He's got mail, but she doesn't - anymore

The Baltimore Sun

Here's the thing.

I'm nosy. I admit it. So if your diary is lying on the table, it might as well be a Krispy Kreme doughnut. I will devour it.

And if you're my husband and your e-mail account is open, sitting on our computer, begging to be read - well, I have my evening entertainment.

This is how my new hobby - stalking my husband - began.

And ended.

One night, my husband went to bed early. I got into the computer to check my e-mail on Google when, BAM, his account was still up.

Jackpot! My eyes lit up. Two hours later I had read every semi-interesting e-mail, his sent mail, chats, old folders, etc. ...

Jon is an open book, but a forgetful one. So it's not like I was expecting to uncover some deep dark secret, like a love child or that he secretly collects women's handbags.

But he is also a stereotypical husband, the kind of man who comes home and doesn't remember a thing that happened during the day outside of what he had for lunch (Read: the same homemade soup, every day).

So these e-mails were like a rare window into his life and thoughts. And they were mostly positive discoveries (OK, save my annoyance at an occasional e-mail to an ex-girlfriend).

Weeks, maybe months later, I was home when Jon called and needed me to get into his e-mail account for him.

"Of course," I said, trying to mask my giddiness. "What's your password?"

And then I had it! All mine. Free to open it up and read to my heart's content whenever I wanted.

And so I did. Almost every day. I learned that even when he was logged into his e-mail, I could access it, too. I witnessed the same dry sense of humor that first sparked my interest. I saw the nice things he wrote about me (and the infrequent swipe ... I mean, I do cook sometimes).

I saw the e-mails reminding my friends that it was my birthday and his work as my own public relations agent, sending out stories I wrote. I saw just how forgetful he could be - asking my friends what size I was, for gift suggestions.

Yes, I felt a little guilty at first. Just a little. You see, I wasn't snooping exactly. I justified it as a way of trying to view him in all his various dimensions, and not just as my husband. Know everything there is to know about him. Right? Right.

Everything was moving along smoothly until I found myself testing him at times.

"So, who did you hear from today? Get any e-mails from anyone?"

His negative answers, probably more of a not-listening-to-me thing than anything else - surprised me. I knew he had heard from his old college roommate! I saw the e-mail from the mysterious girl who I had never heard about! What was he talking about? Was he intentionally lying?

Unfortunately, I did this passive-aggressive confrontation thing a few too many times.

And so came the day when I logged in, and OUCH - it was like the vending machine stole my money.

"Username and password do not match," the red letters screamed.

What? How could this be? I tried again.

"Username and password do not match," the red letters tauntingly said again.

Maybe there was some kink in Gmail?

"Hey, you having trouble logging onto Gmail," I asked Jon casually on the phone.

"Nope," he said.

A day later, same problem. And then I knew he was on to me. And yet, rather than confronting me, the natural thing to do, he quietly changed his password without so much as uttering a word.

I was livid. How dare he deprive me of this entertainment? But how could I confront him?

A week passed. The password was still not working. I knew I had to let it go.

But I couldn't. And so one day in an especially irritated mood I did the unthinkable.

"You changed your Gmail password!" I exclaimed. "I know you did!"

He laughed long and hard. Of course he had. Why would he want me reading his e-mails?

"Well, what are you hiding?" I asked. "You know, many husbands and wives share an e-mail account."

Right. That wasn't going to happen. After all, that would mean exposing every detail of my life.

I tried to goad him into revealing his latest password, but he wasn't budging.

"But I feel like I know you so much better when I can read all your e-mails! And even you admit you have a horrible memory."

Nope. Not going to happen.

Alas, the window closed and I was left back in the dark, fiddling around on the Internet many a night. Occasionally, I still log onto Gmail, trying to guess his latest password (maybe if I capitalize it? add a number?), but always to no avail.

And so I've resorted to a less technological and not nearly as devious approach of husband-wife relationship-building: the very 19th-century art of plain old conversation.


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