You know why. Did you dig it out of a drawer? Find it behind a dumpster? Crack a password to get it on your screen? If so, it’s not for you–don’t read it.  Simple, sure, but read on. Here, I mean, not the diary.

Recently, when I found out someone had read some of my old diaries I wasn’t worried, but I am weird that way. I never write anything that I wouldn’t see published somewhere, I’m pretty sure. There may have been gossip, but it would likely have been gossip about gay pet chickens, not terribly rewarding to a snooper bent on secrets. The chickens were entirely open about their proclivities.

For a couple of reasons, I’m particular about such written words. For one thing, I have had the exquisite pain of reading a message from a friend at work when it had been inadvertently replied to the entire company: “Linda needs a better drug dealer.” Linda was livid. A public apology was required. Feelings were flung about that could not be contained in an over-sized prescription bottle. That Linda did need better drugs wasn’t even in dispute, the problem was the exposed snark.

Another reason I’m careful is that I have written a lot of material to and about you, my children. It’s not fair to kids to put their potty training problems online. That shit needs to stay anonymous. I have cringed through several such stories during events like Bring Your New Squeeze To Our Barbecue It Will Be Fine I Promise. The palpable embarrassment never drives off the new sweetheart and hence is a rite of passage that nobody needs.

Writing about other people has to be entertaining and with their permission if you use their names. I’m no journalist. There’s no oath or integrity behind the workings of this blog, just good intentions and occasionally a bad attitude.

That’s why I always used nicknames and have decided to go even further with the redacting of your childhoods. From now on I will not only use nicknames, but they will be randomly selected and randomly gendered as my whim blows. So the next time you see a story about your sister, Loaf, and that time she peed out the window, you will have to wonder if it was you. It might be, you know.

Your brother, Floop, used to construct diaries that were nothing but page after page of little kid warnings. “Danger! This book is private! My secrets are here! Go no further, peasant! This is serious! I mean you! Don’t do it! You shall not pass!” I loved that there was absolutely no pay off; the diary did not explode in any way at all.

Be all that it as it may be right there, having been the snooper on a few memorable occasions, I advise again: don’t do it. You won’t learn anything you need to learn that way. If you earnestly suspect your roommate has done a murder, don’t sneak onto their laptop–MOVE first. If you are 99% convinced your paramour is playing doctor with your doctor friend, reading about it isn’t going to change anything that needs changing. Maybe just get a new doctor and figure out the rest on your own terms.

Psychology Today has another excellent point: you are depriving the diarist of the opportunity to trust you with the information. The fact that you disrespected their boundaries is not going to be good for the relationship.

Besides, nobody cares what you ate for brunch, Pronk.


p.s. Share your snooping stories below in the section marked WADDAYA THINK?

psst. I wrote a book!! It doesn’t embarrass any live children, I’m sure!!

Undertakers, Harlots and Other Odd Bodies is out now. A free preview is available and all electronic formats are priced at a very reasonable US$5.99 Currently $3.99!!

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5 Replies to “Why Shouldn’t I Read A Diary?”

  1. In college, I fell in love with one of my English professors, mainly because he was crazy the same way I was — only better at it. (More experience.) Anyway… English major falling for professor is proof that I have no imagination whatsoever. This brand of folly is such a cliche that I’m surprised it hasn’t been turned into a ringtone or a wallpaper pattern. What makes this story perhaps a little unusual is that somehow through a curious sequence of events (which included my pouring a cup of hot coffee down someone else’s back) — I got him. Sort of. His marriage died and I made it clear, in my clumsy fashion, that I’d be happy to comfort him. I did — or tried to, for the next fifteen years.

    He was, however, a semi-professional enigma. If I asked him a question that he deemed too personal (and most of them were) he would say “I don’t answer questions.”

    So, when I realized he was keeping a diary, I eventually figured out where it was. Then, during that ten minute window of time when he left the apartment to get the New York Sunday Times, I would speed read it at random.

    All I can say is that I don’t recommend doing this. A diary entry, like a photograph, is the brief biography or portrait of an even briefer piece of time or a petty thought… but the fact that it’s written down or enshrined on a piece of film gives it an exaggerated importance.

    In short, I learned nothing good. And yet, when he went to the hospital for the next to last time, and I was trusted with his key, the first thing I did was go to the desk drawer and finally read the whole thing, start to finish. And still… learned nothing good.

    All I wanted to know was what did he think of me, how did he feel about me.

    I didn’t find anything that I might have wanted to read.

    I no longer want to know what people think of me. I don’t care to know what I did wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was beautiful Marjorie. Thank you!! I never did find anything written about me in my snoopings, no wait–there was a bit where my ex compared me to a poisonous frog. He was pretty sorry about that, I bet.


  2. Too funny. This is not exactly written snooping, but this is classic . . . forever ago my boss started dating a girl from our work. They were out of town on a business trip. He called me from his car but he could not hear me. He thought the call did not go thru. I could hear their conversation AND their kissing. Anyway, they started talking about me- which is why I didn’t hang up. He called me a nerd. I was a nerd, so that didn’t crush me or anything. It was hilarious! Early days of cell phones, obviously.

    Liked by 1 person

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