When I was in college I had an affair...or..was sleeping with...or was involved in some not completely cute and wholesome way that I can't quite figure out how to define with one of my housemates. I mean, in my young and innocent mind there were massive elements of romance and deep dark secret unrequited feelings that were embarassingly not so secret and enough OTHER embarrassing things to fill the first chapter of a book entitled "I am confused in matters of love".
But that is another story, and for the purposes of this post I'll just divulge it was the first of many "romances" I would have in my life that didn't exactly follow the "boy meets girl, boy and girl date, boy and girl publicly decide to date, boy and girl THEN sleep together, everyone is happy for boy and girl and their relationship".
Even more to the point I'd say it was an almost run of the mill college story that involves two people in a dorm or co-op or housing facility that have some hormones and some level of feelings deciding to explore those feeling without actually "dating". One of those messy silly situations in which two people are not nearly mature enough to just sleep together and probably don't exactly want to do that anyway.
The interesting thing about this situation, and about many of these situations, was that by not declaring ourselves in any way, shape or form a couple, and by always denying our intention to keep doing it, we seemed to believe it was somehow some kind of secret. We seemed to imagine that though we had made out in public, probably been seen in and outside of each others room, talked to our closest closest friends about it (shhh!) and exchanged about a zillion barbs only sexually involved people would exchange on a public bbs forum, that we were doing something clandestine, private and unknown to the general public.
One day during this very dignified experiment a group of my friends, including this man, went to eat Chinese food. At the end of the meal, as is customary, I popped open and read my fortune cookie:
"You think it is a secret, but it never has been"
I could hardly contain my reaction. Especially when we all read our individual fortunes out loud and added the customary "in bed".
More to the point, the whole table, a good number of people at that, couldn't contain their laughter and knowing nods, as I read mine out loud.
And still I believed. Still I believed it was my little secret.
Until one guy, somehow miraculously outside the know, stated "I don't get it".
Which prompted one person to declare, finally, out loud, something I hadn't accepted everyone at the table so obviously knew: "X and X are seeing eachother".
You think it is a secret and it never has been.
I think of this, still, from time to time.
I thought of this the time I took my "best friend" on a trip with me to visit other friends and one of them asked what my boyfriend wanted to drink and said oh no he's not my boyfriend and he asked how he wasn't my boyfriend and I said well we aren't committed like that so they said even louder "what does your NON MONOGAMOUS BOYFRIEND want to drink.
I thought of this when my friend stopped dating suddenly and started never leaving the house and seemed to never use her own bed and showed up all the time with her married but divorcing roomate but was always just too tired to stay late at parties and too busy for any of our set ups, but almost died when someone unaware this was supposed to be a secret commented how great it was that they had found eachother.
I thought of it when we interviewed "sheila" for a job who was dressed as a woman and made a bunch of out of her way jokes to imply she has always always been a woman but had hands the size of magic johnson and then someone accidentally used a male pronoun.
I thought of it when I gained 20 lbs and was suddenly wearing everything loose so no one would notice and was stunned when a friend of (at a very reasonable time) guessed my pants size as my actual pants size.
And I think of it each and every time my friends tell me many things that are not 100% the truth or nothing but the truth but more fanciful semantic confections baked to distract themselves and everyone else from the details around the stark truth.
So often we engage in this weird little game where decline to publicly state a situation, or we call something a thing other than it is, or do something wholly inneffective to hide something that can not be hidden and imagine the whole world believes our little lie.
And what strikes me as so silly, so ridiculous about these farces, is how much easier it would all be if we let down the facade and faced the truth straight on.
How much easier it might be to prune a rose bush if we knew it wasn't actually a petunia patch.
Yes, we are trying out sleeping with each other because we like each other but for some reason ranging from his wife to possibly him being not that into me we wont date.
Yes, I am a flaming homosexual who collects hello kitty products and never ever "connected" with a girlfriend or a public boyfriend and calls you "honey" so come ON.
Yes, I am in love with my best friend and act like a couple with him and will change my entire life, plans and goals to be around him but am not sure where this is going or if it's even a good idea so don't call me his girlfriend.
Yes, I am in a multiple marriage and am seen with all my wives, constantly, but we'll just call them the babysitters.
Understand: I am not saying there isn't privacy and that privacy doesn't have it's value. And I am not saying there aren't some secrets most people never guess at.
I am just saying that those things you are unsure about and not so ready to say outloud are not necessarily invisible.
And the the many many things you can't quite declare and nobody probably really cares about anyway?
I am just saying.
...that you think it is a secret, but it never has been.