I’m usually pretty good at keeping secrets. I didn’t even tell my first girlfriend, Linda, that she was in fact my girlfriend. I kept that secret all the way through Grade 3. I kept it so well that I don’t think she even knew who I was.
I faltered a bit when it involved my buddies, however. When my friend Ricky told me he had a major crush on Susan, and that it was a total secret and I wasn’t to tell any body ever, I managed to last until recess — when I went straight over to my other buddy John and asked him if he could keep a secret. When he lied and said he could, I told him about Rick liking Susan. After we laughed and snorted and punched each other in the shoulder with way kids in Grade 5 do, guess what we did next?
Yep, we went straight over to Susan by the corner near the South School boot room entrance, we went right up to her and told her that Rick was madly in LOOOOVE with her.
In the ensuing chaotic fallout whereupon Rick chased us around the school yard throwing snowballs at John and me for the rest of the entire recess, I steadfastly denied breaking the secret. Which is a rule when you break a secret — never admit it. That way, you can feel twice as guilty.
It was the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games Olympic opening ceremonies and we got to attend a dress rehearsal of the big event. If it weren’t for the fact that I would sound like a pathetic bragging father, I would mention (again) that my daughter was performing in the opening ceremonies and as such was granted five free tickets to the big doo for her fawningly proud family.
When we arrived nice and early to line up outside the imposing B.C. Place Stadium, I happened to notice, in addition to about a zillion blue-coated security volunteers and rows of security stations you had to go through, there were a number of helicopters chopping ominously overhead, the silhouettes of black-clad sniper-type police officers staked out on every bridge and building around us, and many tough looking people with earphones in one ear, scanning the crowd like nervous pit bulls waiting for someone to make one false move.
“It’s what you don’t see,” said my friend Don, a Red Deer transplant who long ago wimped out of Red Deer to live in Lotus Land. “They’ve even welded the manholes shut.”
This made me feel quite safe, knowing that Vancouver was secure from sewage. I did feel bad for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, however, who would have no place to stay during their visit to the Olympics.
It also reminded me that having fun at a huge public event in the 21st century can be serious business.
So when my daughter — who I wouldn’t in a million years shamelessly boast about, and who performed brilliantly as a dancer in the show-stopping fiddle tap dance section — way back months ago gave me a few precious details about her costume and her dance number and said that it was a big secret and I couldn’t tell anybody about it, I didn’t really take it too seriously until I was actually there, on site, and saw the swat team and the helicopters and the invisible welded manhole covers.
Entering the seating area, we stepping into a scene that literally took your breath away. And as soon as I said to my son, “Wow, I can’t wait to tell everybody about this!” — that’s when the police dogs attacked me.
Just kidding of course, but when the legendary David Atkins, the big cheese executive producer, got on the mic and told us all in no uncertain terms that we were sworn to secrecy about who the surprise performers and singers were, and about all the amazing sights and sounds we were privileged to witness, I sort of had to bite my tongue.
“You will spoil it for an entire nation.” he said. “Four years of work and efforts of thousands of dedicated volunteers will be destroyed if the secret is compromised. No photographs, no Youtube, no emails, no phone calls, no conversations. You must keep all the secrets!”
After, I wanted to tell anyone who would listen that I saw famous Canadian singers, and a giant polar bear puppet, and awesome aerialists, and an amazing dancer in a blue hat and a grey skirt with a fiddle and a bow that shot pyro out of the end.
And I really had to bite my tongue not to blurt out the fact that a snowboarder sailed through the giant Olympic rings from the top of the stadium right beside us, causing us all to scream and yell involuntarily like little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert.
But I somehow managed to keep it a secret. Well, almost, anyway.
Because the day before the big event, back home, I spilled my guts and told Scotty everything — blurting out all the sacred secrets. Every little detail, every exciting moment.
But it’s OK, because Scotty is my dog and he’s almost 17 years old, and he’s deaf as a post.
But don’t tell anyone that I told. It can be our little secret.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer and filmmaker whose column appears on Saturdays.