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Gill has been keeping me up to date with the Snowden leaks about spying agencies around the world. Leaking sieves everywhere. It is front page news in the UK, so Gill treats The Guardian like the newest installment of a racy potboiler novel, rushing to read it and then send me links. Everyone blaming everyone else. Words like ‘traitor’ and patriotic whistle blower being bandied about. I haven’t yet decided where I come down on Snowden’s guilt or innocence but I am surprised that everyone is surprised at the spying activities. Really? You didn’t see this coming? And honestly, with all the social media these days, is anyone foolish enough to believe they have any privacy left?

Now, if any agency needs to know how to keep secrets and spy on others, they should ask my family. We are experts in subterfuge. And I can’t attribute this to the present generation. Oh, no. This started way back in our family history.

Take my mother, Gill’s grandma, for example. She was very close to her sister and yet they had secrets that they would not disclose to each other. Sometimes they went to hysterically funny lengths to hide things. Case in point was my aunt’s heart issues. She confessed that she had been to see a specialist but was vague as to the details or results of tests. She shrugged off Mom’s concern with comments like: “Nothing to worry about. He says I’ll be fine for years.” Mom wasn’t having any of this subterfuge. And so, one day I was invited to join Mom for a short visit to Aunt M’s house.

Lucy and Ethel couldn’t have planned a zanier scheme. Mom cautioned me: “I want you to ask your aunt to go fetch something upstairs and while she’s up there, keep a lookout. I’ll rummage through her cupboards and purse to see if I can find out what meds she’s taking!”

We executed the plan. Mom found a bottle of pills and wrote down the prescription name. As M returned to the kitchen, Mom announced she had to use the washroom. (Another look in the medicine cabinet.) As my aunt entered the room where I was nonchalantly sipping a cup of tea, she asked: “Well, did she find them?”

I spluttered out my tea. “Find what?”

“The meds. I know your mom’s dying to find out what’s wrong with me. It’s nothing.”

When Mom and I got in the car, I told her of M’s comment. “So now you know that she knows that you know she takes meds. Do you suppose you could just TALK to each other and save all this CIA stuff?” She had the decency to blush.

When my parents’ 50th anniversary was approaching, I asked Mom about the possibility of having a party. She hesitated and then confessed, “We can’t.”

“Why on earth not?”

“Because then M would know the real date of our marriage. We actually got married a year before than but I never told her.”

“You’ve kept that secret from your sister for 50 years?” I was incredulous.

“Yes. And I think she’d be upset if I confessed now.”

“You think? You’re 80 years old and you’ve kept quiet all that time?”

I remind Gill of these two when she starts blathering on about Snowden. Never mind wiretaps…they’re doomed to be exposed at some point. Take two old ladies with iron wills and, to use the vernacular, ‘nobody will discover nothin’. Take that, NSA.

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