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No Secrets

I thought it would be funny ­– a little playful, a little risqué, a dash of cayenne in a nice salt and pepper relationship.

So, on the "marital accessories" website I clicked "submit order" (is it just me that sees the joke in that?) and continued with my day. For five minutes. Then panic struck.

Lost in the anonymous netherworld of the internet I had somehow forgotten where I live. It was easy enough to order my little romantic enhancer but now it had to be delivered. In a small town. By a delivery driver that often left packages with a friend or relative because he knew my patterns better than a private investigator. In my frantic mind I could see him in the back door of the truck, calling out, "Hey, everybody, get a load of what CURTIS EDWARDS is getting today!"

Any chance at political office was certainly gone. The best I could hope for was minimizing the impact. But advance notice to the driver would only draw attention. ("Hi. Ummm. I ordered a little something that's a surprise for the entire community so I really need to keep them from finding out about it . . .") So, I went on a UPS stakeout. Yes, it was a little creepy, but it was either that or create my own witness protection program in some place like Carefree, Arizona.

In the end, despite my best efforts, I found the package waiting conspicuously on the doorstep, but wrapped so inconspicuously it could easily have passed as a new hammer or parts for the vacuum. In fact, it might have been just that – I don't know, because I immediately threw the evidence away, double-bagged in a cocoon of meat scraps and milk cartons.

I learned my lesson, lost a pound or two from stress, and returned to the normal Methow life I thought I had lost (although I'm still sure the driver knows). And I was reminded that there is one relatively private place in this open-source town – the trash can.

Then somebody had to go and start a recycling program.

There I was, feeling all green and proper as I tossed my aluminum into the bin when a voice down the line chimed, "Whoa. The guy DOES like his Pepsi." Looking down I realized it did sort of look like a soft drink delivery truck had crashed in our yard. I wanted to point out that it was actually caffeine-free diet Pepsi and something my wife likes, but it was already too late. I arrive a co-savior of the earth and leave an outed aspartame junkie.

Back at the car I tried to nonchalantly ferret out the other damning evidence – non-dolphin safe tuna tins, chocolate milk jugs, cheap gin bottles and, god forbid, an empty Cheez Whiz can.

Then I mentally slapped myself: "Oh come on, this is you being about you. Nobody else thinks the composition of their recycling is some kind of character reference."

"Really, we had a party and it was much bigger than we expected." The defensive woman's voice was from the glass area as she poured a waterfall of ale bottles from the back of her pickup. Just when I had myself convinced my paranoia was unfounded here's proof of the opposite. It was a bad day again.

But, I wasn't hauling the glass back so it was time to face the music. As I started to lift my container toward the edge of the bin, ready for the river of humiliation to pour out, a big guy in Carharts and a crooked-brim ball cap came alongside and started tossing in the finest collection of bad food and cheap liquor containers I've seen since college. I think there was even a marshmallow creme jar in the mix. I watched in jealous amazement.

When he was done he turned to me with a confident smile and said, "How ya doin'?"

Straightening up a bit I replied, "Pretty good. Thanks."