Is it my least-favorite vegetable, my sister’s mantra, the make and model of my third car? | Column

by | June 8, 2019 5:00 pm

Last Updated: June 5, 2019 at 11:13 am

When I die, I won’t leave any deep, dark secrets, like I had an affair or keep frozen cats in the fridge. Nope, conscience is clear. Bury me, burn me, give me to medical science, whatever. Then sell the antiques, crate the oil paintings, scatter my papers to the wind. I’ll be dead, and thus have no more hoots to give.

I don’t worry about my browsing history, either. The weirdest thing I’ve ever Googled was “tumor with teeth and hair,” because hasn’t everyone? I mean, once you find out such things actually exist, there’s no going back.

Also, I may or may not have researched “what style tiara flatters a 50-year-old woman,” but that was years ago. Now I mainly Google song lyrics, since I haven’t understood singers on the radio since 1995. (Just kidding; I’m a big fan of K-pop.) I also search Instant Pot butter chicken recipes, trying to find one that doesn’t require 136 spices.

So, nothing shocking in my browsing history.

The only thing folks might find vaguely interesting among my effects is a tiny, smudged notebook filled with letters, words and symbols like “Glickftspl765!5,” “fuNkit2own” “puddinggg&$*#”

Secret code? Cryptic messages? No: passwords–the bane of my existence.

We’ve all bookmarked password-protected sites: Bank, Amazon, email accounts, professional portals, etc. The hard part is remembering if your password is your great-aunt’s maiden name, your alma mater or your hometown.

Sound familiar? There we sit, locked out of LinkedIn, thinking, is it my least-favorite vegetable, my sister’s mantra, the make and model of my third car? It could be Dad’s favorite dessert, my nephew’s middle name, or the birth country of a niece. Maybe it’s my dead dog, my first-grade teacher, Widdle’s birthday or my mom’s middle name.

Exhausting, isn’t it? They say the worst password you can pick is “password” or “123456”—which is probably why most sites require a symbol, capital letter and/or a pound of flesh to create a “safe” password.

(Yes, I’m ranting but I haven’t one in months so I’m overdue. The last one occurred when I sent a dozen shirts to the dry cleaners, paid $50 to pick them up, got home and discovered all sported stiff, starched, ironed-in wrinkles. Not a single shirt could be taken off the hanger and worn. I understand that mistakes happen. What I can’t understand is paying FIFTY BUCKS for shoddy work. I had to launder and iron them again before they could be worn anywhere besides a dog track.)

Back to passwords. If they aren’t aggravating enough, here’s the cherry on top: Security questions.

Has this ever happened to you? You log in successfully, but wait! Before proceeding you must answer the security question you selected oh, 17 years ago. You search your memory, quickly enter the answer and … no cigar.

Excuse me? I think I know where my parents met. I enter it again, more forcefully this time. (You know exactly what I mean.) Still no access.

One more incorrect try and you’re blocked—nothing  like requesting a one-time code to access your own financial information. Yes, I realize the importance of online security, but it would be easier to give a blood sample to prove I am who I say I am.

So you know what I did? I wrote ‘em all down. Twenty-three passwords plus answers to security questions, scribbled in a teeny-tiny notebook about two inches square. Now I don’t have to wrack my brain multiple times a day.

I just have to remember where I put the notebook.

Julie R. Smith, who also forgot the combination on her bike lock, can be reached at



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