Tall Tales of Two Cities

I found out recently that my brother Kevin has been writing an article in the San Francisco Chronicle every Wednesday for a long time now. I’m impressed. Mark Twain wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle. I just write an occasional story on my Lancaster web page. I feel like a slacker. Actually, I am a slacker. So, it doesn’t bother me. I have no intention to try to be as prolific as Kevin. Besides, Kevin has two very active teenage-ish boys who practically write the stories for him because they feed him so much material. The great number of cocktails I would need to consume to come up with a new idea every week could destroy my liver. There is one thing about our writing style that Kevin and I do have in common, though. Like Mark Twain, we both believe that the truth shouldn’t get in the way of a good story.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who wrote a lot of riverboat stories like Huckleberry Finn, chose Mark Twain as his pen name. It is a riverboat term meaning 2 fathoms of water (12 feet), water deep enough to be safe for a riverboat not to run aground. Kevin and I aren’t that deep. We write shallow rowboat stories – just enough to get your feet wet.

We both use the same fact checker, too, Brother X. He always lets us know whenever our stories aren’t accurate. Last week I said that my Cousin Charlie was one of those who broke the family curse by not dying at 67. He informed me that Charlie passed 20 years ago. I guess that explains why I haven’t seen Charlie in decades. Curses. Foiled again. Of course, my stories are usually harder to fact check since most of them take place here in Lancaster. Kevin, on the other hand, frequently tells stories from when we were kids. Those are easy for both X and myself to fact check. We grew up in the same house. When confronted with discrepancies, though, Kevin just says, “Well, that’s the way I remember it.” I think he stole that line from a half-dozen recent Presidents.

Kevin, who is gay, also has a treasure-trove of stories from all the gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender citizens of San Francisco. I only have Crazy Debbie, but she does provide quite a lot of material. She was telling me the other day that her Mom traces her roots back to General/President Ulysses S. Grant. So, she was trying to impress me with her knowledge about the Civil War. “I know a lot about the Civil War,” she said. “Things like the Boston Tea Party…”

I gasped audibly.

“I made you laugh, didn’t I?” she said. “I saw you smile.”

“No,” I said, “You didn’t make me laugh. You made my eyeballs roll so far up into my head that they pulled the corners of my lips up.”

“That’s the same as a laugh,” she smiled. I did laugh about it afterwards, though, so I guess she might have been right.


I have one big advantage over Kevin, though. Writing for a widely-read San Francisco newspaper puts a lot of pressure on him. One over-the-top comment might produce a volume of angry letters to the editor. My audience, which I estimate to be about 6 people (including the fact checker), puts absolutely no pressure at all on me. If Patrice and Barbara comment favorably, I consider that column a winner. If I get three or more good comments I start wondering if they give out Pulitzers for webpages.

Write On, Brother. Write On. I’ll do what I can, whenever the muse strikes.

Peace & Love, and all of the Above.




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