that confession is good for the soul.
further say that it doesn't
matter how long you wait to confess: you still earn valuable
*clean-slate points* for unburdening, however and whenever
you finally get around to it.
is the case -- and if there is, indeed, no statute of limitations on
confessing the sins of the past -- then my high school pal Doug M. must
have one of the healthiest souls on the planet right about now.
is something I've been holding back for 29 years, and I must tell you
now!" he wrote me via e-mail the other day. Doug is another
former high school classmate with whom I've reconnected recently,
thanks to the magic of Classmates.com and *FootNotes.*
back in 1972 when your house got lightly toilet papered?? It was me :-(
All I had was one roll left, and that pesky dog of yours kept yapping
so I couldn't do a very good job. Anyway I hope you didn't have to
clean it up, and now I must make amends ..."
Christ on a nine-roll pack of Charmin Plus w/Unscented Aloe.
"remember" that particular incident? I've never forgotten
it. My dad had twenty different kinds of fart attack when we woke up
the next morning and discovered the mess. (It may have only been "one
roll," but as far as Dad was concerned, it might as well have been a
truckload.) I spent most of my weekend perched at the top of a wobbly
ladder, peeling soggy toilet paper off the branches of a fir tree.
Doug's spontaneous (and adorably earnest) confession has started me
thinking. What prior transgressions have *I* neglected to confess? What
long-buried skeletons still hide in Little Secra's closet? What
wrongdoings still weigh on my conscience, waiting for absolution?
I fill up a Friday *FootNotes* entry and still have time left over to
play "Blaster Ball" this afternoon?)
a long eye backward across fortysomething years' worth of mistakes,
mischief and general karmic mayhem, I have managed to come up with the
following list of heretofore unconfessed -- and unrepented -- sins. In
the interest of making restitution, I unburden myself to you now.
you like it or not.
Eight-year-old Secra entertains her first impure thought.
she doesn't know she's entertaining an impure
thought: she thinks it's a "tummy ache." Object of her pigtailed lust:
Michael Nesmith. Her budding carnal impulses lead her to write the one
and only fan letter she's ever written to a pop music star. I
have never loved anyone the way I love you, she writes. You
are the best thing about The Monkees. Would you like to be penpals?
Michael Nesmith does not respond. Secra soon loses interest, and turns
her attentions to Jonathan Frid.
Eleven-year-old Secra blames
her little brother for breaking the garage window. Grandma
Grandpa never learn the truth: that it was Little Secra, hitting rotten
apples with a badminton racquet one day after school, who broke the
window. (AND the badminton racquet, although she threw away THAT little
bit of incriminating *evidence.*)
Twelve-year-old Secra shoplifts
a package of blue Maybelline eyeshadow from the grocery store.
She immediately feels too guilty (and too embarrassed: blue
eyeshadow??) to ever wear it.
Fifteen-year-old Secra hanges her Algebra grade from an "F" to a "B" on
her report card, then
forges her Dad's signature. It isn't the first time. It won't
Still-fifteen-year-old Secra entertains an impure thought.
Object of her
junior high school lust: Roddy McDowall. (Fifteen-year-old Secra
didn't know he was GAY, all right? Shut up.) Her throbbing carnal
impulses lead her to write the one and only fan letter she's ever
written to a movie star. I have never loved anyone the way I
love you, she writes. You were the best thing about
The Poseidon Adventure. Would you like to be penpals? Roddy
McDowall sends her an autographed postcard in response, which she keeps
in her underwear drawer, tucked beneath her day-of-the-week panties,
for the next six and a half years.
- 1974: Sixteen-year-old Secra cheats on her Man &
Mythology final. She does so by scribbling the
-- backwards -- on her Pee Chee the night before. (She figures if
mirror writing was good enough for Leonardo da Vinci ... it's good
enough for Young Secra.) She gets an A- on the test, bringing her GPA
a whopping 2.4.
1976: Eighteen-year-old Secra stands up nice guy Dan B. for
the bazillionth time.
When he comes to pick her up for their date, she hides in her bedroom
and has her dad inform Dan that she's "got the flu" again. Later that
she and her girlfriends go out and cruise the Renton Loop.
- 1977: Nineteen-year-old Secra entertains an
impure thought. Object of her
junior-college lust: Freddie Mercury. (Nineteen-year-old Secra didn't
know he was GAY, all right? Shut up.) Her pulsating carnal impulses
lead her to write the one and only fan letter she's ever written to a
rock star. I have never loved anyone the way I love you,
she writes. You are the best thing about Queen. Would you
like to be penpals? Freddie Mercury does not respond, but his
publicity department sends her a 5x7 glossy.
- 1978: Twenty-year-old Secra lies about her weight on her
Drivers License. She says "110." Actual
Twenty-something-year-old Secra uses her toddlers' Christmas money to buy a Don Henley album. (There
were only two Tots at the time, and they were both in diapers, forcryingoutloud. What the hell were they
going to do with twenty bucks?)
Twenty-nine year old Secra entertains an impure thought. Object of her
cranky postpartum lust: Don Johnson. Eventually her quivering sexual
impulses lead her to write the one and only fan letter she's ever
written to a TV star. I have never loved anyone the way I
love you, she writes. You are the best thing about
Miami Vice. Would you like to be penpals? Melanie Griffith
writes back and tells Secra to "fudk off."
Poisons her hapless family with a pan of lasagna swimming with more
eColi bacteria than a Jumbo Jack. What she doesn't tell them: she
accidentally left the ground beef sitting out on the kitchen counter
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video didn't just "disappear." OK?
It's probably still hidden upstairs in the attic, stashed behind the old garden hoses and the box of leftover Easter
baskets. She just couldn't take that stoopid THEME SONG anymore.
Lies about her weight on her Driver's License. (Says it's "150." Actual
E-mails a fuzzy .jpg of her thirteen-year-old daughter to 60 or 70 of her favorite online boyfriends,
claiming that it's a recent photo of herself.
Fired after two weeks from her job at Betty Barfy's real estate office
for accidentally having cyber sex on the office computer. (Although
Secra privately suspects the real reason she is
fired is because she refuses to give Betty a pedicure.)
Forty-one year old Secra entertains an impure thought. Object of her
middle-aged lust: The Today Show's Matt Lauer. Her twitching carnal
impulses lead her to write the one and only e-mail fan letter she's
ever sent to a network news personality. I have never loved
anyone the way I love you, she writes. You are the
best thing about The Today Show. Would you like to be penpals?
Katie Couric writes back and tells Secra to "fudk off."
Lies about her weight on her California State I.D. (Says it's "165."
Actual weight: 190.) The good news is that one year later, her I.D.
weight will finally be accurate for the first time ever.
- 2001.Walks to Sears on
her lunch hour -- for the third time this month --
and buys another sweater set. (Sag Harbor. Red. Two-piece. $19.99 on
the clearance rack.) Comes back to her office, rolls the sweater set
into a teeny-tiny ball, and stuffs it into the very bottom of her
purse, underneath her wallet and her makeup bag and her bottle of
so her husband won't see it when he comes to pick her up after work
that evening. (And since he never ever reads *FootNotes,* he'll
never ever know about it, WILL he?)
I can't tell
you how much better I feel. Unburdening myself this way has been so
incredibly freeing: it's better than a group hug, a
rousing chorus of "Kumbaya" and a lemon enema, rolled into one.
should try it.
before I sign off for the weekend, one last confession: I was thrilled
to pieces when my house got toilet-papered back in
1972. It was the one and only time anyone ever t.p.'d my house --
universally considered a badge of honor within our silly teenage
society -- and it made me feel incredibly groovy for about 48 hours.
great weekend, everybody!
p.s. thanks for all the info on digital cameras.
i'm reading and researching all of it ... and someday (when i can stop
myself from walking to SEARS and spending all my money on SWEATER SETS,
maybe) i plan to actually break down and buy one. then you'll be
looking at photos of me on my bicycle every damn day. (wearing a
SWEATER SET, probably.)
p.p.s. a special *howdy* to any other former
classmates who might be out there, secretly reading. go ahead and drop
me a line. i won't bite. (besides ... i'm still dying to know who egged
my dad's car on prom night.)