I’m a talk show junky. On the tonight show there are segments such as “sold or not sold” in regards to some ridiculous ebay posts. Sometimes on the ellen show there are segments such as “real country lyrics or not real country lyrics.” You know…things that make you stop and think about what you think is real and what you think is a farce.

In my dad’s old age he is starting to get a little nutty. He tells stories that are sometimes so far out there that my siblings and I just nod and smile. Nod and smile, folks. Just nod and smile. One of the things he likes to say is, “Let me give you a number.” And then proceed to quote some statistic or another. My youngest sister and one of my younger brothers were having a discussion with him and in order to prove his point he goes, “Let me give you a number.” To which my sister replied, “Is it going to be a real one?” The siblings crack up. Dad just gives us a smirky smirk like it has somehow kicked him back into reality for a moment.

One of the ways in which you are initiated into my family is to have to be the one stuck in a corner listening to Dad tell his stories. My husband has paid his dues. Zack and Ammon and Adam have all paid their dues. Cory. Well, he’s the smart one, obviously, because he always had something to do when it came time to go visit the parents. There came a point a few months ago where he just couldn’t get out of the visit. And, as per usual, Michelle (or insert the name of any the other “family” member) happily sat him down with her grandpa so that she could visit with her cousins, aunts and uncles. On our drive home Cory said, “Soooooo. Your dad was telling me how he used to be a pilot. Is that real or not real?” I said, “Real. He had his pilot’s license when I was a kid because his medical practice took him between Las Vegas, Mesquite, and St. George on a regular basis.” Silence from the back seat. “OK, so did he train to be a race car driver?” Hah! “Not real.” This game continued during our two hour drive home as he recounted some of the stories Dad was telling. Real or not real?

It is pretty difficult in our normal, every day lives to discern what is real and what is not real as we interact with people. Imagine the difficulty in our on-line associations. Everyone is on-line these days. There isn’t the whole “Oh my gawd, they met on the internet (gasp)!” stigma that used to exist. There is a whole different element because you don’t have body language or tone of voice as a reference point to assist with the “real or not real” game like you do when you interact face to face. I don’t think the rules are any different. I think you still have to use a modicum of common sense and realize that there can be some real and not real things, whether you’re having a face to face conversation or whether you’re having a computer to computer conversation. When you’re having those interactions, when there are “not real” things, you have to be able to decide if it is important or not important. You have to decide if the “not real” things will hurt you or not hurt you.

As frustrated as I get by my dad’s stories and sometimes want to shout “WHY ARE YOU MAKING SHIT UP” I have to remind myself to step aside. Remind myself that his stories aren’t hurting anybody. Remind myself that he may not be fully in his right mind. Remind myself that his kindness to others over the years will outweigh the bit o’ crazy I see in his older years. If I can’t do that, I run the risk of possibly developing unkind feelings towards him for not being honest, when in all actuality he may just be crazy enough to believe the things he says. Kindness, to me, is the most important thing to remember when you’re dealing with the “real or not real” game of life.

And now….

A totally real photograph. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with this post, but I was taking night time shots Saturday night and I LOVED the way they turned out. So, indulge me a moment. Don’t worry, I’m not posting hundreds of photos….just one.

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