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But I Digress

But I Digress is the collection of twenty nonfiction stories that highlight my life between middle school, college, and the post college years. Although long-forgotten and even slightly repressed, I began telling these very tales to my students to entertain them during their lunch times, and they became the stuff of legends. The stories include the last time I went trick-or-treating as a teenager in Buffalo, swimming in a sewer in Ohio, learning to call alligators in Florida, committing mutiny on a longliner on the Grand Banks, getting thrown off by a farting horse, pooping my pants in London, being beaten up by the local paperboy, receiving my first tattoo as a sixteen year old, getting and then losing Dizzy Gillespie’s autograph, meeting the last Mohican in Providence, hiking the Appalachian Trail, working on a lobster wharf and on an offshore lobsterboat in Rhode Island, surviving a stint on a processing ship in the Aleutian Islands, and a whole host of other bad decisions that I’ve made over the years that I have, somehow, lived to tell about.


Text: Excerpts

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the displeasure of soiling yourself, but it’s an experience that cannot be aptly described. My suddenly soggy underwear took on that loathed feeling of a wet swimsuit, a most intolerably uncomfortable tactile sensation that still haunts me today. To combat this horrendous feeling, I started walking with my legs apart and my pelvis pushed forward. I thought I was being stealthy enough to avoid detection, but the booming voice of my father shattered that illusion.

[It is important for this story to know that, although my father was a born-and-bred Hoosier from the great state of Indiana, whenever I rethink this story or retell it, his voice has both the volume and twang of a loudmouth Texan oilman. I don’t know why that is, but it is.]

“What’s the matter, son? Why’re you walking so funny?”

My father had been an Episcopal priest for much of his adult life, and he could project his voice to fill any cavernous sanctuary or space. His question, albeit based on parental concern for me, had enough volume that I was sure most of the citizens of London were now staring at me and my poopy underwear. I continued walking along like a saddle-sore cowboy and just muttered quietly, “Nothing, Dad. Let’s just keep walking.”

But he was not to be deterred. His voice boomed out again to repeat his question: “What’s the matter, son? Why are you walking so funny?”

I cringed and tried to look for a place to hide. I turned toward him and whispered loudly, “I’m fine, Dad. Let’s just keep walking.”

“Well, you aren’t walking like you’re fine. Are you in pain? Is that why you’re walking so funny?”

I was now thoroughly convinced that the entire population of Great Britain was aware of my situation, and my face turned crimson as I slowed and got closer to my dad to give him some kind of explanation. The crowded sidewalk and my loaded underwear did not make this maneuver an easy one, but I got close to him and leaned in—two silent gestures I hoped my father would take as less-than-subtle hints that I was going to say something I didn’t want shared with the thousands of other people near me.

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