I was thinking of my niece and the massive secrets adults in her life coerced her into keeping. Like her Mom's secret marriage. The S_______'s assume the proposition that all knowledge is secret. Any information passed from one S_______ to another ends with "of course, don't tell [enter name of male member of the family] - it will just upset him." I'm amazed they don't have all conversations in Pig Latin. (And for those of you who don't know Pig Latin, here is the Pig Latin Rosetta Stone: "Egnant-pray? Aunt Ethel is egnant-pray? How many months?")
So I was thinking back to adolescent secrets and I couldn't remember many, but those I remember never involved coercion. I had no reason to keep these secrets, but still I developed Secrets That Must Be Kept at all costs.
My earliest secret was of course, playing doctor. I was 11. Typical. Of course, while others get the fun of playing doctor with a boy, I played doctor with a girl. And it was more along the lines of "Let's Dress Up in your Mom's Negligees and I'll Tie You to The Bed and Touch Your Various Body parts and Diagnose Their Purposes." Yes. Don't ask me what this girl's family was doing to her in their spare time. I know I'm probably supposed to have been traumatized by this, but I can only laugh now at the perplexed expression that must have been on my face. Oh, and the panic when Mom stood outside my door, knocked, and asked if my little friend and I wanted a soda. When Mom knocked I panicked only because I was dressing up in Mom's clothes without permission. I still think that it was all perfectly innocent. (No such innocence for this girl's family member that must have been showing her porn through her young life.) At the time I just figured this was a game with which I was unfamiliar. She was my Lesbian Bondage friend. Oh, and my partner in Barbie Molestation. (Don't deny it, I just heard on NPR 30% of girls do this.) But no one ever said "Don't tell."
Then the next Big Secret was the Great Underground Eyebrow Waxing. I got it into my head I wanted to wax my eyebrows, and I also got it into my head that if my parents found out I was doing this they would kill me. I was 13. I surreptitiously appropriated some of the family cookware (which was promptly missed; secrets beget lies). Then I had to get my hands on big green blocks of eye wax. Then when no one was home I had to heat the wax and apply hot wax to my eyebrows and rip it off. And of COURSE I'm sure my reddened denuded brows were obvious, but no one mentioned it. And it's not like I was Amish. Why I had to secretly wax I have no idea. "Shhhhh. The first rule of Waxing is: don't talk about Waxing."
The last secret I kept until I was 40. When I was 15, a boy from church named Rick liked me and wanted us to be each others first kiss. I was not so keen on Rick. Especially after Rick (16) stopped the car in the course of driving me home and parked it. He then proceeded to inform me that he and God had a deal in which if he could kiss me, he (Rick) would no longer indulge in (and I quote) "a secret daily sin" he had in the past enjoyed. The way I saw it, I had these options:
- Die right there
- Kiss Rick
- Laugh at Rick and then spill his secret Closet Masturbation Habit to the entire church
- Look out the car window and ignore everything
I don't know why, but making my own deal with God didn't occur to me. I could have said "Hey God, I'll double Rick's offer!" but I did not. Anyway, after a few minutes of silence Rick gave up, drove me home, and spread the story at church that I burst into tears when he suggested smoothly that we kiss. And I was teased and STILL I kept his secret! Something brought that back to me at 40 and I immediately called my remaining church friend, Carol, and set her straight on the whole event. Then I told all my work friends. Then I told my Mom, who was quite the campaigner for Rick at the time.
And now I've told all of you. Hahahahahahaha! Sexually blackmail me and I'll get you 28 years later.