“Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.” – Mark Twain
Aside from my fellow Hannibalian Twain, one of my favorite writers is a short, quirky, middle-aged man with a checkered past and a hilarious, self-deprecating, and brutally honest writing style. No, I’m not talking about myself (although I will be momentarily). I’m referring to David Sedaris, a wildly successful essayist and humorist who has penned countless pieces about his family and his many missteps in life.
It’s an understatement to say that Sedaris has been a major influence on my writing. However, rather than trying to copy his style, I simply copied his approach: writing with 100% honesty. David and I both know that for us, the truth is much more entertaining, interesting, and valuable than fiction.
You have seen the evidence of this fact ever since I began writing for the Journal nearly eight years ago. You’ve read about my family’s many misadventures on the road during our infamous camping trips. You’ve read about my notorious bad luck with automobile repairs. You’ve read about me being forced to replace toilets more often than most people replace lightbulbs. All of these stories are true and, according to quite a few of you, entertaining.
But the truth can also be inspiring. Many of you have spoken to me privately about your struggles with alcohol and addiction after I wrote about my own battle with the bottle. I’ve heard affirmations from several of you in response to my columns about being a parent, especially about being an adoptive parent and a foster parent. Still others have thanked me for being an advocate for children, for teachers, for education funding, and other causes near and dear to my heart.
Writing with absolute honesty and strong convictions can sometimes result in injured feelings, but it is never my intention to offend anyone. I rarely write politically-inspired pieces, but when I do, I always try to back up my opinions with facts. I also make an effort to remain respectful to people who may not agree with the things I am passionate about. However, I will not compromise my principles in order to appease anyone.
I have written over 400 columns for the Boone County Journal so far. Setting aside one piece of satire, an April Fool’s Day spoof about Mayor (and current Journal publisher) Gene Rhorer declaring martial law to quell citizen unrest after the new roundabouts were installed a few years ago, I have devoted the other 300,000 or so words that I have written over the years to telling the truth, however embarrassing or uncomfortable or infuriating the truth may be.
Mark Twain wrote, “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.” You, my friends, are certainly worthy of it, and that is why I will continue to be candid and honest with you for as long as Mr. Rhorer allows my musings to occupy a column of his publication.
With all of that said, I feel that it is my duty to confess something to you. Despite the critical need for help with sandbagging operations in our beloved community of Hartsburg, I have not lifted a shovel or filled a single bag of sand. While I realize that this seems un-neighborly, there is a painfully true reason for my lack of participation that can be summed up in three simple words:
Intense groin pain.
How much information is too much information? Well, in the interest of full-transparency, I feel compelled to tell you that while carrying a heavy set of truck wheels and tires up the stairs to the loft in my shop a couple weeks ago, I twisted, tweaked, and/or tore a part of my body that did not like being twisted, tweaked, and/or torn. I’ll leave it up to you to guess what part that is. Here’s a hint: It rhymes with teft lesticle.
While the medical advice websites that I consulted for this particular ailment cautioned me to rest and avoid any further strenuous activity for the foreseeable future, I of course did the opposite. Yard work needed to be done. Baskets of laundry needed to be hauled to the basement. Trailers needed to be hooked up to my truck. Fallen tree trunks needed to be moved. Mistake. Mistake. Big mistake. Oh, sweet baby Jesus, what was I thinking mistake.
My wife, a medical professional, has informed me that I am, in fact, an idiot. Those were probably not her exact words, but after watching me limp around the house and hearing me moan in agony every time I pushed my luck, she is fresh out of sympathy to give.
When I mentioned my desire to do my part to help our friends in Hartsburg, my devoted spouse said, “Dearest love of my life, I beseech thee to reconsider this noble but foolish notion of yours. I admire you for your compassion, but I care about your health far too much to bear witness to any further injury you may incur whilst hoisting hefty and numerous bags of sand.” Those were probably not her exact words either, but once again, I heard her message loud and clear.
I offer my sincerest apologies to the good people of Hartsburg. Best of luck on your fight with the Big Muddy. I promise to pitch-in when the next “flood of the century” happens in a couple of years—if I’ve recovered by then.