Charles (my real name), Chuck, and Chas – All Present and Accounted For

Posted On January 17, 2024

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

This week’s Keepin’ It Real as broadcast Fridays on Alabama Public Radio.


An icicle hangs from the roof of my house. I’m looking at it but still can’t quite believe it. Icicles are very rare here. Usually reserved for the freezer door that was left open overnight. A winter storm blew through and Mobile, Alabama is doing what it usually does when it gets below average cold – we’re freaking out.

School is cancelled, quote, “out of an abundance of caution” for the kids. There’s no rebuttal to that phrase. It can’t be argued. Right now, my kids are picking up their friends to go to lunch. School was cancelled to keep the kids off the hazardous roads. The roads are fine, and my kids are loving it. There’s no abundance of caution in them. There’s about to be an abundance of Chick Fil A.

I learned yesterday my generator that died at 3am in last week’s storm is unrepairable. It’s dead. The technician, a very nice guy, felt guilty telling me the replacement part I bought won’t work due to the alternator being destroyed by what was probably a lightning strike. Replacing the alternator would cost as much as a new generator. So, it’s dead. Here, he said, is his bill for the replacement part and for his time replacing it even though the generator is unfixable. That stung.

We are but nineteen days into 2024 and Nick Saban has retired, the election year chaos has started, we’ve had a horrible storm that knocked out the power then its lightning killed my generator, it’s now too cold to go outside, there’s an icicle on my roof, and my kids should be in school but instead are at Chik Fil A with their friends. If I could rhyme all this with beer and mud and tire it would be a country music smash.

A cynic lives inside of me. He’s powerful. I call him Chuck. When he gets out, he becomes uncontrollable. He runs amok. It’s been a life-long challenge to keep Chuck at bay. And it’s times like this that he’s banging at the door to tell the world what he thinks. What he sees. What the real truth is. And what’s wrong with everybody. Chuck is a know it all. And I don’t like him, but Chuck does live here. And it’s on days like today that he rages to get out.

Chuck’s foil, lives here, too. His name is Chas. Chas finds what’s right and what’s good and what is working. Chas sees the bright side. His cup is half-full. It took years for Chas to show up. And Chas has to be groomed and fed and nurtured every single day or he’ll vanish. Chuck needs nothing to thrive. He feeds on everything. Nurturing Chas requires discipline. He’s delicate but vital and I need him now.

Chuck says it’s one skinny icicle, why are my kids out of school? Chas says the surprise on my kid’s face from no school today was wonderful to watch.

I’m Cam Marston and on behalf of Chuck, Chas, and myself, we’re just trying to Keep it Real.

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