You realize I'm making up stories here, don't you?
I mean, I don't fabricate and I usually try to verify, but I'm still filling the blanks with some of my stuff, like we all do.
In fact, I specialize in stories about how often people tell themselves untrue stories about other people and the world, because they are so confident in their own experiences, perceptions and character judgment. I tell these stories to encourage others to look beyond what they believe to be the truth. And I accept that as an obligation in my own life.
Then, there's reality.
A few weeks ago, I told a poignant story about giving away a cherished but underused bicycle. If you haven't read it yet, you should go here and do so before you continue with this post.
This is where, if I had advertisers, I would insert an ad to create a little space so you don't just breeze on through.
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On Friday at Peace House, two weeks after I wrote the wistful account of the Sky Rider's fate—a fate, I might add, I accepted with grace—I saw Marsh again.
This time, he greeted me immediately when I entered the large common room.
And immediately, I knew why he was so much more effusive this time.
Because the Marsh I wrote about two weeks ago—the heavyset black man with the little beard evading me behind the sunglasses and hat—was not Marsh. As soon as I saw the real Marsh I thought, how could I be so blind, such a prototypical white dude, blending these two people into one, and inventing an explanation for the other Marsh's distance.
Oh sure, I thought I had the facts and a credible witness. But even more important, I had a story that satisfied my need to tell a story.
You gave me a bike that needs work, Marsh said.
I thought you got rid of it. Calvin said he saw someone else riding it.
Nah, nah, it's in my front room, Marsh said.
There were things he wanted to change on the bike but he didn't have the money because he owed a debt to Social Security thanks to his former case worker screwing him somehow. (A long story we will skip over, because at this point, Calvin appeared.)
You got me, I said.
You told me Marsh had unloaded the bike, that you'd seen it down on Lake Street.
Yeah, black, chrome fenders, with a big basket and its chain all rusty. A girl's bike, right?
Ah, man, I wasn't putting you on. I thought it was yours!
The peripatetic bike made such a compelling tale, wrapped up with a pretty good lesson about the perils of attaching expectations to the gifts we give. And I got to play the wise man, so that was cool.
But I suppose this story is just as good, if not better. And heck, it might even be truer.