An increasing number of readers (all eight of them, two sober) have approached me of late to inquire about the welfare of my ex-wife and children in the Butte County community of Paradise.
“Hey, what ever happened to that psychic dog with the blue nose? Your ex-wife shoot up the saloon again? That’s some kinda woman you used to have, bro. We never hear about her anymore…”
There’s a, er, reason for that.
Three or four years ago, the sleepy mountain community of Paradise finally got electrical service and, a few months later, an intoxicated delivery man from Yuba City accidentally dropped a computer in the parking lot of the old Hootch Hut liquor store there.
Once the sleepy Paradisans discovered that they could plug the computer into an electrical outlet and enter the 21st century-world-of-the-Internet, there was no turning back – for them or for me.
You see, the newspaper also maintains an up-to-date Web page whereon this column appears. In fact, you may be reading this column on our Web page right now.
(Actually, I’m writing it right now, but you may eventually see it later, which is now for you. This is pretty technical cyber stuff, so try not to let it confuse you.)
As luck would have it, some folks in Paradise – including my ex-wife – discovered the newspaper’s Web page and began questioning the veracity of this column.
Hard to believe, but my ex-wife and full-time kids have implied that some of my reminiscences about pleasant days spent in Paradise may not be totally accurate.
“I never made you sleep in the Dumpster. I never even owned a Dumpster. And the dog didn’t, either, and neither I nor the Labrador ever shot up the Wee Lark Lounge, not even during Gold Nugget Days. And Lloyd the Dog had a green nose, not a blue one,” my ex-wife explained patiently one afternoon amid a growing pile of shredded column printouts. “And the toilet never flushed into the bathtub.”
Ah, how soon we forget the minutiae of everyday living in a primitive mountain beer-drinking community.
My son’s memory proved equally faulty as he began examining some past newspaper columns.
“Dad, my sister is not a vampire and I’ve never rolled a single car. Not ever. Thanks to you, people don’t even bother to ask if I’ve rolled my car. They ask how many cars I’ve rolled,” he pointed out. “Not that the cars matter all that much since I’m supposed to be the same kid who burned down the entire town of Oroville with a model rocket when I was 14 years old…”
I tried to explain to the lad that he probably doesn’t remember things as accurately as I do because he was somewhat traumatized by the conflagration, but he was adamant about his non-involvement in many of the painstakingly reported incidents in this column.
“Dad, Oroville’s still there.”
And last week my daughter called from her new home in Oregon and said she also wanted to take a closer look at the newspaper’s Web page.
Can it be that she, too, suspects me of inadvertently exaggerating some portions of her childhood?
As purposeless as it may seem, I’ve decided to carefully review any future family columns before publication, just to be on the safe side.
Until then, however, perhaps I can interest you in the true story of the Paradise Ridge Dog Suit Militia…
Originally published May 14, 2000