When I was in 2nd grade a fad swept through Alexander Hamilton Grade School in Commerce, Oklahoma. It was the Frito Bandito pencil topper/eraser. It came free in the bag if you bought a super big bag of Fritos corn chips. It looked like this:
I was one of the few kids in my class who didn’t have a Frito Bandito on top of my number 2 pencil. Karen Johnson (not her real name) teased me mercilessly by wearing her white go-go boots (which I also didn’t have) and making a big show out of using her Frito Bandito pencil topper to erase her math problems. I was so jealous I could chew nails and spit rust.
Then I had an idea.
Karen Johnson and her go-go boots ran outside for recess while I lagged behind. When the room was empty, I stole her Frito Bandito out of her desk. (I think Frito Bandito would approve. After all, he was a bandito.)
I kept him hidden in my pocket the rest of the day.
Karen cried when she couldn’t find him.
I ran all the way home with my prized possession. I bathed with Bandito. I ate with Bandito. I slept with Bandito. I had wonderful dreams about Bandito.
The next morning I suddenly realized I had a problem. I couldn’t take Bandito to school. I sat right next to Karen Johnson. She would notice if her Frito Bandito suddenly appeared on my pencil. What was I going to do?
I did the only thing I could do. During math, I turned in my seat and said quite loudly and dramatically, “What is that?”
I reached down under Karen’s desk and popped back up with Frito Bandito in my hand. I handed it over, glad to be rid of it. Karen squealed with joy and thanked me profusely for finding her pencil topper.
I learned a very important lesson that day: Never steal in your own neighborhood.
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