Oh, I am a deceitful, deceitful woman. And lordy, the stress of it made me realize that deceit and marriage do NOT go together.

But let me explain before you think I cheated on Chris, buried a body in the backyard, or purposely murdered his fish THAT WILL NOT DIE.

Several weeks ago, Chris’s Seattle-based brother, Jason, called me. He had to travel to London for business and was kicking around the idea of stopping in DC to surprise Chris with a visit. So, we secretly arranged everything, which is no easy task when your husband looks in your email and call history all the time “just out of curiosity.” (And then reprimands you for not immediately calling back the pharmacy representative who needs to know where to send the RhoGam.)

Over the course of the next few weeks, Chris commented about how bummed he was that his brother hadn’t had a chance to see the house yet. And how it sucks that he sees Jason and family so seldom. And how—just so I knew—he hated surprises. (“Surprise parties,” he later clarified.) Oh, how I wanted to blab!

As surprise day approached, I scheduled Charlotte’s hearing test and post-op appointment for the Friday Jason was due to arrive, largely to have an excuse to not carpool that day. I worked, took care of the appointments, and then LIED to Chris, saying I was heading to the mall to get Charlotte some summer clothes. Instead, I went to the airport.

Chris called me as Charlotte and I were hanging out in the cell phone lot, me trying to entertain that restless child with every children’s song I could think of. “So, where are you?” Chris asked.

“Oh, the mall parking lot. We just got here.” Meanwhile, a rumbling metro train thundered over the car—and I had the windows open. Clearly, we were NOT at any mall.

Chris didn’t notice. Fortunately, Charlotte began to fuss, so I lied AGAIN and said I needed to get her out of the car. Chris totally bought it.

Finally, Jason’s flight landed. I collected him and we got home about 10 minutes before Chris (I had sent him to Trader Joe’s after work to buy us more time—and, well, some masala simmer sauce.)

When Chris walked through the door, he found Jason sitting in a barstool at the kitchen island, drinking a beer.

“Where’ve you been?” Jason asked.

Chris stood, his mouth open and his arms full of groceries. He stood and stood and stood.

Finally, words. “Why are you here?”

“On my way to London. Figured I’d stop by for a few days.”

“But . . . how did you find the place?”

Jason pointed to me.

“Ohhhhhhhh,” Chris said. “You weren’t at the mall were you?”

“I thought the metro barreling past blew my cover,” I said. “But no. I lied.”

Once the shock wore off, Chris lit up like a Christmas tree. He was so obviously pleased to see Jason. Cocktails were immediately made and the gentlemen retired to the new deck to be brotherly.

They had a great weekend together, doing such manly things as wine shopping and legitimately testosterone-y things like scotch drinking, playing Call of Duty late into the night, grilling stuff, hitting up a favorite local brewery, and even tearing up some sod for landscaping.

My job was to run errands and keep Charlotte busy. Done.

“Are you mad?” I asked Chris the night Jason arrived. “I mean, I lied to you. I LIED!”

Chris laughed and gave me a big, jolly hug. “Of course not.”

Let me note that the only other time I’ve ever flat-out lied to my beloved was when Chris asked me, point-blank via the phone, if I had found out whether we were pregnant. (We had given baby-making a whirl and a couple tests that weekend had come up negative—but the embryo jury was still out.) “No,” I said. “Definitely not pregnant.” Lie! On Sunday afternoon, Chris had left for an extremely intensive, high-stakes week of management training. About 3 hours later, I learned that ball of rapidly multiplying cells we’ll call Charlotte existed. I knew finding out that he was gonna be a daddy would throw off his whole week and distract him to a dangerous degree, so I lied. And I didn’t mention a thing for an entire week. And Chris fully approved the decision, once I came clean.

“This was so stressful,” I said, thrilled that the Jason surprise was finally in the open. “I’d watch you innocently get into bed, naively thinking you knew everything there was to know, and here I had this huge secret. It just seemed so unfair to you!”

It was really fun to participate in the surprise, and of course to see Jason, but oh my goodness. Secrets and Ashley just don’t mix.


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