Mar 15, 2001 at 2:06 pm

Once in a while I have this dream that after I die my mother is going through my stuff and finds things that I really wish I had thrown out sooner. I mean, it's not big deal because I'm dead, but my mother really doesn't need to know that I have a butt plug or that I have way more stuffed animals than any adult woman should. I'm hoping the good stuff I've kept like my first baby outfit or my mother's wedding album will overshadow the weird stuff. I guess if I'm dead, it really isn't snooping, since she kind of has unwritten permission to investigate what goes in the trash and what goes to charity.

It is snooping when you go through your boyfriends wallet while he's in the shower to see if he has other girl's phone numbers or other incriminating evidence. I've done it, and I wish I could say I'm ashamed, but I'm not. First I probably wouldn't snoop unless I was suspicious that something was wrong. Second, it's your fault, my dear old beaux, if you leave me alone with your stuff.

I've gone through a man's wallet exactly four times. The first time I found that a man I'd been getting nasty with for more than a year, moaning "Ken, oh, Ken" in the heat of passion was actually named Greg. The second time I rifled through a wallet I found that my boyfriend had many forms of ID under many different names. That can't be a good thing. The third time I found out my lover carried an extraordinary amount of cash.

And after the time he was staring at the television watching some wildlife crap while we were making love I helped myself to a few Benjamins. Treat me like a ho and I'll act like one. The fourth time I checked in someone's wallet I found a photograph of me right in front. Guess which of these fellows lasted the longest.

I would be mortified if anybody — boyfriend, girlfriend or family member — went through my purse. So sue me, I'm a hypocrite. I'm a snoop, and I don't want you to snoop. I've gone out of my way to discourage snooping. I've hidden my purse, put marbles in the medicine cabinet (the sound of them hitting the sink is only slightly louder than the gasp of embarrassment emitting from you, nosy-ass) and generally hid all incriminating items so well I forget where they are. It's a way of me justifying my snooping.

I wouldn't be snooping without good cause anyway. Don't make it easy for me. I have never gone through a man's pockets nor opened drawers or cabinets. But if the wallet is just lying there on the bed ... well, you wouldn't put a bone in front of a dog and not expect him to grab it.

Since I've only resorted to snooping in four instances out of the hundred-plus dates, lovers, and boyfriends, I feel pretty good. Each time the snoop led to some information that was necessary for the relationship to continue or fail, so I certainly feel justified. Now I can feel some folks out there ready to doing a little snooping of their own. Keep this in mind: In each case I knew that if I was caught that would be the end of the relationship. You also can't act on anything you've found because that's the same thing as being caught.

Snooping should be a last resort. And stealing is absolutely verboten, unless he's watching antelope during sex. In which case, a little financial compensation seemed like a better idea than treating his little winkie like the lion did the antelope.