Sunday, August 11, 2013


When our boys were young they went through a short phase of being into a Nickelodeon animated show called CatDog. In case you didn't share that experience, the show featured a cat conjoined with a dog. Two heads, no tails. (Don't get into the physiological impossibility of it. It'll get you nowhere. Simply give into the utter ridiculousness of it.)

During that time, our younger son was excited beyond belief to be giving his brother a CatDog "doll" for his birthday. It was large, with a plastic middle that could accordion in and out enabling the heads to talk to (and meow and growl at) each other.

Now, this is actually not a post about CatDog.

It's a post about keeping secrets.

About how hard it can be.

"Do you want to know what I got you for your birthday?" young son asked his brother who was in the upper bunk.

"No!" cried the birthday boy. "Don't tell me!"

What followed was an exchange of pleas and commands, followed by an (eavesdropping) parent intervention. "Don't tell him," we finally ordered young son. "Now go to sleep!"

After we left, there was a short stretch of silence and then our older son cried, "CATDOG? You got me CATDOG?"

We barged back in and scolded the gift-giver who said, "I didn't tell him! I promise! I just whispered it into my pillow!" He gave us an incredulous look. "And I was so quiet!"

Quiet or not, the secret wanted out. It wanted out very badly. And even though the intention was to only tell the pillow--to bury the secret deep inside the pillow--the secret didn't want to stay inside the pillow. It wanted to escape the fibers and genie up through the air and into the ears above.

It wanted to infect someone else.

Yes, infect. This week I've decided that a secret is like a virus. It's easy to spread accidentally, hard to contain even consciously, and it gives you a fever.

A fever that seems only to break when you tell somebody else.

I consider myself to be a very good secret-keeper. I like being trustworthy and dependable. I know how to keep my mouth shut. As Sammy would say, "It's in the vault."

But the past few months I've had a little insight into why people don't get away with murder. Or heists. Or even lesser crimes.

They give themselves away.

The fever hits, out it slips, and all it takes is infecting one other person for it to become airborne.

Just one.

Even if that person promises they can keep a secret.

So with that very basic (yet significant) thought, I will sign off for the week wishing you good secrets, well-kept.


Gabrielle said...

I used to watch that show! And I think I'm pretty good at keeping secrets. That's why I don't tell secrets and keep my mouth shut in school. I mean I don't want people I don't know to know my secrets! Middle School kids don't know how to keep there mouth's shut. ( As Sammy would know.) I hope everyone has a awesome week!! :)


Jessica said...

So what secret are you keeping, and how long until it spreads? Come on, tell us! You know you want to...

I'm good at keeping big secrets (where someone might get hurt if you told), but when the last Harry Potter book came out, my sister (who'd only read the first 3.5 at that point) kept asking me questions ("does so-and-so die?" etc.), and she could tell the answer from the look on my face, even though I didn't say anything. It was her own fault; she knows I have no poker face...

Unknown said...

Jessica I love how the FIRST thing you said was; "So what secret are you keeping!..." ;)
Gabrielle, you are right middle school kids can't keep there mouths shut that is so true!
I think I'm with Jessica, I can keep big secrets like that.
I have a friend who I am forcing to read SK, only it's not so much forcing anymore cause she enjoys them, and she wants to finish all the books BEFORE reading Sin City and NOTHING in my face gave THAT speacial part away even though she was like, aww come on who is it?! Cause I was all perky and very hyper that day or so they told me..!!=)

Unknown said...

I swear, I just whispered...

Kylie said...

I read this last night, but I was so tired because I just spent the last five days at my county fair working. But now I am wake enough to comment.

I am a very good secret keeper. I think I am so good at secret keeping because I know that if someone knew one of my secrets I would not want sharing.

My mom is terrible at keeping secrets. If she gets us something for our birthday a few months early she will end up giving it to us the next week. We try to hold her off for as long as we can, but it doesn't work well. Or if we are going on a surprise trip she has to tell one of us what we are doing. And usually she tells me because she knows that I will keep the secret, but I would rather she left it as a surprise.

I find it kind of interesting to be in a family where one of us can keep secrets really well and one of us can't. It causes some interesting moments.

From what I understand you are keeping a secret. And not a little secret. And I admire you keeping this secret. While I am excited that this secret has to do with the books, I am glad that you are keeping it a secret until the time is right.

Hope everyone has a great week! And I hope everyone that is starting school this week has a great first day!


Optimistic4ever said...

My sister cannot keep a secret, and she really loves surprising me, a combination that's great on my birthday :)

So first she got me 2 books, but she let the secret slip, and then she got me a doughnut maker and gave that away too.... the story continues. This year I got 6 pretty big presents just because she can't keep a secret, and gets upset if she can't surprise me!

Oh and I remember that CatDog show... good times.

Jessica said...

Completely unrelated to secrets, I hosted my first creative writing group at my local library. Only three of us showed up, but as long as it's not just me, I consider it a success. All 3 attendees are serious about writing, so I'm hopeful we can start helping one another. And we'll be meeting monthly, which will encourage me to find even more time to write.

Unknown said...

Bleh. 7th grade.
Jessica that's great! I hope your group goes well!=)
Oh and if Wendelin's secret is related to a certain topic, I think I might have a small idea of what it is..

Mark said...

Jessica - Good on you, for instigating the creative writing group. And no worries - the best writing group are small. (I belong to one with a constituency of two, and I find it just about perfect...)

I'm sure you'll be good for each other. Keep writing!

Karen said...

A few months ago ... mid-Kiss Goodbye ... the Nightie ’Napper? (Maybe I’m reading too much into this.)

Bella, you tease! :-) Jessica, I’m so glad your writing group went well.

I haven’t commented the past few weeks because I’ve been busy with a family reunion and two-week performing arts festival, but I’ve been enjoying the posts and comments (and #research and #TweetLikeSammy and reckless riding and author-napping tweets)!

Hudson is one of my favorite people and a personal “how to live well” example, so I’m glad you had a real-life Hudson. My heart goes out to you and everyone who knew Ed. Thank you so much for sharing him with us.

THAT ROAD TRIP SOUNDS AWESOME. And I love all the ideas for maps on the side of the motor home and mock-umentary clips and little mysteries (although if you have to have a Twitter account to reply I guess I’m out of luck. Oh well :-) ). I have a couple of ideas for road trip bookstores, but I want to do a little more research and logistical thinking so I can send you the best possibilities.

Did someone mention the Book of Billy Pratt? (It was almost mentioned in the Newsy Sammy Bits post? Is there hope for more Sammy-world books?) (Billy Pratt definitely needs a book. Well, another book, since Wedding Crasher was a Billy book.)

And I have pre-ordered my copy of Killer Cruise and put in a suggested-purchase form at the library. Here we go, home stretch!