It was a late Sunday afternoon, the sky, overcast with dark ominous clouds hanging over our heads. If it hadn’t been my birthday the day before, I may not have felt so lucky. Every Sunday, for the past four weeks we snuck into Boogie’s Clubhouse for the most epic Minecraft challenge of all time. Today was the Finals and the stakes were high: the losers had to do the winner’s math homework and buy him a free bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos every day of the week. Yep, today was my day.
There was only one way to get into the clubhouse and only three of us knew the way. First, you had to come from behind the garage, hop the fence, ring the cowbell hidden under the dog’s water bowl and wait for Boogie to shout “Password!” from inside. Besides Boogie, only two other people knew the secret password to get in, Andy and me. Or so we thought.
Andy got there before I did, because I had to finish helping my mom clean up around the house after last night’s dinner. I told her turning eleven wasn’t that big of a deal, since I’d already been in double digits for a whole year, but she still made us dinner and had some cousins come over. I insisted that if she made a cake I didn’t want any singing, because singing is for babies and I was more grown-up now.
“Finish putting away the dishes and then you can go,” mom said. “I need to run an errand. Lock up before you leave.”
“Okay,” I said.
With the dishes dried, I raced over to Boogie’s.
The driveway was packed with cars, so I tossed my bike over the fence and rang the cow bell.
A high-pitched “Password?” came from inside the clubhouse. The voice threw me off. For a second, I forgot what it was, but luckily it was etched on the dog’s bowl. “Sir Barks-A-Lot!”
The door slowly opened and I went in.
Out of nowhere, I was smothered with kisses and pats on the back. Uncle Dan, my teacher Mrs. Olsen, Principal Weathers, Dr. Ahmad, my dentist?! All wearing party hats and sipping punch.
Amidst the balloons and streamers were Andy and Boogie slouched in the corner, while Andy’s grandma challenged the mailman to a war on Xbox. Meanwhile, my older sister was making googly eyes at Boogie’s brother and Boogie’s mom passed out cupcakes. Suddenly, my mom dealt the final blow as she led the chorus to “Happy Birthday.”
Our secret weekly meeting was officially a disaster.
So how did it happen?
Apparently, Andy had scribbled the password on his notebook and Carla, who sat next to him in class saw it and guessed what it was. She blabbed it to her older sister who told her boyfriend who texted it to his best friend who wrote it on the whiteboard in his class. The teacher told the Principal who told my Dad who told my mom who decided to surprise us with cupcakes, and the rest is history.
So much for using your dog’s name as a password. Turns out there are lots of places besides clubhouses where passwords come in handy: gaming websites, emails, our school website, renewing books at the library, signing into Facebook, logging onto our phones and iPads, computers at school, the list goes on and on.
And there are ways to make your top secret passwords super-safe, so even the most unwanted intruder can’t guess what it is, not even big-mouth Carla. Here are some handy tips to keeping your privacy private:
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