Ask a Famous Man is a column transcribed by Emma Smith-Stevens, a conduit for the unerring wisdom of famous men—those inhabiting this earth as well as the hereafter. She is also a fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Subtropics, Conjunctions, Wigleaf, and elsewhere.
Dear Famous Man,
My sister steals from me (clothes) and my parents do nothing about it. How do I get her to stop? She is 9 and I am 16???
—Angry in Anaheim, CA
✪ ✪ ✪
We are a rock band filled with men who are not afraid to admit that we know well what it means to carefully curate a wardrobe. We understand dragging a hairbrush over your head once, then again, and again, until your curly blond hair has been transformed into a ghostly poof. We wear custom-tailored suits—all of us coordinated, obviously, but not too matchy. BUT STOP. Let’s think about what really matters.
Close your eyes. Envision your closet. Only for a moment then the closet’s gone. All your jeans pass before your eyes—a curiosity. Dust in the wind. All they are is dust in the wind.
We understand conflict! In the ‘80s a few of us became born again Christians, and this was strongly reflected in our lyrics for the next three albums. Think about that: the next three albums. We’ve lost band members and gained new ones and things have been dicey. Yet in 2006 we toured after a long hiatus and now—like arthritic, lumbering, sunglasses-in-the-day-wearing time capsules—we have been unearthed, experiencing a relative surge in popularity despite the odds. So the tension between you and your little sister is something we totally get. Same old song as ours, just a drop of water in an endless sea.
But the thing is, all we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see. You could try stealing your clothes back, but you’d be hanging onto something that is irrelevant—to you, to me, to the whole band. You could buy more clothes, but most likely your sister would just steal them again. And of course, you could tell your parents, but then you’d be a snitch. One solution that comes to mind is, don’t hang on—like in a cosmic sense. Heck, she’s 9 years old! She doesn’t know better! Plus, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, and possibly pleather. It slips away. And all your cute dresses and designer jeans won’t another minute buy.
Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind.
On the other hand, California law states that the type and value of property stolen will typically determine whether minor (misdemeanor) or major (felony) charges are brought. Even in cases of petty theft, there can be major penalties with applicable recidivist or repeat offender laws—and your sister is most certainly a repeat offender. This is an issue of moral turpitude. Should you choose this option—and now that we really think about it, we would strongly advise that you do—the maximum penalty for your sister is a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in county jail.
If you would like guidance from a famous man regarding a personal or professional dilemma, please send your inquiry to emmasmithstevens (at) gmail (dot) com.