For example, Jane is a high school English teacher married to an ocean engineer. Early in their relationship, Jane’s husband joked about how, compared to his technical education, liberal arts was an easy major.
“I found his attitude a bit annoying,” wrote Jane, of California, Md.
What her husband found annoying was how good Jane was at “Jeopardy,” which they would watch together after work.
“When I would answer a difficult question that stumped him and the contestants he would ask, ‘How do you know that?’ ” Jane wrote. “I would answer, ‘I’m a liberal-arts major.’ ”
What Jane’s husband didn’t learn until much later — when a friend of Jane spilled the beans at a party — was that “Jeopardy” aired earlier on Baltimore’s WMAR Channel 2 than it did in Washington. For years, Jane watched the earlier broadcast before her husband got home — and before they watched the same episode together.
Jane wrote: “It was fun while it lasted.”
Rose was only 20 years old when she got married in 1958. Her father had never owned a car, and Rose didn’t know how to drive, a skill she wanted to master.
“I was pregnant within a few months, so my new husband asked me to wait to learn to drive,” wrote Rose, of Baltimore.
After their daughter was born, Rose again started the “time to get my license” conversation with her spouse.
“The only problem was that baby Number Two was on his way,” she wrote. “I kept that news to myself until I had that driver’s license in my hand. Only then did I announce a new baby was coming.”
Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Douglas, of Hyattsville, was heavily into electronic music, devoting a good deal of his time — and money — to the latest electronic gizmos. In those days, Douglas was paid with a real, physical paycheck. Because his wife handled the family’s finances, he brought it home and handed it to her.
“We got paid twice a month, so each month I would bring home two paychecks,” Douglas wrote.
Then he switched jobs. Douglas’s new company paid him every two weeks.
“This meant that most of the time I would be bringing home two paychecks a month,” he wrote. “But twice a year, because of how the days fell, I would get paid three paychecks in a month.”
And that meant that twice a year, Douglas had a “secret” paycheck he could spend at Chuck Levin’s music store in Wheaton, Md.
“Of course, being raised right, my conscience got the better of me, and I confessed,” he wrote. “But for a while, boy did I have fun!”
When Gina’s son was little, he was very sensitive about everything, especially his clothes. His shirts had to be extra soft. He also complained that the seams running around the toes in his tube socks were irritating.
“I got so tired of his grousing that I used to buy big packs of plain white socks for girls, take them out of the package, and shove them into his sock drawer,” wrote Gina, of Silver Spring, Md. “He never noticed, and finally stopped complaining!”
Gina’s son is now 28 and living in Paris. “He doesn’t read The Post, so if you publish my secret, I think he will still be in the dark about those socks,” she wrote.
When Eva’s sister was in the fourth grade, she acquired a small green lizard known as an anole. In a family of six, Little Sister was thrilled to have a pet that belonged only to her.
“She had had it about two weeks when my mother, cleaning my sister’s room one day when she was at a friend’s house, decided it would be nice for the anole to get some sunshine,” wrote Eva, of Silver Spring. “So she put the anole in its cage outside on the porch. This being Tucson in June, the anole was a frizzled fritter when she came back out again about 20 minutes later.”
Mom sprang into action.
Eva wrote: “To this day, my sister still doesn’t know that her beloved pet died in a tragic heat accident and was replaced by an impostor bought hurriedly at the local pet shop before she came home from her play date. The false friend survived for its normal life span (a couple years), but the secret, probably the only one my family ever managed not to tell, has been kept more than 25 years.”
Tomorrow: More secrets and lies.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.