Friday, June 18, 2004

My dad's a bit of a storyteller, and one of the recurrent characters in the stories he'd tell my mom in the early years of their marriage was a guy he grew up with named Soapy Gommerginger. The only one of the stories I can even vaguely remember now revolved around the fact that Soapy lived in a house on stilts down by the river, but the impression I get from my mom is that they were all similarly implausible. La Cygne's not a big town, so they don't have high school reunions, exactly. But they'd have a big get-together every year where whoever wants to show up, shows up, regardless of when you graduated. It's held at the high school, so there was never any booze, unless you wanted to count the coolers of beer everybody had in their cars. Naturally, then, the real party was out in the parking lot, and that's where my parents were, young and fancy-free, having dropped my older brother with my grandparents for the evening.

"I'm standing there talking to your Aunt Joyce," my mom says, "When your dad, who's standing next to some car, get's all excited and starts motioning me over. 'Dotty, I'd like you to meet somebody,' he says. 'Dotty, this...is Soapy Gommerdinger.'"

At this point in the story, my mom would pantomime her younger self shaking hands with the air, and incredulously say, "I never believed in you."

I, on the other hand, grew up steeped in "I'm not making it up, I'm making it good", so I like to think I'm a little better at telling fact from fiction. And if I ever meet Layne Johnson of Minnesota, I'll have no problem saying, "I knew you were real." Not everybody agrees with me, of course, but it takes all kinds of folks to run a railroad.

In a fascinating development, over at Plain Layne, the inmates have taken over the asylum. Should be an interesting experiment.

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