Carol, my friend’s mom, is 79 years old. She claims to have been an this close to being an Olympic ice skater. It’s hard to believe because now she walks slow and hunched over like Yoda. She told some interesting stories.
A couple of weeks ago, on her way home from her furniture store, she had filled her with wicker. Every time the road curved, the wicker in the passenger seat rolled over and bumped the gearshift. She shoved it back in place each time.
When she was almost home, police lights appeared in her rear view mirror. She pulled over.
“Lady, are you drinking?”
“No, officer, I don’t drink.”
“I’ve been following you for about ten minutes and you’ve been weaving all over the road.”
“It’s the wicker,” she explained.
“Are you sure it’s not the liquor?” he asked.
Finally he let her go with a warning, but she was befuddled. When she got home, she somehow got herself into the dog pen. I’ve heard the story twice and can’t figure out how this happened, and didn’t want to belabor the point (or extend the story) so I took it at face value. She went into the pen for some reason and locked the padlock before she remembered to go back out.
It was a cold, dark Montana night and she lives in the middle of nowhere. No one else was home, and she didn’t have a cell phone. She yelled and screamed for awhile but knew no one could hear. Finally she stacked a few items that happened to be in the pen – “the dog’s stool,” a bucket she uses for fireplace ashes and a grocery cart – up on each other. I didn’t dare ask why the dog needed a stool, much else why the ash bucket was in the dog pen. By the time she mentioned the grocery cart I was over being surprised. She managed to climb up these items and get to the top of the chain link fence, straddling it and thinking, “How the hell am I going to get back down the other side?”
Within seconds she found the answer when she lost her balance and fell – plop – on the ground. Despite the six-foot fall, she got up, brushed herself off and lived to tell the story.
That’s the end of the story, and as exciting as it is, I have to wonder how much of it is true. She told another story about a policeman pulling her over and saying, “Lady, I clocked you at 67 mph.”
“That’s not right,” she said, “I was going 75.” He threw back his head and laughed for a long time, then said, “Lady, because you’re so honest I’m going to let you off this time.”
There were other stories along these lines – notably the Olympic ice skating and being asked out by Frank Gifford. I don’t doubt that she is totally honest. On the other hand, I have stories that I tell that I’m no longer positive even happened. I’m pretty sure most of the details are correct, but some are fuzzy and I think I might have put in some embellishments without even knowing it. That’s what happens when you tell the same stories so many times over so many years.
In the end, I don’t know if it matters how much truth there is. If someone can tell a good story and hold my interest, I’m not so sure I care about the particulars. Carol has that gift, and we enjoyed our dinner with her tonight. I hope my stories can hold the attention and get a laugh out of the young folks when I’m 79 like Carol’s do. Thanks for the memories – no matter what they are.