“To this day, I have never told him that framing that small 8-by-4½ -inch painting cost at least 10 times the amount of the painting,” wrote Leigh, of Reston. “He reads your column as well, so now the secret is out!”
Jay, of Lusby, Md., calls himself a struggling amateur guitarist with more money than talent. During his previous marriage, his travels took him to a guitar shop where he got a sweet deal on a brand new American Fender Stratocaster.
“Fearing my wife’s reaction, I thought about hiding this guitar, then felt guilty,” Jay wrote. Hiding the guitar, Jay decided, would be dishonest.
Instead, he decided to put the Strat with all the other musical equipment, front and center in their basement. For six months, Jay’s wife walked regularly past the new guitar and never said anything.
“One day she asked me, ‘Is that a new guitar?’ ” Jay wrote. “I was able to truthfully say, ‘No, I have had that one for a while.’ ”
When Karen’s husband started losing his hair, he began washing it with fancy, expensive shampoos. “He knew the shampoos probably wouldn’t help, but he tried them anyway,” wrote Karen, of Bethesda. “When one of the shampoo bottles was almost empty, I filled it with liquid Prell, a lookalike but not a high-end shampoo. Weeks later, I finally told him what I had done.”
(Karen said her husband got his revenge. It involved a shaving cream-filled cannoli.)
Milt, of Arlington, did not mean to run the lawn mower over the clematis his wife had just planted. In a panic, he went to the nearest nursery and bought a replacement.
Milt did not know that there are two types of clematis. One is a climber, with nice big flowers. The other type stays low to the ground and puts out, in Milt’s words, “small, smelly white flowers.”
That was the kind Milt bought and hurriedly planted before his wife returned home.
Later in the season, the clematis began to grow. When Milt’s wife saw the underwhelming flowers, she was livid, ready to march back to the nursery and complain.
Wrote Milt: “Knowing I was in hotter water than usual, and not wanting to compound the dickens I would eventually receive, I confessed.”
Mary, of Odenton, says she doesn’t lie — ever.
“If I’m asked a question, I will tell the truth,” she wrote. “Sometimes I am just not asked the correct question.”
Her deep dark secret? Mary grew up the youngest girl in a family with seven children. “When I was 15 or 16 years old, I had trouble sleeping because a tree limb kept hitting the window beside my bed,” she wrote. “It was so annoying that I decided that the limb had to go.”
Rather than ask her father or one of her brothers for help, she decided to cut it off herself, retrieving her dad’s brand-new limb cutter from his workshop. The branch was thick, requiring a lot of pressure on the tool, so much force that Mary bent the handles.
“I returned the cutter to the workshop and didn’t say a word,” she wrote.
A month or two later, her father went to use the cutter and saw that the handles were bent. At dinner that night, he asked Mary’s oldest brother if he had broken the tree trimmer. No, her brother responded.
“He then asked all of my other brothers if they had broken it, and they all said no,” Mary wrote. “I fully expected Dad to ask me if I had done it. He didn’t. Instead, Dad said that he knew that one of them was lying because it had to be a boy who broke it, since none of the girls had the arm strength to bend the handles. All of the boys were grounded.”
Thirty-five years later, Mary confessed to her father. He laughed.
Wrote Mary: “My brothers still don’t know that they got grounded for something that I did. It’s been 47 years, and I still have no plans to tell them, although I think they would laugh about it, too.”
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.