Friday, May 14, 2010


The diary was just sitting there, begging to be read.

Babysitting had its perks. Once I saw a stack of Playboys in somebody's bedroom. Another time I read someone's will. (After all, they'd told me to make myself at home.) My favorite gig was tending the Watson twins, because of the diary.

I was thirteen and my mom used to volunteer me to the neighbors. Kids didn't interest me much, but I enjoyed snooping through people's stuff. Tucked in the Watson's bookshelf was a diary, with a lock. Conveniently, the key hung from a little ribbon attached to the binding, almost as if they wanted me to read it.

The entries started the summer Mrs. Watson was fifteen. She and Mr. Watson had just met at a church Roadshow practice. Over the weeks she wrote about their romance, how they wrapped up in the stage curtains and kissed, how they snuck out to sit under the lilac bushes of the house next door, how they walked home on sidewalks lit by nothing but stars.

Friday nights couldn't come fast enough for me. After the little girls were in bed, I'd curl up with my fantasy life and dream of being fifteen. After the roadshow ended, the young couple couldn't figure out how to be together, and by the time school started, they had drifted apart. He was a senior, she was a sophomore and it was as if the summer had never happened. I studied the daily entries, looking for times he said "Hi" in the hall, or waved to her from a convertible full of girls. He was as elusive for me as he had been for her.

After he graduated and went off to college, she came into her own. There were parties and football games and she even got elected as a junior class officer. Her major responsibility was planning the Junior Prom. She made the posters, lined up the intermission band, and decorated the gym, but she didn't have a date. After all the work, she sat home alone.

The garage door opened earlier than usual, and I jerked out of my reverie, stuffed the diary under a pillow on the couch, and tried to look innocent. Mr. Watson opened the refrigerator while Mrs. Watson went for her wallet, and I jammed the book back in its place.

It was a couple of weeks before I went babysitting again. The diary was gone. My face got hot, and my heart started pounding. They knew! Oh my gosh, they knew! Writhing in embarrassment, I waited for them to come home, expecting . . . I didn't know what I was expecting, but I was mortified, ashamed of my blatant snooping. Nothing was said, but a few Fridays went by before Mrs. Watson called and asked me to tend her kids.

There on the coffee table was the diary, unlocked. Maybe they had just been reading it themselves, or maybe one of the kids pulled it down. Whatever. It was just sitting there, and I had to see how it ended.

Mr. Watson had visited Mrs. Watson on that bleak night of Junior Prom, and told her about his mission call to Finland. They picked up where they left off, and she was at the train station to wave him good-bye on his three-year adventure. (Missions were longer in those days.)

The very last page of the diary told about the day he came home. "He rang my doorbell, and when I heard his voice I flew down the stairs into his arms. He said he loved me, and asked me to marry him. We're getting married in just six weeks."

Obviously, I already knew the ending, since I was babysitting their twin daughters. Even so, I wiped away tears as I finished the story and put it back in the bookcase a full hour before they got home.

The next morning I remembered it had been sitting on the coffee table when I arrived. Whoops.


~Write about a time you snooped. What did you find?


Shanel said...

your post made me smile... I used to babysit and I loved snooping... loved it.. but I always wanted to find sex toys and porn... most of the time I did....*shush*...:)

Shelley said...

I was a snooper too. I once found some illegal drugs and paraphernalia at one house and one woman left her diaphragm on the bathroom sink!!!!! Really right out there on the bathroom sink!

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

YOU KILL ME. Man, you are so brave with what you write. :) It's more of those "common secrets" though. Great post. I love how you write with such honesty. Funny, funny post. I can identify. :)

Soul-Fusion said...

I don't remember snooping much while babysitting at other people's houses but I loved snooping in my parent's things. Unfortunately for my snooping, neither of them were good journal keepers.

Susan said...

What an enjoyable read...made me laugh out loud. I can relate to what Shelley said...that, too, was in the bathroom sink at a home I was babysat at. At the time I didn't even know what it was...imagine when I figured it out several years later! Fun times here, thanks!

Diane said...

My heart was in my throat as I read about you almost getting caught. I didn't snoop much while babysitting (except for sweets), but Christmas morning was a different story. I almost got caught a few times trying to see what Santa left before my family got up. Boy, would I have been in big trouble if I'd gotten caught!

Kathy C. said...

What a treasure to find and read someone's love story. :) How fun!
I was a terrible snoop when I baby sat as a kid, and always tried on all my Aunts glamorous costumes (she was a belly dancer), LOL.

kenju said...

I used to read my neighbor's magazines when I babysat, and her husband read some fairly racy ones for the 50' Those Vargas girl illustrations made me want to model.

Christie said...


And now we know the mystery of why my diary was not put away properly after your last visit...

(Just kidding. RIGHT???)

Alisha said...

Great post! I didn't snoop when I baby sat...BUT I ate all their food. I don't know why but the people I baby sat for always had better food :)

crystal said...

Oh this is good TravelinOma. I found your blog through Marta's and just love her and your writing. Thanks for sharing your stories. I really enjoy them.
Once at a friends house I fell to sleep on the couch while my friend talked with two boys I didn't even know. When I woke up the two boys were still there asleep in the same room. I felt SO guilty and didn't know who else to tell and so wrote all about it in my journal. My mom, snooping through the pages and thinking that I was still just writing about what I had for lunch everyday came across what I had wrote. She was very careful about who she let me hang out with from then on. A lot of friends from that group got into some big trouble later. I've thanked her and feel that she saved my life by snooping that day.

crystal said...
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