Spies Like Us

I was just thinking how easy it is now to “spy” on people: You look up your ex on Facebook, peruse his/her family photo albums, watch people’s Twitter streams to see what they’re doing any given second of the day, and read blogs of people you haven’t met, but know intimately just the same. The web and social media make secrets not so secret, and it seems nearly anything is public knowledge.


But back in the day, good old-fashioned spying really did the trick.


Especially where crushes and boyfriends were involved. Sure, now one just need look up a Facebook status or check Foursquare to see what’s up with your special someone, but “spying” used to require more exhausting legwork.


Like when I was in high school and my friend, Belladonna Martlet, harbored a secret crush on the wrestling coach with a lame foot. He lived in a house with three other coaches and we thought it’d be a good idea to drive over to their place and peer into the windows to see if they were talking about Belladonna or mooning over her picture or I don’t freaking know what we thought we’d see.


About four of us girls ended up outside the coach’s house one Sunday evening, tiptoeing and shushing each other as we ducked and covered behind a smattering of bushes leading to a sliding glass window in the back of the house. A blue light glowed from the inside and we headed in its general direction, ending up crowded below a living room window sill. Belladonna popped her head up and scampered right back down to tell us all the coaches were hanging out watching “Matlock.”




NOT hot.


But we stayed to spy some more, hoping we’d catch them in some kind of Belladonna-idol-worshipping ritual or I don’t freaking know what we’d thought we’d see. I think one of us even said something stupid like, “Are they talking about you?”


And right about then, we heard something at the sliding glass door a few yards away. Our childish tittering stopped abruptly as we looked up and saw four coach men staring out at our gaggle. Well as you can imagine, us girls popped up and ran like hell. A few seconds or maybe minutes later, the door opened and soon the chase was on. We ran our little hearts out, pursued by three athletic men in their 20s, while I suppose the lame-footed wrestling coach kept watch.


I am telling you right now that I have no idea how we eluded capture, but somehow we made it back to Belladonna’s Buick LeSabre, fired that baby up, and hightailed it out of there, gasping as Belladonna lit up a Virginia Slims Menthol Light and sucked its sweet vapors into her overtaxed lungs.


Those were the days.


Of course, I didn’t learn my lesson, and about eight years later found myself in a similar position on behalf of my best friend, Elisa. She’d been dating some schmoo, and after not hearing from him for a couple of days, listened to my chicken-brained idea to go drive by his apartment. Well as luck and idiocy would have it, there was a prime parking space right behind his place, so we thought we’d poke around a bit, like any proper dipshitty girl detective might do. At some ridiculous point, I scrambled up a dumpster to get a better look inside his place.


He was watching “Friends.”


By himself.


All seemed well and non-cheaterly, so I scampered down the rubber dumpster top and fell smack dab into some metal-clangy thing that completely signaled my presence. Dogs began to bark, lights began to flicker, a cold wind of bad investigative technique began to blow.


We hightailed it out of there as Elisa fired up a Marlboro Light and coughed its smoke into the chill Chicago air.


It was probably a year later. Another guy, another spy mission gone terribly awry. This one was for Elisa again. She, I and our friend, Maile, sat in a car in broad daylight outside a White Hen, smoking, waiting for Elisa’s boyfriend to emerge. We were in Maile’s car, because we didn’t want him to recognize Elisa’s vehicle. (Smart, right? Except for that broad daylight thing.) Well emerge he did, and as Elisa and Maile analyzed his gait, hand contents, and general possibly-shifty demeanor, loudly I might add, I tried to point out to them that the sunroof was open. Except that it came out, “The moon! The moon!” I don’t rightly know why, but my mouth could not form the proper words. So they’re trying to decipher what it is I’m garbling, while my brain continued to mix up its synapses, and my mouth persisted with saying “The moon! The moon!” to my increasingly irritated pals.


All this is going on as the boyfriend walks right past the car with one insane occupant shouting “The moon! The moon!” and the other highly-recognizable-to-him occupants yelling “WHAT? WHAT MOON? What is wrong with you?”


It was all very surreptitious and spyerly.


I don’t really have a moral to this story other than “Don’t Take Me with you on Spy Missions,” and “Thank God for the Internet.”


Also, and perhaps most importantly, “Don’t Smoke.”


Because The Moon.


15 Responses to “Spies Like Us”

  1. Laurie Ann says:

    oh, if I had a nickel for every spy mission I’ve been on. I am surprisingly stealthy.

    The internet takes all the danger out of it.

  2. tinsenpup says:

    Oh this is classic! I’m shocked! Who would have thought?

  3. Chris says:

    This is so funny! The bumbling spy work, the smoking, the elevated suspicion, the need to spearhead spy missions for our girlfriends. I love it! I’ve been there. Also, when I was younger than a teen, my cousin and I used to “spy on the little kids” or “spy on the grown-ups” when we were bored. Little kids were usually playing innocently, and grown-ups were concentrating on their bridge game, but we were very “spyerly”.

    I spy a bit [maybe a lot] on the internet. Do you suppose the fellas do it as much as us silly girls?

  4. You slay me!
    And you’ve helped me recall a couple of my spying forays from my young and foolish days.

  5. MomZombie says:

    My worst offense was getting invited to a party in the home of a pro athlete and taking the long, long, long way to the bathroom to spy through all the rooms on the second floor of his house. Thank god I wasn’t caught.

  6. Adrian says:

    That’s funny! I so remember doing that when I was a kid. We used to spy on boys all the time. Fun memories.

  7. Christina says:

    I said the other day to my older son as I scrolled through tweets: “I think I’ve because a serial voyeur” I absolutely cannot NOT read my tweet stream! There might be over 300 unread tweets and by gos, I must read them! I’ve never even met more than half the people in my time line :-)

    I got roped into a spy mission only once more than 20 years ago. Hey here’s a sexist thought: why is it ok for women to spy on men, but if men spy on women it appears more threatening?

    Anyhow, a male co-worker suspected his girlfriend of cheating – coincidentally with a man who lived in the apartment complex adjacent to mine. Both had key card entries so he couldn’t just hang out in the parking lot. I let him into my complex where it was an easy hop over a short wall into the one next door. Sure enough, she was there and when she came out he confronted her. It was not pretty…she was busted and he was devastated. The cowardly guy she was cheating with never appeared even though I could see him looking out his window. After she left I ended up letting him drink off his misery at my place and then left him sleep it off on my sofa. We never told anyone else at work what happened. I still remember the look on his face when she came out – I know he was still holding out hope that he was wrong. So heartbreaking. Thankfully no other spy missions in my life time!

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by San Diego Momma, MomZombie. MomZombie said: RT @SanDiegoMomma: Why it's so much easier to spy on people nowadays: http://bit.ly/gtV2HJ […]

  9. Stephanie says:

    You’re like Daphne from Scooby Doo. No one captured you during any of these? Did you unmask old man Withers who runs the haunted amusement park? :)

  10. Ami says:

    Because the moon.

    That’s really a pretty good rhetorical answer. (One that doesn’t require a question.)

  11. Just this weekend, my daughter found an old button of mine–a pin on button–that said Jennifer + Peter. Peter was my high school crush. My unrequited high school crush. My friends made me that button and I kept it in a scrapbook I have from that period of time. My daughter thinks the button is creepy. She proclaimed my friends “stalkerish” for making it for me. If she only knew about the spy missions! ;-)

  12. Ferd says:

    No way! I would so FOR SURE take you out on spying missions. You would make them all fun and memorable! It’s those mixed up synapses! I knew it! They are SO part of your charm!

  13. Mama Mary says:

    Love these stories Deb. I have many similar stories that I’ll share with you next time we find ourselves the only one on a dark street in Hillcrest at midnight. xo

  14. Deb,

    I have been reading your posts for a few weeks and I find them thought-provoking, sweet, and at times hilarious like this one. I also have been on spy missions except I never had to high tail it…lol I love your writing style and look forward to your posts.

    A fan,


  15. foolery says:

    We could never be friends IRL. I woulda been yelling “UP! UP! UP!” to your “the moons.” We would get people’s kneecaps broken and stuff. But you know, if you’re up for it, we could try ONE spy mission together . . . just one . . . Because THE MOON and because I love you so hard. :)

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