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 as heard on Alabama Public Radio & KXCR in Florence, Oregon

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Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On December 16, 2022

No More Ketchup

One condiment in particular kept my kids alive.


There’s no ketchup in my house right now. I made burgers for the family Sunday night and we had no ketchup. This may sound trivial but it’s an extraordinary landmark in our family’s life.

When my kids were much younger, my wife and I relied on frozen chicken nuggets about five nights a week to feed the kids. Our four kids are two years apart with the last two being twins. Imagine dinner time with a six-year-old, a four-year-old, and two-year-old twins. It was pandemonium. We’d pop a cookie sheet full of nuggets into the oven. They were quick. They were easy and though they weren’t particularly healthy, they kept the kids alive until the next day which, at that point, is all we wanted. Chicken nuggets were our bread and butter. They were our life saver.

In time, though, the kids tired of them. We experimented with different brands, with different shaped nuggets. We learned that rib meat nuggets were too chewy and who knew chickens had ribs? And the kids were unimpressed by the dinosaur shaped nuggets.

We then told them they weren’t eating nuggets anymore. These were new. These were different. These were chicken nuggettas. They’re different and better and that bought us a little time.

Then we added a small dollop of ketchup on the side of their plate and…boom. The kids loved the nuggets with the ketchup. They wanted more ketchup. And more. Soon it became a plate full of ketchup with chicken nuggets somewhere underneath. I told my wife that the word KID was an acronym for Ketchup Infusion Device because that’s what the nuggets became.

We bought the ketchup at the warehouse clubs. Three giant bottles shrink wrapped together, wondering how long the ketchup last before we’d need more. We’d walk through the back door with the bottles of ketchup over our heads like warriors returning with the spoils of battle. The kids saw it and knew everything was going to be ok.

The kids liked chicken nuggets with ketchup so much that my wife and I began calling everything we cooked chicken. We’d have pork chicken, beef chicken, turkey chicken, each of which was served under ketchup. We tried weaning our kids off the ketchup but when food hit the kitchen table, they’d be looking for the bottle. We wondered if we’d gone too far but…they were eating and they weren’t complaining which, if you’re a parent, you understand.

If my kids were like trees and we could cut them in half and count their rings, their inner most rings would be made entirely of chicken nuggets and lots and lots of ketchup.

And then last Sunday night, I bring the hot burgers in from the grill and start putting the toppings on the countertop and…no ketchup. Not even the secret reserve bottle which we keep in the back of the pantry for emergencies. None. And when I announced we had no ketchup I braced for the blowback. Years ago, this news would have fueled an insurrection. Instead, they shrugged and fixed their plate.

My goodness, how things have changed, thank the Lord.

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

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On December 9, 2022


It just feels like everyone’s hand is out, asking for more for simply doing what they were asked to do. 


It was a convenience store. Just like all the convenience stores you’ve seen. I grabbed a drink from the refrigerator, walked to the counter and handed the drink to the guy at the register. He scanned the bar code, I give him my card, he processed the card and handed me the receipt to sign. And there it was, big as day – a line for me to add a tip. A tip. For buying a drink at a convenience store. I froze. Really? Asking for a tip for buying a drink at a convenience store. The store offered no foodservice, no delivery assistance, nothing that traditionally begs a tip that would explain the tip line on the receipt. He simply scanned the drink, swiped my card. I wanted to ask him about it but the line was getting pretty long so I  signed the receipt, put no tip, and walked out shaking my head. My buddy was waiting outside for me. “Can you believe they wanted a tip to sell us a drink?” he asked. He saw it, too, and was as taken aback as I was.

Is it me or does everyone seem to want a tip these days? For simply doing the job they’re there to do, like selling me a canned drink at a conveniences store. That guy behind the counter likely had nothing to do with the tip line on the receipt, but I assume he would be the beneficiary of any tips he got that day. I don’t know what to think about it, but my initial reaction was, “that’s offensive.”

I took an Uber from my hotel to the airport in California a few weeks back. A hotel employee jumped in front of me as I reached for the car door and opened the door for me. I climbed in and he stood there with the door open for a moment or two looking at me. I assume he was waiting for a tip. As soon as the Uber got started towards the airport, the Uber app on my phone asked if I wanted to tip the driver and we had hardly started rolling. There was a note on the counter in my hotel room asking me to consider tipping the housekeepers. A club where I’m a member once forbade tipping in cash. Now tipping in cash is done openly everywhere, and employees seem to expect it though the rules remain unchanged.

I understand the need for tips on some jobs – those tips provide necessary income for the people doing the job. And the origin of the word Tip, as I understand it, is “to insure promptness.” However, that’s not the case in most places where tipping has become expected, like the convenience store.

To change the subject a bit, I also understand there’s a reason we’re called grumpy old men. It seems, as men age, we find new things that make us grumpy and for me, tipping is the thing du jour. It just feels like everyone’s hand is out for simply doing what they were asked to do.

By the way, if you liked this commentary and agree, please feel free to Venmo me a few bucks to show your support.

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

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On December 2, 2022

It’s Going Around

Nearly the whole house is suffering. 


A slew of fall and winter maladies has infiltrated our home. ‘Tis the season after all. I sat in the emergency room with my favorite oldest daughter early last Wednesday morning as she suffered with what we think were cluster headaches. Right now, my favorite youngest daughter is home from school, in bed with a stomach bug and my favorite oldest son just walked back inside after dropping his brother off at school. He felt bad when he woke up, but his head began pounding when he got active, he returned home, and he’s now back in bed. Cold and flu season is here. And I mean right here.

I, myself, was in the orthopedist’s office yesterday. I had a meniscus repair a couple years ago and should have addressed it when I first felt the pain. Instead, like a testosterone poisoned male, I kept going and tried to push through, hoping that I’d arrive at the other side of the pain and be pain free. Well, the surgical procedure lasted only a short time a few months after realizing there was no other side to push through to.

A similar pain is now in the other 50% of my knees and I went to the doctor in short order after having learned my lesson. He took X-Rays, examined it thoroughly, and said “I think you have a sore knee.” I said, “Yep. That’s why I’m here.” “No,” he said. “I can find nothing wrong with it. When’s the last time you stretched after your workout?” “Oh,” I said, “Maybe last year or the year before that.” “Go home and stretch and let me know.” So, I did. And, no knee pain today. “Don’t forget how old you and your knees are,” he said as I stood to leave and then he said, “Hey, let me check your prostate.” I’m kidding. He didn’t really say that.

Last night at 2AM my wife sent me to the kitchen for Advil. A mysterious foot pain surfaced in the middle of the night and, as of this morning, is thankfully gone. And our dog, Lucy, started showing a limp after long walk over the weekend. At this moment there is only one of us living here not suffering some sort of ailment. But, it’s just a matter of time. He’ll catch the “something’s wrong with me bug” soon once he sees all the school his siblings are missing. Stands to reason, he’ll want in on it, too.

I’m a pro-vaxer. Covid, Covid-boosters, flu shots every year for well over a decade. I’ll schedule a shingles vaccine as soon as I can find time on my calendar. Vaccines won’t help my knees or my wife’s foot but if there were one, I’d get it. I’m all for science, it’s good stuff. Until then, though, if you see me or any of my family, stay away. We’re all in in pain, in bad moods, or contagious or all of the above. Avoid us. Just come close enough to drop off a casserole. We’re plugging a refrigerator in on the front porch so you don’t have to ring the doorbell.

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

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On November 26, 2022

I Jinxed ‘Em

I think by talking too much about my superstitions, I ended up jinxing the team.


Well, I think I jinxed them. My sons’ football team fought hard all season and last Friday night they were bested by a very fast and athletic opponent. The boys were gloomy for just a little while. They quickly realized they had overachieved and then they held their heads high. I’m very proud of them.

I guess a jinx and a superstition are two different sides of the same coin. Superstitions are proactive and meant to bring hoped-for results. I once carried a tiny single serving bottle of Tabasco in my travel computer bag because I had never died in an airplane crash as long as it was in there. Superstitions are intentional. And it is my considered opinion – meaning I’ve thought about this for about thirty seconds now – that jinxs bring bad luck and are a realized in hindsight. Such as me talking so much about my superstations for my sons’ football team actually jinxed them. It’s in hindsight that this has now become abundantly clear.

Since it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving you’re wondering if the food hall-pass you gave yourself yesterday to eat and drink much more than a responsible human should is still active. Well, it is. That hall pass lasts until midday Sunday. So, yes, go get the mashed potatoes and a half-dozen Sister Shuberts for breakfast. Dinner, too! Carbs don’t count until midday Sunday. Myself, I’ll be cooking a pound of Bill E’s bacon in the oven and putting it on my Sister Shuberts. It is my considered opinion that Bill E’s Bacon is the best in the world. They’re based in Fairhope. Please don’t even consider raising your voice to argue. I won’t have it.

It’s the Friday morning after Thanksgiving that I carefully go through yesterday’s family conversations and try to remember if I offended anyone. Happily, that rarely happens anymore. The whole Marston family – seventeen of us – will have been under one roof last night. Those tight quarters along with the delirium of a food comma and, perhaps, a glass of wine too many may have caused me to run off at the mouth. Friday mornings I retrace my conversational steps and begin rehearsing my apologies if needed. I’ve learned that one pre-emptive apology at 2pm Thanksgiving Day for everything that I might say later in the day or that night doesn’t count. I wish it did.

However, my family seldom goes down those paths anymore. We’re able to keep controversy out of the celebration or, more likely, avoid dangerous topics. And it helps when you really like your family, your in-laws, and your nieces and nephews, and I genuinely do. I don’t want to get sideways with any of them. The same is true with my wife’s family gathering every summer on the Carolina coast. We had sixteen people under one roof for a week last summer and everybody got along. I kinda miss the days when there’d be a misunderstanding, someone would get angry and, if we got lucky, they’d blow up and make a scene.  It offered some wonderful diversions from good cheer and wholesome togetherness and family bonds and all that.

Aww, heck. I’ve probably just jinxed myself again.

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

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On November 18, 2022

Trying to Control the Magic

I don’t believe in superstitions unless they work.


When I told my wife the topic of today’s commentary, she warned that people are going to get tired of hearing me talk about this. However, I feel I’m kind of obligated to discuss it. Let me explain.

I think it was Dr. Gerald May – who’s an author, psychiatrist, and theologian – who wrote in one of his books that superstition is best defined as “trying to control the magic.” And I like that definition. And I like that a guy who is both a medical doctor and theologian acknowledges magic, almost admitting that magic exists. Seems very out of character for a person with these qualifications.

So, why is superstition important and what does it have to do with today’s commentary?

Well, they won again. My sons’ football team. They won again. Another upset. Two weeks in a row of outperforming all expectations after winning in a season in which they weren’t supposed to win hardly at all. For those who need catching up, my two sons are on their high school football team, and they’ve made it through the first two rounds of football playoffs and play again tonight against the state’s top ranked team in their division. My sons’ team, by the way, is playing up two divisions. Pundits have picked them to lose all season long and…they’re still playing. Against all the odds, they’re still playing. Well into the post season. They are the little engine that could with nothing to lose. And it’s teams like this with attitudes like this that strike fear in their opponents and they should and it appears they have.

Which brings me back to superstition. For the past two weeks I’ve mentioned my sons and their football team in this commentary the Friday morning and afternoon before their game that night and…they’ve won. Is me mentioning them and their team what’s making them win? Of course not, but maybe. Maybe. I would never discredit the team’s hard work, their long hot hours of summer practice, the hours the coaches spend planning practice, watching game footage, creating new defensive schemes and new plays for the next game. That’s certainly where the wins are coming from.

So maybe I’m just superstitious and I’m just trying to control the magic. That this mention somehow mystically, cosmically, superstitiously helps. And it is magic. The smiles on my sons’ faces last Friday night after their win was magic. The hugs that I got and gave my sons who were so dirty and smelly was magic. The parents were beaming, too. Can you believe it, we said. This is amazing. And it was amazing. And it felt like magic.

I don’t believe in superstitions unless they work. And so far, this one’s working. As I’ve said for the last two weeks, my oldest son is a senior and each game may be the final one of his football career, which my wife and I have loved. So I’m mentioning my sons and their football game and their football team here, now, one more time.

I’m Cam Marston and it may be too much to ask, but I’m just hoping for one more week – of magic.

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On November 12, 2022

Survive and Advance

My sons won their football game last Friday night in an upset giving parents like me one more game and…it’s a home game.


If you heard last week’s commentary, you might like to know that my sons’ football team won their playoff game in an upset in Montgomery Friday night. My favorite oldest son – a wide receiver – made a nice catch on a screen play and was tackled from behind by a savage mountain of a full-grown man. My son said it was a clean hit and was all good but…I can’t bring myself to like that guy. I’m going to have a hard time liking anyone that smashes my favorite oldest son to the ground. My wife and I both said, at nearly the same time, “Wow. He got walloped” and that’s because what we heard when my sweet little boy got hit by a mountain of a full-grown man sounded like WALLOP. My son bounced to his feet and trotted back to the huddle hoping the ball would come his way again. My wife and I sat frozen in the stands hoping it wouldn’t.

When they upset last week’s opponent, parents like me felt like we were awarded with a bonus week plus a home game. Like last week, this week could be the last game of their season and the last football game of my senior’s career. If tonight is the last game, it’s only fitting that it finishes on the field where the seniors began playing as children years ago. It was a while back but only a flash in my memory. Wearing their helmets, they looked like bobble head dolls.

A friend counsels professional and elite collegiate athletes on their transition from sports into the everyday world. When their careers end, many of them struggle with identity. Without sports, who am I, they ask? What do I do with my time? What’s my purpose? I fear for some of this with some of the kids on the field tonight. They’ve played this game on this team with these people since they were about eight years old. What happens when it’s over? Some will have no problems with the transition, eager and curious about their next chapter of life. Others will struggle to let it go. You see them today as adults, living vicariously through their children who are out there on the field. That identity must be a powerful hold. I was never an athlete so I can’t really relate.

However, I’m not immune. When my favorite oldest daughter played her final volleyball match, I sighed and then went on to the next in line. What happens when my favorite youngest son and favorite youngest daughter are done with sports? When they transition out? So much time has been spent cheering for them on the sidelines that I worry a little about myself. It’s become a part of my identity, too. Who will I become? What will I do with all this newfound time?

I don’t know. I guess acknowledging that an inevitable transition is ahead is valuable in and of itself. Until then, though, I’m all in.

Good luck tonight, boys. I love you both. I’ll be in the stands with many others just like me, screaming my head off, hoping for all of us that tonight won’t be the last night.

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

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On November 5, 2022

Final Game

I used to complain about the amount of time I spent on the sidelines of my children’s sports. Today I worry that those days are running out too quickly. And – a special think yo to a listener.


Randy Fowler came to my house Saturday morning with his daughter Julie. Randy was in Mobile from Tuscaloosa to see his grandson’s football game and wanted to meet me – his daughter, Julie, lives a few doors down. Randy listens to these Keepin’ It Real commentaries each Friday morning sitting in his car outside 5 Java in downtown Tuscaloosa and then goes inside to visit with his buddies. I assume he’s listening right now his car, so…

Good morning, Randy. Thanks so much for your kind gift. I’ve not opened it yet, but I will soon, and I plan to save some of it for the two of us to share when I’m next in Tuscaloosa. My oldest son will be a freshman there in the fall and I suspect I’ll be in town from time to time. Your gift was generous and a complete surprise and has lifted my spirits all week. Again, thank you so very much.

That son of mine, by the way, is my favorite oldest son. I’ll say it again so you get it – he’s my favorite oldest son. Anyway, he’s a high school senior and he begins pursuit of a football championship tonight. He’s a wide receiver. It’s the playoffs and anything can happen. If tonight is his last game, I’ll be very sad for him and his classmates and, frankly, for my wife and me. We’ve loved watching him play. Each time the ball winds up in his hands my heart swells with pride and my body clenches in fear that he’ll be hurt. No different than any other parent with a child on the field, I suppose.

After the game we’ll find him on the field after the team huddle and take a picture. It’s what we do. He’ll offer us very few words about the game and he’ll be covered in dirt. Bruises will be forming that, by tomorrow, will be a deep eggplant color. My wife, me, my favorite oldest son, and my favorite youngest son. He’s a freshman on the team. His uniform will probably be clean – his playing time has not yet arrived. We’ll be shoulder to shoulder for the camera. My wife and me smiling, regardless of the game’s outcome. My son’s expressions will depend entirely on the scoreboard.

If it’s my oldest son’s final game, I’ll be so sad to not be able to watch him Friday nights anymore. He’s the very best version of himself on that field. He has a charisma that surfaces when the game starts and I can feel it all the way in the stands.

However, at the same time, it will be one season closer to watching my youngest son step into the role of a difference-maker on the field which he’s working hard for. His time will come and it’s getting closer.

I’m regularly surprised by how much parenting can be such a rapid-fire complex mixture of emotions. Happy. Sad. Eager. Reluctant. All at the same time. I used to complain about how much time I spent on the sidelines of my kids’ sports. Now I fear that those days will be over too soon.

Oh, if you’re wanting a shout out on one of these commentaries, a nice bottle of scotch helps. Thanks again, Randy.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just Keepin’ It Real.

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On October 29, 2022

Flight Disruption

Sometimes when escaping the rat race you find yourself becoming a rat. 


Air travel brings out something in people that, in normal life, stays hidden. It’s the combination of the expense, non-negotiable departure times, lots of uncertainty, and lots and lots of people packed into tight confines. Then add travel disruptions, crying babies, potentially rude airline staff and it escalates the tension. During air travel you see who people really are. And you may learn some unpleasant things about yourself.

Years ago, I watched a father change his baby’s diaper while laying his baby across two tray tables during a flight. That scene has never left my mind. 

Yesterday, I listened as an older man complained loudly about his wife who, he said, was constantly late. “She’ll be late for her own funeral,” he repeated over and over to the gate agent for us all to hear. His wife was shopping and when she arrived, he blasted her. She blasted back saying she was not late, they had plenty time and we heard their fight go all the way down the jetway and onto the plane.

There’s gamesmanship over arm rests. No words, no looks, but an aggressive passive aggressive competition over a two-inch wide piece of elbow space.

Larger people raising the arm rests saying they’re painful and dig into their sides.  Passengers pushing the arm rest back down saying, “Sorry. I bought this whole seat and don’t want you spilling into it.” Loud snorers having their seats violently shaken to wake them up. People missing flights and having meltdowns so loud that security has to come take them away.

Once in Atlanta, a passenger from my flight confronted me in the terminal, screaming at me inches from my face. I’d never seen this person before, and people were forming a circle to watch. I kept asking who he was and why was he so angry. He kept hollering and finally walked off. I was terrified. Turns out I was upgraded to a first-class seat, and he thought I had sabotaged his upgrade. He started drinking and got off the plane looking for a fight.

Now this sounds so self-righteous but I’m no saint. I’ve flown nearly three and a half million miles and, at one time, I felt the airlines owed me. I made demands, I raised my voice and I’m embarrassed by who I was back then. Today I try to stay quiet and grateful. However, I still fail. A few weeks ago, fifteen minutes from landing in Mobile, the flight turned around and flew back to Dallas due to a mid-flight mechanical issue. I got off the plane and asked a few questions and their answers, I felt, were unsatisfactory and my body language showed it. Imagine a person miming disgust. That was me. We went through three planes that day, all with mechanical issues, until we found one that finally got us home seven hours late.

I love being in new, far-away, places which makes air travel necessary. But getting there can be awful. It’s unfortunate that sometimes in the process of escaping the rat race you find yourself becoming a rat.

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

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On October 21, 2022

Life Stages

A young man asked “My customers keep telling me I remind them of their children. What should I do?” 


A young man approached Tuesday after my seminar in Orlando. “I’m twenty-four years old,” he said “and when I’m making sales calls, people say I remind them of their son. How am I supposed to take that?” he asked.

He felt he wasn’t being taken seriously. He worried that he wasn’t doing a good job. And, he felt it was kind of an insulting to say.

I remember being in his shoes. I launched into my career intending to kick tail and take names. I wanted promotions, bonuses, raises, awards, recognition, and celebrity. My job was selling food to restaurants in eastern North Carolina. I went door to door in each town’s restaurant row with Thermoses full of heated samples, a bag of small souffle cups and plastic spoons to offer tastes. I sold cheese sauces, and gravies, corned beef hash, chillies, coffee, and tea. The list goes on.

Today I see the interactions that young man told me about differently. I told him to smile then say, “Tell me about your son.” Listen and smile and ask one follow-up question. “They’re giving you a compliment,” I told him, “It’s not an insult. And people love talking about their children so let ’em. And then gently guide your conversation back on track.”

Like most people his age, I was in what psychiatrist Carl Jung and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr call the ego-building stages of my life. I was trying to shape how people saw me and how I saw and felt about myself. I was working to build an impressive image and, wow, how I’ve changed.

Sometime after about age thirty-five for most people, image building begins to matter less. You don’t stop doing it, it just matters less. A new search then begins for something to replace that image-building feeling that had been so important. The new search signals a shift in identity, it can arrive as a mid-life crisis, and has been known to reveal, for some, a God-shaped hole in their life.

According to Jung and Rohr, a satisfying replacement to image building can only be found by reversing course. Becoming less noticeable instead of more noticeable. Less image conscious instead of more image conscious. According to Rohr, the first half of life is about building your container of who you are and what you stand for and then filling that container. The second half of a life well lived is about draining that container and then destroying it. A full complete reversal from ego building to ego abandonment.

It’s been this way for eons. The young warriors seek fame and glory. They whoop and holler and conquer. The elders shower them with praise and rewards for their work and their bravery. Conquering is the job of the warriors. Praising is the job of the elders.

“I can tell you take your work seriously,” I said to the young man. “I bet you’re an asset here. Your boss is lucky to have you.” “Well,” he said, “maybe, yeah, I guess.” We shook hands. He walked away smiling from the compliment. I walked away smiling from giving it to him.

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

Check out this episode!

Keepin' It Real - Podcasts
Posted On October 14, 2022

Organ Recital

My friends and I attend an organ recital together each week. It’s not what you think…


The pickle ball bug has bitten. A buddy put together a group of guys all about the same age to play each Wednesday evening not long ago. We all showed up, most of us knew each other, debated the rules for a while, and we got started. It’s now a regular thing.

Each time we gather we shake hands, we catch up and bit, and each of us, whether we’re asked or not, goes through what’s called The Organ Recital. It’s a part of what happens when men of a certain age or older gather. Maybe women, too, but I can only speak to what the men do. We talk about what hurts on our body, how well or poorly we’ve been sleeping, who we know that is sick. We talk about digestion. About what foods are kind to us and which ones we struggle with. Which spices upset out stomach. Which medicines help and which ones don’t seem to do anything at all. It’s the Organ Recital. It doesn’t last long. Usually someone says, “Hey, enough. We sound like old men. Let’s play.” And that ends it. And then we start putting on knee braces, patella tendon straps, and tendonitis sleeves. It’s so sad.

My father has a golf group that has set up rules around their Organ Recitals. He and his buddies have played golf every Friday morning for the past decade or more. Their rule is that once the last putt falls into the cup on the first hole, the organ recital must end. It’s a rule they’ve all embraced. However, my father says, many of his friends are now nearly deaf and they keep giving their organ recitals anyway because they can’t hear anyone telling them to stop. It’s the rare privilege of the hard of hearing – not being able to hear when you’re being admonished.

My dad is quite the pickle baller himself. He plays several days a week at the Via Senior Center in Mobile. He’s got a regular crowd and they pair up to play and then they swap teams and they do it for hours. Men and women. He invited me a few weeks back. I guessed I’d be the youngest person there, which was true, and that I’d have an unfair advantage because of that, which was untrue. I got my tail beaten repeatedly. These so-called seniors are savage pickle ball players and what they may lack in speed they make up with precise ball placement. At one point my 85-year-old father and I were playing together and across the net was an 83-year-old lady and her sixty-ish year-old daughter. Father son versus mother daughter. The mom had a wicked serve and at any time could place the ball within a millimeter of wherever she wanted it. My dad and I just barely won, and I walked off the court laughing at the thought that my youth – which is very relative – would create any advantage.

At some point in the match, I lunged for a well-placed shot from the 82-year-old mother and pulled something in my lower back. I soldiered on, unwilling to admit to myself that an 82-year-old was making a fool of me on the pickle ball court. I, of course, dutifully reported my injury the next week at my pickle ball group’s Organ Recital. But when asked about the opponent who did this to me, I kept things a bit vague.

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

Check out this episode!

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