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Tim Sandlin

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Truth, Lies and Styrofoam

Posted: 12/02/2013 1:50 pm

Fiction writers write a series of lies that add up to Truth. Capital T. Nonfiction writers write a series of facts that add up to a point of view, if you are kind, and a lie, if you are tacky. I write novels, which means my lies are Truth. Bill O'Reilly's lies are lies. Your sanity depends on your ability to tell the difference.

And, besides being a professional daydreamer and storyteller, I live in a tourist trap, which makes me a double liar. The whole world over, locals lie to tourists. Remember the Fountain of Youth. That was a lie locals told tourists in something like 1526. It's been a tradition ever since, culminating in the official Wyoming state animal -- the jackalope.

At times, my tall tales get me in the soup. I like to think my stories are so tall, nobody would be gullible enough to buy them. But, there are those who are beyond gullible. Especially in Oklahoma. Consider the following Letter to the Editor that was actually published in the Jackson Hole News. My neighbours blamed me, of course.

To the Editor,


My family and I visited your beautiful valley this past summer and we had a wonderful time, but I must register a complaint. While my husband and I were waiting in the line to dump the Mini Winnie's tanks in the RV sewage disposal at Signal Mountain campground, a nice young man walked over and we got up a conversation.


He said he lived year-round in the Teton area and I said he was lucky and he said, "Yes, ma'am," polite as could be. Then I asked him what was the white stuff on the mountains. We'd been arguing about it all week -- Bert and me. Bert said he thought it was snow, but this was August and I was born and reared in Oklahoma. I never heard of snow in August.


The nice young man told us the white stuff was Styrofoam so the mountain climbers wouldn't get hurt when they fell off the cliffs. Made sense to me, and who would dream a native person would spread misinformation, so I said, "Told you," to Bert and he grumbled some and that was that.


Back here in Oklahoma, last month, I told my beautician Wanda Jo Henderson that the park people spread Styrofoam all through the mountains so climbers won't get hurt when they fall. She said I was nuts and one thing led to another until I bet her twelve dollars (which is the price of a wash and set) that I was right. I mean a local native told me.


You know the rest. I'm out twelve dollars, my hair looked like a Brillo pad for a week because Wanda Jo was laughing so hard that she botched the job, and now all the girls, and Bert, are telling the whole state what a fool I am.


So I think that young man owes me twelve dollars and an apology. If anyone there knows who I'm talking about, I'd appreciate you slapping his face and getting my money. The young man was taller than me and had a beard. You're bound to recognize him because he had on sunglasses with a silly strap around the back of his head. He wore jeans and a T-shirt that said Skipped Parts. He had on sandals. Get him for me.


Kathy McLish
Norman, Oklahoma

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