afforded to pay for them and often gives them away or discards them.” ~Psychology Today Magazine 

I steal pens. This reality has been weighing heavily on my purse for so long now that I fear my shoulder may be paying penance for the sins of the fingers. How did this penchant progress? There is always a first time, and mine started with a single pen. It was an honest mistake. I used a pen to sign in for an appointment with my doctor, and somehow I found it in my purse at the end of the day. I was like a drug addict on my first high, immediately thinking about where the next pen would come from. 

With three offspring, there is always another appointment, and another pen. If a doctor doesn’t have pens, I find one who does. I have priorities. My booty to date includes pens from the practices of: eye doctors, dentists, orthodontists, podiatrists, phlebotomist, dermatologists, radiologists, hair salons, pens pillaged during several college visits, and so on. In fact, my daughter will attend a school in the fall whose pen had a built in stylus—the best pen purloined to date. I’m hoping to obtain another at some point in the next four years. 

“Another aspect of kleptomania involves experiencing tension before the theft and feelings of pleasure, gratification or relief when committing the theft. The stealing is not done to express anger or vengeance, or in response to a delusion or hallucination, and is not attributed to conduct disorder, a manic episode or antisocial personality disorder.” ~Psychology Today Magazine

Being summer, my offspring and I have been scrambling to complete all annual appointments before the commencement of school in the fall. This week alone we have five appointments scheduled. My most successful peculation was of four pens in a single office visit: sign in- score 1, fill out medical history forms- score 2, pay co-pay with a credit card and sign the receipt—score 3, finally, document the next scheduled appointment in my notebook— score 4.  More common is the acquisition of a single pen per appointment, but it is important to have goals. This plague has produced layer upon layer of pens in my purse.

I justify this petty theft in two ways. They owe me. Medical and dental co-pays ranging from $20.-$40. per visit, college application fees, and time lost from work, all lend to my lust to lift.
I also tell myself that the victims who provide my plunder, are benefiting from my habit by virtue of free distribution of said pens. In a perfect world, I take a pen, and I pass it on to a random person in need. In turn, after reading the advertising on the pen, they pass the pen on to another. 

“Occasionally the individual may hoard the stolen objects or surreptitiously return them. Although someone with this disorder will generally avoid stealing when immediate arrest is probable (such as in full view of a police officer), they usually do not plan the thefts or fully take into account the chances of apprehension. The stealing is done without collaboration with others.” ~Psychology Today Magazine

This is where my illness differs from textbook kleptomania. My theft is premeditated, and I have engaged my children in diversionary tactics.

Last night, I dreamt that a stranger asked me if I had a pen to lend them. I considered the 352 pens in my purse, then saw a glimpse into a future in which this pathetic pen-less soul held my favorite fleeced fountain in his greasy unwashed hands, in his fetid mouth, in his hairy ears, his cavernous nose. If I fork over a pen, I will have to insist he keeps it, but instead, I hear myself say: “No, I don’t have one.” I don’t want to ever be in a world where I am without a pen.


July 5. 2016, One Word Daily Prompt: Layers~ <a href=””>Layers</a&gt;

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