In the interest of full disclosure, I feel obligated to use the qualifier “mostly” about these stories, not because I intend to be a bit deceptive but because some of them go back 30 years or more and have been retold countless times.
When I consider the inevitable temptation to entertain listeners by adding a pinch of exaggeration or a dash of hyperbole, I arrive at the unavoidable conclusion that if I had a time machine and went back to each incident, I’d probably be shocked at how much the story has morphed in the telling. I’d probably also be disappointed to find that it was not as dramatic as I remembered.
So, while I can’t guarantee 100% of the facts, I can attest to the emotional truth, that is, to my interpretation of the events that left such a strong impression as to be counted among the pantheon of life experiences worth retelling.
I have, in recent years, tried to be alert to the responses of my audience. When they stop smiling and their eyes glaze over, I stop. It’s a practice that has probably saved me from a few thrashings by otherwise pleasant people who have been driven ’round the bend. But I can glean no such signals from you, the reader, so I trust that you will lower your standards for veracity and be alert enough to stop reading before suicidal thoughts occur.
Paul Barker, Evanston, Illinois