Monday, January 23, 2012

Pushing the truth.

     I must have been one of the easiest kids to buy presents for.  I loved cars more than anything.  I had three sizes of toy cars.  The Matchbox ® and Hotwheels® were the small ones and probably my favorite.  The medium size cars were the least in number.  TootsieToy® made a lot of them as well as large sized Matchbox and small Tonka toys.  Then there were my big cars which were mostly Tonka.  Other big cars were made by smaller toy manufacturers including my Cadillac.  I remember owning a toy Cadillac that was a plastic hollow shell of an early sixties model car. 
My only real memory of it is taking it on an overnight somewhere.  I may have been sleeping in a trailer or camper and I was on a top bunk.  My dad was below.  In the middle of the night I woke up and found the car next to me.  Suddenly I was irritated at it.  The car had no floorboards.  It was a cheap single piece with two axels clapped on.  I wasn’t in my regular bed with my little alarm clock with the sweeping second hand that got stuck every sixty seconds.  I was in the dark in an unfamiliar bed and it was this awful car’s fault.   In a single thrust I pushed the car from the top bunk and as it clattered to the floor it made the most amusing sound that I can still hear in my mind today.  The sound went, “black plastic cadillac.”   
Before I could revel in amusement at the wonderful noise my dad’s head slowly rose up.  Right away, it wasn’t funny anymore and I also felt it was time to sleep.
I enjoy telling stories like this from my childhood and everything I’ve told so far is absolutely true.  There is one incongruity, however.  The toy Cadillac that said “black plastic cadillac” was actually blue.
My point is this:  As I tell these stories from my life, I’m a little reluctant to embellish even the least detail even if it makes the story better.  Maybe it’s a moral code or maybe it’s that I’m afraid that I might get tangled into a web of untruths.  Take for example this story of Naomi at the hospital in Los Angeles.  One of the countless medications Naomi was requested to take was milk of magnesia.  Naomi of course between her wonky hearing and confidence in repeating how she thought words ought to be said never said the name of it right.  Her nurse that week was named Miesha.  It would be a perfect story if Naomi called it Milk of Miesha, but she didn’t.  She called it milk of my-neejah. Now if I ever write a memoir, which I really want to do, how much do I indulge the story to where I think it ought to go? 
There are all kinds of guides to writing memoirs out there now.  They are one of the more popular genres today.  I can look up all kinds of guidelines that will tell me one way or another whether or not to create composite characters and how much to make up.  But in the end, this is my story and I am the writer and it will be up to me how much to bend the truth.
Rest assured, every story on my blog so far is true.  And now that I have realized that it’s no more than part of my weekly writing regimen, I think I would like to go back and re-write at least a few of my older entries.  I think that some of my stories can be better.  They will still be truthful, I just don’t like them when I look at them right now. It’s like this, I have woken up to find annoying little things that are not well crafted and they are sticking to me.  I want to give them a firm push and see what kind of noise they make.


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