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The Times
  • Gary Brown: Tales sure get taller with age

  • This gathering was a guy thing that consisted of essentially not doing anything but sitting around talking until we all figured it was past our bedtime. I’ve found I look forward to that sort of thing more lately. Not the talking. The bedtime.

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  • So the other night a handful of us old guys were on the patio at the back of a home owned by one of the guys, and we were celebrating the 65th birthday of another guy in the group, his brother. I won’t tell you which one was which because it will just confuse you. I forget and get their names mixed up sometimes myself, and I know them.
    Anyway, this gathering was a guy thing that consisted of essentially not doing anything but sitting around talking until we all figured it was past our bedtime. I’ve found I look forward to that sort of thing more lately. Not the talking. The bedtime.
    We were saying things that weren’t lies, technically, because everything we talked about actually happened. The details of the memories were just rearranged, or replaced, or added to, or forgotten entirely. But the truth was there, somewhere.
    Before we go on, it’s important to me to repeat that I wasn’t the 65-year-old.
    But one of us was fairly old, and the rest of us all gathered to say, “Hi, old man” and give him insulting cards that he didn’t get mad at because we’re all friends and, at 65, he doesn’t know for sure he’ll have enough time or energy left to get new friends.
    That’s why he laughed when he read the cards, and he shook our hands, and he nodded when we all said happy birthday, and he smiled as he probably thought to himself, “Wait until you’re all 65 and I buy the cards. ...”
    Then we all talked for a while longer. Once you start old guys talking it’s tough to get us to stop. We have a lot of stories. And they all seem a lot more important now than they did when we collected them. I know for sure they’re longer.
    When you consider all the details I hadn’t heard before — you’ve got to freshen up a story from time to time if you’re going to repeat it every single time you talk to friends — some of the stories seemed downright new.
    In fact, I didn’t even recognize one of the stories. I was starting to be convinced that I hadn’t even been there until the guy who was telling it suddenly said, “You remember how we all ...” He said “all,” like it was our entire group. So I guess I must have participated. The story went on to sound awfully fun, so I hope I was involved.
    Some of the stories, of course, seemed very familiar. One of my favorites — and not just because I’ve told it in various forms a few times myself over the years — is the one about the Great Propane Truck Disaster.
    Page 2 of 2 - We were out in Colorado a few years ago driving on a winding mountain road when we got stopped behind a long line of cars that were backed up because a propane truck had crashed, blocking a pass. Nobody could move. Those are the facts as everyone remembers them.
    At least the night on the patio, though, we were all in a little disagreement about the number of hours or days or one guy might have said weeks we had to wait in that line of cars. We may have had enough snacks in the car to tide us over or we could have hunted and gathered food for sustenance. The car itself could have been a van.
    I personally thought that we stayed in Colorado the whole time, but there was some speculation whether we had to drive to other states just to get around the wreck and back on our way to Denver’s airport.
    But, the disagreement was OK, because it led to stories of other ski trips — great trips on which we skied farther and faster and with more skill than I remembered we did back in those days. I guess we must have. Three of the five of us thought so.
    I guess it’s as they say. Some things do get better with age.
    Contact Gary Brown at gary.brown@cantonrep.com.

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