Keepin’ It Real with Cam Marston

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Weekly Commentaries and Videos

Keepin’ It Real with Cam Marston are weekly commentaries airing at 7:45AM and 4:45PM on Fridays on Alabama Public Radio since 2018. Each tells a story designed to deliver motivation, inspiration, or humor. The commentaries have won both state-wide and national awards.

The Keepin’ It Real with Cam Marston videos are 26 short (3:30s+/-) videos designed to deliver motivation, inspiration, and awareness around important workplace topics. Workplaces utilize the videos to build teams, develop a positive and inclusive workplace culture, and become a common conversation topic for employees, teams, and workplaces. The videos are branded for the organization and each video comes with a Learning Supplement to help team leaders debrief the video.

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Listen to the Keepin’ It Real commentaries Fridays on Alabama Public Radio (WQPR-Muscle Shoals, WAPR-Selma & Montgomery, WHIL-Mobile, W264AI-Maysville) & KXCR in Florence, Oregon

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Keepin’ It Real is underwritten on Alabama Public Radio by Roosters Latin American Food in downtown Mobile, Alabama.

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On May 24, 2024

Staring At the Clock

On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, what was Cam doing today at 4:59am? Well, he wasn’t getting out of bed. That we know for sure.

—–

Most mornings I’m staring at the clock about 4:30 am waiting to get up. I won’t allow myself to get out of bed before 5am. Getting your day started at 5am means you’re aggressive. You’re eager to get going. Getting out of bed before 5am means you have a problem. They’re slight gradations. Minutes matter and 4:59am is a good bit different from 5am. I stare at the clock until it turns 5 when I feel like it’s ok to jump up and get the coffee started.

Most of my friends are much the same. I sat at my kitchen table last Saturday night with two friends as we waited for the beef ribs to get to 203 degrees, which, according to one of my kitchen guests, is the magic temperature for beef ribs. Each of us talking about how early we get up and what we do in those early morning hours. It’s worth noting that none of us do anything much interesting at all at this time of day. We make busy. We putter around. Each thinking that our behavior at that hour must be fascinating to others and we can’t wait to tell them about it. It’s not. As different as we think we are, we’re all remarkably the same at that time of day.

Years back I saw that when I accomplished something at that time of day it set a precedent for getting stuff done throughout the day. If I could check something off my list first thing in the morning – even something small – then I was likely to accomplish more during the day. This is to avoid staring into my phone as my first action of the day which leads to a poor beginning to the day. So at night, I cue up my early morning project. It’s simple stuff – I fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, take trash to the street, change a lightbulb. Something small done with one eye on the coffee maker. Because when the coffee maker beeps that the coffee is ready, the projects stop, the coffee goes into my cup, and it’s go-time for the day. But, in that short amount of time the coffee is brewing, I’ve made progress on having a good day.

It’s unfair that the first fifteen minutes of each day has such great influence over the following sixteen hours. I’m more like a child protecting its pacifier than any sort of adult doing adult things. But I’ve learned, so goes my morning, so goes my day. A more mentally disciplined person would never allow that to happen – they can set a positive trajectory by shaping their thoughts anytime of the day. I, however, am vulnerable to those first fifteen minutes. It’s shocking and, frankly it disappoints me about myself.

Amazing how beholden we are to our routines, isn’t it? Amazing how we count on them like we do. I can choose to get out of my routine and enjoy it. But knock me out of my routine unwillingly and I struggle to keep my day from deteriorating. So I protect it. And any parent knows what I know about myself – you don’t mess with the pacifier.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On May 19, 2024

Don’t Get Sick

On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam has seen much more of the healthcare world these days than he would like. His advice: Stay well.

—–

I’ve been given an up a close look at our health care system over the past several months. It’s been, well, disappointing. And this comes after hearing a remarkable speaker discuss the importance of customer service on company culture.

I made a reference several months ago to the pain I’ve had. It’s finally been diagnosed as polymyalgia rhumatica, or PMR. It showed up around February first and has been a part of every day since. It’s a sickness that can’t be confirmed through tests. Once they rule out everything else, it’s one of the ones that’s left.

I’ve dealt with some pain in my life. Cluster headaches. A blood clot in my lung. However, nothing day in and day out has been like this PMR pain. On a scale from one to ten it’s regularly an 8 in the morning dipping to a four or five in the afternoon and back to an 8 the next morning. I need help getting my shirt on and off. I can barely brush my teeth. Right now, I’m on a steroid that masks the pain and I pray that the pain ends before the prescription runs out.

Now, the heath care system. I’ve seen five different doctors to try to diagnose this. I’m guessing I’ve spent less than an hour total with all of them. Averaging, maybe, ten minutes each. They burst through the door, they ask a handful of questions, they order tests. It’s quick. I’ve spent lots of time with nurses and assistants and in waiting rooms. But the doctors are hard to come by.

One hospital wouldn’t let me speak to a doctor who I heard might can help. “Unless you’re a patient,” they said, “you can’t speak to him.” “Well, I might become a patient if he thinks he can help. I’ve seen others of his specialty, but I hear he knows more. “Sorry,” they said. So, I wrote him a letter to get him to call me. I got a voice mail from the office supervisor – “you can’t talk to him. Please call me back,” she said. And I tried, got an exhaustive phone tree, zero’d out and asked, “Can I leave a message for the supervisor?” “Sorry,” they said. “Her phone isn’t hooked up to the system.” Over and over. Round and round. There were some phone trees that never allowed me to speak with anyone. If I weren’t in pain already my experience with today’s health care system was getting me there.

Another – “before I can treat you further, I have to do some tests,” the doctor said. “Make an appointment on the way out.” “We don’t make appointments,” the front desk said. Annoyed. Staring at her phone. “Someone will call you.” A day later, “Our next available appointment is in July.” “So, I have to live in level 8 pain from early April to July?” “Sorry. That’s all I got. You want the appointment or not?”

The culture of healthcare today is painful. Don’t get sick, folks. Don’t get sick. If your sickness doesn’t kill you, finding the treatment just might.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to keep it real.   

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On May 10, 2024

He’s Not Roscoe

Each spring Cam sits in his morning reading chair and see’s a friend just outside the window. But Cam won’t give him a name. He absolutely won’t.

—–

My lizard friend is back again. He shows up on the air conditioner every spring just outside the window. He stays there quite a while each morning, arriving about half an hour after sunrise. I sit each morning in my reading chair and keep an eye out for him. And suddenly, he’s there.

I grew up calling these things chameleons. Wikipedia, however, just told me he is a green anole and he is often mistakenly called a chameleon, likely started by pet shop owners who were selling them as something much more exotic than they are. Wikipedia also says his species is “secure”, meaning they are abundant.

My lizard friend is a male. He keeps pushing out his dewlap, his little red throat thingy that they show during mating season, hoping, I suppose to attract some babe lizard due to his remarkably colorful and large dewlap. He sits alone on the air conditioner flexing his dewlap in the hopes that some chick lizard will spot him and be taken with his masculinity and crawl on over for a big moment of lizard passion. At least that’s what I assume he’s doing. In this regard, my lizard friend isn’t too much different than many of the guys I see at the gym.

As a child we’d catch them and scare the girls. My braver friends would catch two and when the lizard tried to bite them, they’d let the lizard bite their earlobe and let it hang. The kids would walk inside with lizards hanging from each ear, find their mothers and say, “Mom. Look at me.” The mothers would see two lizards hanging from their son’s ears and freak out.  “Get those lizards off your ears and get them out of my house!” We loved it. Scaring mothers with bugs and lizards was a big fun part of my childhood.

There’s a part of me that wants to name him, and the name Roscoe keeps coming to mind. However, once you give a name an animal it becomes much closer to being a pet. A friend owns a beef cattle farm and he’s talked to me about how he avoids naming any of his cattle. One may have a big mark on him that makes my friend want to call that cow Spot or Freckles or something, but he resists the urge. My friend knows that one day that cow will be in the cooler for sale, and having to say goodbye Spot or Freckles is, well… He knows not to name them.

Same is true for the lizard outside who might be Roscoe. He has lots of predators looking for him. Birds. Snakes. Larger lizards. I won’t name him because I may be watching him display one morning at the same time a blue jay or mockingbird sees him and suddenly Roscoe’s gone. So I won’t name him, the anonymous lizard who might otherwise be Roscoe. He’s trying so hard out there. Every morning, he and I say hello through the window and he gets to work while I read. He’s a good lizard, Roscoe is, but I won’t name him. I won’t.

I’m Cam Marston. Just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On April 26, 2024

Talking in the Locker Room

On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam Marston takes a moment to observe the fingerprint of time. And wishes he hadn’t.

—–

Talking to a naked man is awkward. It’s just…awkward.

There are men that have come my gym at the same time every day for decades. And their work in the gym may have kept them alive but it has not kept them from aging. There is nothing firm on them. There’s nothing taut. Age plus gravity has left a sagging fingerprint. And talking to a naked man, especially one with some age on him, is, well, awkward. They’re standing there, towel over their shoulder, not around their waist. Is eye contact the right thing? Is no eye contact the right thing? I struggle with what to do.  

My gym has a hot tub. It feels good to get in there and, as I say, boil my bones for about ten minutes. I wear shorts. It’s a moment of truth whenever a naked man approaches the hot tub and asks, “Mind if I join you?” I never say what I want to. There’s plenty of room in there for the both of us, but sharing a hot tub with a naked man is, well, awkward. How far do I stay away? My instinct is to push myself up against the furthest edge of the tub. However, too much aversion may be rude. So somewhere between the next county over and right next to him seems to be about right. Always looking up. Always looking out. Always looking away. No behavior or no eye contact to suggest that you’re happy he’s joined you.

I watched out of the corner of my eye as an old man walked across the crowded locker room, towel over his shoulder, toward the water cooler. The room parted like the Red Sea. Everyone scooting out of the way. Him talking the whole way about golf or politics or traffic, whatever. No one was listening after he starting moving. Everyone clearing out. Making a path. Don’t get too close. And, good lord, don’t touch him. Fully dressed I’d happily shake his hand or even hug him. In the locker room with only a towel over his shoulder, no contact at all.

Another tried talking to a younger man who was getting dressed. The older man, towel over his shoulder, couldn’t get the younger man’s full attention. It was clear that the younger man did not want a conversation with a naked old man, so older man began walking towards him. The younger man moved to avoid him and kept moving, like a slow moving chase. Once the older man got within a certain distance, the younger man moved again. Like the repulsion of two magnets. And it was funny as long as he didn’t want to talk to me.

The male body, especially after a certain age, is nothing people should want to look at. It’s nothing people should have to see. It becomes oddly misshapen and strangely bulbous. There are exceptions, of course, and they’re on the covers of magazines. But most of us – yes, me too – avoid full length mirrors until we’re dressed. We already can feel the fingerprint of time. There’s absolutely no reason to have to look at it.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On April 19, 2024

Persevere

On this week’s KIR, Cam Marston wonders if he could do the same thing for fifteen years and know, just know in his bones, that it would pay off.

—–

I’ve just watched the documentary on Steve Martin called “Steve! A Documentary in Two Pieces.” I’ve always liked Steve Martin.

What caught my attention the most is that he did his standup act for fifteen years. The vast majority of that time, his audiences were very small. In one video clip, he’s counting the number of people in the room during his act – there were fifteen people there. He got what he thought were big breaks that bombed, in one case opening for Anne Margaret in Las Vegas and after he finished his act all his belongings had been put in a box outside his dressing room.

However, the last stand-up comedy act he did was at the Nassau Coliseum outside New York City where he sold it out three nights in a row – 45,000 people each night. After the third night, he walked off the stage, never to do that act ever again. He was at the top of his game. It took him fifteen years to get there. And then he was done.

Question: Who of us have the will, the fortitude, to persevere for fifteen years – fifteen years – with the hope – actually, the confidence – that what we’re doing will ultimately pan out. When giving up or changing course is a very real option but we chose not to do it because our vision of what could be is so strong. I’m not sure I do. How many of us can see the need for a change, or see a change coming, and get out in front of it, remain confident amongst the failure and rejection, and never waver.

A number of times during the documentary Martin says that he did his act because he had few other options. The little money it brought in was all he had. Those interviewed, though, said he was waiting for society to catch up to his humor. Steve Martin changed standup and comedy and humor. He could see the change coming, but the vast majority of society wasn’t aware that a change was happening. Martin saw it coming, ever so slowly, so he kept going.

It’s one thing to ID forthcoming changes in technology and how to get ahead of those changes to profit from new products – think Steve Jobs and the iPod – but what Steve Martin did was predict a change in the ethos of the United States following Vietnam. He had a hunch people would be different. And he kept at it. And, in time he was proven right.

What’s the moral of this story? Someone like that is out there amongst us right here and right now. Doing something we think is foolish, or that doesn’t seem funny, or saying something that doesn’t sound smart or goes against the grain of society. We ridicule them or cast them aside or, more likely, just ignore them. But they keep coming back. Perhaps, we should take a look.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On April 12, 2024

April’s Fool

On this week’s Keepin It Real, Cam Marston hypothesizes on what a parenting podcast from him and his wife would sound like.

—–

My wife and I sat together at the beach last week laughing as we retold stories and reminded ourselves of the humor of parenting. Especially as Gen X parents. We decided to compose a social media post together. The date was April first, and that date matters.

The post read the following: We are frequently asked how we’ve raised four perfect children. Here’s our response: We are excited to announce our new Parenting Podcast called Gen X Parenting Tools. Go check it out.

We listed some episode titles:

  • Episode One: Building a Foundation: Hose water and neglect
  • Episode Two: Who needs effective discipline? The effective use of ridicule and humiliation
  • Episode Three: At the Heart of it All is Cynicism.

Lots of people, too many in fact, thought we were serious. Across the top of the post, it read Launching April First. We thought that would be a dead giveaway.

Several asked where they could find the podcast. One cheered enthusiastically, agreeing that we did have four perfect kids, and was excited to hear the show. Lots wrote in reply, “I can’t wait” or “I’ll listen.”

My guess is that we were too subtle. I had hoped people would add new episode titles like Episode Four: Serves You Right – Whatever Just Happened You Had it Coming. Or Episode Five: Maybe it Will Scar, Maybe it Won’t – Either Way Stop Crying.

One person understood quickly that it was a hoax and she wrote: As soon as I saw the line about your four perfect kids, I knew it was a joke. Well, we’re glad you got the joke but, ouch!  

If my wife and I had a podcast on parenting the title would be “Here’s how to fail only about half the time, try not to get your kids to hate you, and hope you get lucky at parenting.” Today, I worry that our practice of making the kids run a lap around the house if they burped at the table at mealtime may have been too extreme. Are they somewhere now sharing their traumatized memories of running outside barefoot in the dark in their pajamas on cold nights? Screaming the whole way around the house “It was an accident. It was an accident.”

Our podcast would be full of situations where my wife and I didn’t know what to do and still don’t.

“Should we have allowed him to go to that concert?” “I don’t know. I’m not sure we did the right thing. I hope we didn’t mess him up. I guess time will tell.”

“Should we have made her change her clothes into something different before that event?” “I don’t know. I’m not sure we did the right thing. I hope we didn’t mess her up. I guess time will tell.”

My conclusion is that in parenting, just like in April Fools posts, there needs to be some self-deprecating humor, less subtlety, and a good bit of praying we didn’t mess it up and that it will all work out in the end.

However, that hose water thing – that may come back to haunt us.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On March 29, 2024

Workplace Veterans

On this week’s Keepin It Real, Cam Marston has some observations about the NCAA tournament. The old guys are winning, and he likes that.

—–

Someone in my family is not pleased right now. As I write this Wednesday, I don’t know who. Last night the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA tournament. My wife is a Carolina grad. I was unaware people could like basketball that much until I met her. My son is a Freshman at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He was an avid sports fan moments after his birth. One of them lost last night and is not pleased. They’ll be picking at each other today until the loser says “Ok. That’s enough.”

My wife has commented all year about how this year’s basketball season is different. There were many more seniors playing than ever before. North Carolina’s standout forward, Armando Bacot, is twenty-four years old. It’s not only my wife that’s noticed it. Yesterday, while I was walking on the treadmill, my buddy Jimbo mentions how all the successful teams are all older. Then this morning, the daily newsletter I enjoy so much called Morning Brew mentions the same thing, going on to state that nearly 300 tournament players are in the fourth, fifth, or sixth years playing basketball. Covid rules allowed them to extend their eligibility and NIL money is keeping them playing in the college ranks whereas in the past they may have bolted for the big money of professional basketball.

This is in great contrast to the years of when the top basketball teams were loaded with “one and done” players. The top players would play one year in college then go on to bigger money. The teams loaded with one and done players this year have not fared as well. The University of Kentucky’s basketball roster has eight freshmen on it. Kentucky has been a perennial basketball powerhouse and a perennial one and done program, and they likely watched last night’s games at home on their couch just like I did after they lost in the first round.

Experience is proving to matter this year. Many of the teams that may have never have ever had a chance to make the NCAA tournament were present this year, fueled by upper-classmen. Many of them have already lost, but they were there. And many for the first time. And on some teams, fans are able to watch their players mature. Some players are staying on the same team throughout their college career. While it is true the transfer portals have spoiled much of this, there are places where the seniors have been at the same school the whole time. They’re rare, but they’re out there. And their fans adore them. They’ll cheer any player wearing their alma mater’s jersey, but they’ll adore the ones who have worn it four years or more.

So why does this make me feel kinda good? That the old kids are proving to be the winners? That the veterans are the difference makers? I suppose because it shows that wisdom and time and experience matter. And, as I get older, that keeps getting more and more important to me. And even though these veteran players are more than thirty years younger than me, I feel a kinship with them.

I’m Cam Marston and, old as I am, I’m just trying to keep it real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On March 21, 2024

Need A Message

On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam is searching for a message and if he hears one, he WILL obey.

—–

I think there is someone or something out there trying to send me a message. A few things have happened lately that seem, well, like there is a message coming or attached but I don’t know what it is.

First, storms rolled through a few months ago knocking out the power. Fortunately our house has a generator attached and it kept a few rooms running for a little while. My friends began texting about their power being out. I proudly texted a photo of my comfortable and well-lit kitchen that showed our generator working fine and then, boom, a lightning strike destroyed the generator.

Soon after I was telling someone I think the whole idea of “long covid” is bogus. There’s no such thing as “long covid” I said confidently. It’s a made-up sickness that people are using to stay out of work. Then I was hit with pains like I’ve never had before. They won’t go away. They’re in my shoulders and hips and are intense in the night and early morning. It’s been two months of constant pain. After determining it wasn’t arthritis and drawing 1000 gallons of blood, the Doctor told me I have post-viral myofascial syndrome. Otherwise known as long-covid. The pain might last for as long as six months, she said, Get used to it.

Then there are the clients who have contacted me asking for proposals. I ask thoughtful questions so I can better customize for them. They confirm they’re eager to get started soon. The call ends wonderfully. And I, foolishly, start counting my chickens. Then things get quiet. I follow up and they assure me they’re looking at it and we’ll get started soon and over and over and round and round. Ultimately, no decisions. I’d much rather a client say No, Thank you than never reply or never make a decision. Uncertainty, in this case, is worse than bad news.

So, like I said, I feel like someone or something is trying to get a message through to me. But what? Tell me. I need the sky to crack and open and a booming voice to come from it or a burning bush in the back yard telling me what to do. Or the phone to ring or the email to buzz or something. What’s the message?

After dealing with the pain from post-viral myofascial syndrome – I’m struggling to call it long covid – for two months, I’ll do anything to help with the pain. The most recent advice is that I fast for at least a day and three days would be better. During lengthy fasting, the body begins cleaning itself and eliminating anything unneeded, like a pesky virus causing pain in my hips and shoulders.

I’m writing this closing in on 48 hours of fasting. I’m a bit loopy. But if another 24 hours of fasting will help with the pain, I’ll do it. However, can’t be sure what my mental state will be 24 hours from now. I may be just loopy enough that…I finally hear a voice. And real or imaginary, I’ll do whatever it says.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On March 14, 2024

Tell Them Both I Said Hello

There’s a grocery store Cam goes to when he’s in a hurry. It’s NOT the one closest to his house. That one is full of memories. Full of roots.

—–

I saw him see me. He turned and headed my way.

“Cam,” he said. “How’s you mother?”

“Well,” I said. “She passed away two years ago.” I saw you at her funeral, I wanted to say. I remember talking to you.

“Oh. Yes. That’s right. I’m sorry. Well then, how’s your father?”

“Dad’s wonderful. He plays pickleball five, sometimes six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. He’s eighty-seven but I don’t think he knows it. He’s great.”

“Well, that’s wonderful. Please tell them both I said hello.”

“I, I sure will. Thanks.”

The grocery store closest to my house is the one I got to least often. The trip takes too long. At any moment of the day there is someone in there that wants to chat. Wants a short visit. In the middle of the day, when I go in to buy something quick for lunch, someone like this is likely there. Usually friends of my parents. They’re in no hurry. The grocery store I go to when I’m in a hurry is actually a bit further away. It’s quicker.

Conversations like this, with this older gentleman, while a bit comical and maybe a bit sad, mean something. “I know you,” he was saying. “I know your people. You and me, we’re connected. We fished when you were a young boy. Your dad and I hunted turkeys together.” As a young man, I wanted no part of this. I didn’t want to be reminded of myself as a boy. I wanted anonymity. I wanted a blank slate and to make my own way as a man. So, I left my hometown for two decades. Today, the opposite is now true. It’s become important to me. It’s a 180 degree about face. I like it, though a bit comical and a bit sad at times, I like it. It’s roots.

There’s something about old connections, about roots. About generations of pasts that intertwine. I once dismissed this as unimportant. I felt that these were silly things cherished by simple, small-minded people. I was a young man then. I was bullet proof and I knew it all. I’ve had a 180 degree about face. They’re important now more than ever as I look around at who I’ll grow old with, how we’re connected, and how my connections may show up in my kid’s worlds in some unknowable way in the future.

And I see one of my friend’s adult children in the grocery story. I knew him when he was a boy. I tossed him balls, maybe, or cooked him pancakes in his pajamas at my house on a Saturday morning. And I go to him and I say, “Hey. Tell me. How’s your father. I miss him. Please tell him I said Hello.”

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On March 8, 2024

Parent’s Weekend

On today’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam shares something he saw last weekend that made him feel a little bit better about things.

—–

I’m in Starbucks. It’s Saturday. It’s Noon. I’m in Tuscaloosa at the corner of Bryant Drive and 8th Avenue. Sororities across the street disgorging young ladies for their morning cups of honey-dew latté with extra chai, extra vanilla essence and a dash of bumble bee eyelashes or something like that. Yoga pants as far as the eye can see. One girl wearing a T-shirt reading Don’t Date Frat Boys. Parents here for fraternity and sorority parent’s weekend. Dads wearing dad jeans and comfy shoes. Moms perfectly coifed wearing fancy sneakers.

My son’s fraternity threw a party here in Tuscaloosa last night. The party planners likely said, “Get a band old people will like.” The music was, indeed, for old people. Older than any of the parents there. As soon as I heard the first song, the count began – how many songs before Mustang Sally. It was seven. There’s not a band that plays under a tent on a lawn at a quote-unquote “old person party” that doesn’t play Mustang Sally within the first ten songs. They don’t exist. It’s as if everyone, including the band, just wants to get it out of the way. The same with Brick House and “let me hear you scream!”

The lead singer came on in the second set. Her energy moved a lot of old people to the dance floor. It became an old person’s careful shuffle, protecting aching knees, hips, and backs. Lots of moms and dads who never had dance moves or who had lost their dance moves decades ago packed the dance floor, shaking arrhythmically like dancing on a shaking fault line. Brightly colored wigs appeared. Confetti cannons. Parents shuffling together, ignoring their aches and pains. Advil will take care of tomorrow. I left for the bathroom and returned to find my wife in the front row. She waved me up. I pretended not to see, standing with my son who was rightly proud that his fraternity was entertaining so many people, so many old people, so well. It was a great time.

Look at who I now am, my son seemed to be saying, standing next to me. Look at these new friends. This new environment. These new people who know me and like me and search me out in the crowd to say hello. I shook dozens of hands. Tried to remember names. Tried to remember parent’s names. I’m a guest in his world. A new world that he’s forged for himself. Full of new people from far off places who were unknown to him just a short seven months ago. They now laugh together like old friends do. They share funny looks and make references to inside jokes.

As a parent you wonder how your children will turn out. What will influence who they are and who they’ll become. You try to raise them right, the way you think is best, but parenting is just a portion of it. There are so many factors. And you wonder. And you worry.

And then you see your child thriving in a good environment full of good people. An environment that he’s created for himself. And you smile a bit. And you worry a little less.

I’m Cam Marston, just trying to keep it real.

Check out this episode!

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