Books are better'n kissin' - sort of... 


Story Time (previous tales)


Fact to Fiction:

My family has never set strong boundaries between fact and fiction. We aren't so much outright liars as we are "truth-stretchers." Every story is based in fact. Starts out as truth. Begins with observation. But nothing ever stays that way very long.

If we see something twice, it soon becomes three times. Then four. Then a half-dozen, or more. Why talk about five deer when seven is so much better? How big was that fish? Ten inches? A foot? More, maybe? Why not?

Indeed: Why not? That's the question, isn’t it? Why the hell not?

My dad was one of the best story-tellers you'd ever want to know. To this day, I still don't know if what he told me was the truth. All of his tales seemed to start with a solid reality. Then, somehow, he'd stray from the path—I think. That was part of the joy, not knowing. All I know is when he was done I was never quite sure if he was pulling my leg. For sure there was no way he was ever going to tell me, one way, or the other. If I asked him directly he'd sparkle his sky blue eyes and say with a sigh, "don't you believe your old dad?"

My mom always told what she thought was the truth, but wasn't. See, Mom had an extremely strong filter through which she experienced the world. It may well be that she reported it as accurately as she could. Trouble was, oftentimes it had nothing to do with the way things really were. I cringe when people treat what she told them as fact because I know for a fact that many, if not most of her memories were inaccurate.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I understood that I inherited that same sort of filter from her. My skewed view became obvious when I started into serious scientific research and tried to use measures and statistics to bolster what I thought I was seeing. I was confused when the numbers I calculated refused to agree with me. Convincing myself that the problem was due to my faulty observations was one of the toughest lessons I ever learned. It's something I struggle with every, single day. Yet, in the end, knowing I see a badly warped version of reality has made me a better researcher and more understanding—if disbelieving—of the people around me.

Research in history helps illuminate the common filters used by everyone; political, economic, racial. What happens when two people tell you what they remember about the same incident? Sometimes the memories mesh. More often they are different. Sometimes very different.

Should we discard the stories we hear from others and believe only what we experience for ourselves? Some people do just that and I pity them because their own filters may change the world in ways they cannot begin to comprehend. Better, I think, to give a listen to all of the stories around us as long as we're sure to consider the source.

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Can we buy real poo next time?

 

So... This morning I get into the shower.

 

I’m carrying a brand-new bottle of shampoo. My favorite brand. I use it all the time. Really. It enables what little hair I have to be soft and glowing. Sure does. Yep. I saw it in a commercial. So it must be true.

 

I’m in the shower. I’m soaking wet (no surprise there). I snap open the lid of the shampoo bottle and hold it over my upturned hand... Nothing comes out. I squeeze the bottle. Nope. Nothing. At all. I unscrew the cap. Beneath, I find a plastic seal.

 

What the heck? On my shampoo? A plastic seal? Against what? Shampoo thieves? Shampoo diluters? Shampoo adulteraters?  Shampoo switchers with hair removalers?

 

What's this world coming to? I bought the same brand and size bottle a couple of months ago. There was no plastic seal. Probably some Homeland Security rule or something. The Shampoo Czar declared an orange state of emergency for all bottles. I shouldn't joke, I know, I'll end up on the watch list - if I’m not there already.

 

I try to remove the plastic seal. Should be easy, there's a little tab to pull. I pull on the tab. The tab pulls off. The seal stays on. I curse (out loud) at the wonderful engineering behind such a design. Now what? I’m nekked. Soaking wet. In the shower. What might I have that has a chance of piercing a plastic seal? My teeth? For a shampoo bottle? Even *I’m* not that dim.

 

I have a valve at the shower head that lets me turn off *most* of the flow, to save water while I'm soaping up. I don't use it, of course, being a Wasteful American, but it's there nonetheless. I manage to rip open the shampoo bottle's plastic seal using the edge of that shower head valve-handle. A couple pieces of plastic manage to escape. They hurry down the floor drain. To wait several months before causing a clog. At the worst possible time. Plastic's bad that way. Ornery plastic. Mind of its own, plastic has.

 

I screw the cap back on, trying not to get any water into the shampoo. That'll change the composition of the shampoo. And, somewhere, give a shampoo chemist bad dreams. I hold the shampoo bottle up and, with vim and vigor, snap open the top.

 

Hold on... What's that coming towards me? It's a big blob of un-watered-down shampoo. Heading straight for my right eye.

 

!! BLINK, FOOL !! My brain screams.

 

"Who, me?" Asks my eye. My eyes are sort of slow, sometimes. They've been headed downhill ever since I started wearing bifocals.

 

Blam! The shampoo lands right on the lashes of my right eye.

 

!! DON'T BLINK !! My brain screams.

 

"Who, me?" Asks my eye. And it blinks. I told you they were sort of slow, didn't I? My right eye is now filled with searing shampoo-lava. It burns. With a big B. And a big URNS, too. I hear a shampoo chemist giggling, somewhere (later, when I’m thinking more clearly, I'll put some water into the bottle to get even). I stick my face into the shower stream to flush the chemicals from my eye.

 

Now...

 

I don't know what mornings are like at your house. But here, it's a whole lot of people vying for limited resources. That's why I’ve always crawled outta bed first. No matter where I’ve live or whom I’ve lived with. I want to be at the top of the schedule. The first in line. I always want to kick off the schedule. It comes from being a second child. Really - ask any second child you know. If they say it isn't true, they're fibbing like a sack of (sham)poo.

 

Top of the schedule I am. Still, during mornings, everything has to run like clock-work. Everything. It's like the tides at Normandy on D-Day. The orbits of the planets on a moon launch. Everything has to be lined up just so. Bing. Bang. Boom. Including the amount of time *I* spend in the shower.

 

It's not that somebody's waiting to use the shower. Nope. But. There are only so many butts and only so many commodes, y'know? And, in a house this old, butts, commodes, showers, and faces are all connected by pipes. All in one nice, neat, sweet, perfectly connected string of events. Like the co-incidences that brought you to this point in time.

 

I'm running behind my regular schedule because of the sealed shampoo. And my face is in the shower because I’m rinsing shampoo-magma outta my eye. My right eye. My left eye wonders what's going on.

 

Somebody else, somewhere else in the house. Lifts their butt from a commode. Relieved at finishing one of their first tasks of the day, they push the flush handle... I feel a drop in the water pressure - the cold water pressure.

 

!! FACE...BACK !! My brain screams.

 

My face (which isn't nearly as slow as my eyes) pulls back from the soon-to-arrive flash of heat. I even manage a step back and away. Some reflexes, huh? Of course, it takes an instant before the water rises to scalding temperatures and another instant before I realizes that the course of the shower spray is now aimed directly at what some would politely term my “naughty bits.”

 

My brain screamed something at that point. I don't recall what it was. Except it started with bad words and went on with bad words and ended with bad words. I think I used every bad word I know. That's a LOT of bad words. Trust me. Lots. Luckily I was ‘way too busy dancing around the too-hot water to listen very much to what it was I was saying.

 

I was kind of tender toweling off. My shampooed right eye looked as if I smoked a bale of weed (perhaps I should say what I have read a bale of weed eye would look like. Homeland Security and all that). My left eye looked more angry than anything else. And slow.

 

Stupid shampoo.