Okay, so that wasn’t really the truth. My kid knew it, too. But it killed me that they were more upset about their punishment than atoning for their sins. It’s important for kids to take responsibility for their actions, be they good or bad. As for me spouting off about my Twinkie problem, that's totally my father’s fault.
Now before I explain, let it be known I love my dad a lot. He’s a great father, grandfather -- an all around good guy. But there's one thing about him that drives me crazy: he loves to tell tall tales.
Case in point: One Saturday when I was six or so, my dad made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I told him I was tired of PBJ. Mom had made them for lunch all week. He responded, “Mine are better. In fact, they’re the best in the world. I’m the PBJ making champion. I won a medal and everything.”
And I believed him.
Now you might say that little anecdote says more about me than about him. I was a gullible kid. I was also six and never thought my dad would lie to me. Still, when I announced at the school lunch table that my dad was a champion PBJ maker, all the kids started laughing at me. I put two and two together.
As I grew older, I got even wiser. My fellow siblings did, too. When Dad told us we’d eaten monkey meat after leaving a Chinese restaurant, we just rolled our eyes. When he said he’d seen Sasquatch during our trip to Colorado, we didn’t believe him then, either.
We got used to his antics, often enjoying his attempts to pull one over on us. Then something happened that changed his ways. He told the best tall tale EVER.
It was 1980, the year Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter for the U.S. presidency. We were sitting around the dinner table talking about the election when Dad announced, “I sat in Ronald Reagan’s lap.” All of us looked at Dad and laughed. How did he come up with this stuff? Unabashed, he continued with his story. We humored him and listened.
Back in 1950, when he lived in Chicago, his family won a contest claiming them “The Typical American Family.” One of the prizes was a loving cup, long since broken and thrown away. Another was a home visit from the cast of Louisa, a movie in which Ronald Reagan starred. Dad was seven at the time, and as cute as can be. Ronald Reagan strolled through their apartment’s front door. “He plunked down in your grandpa’s chair, sat me on his knee, and told me stories. It was cool.”
Yeah, we thought, too cool to be true. Dad swore to us he was telling the truth, but he’d told so many stories over the years. How could we believe him? For months he held firmly to his version of events. For months we just shook our heads. Then one day my father had had enough. I still remember that day.
I don’t know how he got them. They must have been buried in one of Grandma's drawers -- pictures, plus a newspaper article, too. He slapped them on the kitchen counter.
Whoa. We stood there, completely amazed. Dad had been telling the truth.
(p.s. If the pictures were too small for you, do yourself -- and me -- a favor. Hit the orange RSS feed button at the top. It will not only subscribe you to my blog for free, the pictures there are HUGE!)
Credit where credit is due:
Thanks, Aunt Margie, for digitizing the photos so I could use them for this post. You're awesome!