My stomach hurts.
My stomach hurts, my palms are sweaty and I can’t sleep.
I’m as tweaked as a heroin addict, and every time my phone rings I jump, nervously checking caller ID before I dare pick up.
Years ago I decided to work on my ability to keep a secret. I hated being the girl who ruined everyone’s surprise party. I couldn’t see movies before anyone else without giving away the ending. I was a complete buzz kill at holidays, always blurting out what someone’s gift was while they were opening it.
So, I worked on it. Practiced biting my tongue. Perfected my poker face. And now I can honestly say that I am able to keep a secret.
But it’s killing me.
By the time you read this, Keren’s birthday will have come and gone.
Her husband’s lavish celebration plans will have been executed, and
good times will be had by all.
But as of this writing, there are four days left until the party, and
I’m about to collapse from the weight of all this privileged
I get all twitchy around Keren. When we hung out recently, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror: I looked downright green.
It’s so bad, that I can’t make eye contact with her. In fact, I can
barely make eye contact with anyone. I feel like a criminal. Like prey.
It’s as though I can sense that at any given moment Truth-Seeking
Ninjas are going to crash through my front windows and fight me until I
finally blurt out: “We’re going to have a spa day. Then dinner. Then
clubbing. There, I’ve told you, now please, spare my life!”
It takes most of my energy to rein in my natural
reporter-must-tell-the-world instincts. But the thing that eats at me
the most about keeping someone’s secret is the fear that I’ll let the
news slip accidentally. I already almost ruined the surprise once.
“Why would your husband be calling me?” I asked Keren on the phone, as
my call-waiting caller ID announced Mark on the other line.
Idiot! I realized as soon as I said it. Maybe because he’s trying to tell you something about the
“Hang on,” I said to her, as I moved my thumb over to the “Flash” button.
But then I panicked. What if she asks what Mark said? What’s my alibi?
With my thumb still poised over the button, I thought it over: I could tell her that Mark wanted Hubby’s cell number… but
then, why would he need that? Maybe I could tell her he called me
accidentally. That’s it! That’ll work!
By the time I came up with my genius plan, Mark’s call had been sent to
voicemail, Keren moved on to a new thought, and disaster was averted.
But I got off the phone completely wiped out.
I think Keren can sense my weakness because for the last few weeks, she
keeps bringing up her birthday to me – telling me what she’s like to
get for her birthday, asking if I know what Mark is doing for her
birthday. I’ve begun to suspect that she sadistically drops the word
“birthday” into a conversation, like it’s a bomb, just to watch the
veins pop out on my forehead.
“When is your birthday, again?” Boom! “Did Zev have fun at his birthday
party?” Bam! “Did you know that this year my birthday will be on
I think I need to take out temporary restraining orders on all my friends around their birthdays.
Either that, or get their significant others to stop including me in
their secrets. It’ll make surprise parties harder, sure. And it might
make for a few awkward conversations: I can’t believe
you’d sit here with your wife right in front of you and say you don’t
want to do anything for her birthday! Doesn’t it fall on a Saturday
this year? Hey, why are you shoving that sock in my mouth?!
Difficult, sure. But I have to do something: I shed years off my life
every time someone plans a soiree. Yes. Staying out of everyone else’s
plans is definitely the way to. I’m going to alert my friends – after
Keren’s birthday. Until then, I don’t have the energy to talk to anyone.
I’m going to lie down. My stomach hurts.