Dad didn't chew me out. "We all make mistakes, son," he said. "I
know what you were trying to do, but that's not the way to do it. Under the law,
you're still a child, but you're man-sized. Maybe you ought to try thinking like
I dropped my erstwhile chums, started going to school regularly again and got a part-time job as a shipping clerk in a Bronxville warehouse. Dad was pleased--so pleased he bought me an old Ford, which I proceeded to fix up into a real fox trap.
If I had to place any blame for my future nefarious actions, I'd put it on the Ford.
That Ford fractured every moral fiber in my body. It introduced me to girls, and I didn't come to my senses for six years. They were wonderful years.
There are undoubtedly other ages in a man's life when his reasoning power is eclipsed by his libido, but none presses on the prefrontal lobes like the post-puberty years when the thoughts are running and every luscious chick who passes increases the flow. At fifteen I knew about girls, of course. They were built differently than boys. But I didn't know why until I stopped at a red light one day, after renovating the Ford, and saw this girl looking at me and my car. When she saw she had my attention, she did something with her eyes, jiggled her front and twitched her behind, and suddenly I was drowning in my thoughts. She had ruptured the dam. I don't remember how she got into the car, or where we went after she got in, but I do remember she was all silk, softness, nuzzly, warm, sweet-smelling and absolutely delightful, and I knew I'd found a contact sport that I could really enjoy. She did things to me that would lure a hummingbird from a hibiscus and make a bulldog break his chain.
I am not impressed by today's tomes on women's rights in the bedroom. When Henry Ford invented the Model-T, women shed their bloomers and put sex on the road.
Women became my only vice. I reveled in them. I couldn't get enough of them. I woke up thinking of girls. I went to bed thinking of girls. All lovely, leggy, breathtaking, fantastic and enchanting. I went on girl scouting forays at sunrise. I went out at night and looked for them with a flashlight. Don Juan had only a mild case of the hots compared to me. I was obsessed with foxy women.
I was also a charming bloke after my first few close encounters of the best kind. Girls are not necessarily expensive, but even the most frolicsome Fräulein expects a hamburger and a Coke now and then, just for energy purposes. I simply wasn't making enough bread to pay for my cake. I needed a way to juggle my finances.
I sought out Dad, who was not totally unaware of my discovery of girls and their attendant joys. "Dad, it was really neat of you to give me a car, and I feel like a jerk asking for more, but I've got problems with that car," I pleaded. "I need a gas credit card. I only get paid once a month, and what with buying my school lunches, going to the games, dating and stuff, I don't have the dough to buy gas sometimes. I'll try and pay the bill myself, but I promise I won't abuse your generosity if you'll let me have a gas card."
I was as glib as an Irish horse trader at the time, and at the time I was sincere. Dad mulled the request for a few moments, then nodded. "All right, Frank, I trust you," he said, taking his Mobil card from his wallet. "You take this card and use it. I won't charge anything to Mobil from now on. It'll be your card, and within reason, it'll be your responsibility to pay this bill each month when it comes in. I won't worry about your taking advantage of me."
He should have. The arrangement worked fine the first month. The Mobil bill came in and I bought a money order for the amount and sent it to the oil firm. But the payment left me strapped and once again I found myself hampered in my constant quest for girls. I began to feel frustrated. After all, the pursuit of happiness was an inalienable American privilege, wasn't it? I felt I was being deprived of a constitutional right.
Excerpted from Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale, Jr. with Stan Redding Copyright© 2000 by Frank Abagnale, Jr. with Stan Redding. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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