Did I Tell You That?

Paul Richardson
Guest Columnist

After several years of consistently traveling to the west, my grandson asked me, “Why do we never go east to places like the Carolinas or Tennessee or Kentucky?” “Well,” I responded, “I can’t safely go across the Mississippi River. That is sort of a dividing line. East of the Mississippi there are too many outstanding wants and warrants.” I was having flashbacks to a song from the last ‘60’s. “Indiana wants me…I can’t go back there…” just kept playing in my head.  This what happens when we live vicariously through our dreams.

A few years later he was present when Ray and I started discussing the possibility of attending a rally in Maggie Valley. Troy listened intently and when he caught me alone, he said, “Grandpa, what about all those outstanding wants and warrants?” “Oh, we will slip across the river and slide in quietly and slide out.  No one will be the wiser” I replied.

A few days later and after considerable thought and probably some research with my goodwife and his grandma as the source, he came to me and said with a quizzical voice, “You’ve been lying to me, haven’t you?”  I had to come clean.

Then the other shoe hit the floor.  “What else have you been lying to me about.”  I started to reply with, “That is the only thing, I swear, I don’t know what came over me, but this was the only instance!”  However, I kept that thought in my head and simply said, “You’ll figure it out.”

He had forgotten about the incident when he was young, and the goodwife was forced to console him because he came in the house crying.  He claimed that I, yes, I had threatened to duct tape him to the wall.  Oh, the slander and accusations that I have endured.  His grief came not only from that statement, but from the truth that he clung to.  The truth in his life was that grandpa never told a lie and if I said I was going to duct tape him to the wall, then his fate was sealed and from that perch he would be screaming for help.

I don’t know what is wrong with me.  I have been lying to kids for years.  I lied to my kids for as long as they would accept if for the truth and even tested that water repeatedly to make certain that they were thinking for themselves and weren’t still gullible.  That last sentence was my justification for convincing myself that I was preparing them for the future.  Some of them hung on for a long time.  I remember when the oldest son was a teenage and we were driving down the road in the old farm truck.  I had a bag of horse candy in the seat of the truck.  Horse candy is alfalfa pellets covered in a sugar coating.  Horses love them.  My oldest son said, “Hey dad, what is this stuff?”  He was thinking that I was keeping candy in the pickup in order to keep my children that often resembled a locust plaque from consuming all of it not that I had ever done anything so devious.  I did buy ice cream with nuts in it for years simply because the kids didn’t like nuts in their ice cream.  Then there is the fact that I kept them away from pecan pie until they were adults by telling them, “That pie is really not all that great and usually only adults like it.  You better stick with these cream pies or something that you will be sure to like.”  Back to the horse candy.  I responded,  “Oh, you caught me.  It’s just some candy.”  “Can I have some?” he asked.  “Sure, enjoy,” I replied. Well, what happened next was quite comical.  Once he breached that sugar coating, his encounter with the alfalfa pellet became a spitting, hacking, get it out of my mouth and throw it out the window episode.  I just about wrecked the truck from the laughter and delight that I got from that.

Fun for me? Yes.  Educational for the kids? Yes.  They got to go a lot of places simply because I would pose questions like, “Hey, you kids ever been to Paris?”  “No,” they would reply. “Well, what a great opportunity and coincidence this is.  This next town coming up is Paris.  You guys are in for a real treat!”