|Alex, our oldest, Jo Ann, and Warren, father and family protector|
I stumbled on an old book of Alex's the other day--The Usborne Spy's Guidebook. This little paperback provides illustrated instructions on stalking, tracking and shadowing, setting up drop spots, using and detecting disguises, scrambling and decoding messages. I'm particularly interested in the code ring, made of fuse wire (whatever that is) and four paper beads. The message you send, maybe with your arm nonchalantly draped over the back of a park bench so your contact can see it clearly as he or she approaches, depends on which bead is turned up and which finger you're wearing the ring on. The red bead up on your first finger, for example, might mean, "Danger! Don't make contact. Someone's watching!"
Alex at nine and ten used to carry a trench coat and fedora to school every morning in a brown paper bag, so he could wear them after school to traverse the block and a half home, darting from bush to bush. The coat, the only one his dad could find that would fit him, was a ladies' size four, which buttoned on the wrong side for him, a secret he never uncovered despite the excellent training provided by The Usborne Guide. He had more important business.
I'm thinking about secrets today because I wish I had a few. I recently went back to AA. I'd been out for four years following eleven years of sobriety, not drinking enough to damage my health, but noticing personality changes--more anger, some free-floating anxiety.
AA is all about honesty. Tell it, whatever it is, and it loses its power. But I feel a need for secrecy-- secret knowledge, secret friends, secret missions, code rings. My kids are grown up, and I'm still young enough that Advil takes care of my aches and pains. If not now, when? I want to hide treasures in tree hollows, like Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, and watch while children carry them away. Are secrets just for children?