The Practical Art of Manipulative Disclosure


Not that I need a moment’s nostalgia at 1:20 am, but I’ll probably soon clear my throat, enjoy that last forced sip of tea, and dive in “head first”. Of course, neither you nor I shall mention that unfortunate recent tumble of mine.

To use the cliche “dive in” would be reckless, insensitive, and at my expense. But the bruises and flashbacks are finally gone and I really don’t want to relive my fall or subsequent hospital holiday.

Well, in any case: early last evening, this 1910 painting by Britain’s Charles Spencelahr whispered into my good ear: “remember?” I’ll never let that tale out for a spin on its own.

It was the summer of ’65 and all mine, Mr Adams and Mr Davis. My parents, sister Polly, and I were in staying at one of those almost extinct grand hotels of downtown America.

Before we left Chapel Hill the day before, I had surreptitiously placed my very small pet turtle in a dish on the floor in the back seat of our car. Hal and Margy didn’t notice Nat until we were already well on the way. I’m not absolutely certain that they even knew I had a turtle. I had learned in my earlier years of Catholic school the art of manipulative disclosure.

Okay. Okay. You and I both know what happened. Nat passed away, rather froze. I had put the bowl on the air conditioner to make him comfy. But when we came back to our room after dinner, he was already beginning to stiffen up.

I’d like to say that I cried, but I didn’t. That milestone was two decades later, when I lost a puss to another animal’s blood lust. Now, THAT was tragic and sob-worthy.

That was the last time I made that mistake again. In fact, I haven’t even held a turtle since.

Hal, on the other hand, then had a sweet little anecdote that he could embellish. He, more than once, worked it into a speech he’d deliver.

I was embarrassed those times that he brought up Nat … publicly or privately. But I’ll give him those recollects.

I would later have much bigger and better tales to tell. I’d have much more time and clarity to “embellish” to properly mold them.

After all I was my father’s son.

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