Don’t look in my car’s trunk. Nothing to see there. No dead bodies or tell-tale stains. But if you drive by my house late at night, you may see me bent over its open maw, grabbing mounds of merchandise.
It wasn’t always this way.
I used to be able to buy with abandon. My car’s interior was a shopping cart of carefree purchases piled high on the back seat. I slung bags atop each other, wedging breakables between clothing.
When I pulled into my empty driveway, I put the car in park and smiled. It was time to unload my clown car of goodies. My keys jangled against the back door as I unlocked it, and my arm shoved it open like an aging movie star making a dramatic entrance.
It was time to unload.
This was the best part of any shopping trip. Whether gadgets or clothing or just STUFF, I carried each purchase with eager pride. I didn’t mind several trips to the car… and I didn’t care how tall the heap just inside the door became. It was mine. All mine.
By the time John got home from work, no trace of my day’s spree was visible. Shoved in closets, mixed in with other like items, opened and added to our menagerie of knick-knacks — his tired eyes saw nothing new. I flounced around the house innocently, assuring him that my day was uneventful and usual.
But then my husband retired. In an instant, I am accountable for every shopping trip I take and every bag I try to slink into the house. If I leave and then return from any trip to anywhere, he is usually there to greet me with an eye-scanning assessment and casual questions I don’t want to answer.
It’s not that he cares what I buy. John seldom complains about the cool things I pick up here and there; maybe a shrug or head shake accompanies those items that have no function or require ingenuity to fit inside the door.
It’s just that now he KNOWS. It turns my treasures to talking points and makes my shopping less exciting.
So. The car’s trunk is my secret holding tank. This roomy space without windows can accommodate almost anything money can buy. With skills I learned from games of Jenga and years of incorporating new things among old around the house, I can visit as many stores as I like and still arrive home with a tiny Walgreens bag between my fingers to prove I’d accomplished my mission.
John smiles as I step inside the house, glances at my sensible purchase of Advil and his world is as orderly and frugal as a monk’s.
Meanwhile, I’m checking the clock above the sink. Those clothes I bought are baking in the bag in the trunk, wrinkling and losing their crispness. I have a couple scented candles in huge, flowery jars back there; hope they don’t melt and mingle into a stench.
Yes. I bought some of my favorite candy bars. The ones I told him I was “gonna have to stop buying because I’m getting fat.” The ones I know he’ll good-naturedly joke about if he sees them.
So. It’s a waiting game. Bedtime comes in a few hours, and once he’s entombed in our bed, I’ll sneak out and bring everything in. I’ll lift the trunk lid like a buccaneer inspecting her plunder and feel the shopping thrill all over again.
My trunk is my best friend now. It keeps my secrets and is always there when I need it.
And, yes, if the candy bars have turned into sludge and I have to lick the wrappers, I absolutely will.
Robin Garrison Leach is a freelance writer and columnist from Quincy, Illinois."Robin Writes" is published in numerous Missouri and Illinois newspapers. Contact her at email@example.com.