One day back when I was in second grade, this kid named Wesley claimed that he had a secret to tell me.
As some folks likely remember, the accepted behavior for receiving a secret was always to lean towards the speaker and adopt an expression of wide-eyed anticipation. They, in turn, would put their mouth right next to your ear, cup their hand around their lips, and whisper whatever dire revelation they had to offer. The listener would occasionally feign a reaction – usually by shouting something like “You did what for how many cookies?!” – or perhaps ask for a repetition, and then both parties would step away from each other… and yet somehow feel closer.
That’s how it was supposed to go, at any rate.
On the day in question, Wesley went through the predictable steps of approaching me, leaning towards my ear, and then cupping his hand around his mouth. Rather than any kind of sensitive information, though, the only thing that I heard was a shrill “Aaaaah!” as the other boy screamed into my skull.
“Hey!” I protested, pulling away. “That’s not funny.”
Wesley’s laugh sounded rather similar to a monkey’s shrieking as he answered. “Sorry, sorry! I just… I couldn’t stop myself! Sorry! I’ll tell you the real secret now.”
Once again, he leaned in close to my ear… and once again, he screeched “Aaaaah!” into it.
“Knock it off!” I shouted, shoving him away. “Do you actually have something to tell me or not?”
“Sorry!” Wesley replied, still laughing. “Sorry, yes, I do! I really do!”
I raised an eyebrow at him (which probably looked absolutely ridiculous from a second-grader). “I don’t believe you.” I started to walk away, but Wesley chased after me and grabbed my arm.
“No, no, Max, Max!” he pleased. “No, I really have to tell you a secret. Please? I promise I won’t yell in your ear anymore.”
Now, I’ve never been the brightest knife in the cookie jar, but even I knew to examine that situation with some skepticism in mind. That was why, as I allowed Wesley to approach me, I readied myself to retaliate.
“Okay,” I said, “go ahead and tell me.”
I could hear Wesley drawing a deep breath as he leaned in towards my ear… so rather than waiting until he shouted again, I preempted the attack by elbowing him in the solar plexus.
Or, well… trying to, anyway. I must have been off the mark by a bit, because Wesley responded by squealing “Oooooooow!” in my ear, then running off to report me for assault. (“You hit me! I’m telling on you!”) I wound up receiving a rather stern lecture from my teacher, and I only narrowly avoided having her call my mother. It was a thoroughly irritating situation all around… but I learned something that day, too.
Always aim for the groin.
TL;DR: “No, no, really! I’m telling the truth this time!”