For a year or two back in the day, I kept a journal of musings and life lessons (life lessons from a 12 year old, snerk) that I carried at all times and updated anytime something especially deep dawned on me. I called it Life’s Breadbox after the first entry, where I discovered via a simple overstuffed breadbox the dangers of being a clingy friend and wearing out one’s welcome (while it’s a realization that I have tried to keep in mind throughout my adult life, it’s always been rather difficult to put into practice – I’m the worst kind of snuggle-bandit to this day).
Anyway, there was this kid I knew growing up. Awkwardly, he was my uncle thanks to a late in life marriage between his mom and my grandpa (and this story isn’t going where you might think most “so this weird distant relative and I” stories go), but he wasn’t much older than me and I only saw him around the holidays. Like I said, I carried that Breadbox journal everywhere, regardless of the occasion, and wrote in it if I was feeling uncomfortable or skittish, which I’ll admit was pretty much all the time…also regardless of the occasion. It was Thanksgiving and we were all gathered at my grandfather’s house to celebrate like adults – since that held little appeal for me, I spent a great deal of time with my nose in my journal, stowing it anytime someone leaned over to ask what I was up to.
Thanks to this secretive behavior, my sort-of-uncle started trying to poach the journal after a few hours. Before I snatched it back from him the first time, he managed to get a page or so into it, barely past the intro. Naturally, my nostril-flaring indignation did nothing to appease his curiosity, so he stole it again later. This time I got so angry that I almost swung at him, but as I still sometimes do, realized a moment before the wind up that it was probably a bad idea and opted to simply cry big, frustrated, angry tears instead. This led him to believe, as he said later, that there had to be something really good (and by good, he meant humiliating) disclosed somewhere in the book, and I very shortly afterward found him flipping through the pages again.
I couldn’t even speak as I grabbed at it for the last time – I wouldn’t let it out of my sight for the rest of the day, but meanwhile fumed and fell into sporadic fits of embarrassment and self-loathing as I played over in my head what he might have uncovered in the pages.
Fortunately, I’ve since learned two lessons: first, the importance of a well-timed troll (if only I could have set “Never Gonna Give You Up” to play if the book was opened by someone I didn’t want reading it…) and second, I’ve realized how the denial of a simple impulse like curiosity can get you rather more attention than you’d ever want. Here’s what could have happened:
Uncle: “Whatcha got there?”
Me: “A book on life’s lessons which, I, a bookworm 12 year old, find very enlightening indeed…Yes. Quite.”
Uncle: “You’re annoying and I want turkey.”
Me: “Yes. Quite.”
And then he would have left to get his turkey and that would have been that. But unfortunately for me, I was guarding it like it held the codes to the pillow fort, the map to the treehouse, and the names and addresses of every crush I’d ever had, so of course my sort-of-uncle thought it was bound to be much more interesting than it was.
Make something interesting or sinister into something boring and people will shrug and walk away (*coughcough*politics*cough*). Make someone feel like something is happening that they can’t be part of, and they’ll do anything they can to get in on it. Hopefully that same tactic works as people read my stories, and indeed…as you read this blog post.