The Devil Made Me Do It

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While working for the Liquor Buyer-Merchandiser at Arden-Mayfair, we cultivated a very close working relationship. His wife and I talked often on the phone, and we always made sure we were seated at the same table at the company functions.

When they were moving from their lovely home in Arcadia to an even lovelier home in Newport Beach, they asked if I could use the bar stools they had as they were planning to buy all new furniture for their new home.

We had just finished the bar in the den of our home and did not have any bar stools as yet. Of course, I was pleased they asked and was most eager to accept them. So, they had the bar stools delivered to our home; they were in excellent condition. They were put in the garage for safekeeping until the weekend when I could give them the needed attention which was very minor dusting and surface wiping.

When the weekend rolled around and it was time to clean the bar stools, I was in a state of shock to see that the seats of the stools had been slashed and the filler was exposed. I was shocked even further to learn that my middle child, Mark, and his friend, our next door neighbor, were the culprits.

I just could not believe it! I nearly refused to believe it! Mark was my “little mechanic”; he was very quiet and reserved, causing very few problems.

When questioning him about the incident, he said, “The devil made me do it.” Well, I’m just as certain that it was the devil who made me paddle his behind. It’s cute and funny now in retrospect, but it was far from funny back then.

It turns out that the catchphrase is attributed to Flip Wilson and his “Geraldine” days. We watched that show faithfully because he was just so cute and so darned funny. He had us bursting at the seams with laughter.

This middle child graduated from high school, enrolled in junior college, and received his AA degree. He then enrolled in university in 1983, majoring in engineering. Midway through college he took time off to join the California Army National Guard to supplement his income with the Montgomery G.I. Bill. He graduated from Fort Sam Houston and was second in his class of 104 students and scored 978.3 course points out of a possible 1,000 as a 92B, Medical Lab Specialist.

He returned to university after basic training and advanced individual training to continue his college education. Later, while in the National Guard, he attended OCS, graduated, and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

He became interested in Biological Sciences and his major changed to Microbiology with a Medical Technology minor, and he earned his B.S. Degree in 1989 and a letter from California State University, Office of the Chancellor, addressed to: CSU Honor Student.

He was offered multiple jobs and accepted a position for a large brewing company in Southern California. He worked as an individual contributor, supervisor, and manager for eighteen years before moving on to two large wine/spirit companies and eventually back into the beer business with a top ten craft brewer in California.

He has been married for twenty-four years to the sweetheart he met in the California Army National Guard, and he is in good health. They have a son who graduated from a top technical school and is a BMW auto technician. Their daughter moved to Eugene, Oregon to experience life and venture out on her own, and works for one of the largest and most successful companies in the world today.

And now, over the many years since the bar stool incident, this middle child and I have teased back and forth about this catchphrase. Each time we commit a blooper or a “no-no,” our excuse is always, “The devil made me do it.”

Sharon Benson Smith is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.