At age nine, I picked the lock on my sister Elaine’s diary. As freshman in high school at the time, she unknowingly provided plenty of juicy reading material for me. Which boys she fancied, why she couldn’t stand certain girls and, every once in a while, something she did that I could leverage to convince her not to squeal on me, lest I spill my own beans on what she did. This is whether she actually did it or not. Reading a diary was more interesting and fruitful than Dick and Jane’s “See Tip run.”

Although my parents preferred watching Jack Benny, George and Gracie Allen and Milton Berle in those days, my favorite was “Leave It To Beaver.” The Beaver and I were nearly the same age. He taught me a lot. In one episode, he told his teacher, Miss Landers, he wanted to be a writer when he grew up, “…even though you can get in trouble for writing things you didn’t do,” he added. He learned this after struggling to write much in his own private diary besides “went to school, ate lunch, came home.” The Beav decided to spice things up a little with imagination – until shortly after his dad picked his diary’s lock.

As I started writing “Retirement? You Can’t HANDLE The Truth!,” there was considerable temptation to follow Beaver’s lead and include a tincture of made-up junk. This is because my life is probably about as interesting as American History was the first nine weeks of seventh grade. That’s when Mr. Richmond awarded me an “F for eFFort.” Oh, sure. There was also that “D” in English as a sophomore when my writing skills evidently reflected ineptness to expound on why Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities’ “best of times” and “worst of times” was similar to comparing three-meat and vegi pizzas. Okay, I made that up. But, not the “D” part.

Luckily, science held greater interest than The Classics did. Over 40 years of monkeying with crooked teeth, it became necessary to put sentences together in a way that monkeys could read them. This was because, the assistant Dean told us during our orientation to dental school that, “We could teach monkeys to do what we will teach you to do during the next four years.” These weren’t exactly words that made you feel special. I’m guessing the Dean might have received his own an “F” once – probably in Speech class.

During the writing of a book, I managed to finally catch up to The Beaver – and got in hot water for making stuff up. The culprit was a piece originally written about a fictitious and embarrassing event that might happen to Clark Griswold in retirement. A surprising reaction “came up” when Clark discovered his retired doctor had been replaced by a young and attractive woman who revealed too much cleavage during his examination. As happened with The Beaver, I thought replacing Griswold with myself in the story would be funny. When my book editor was offended rather than humored, I knew what Beaver was saying about getting in trouble for making up junk.

The truth is, what is contained in whatever composition I put together might be embellished just a tad here or there. This is for the reader’s own good – believe me! And, as I’ve heard our President say many times, “That’s no joke.” This has become a common solution to dealing with doubt about the spoken (and written) word these days. When it comes to the content of anything you see from me, it’s 98% the gospel truth, except for parts that aren’t. No fooling!

Sommers is a retired Minot orthodontist, past president of the N.D. Dental and Orthodontist Associations, husband, father, grandfather and reluctant diaper changer (not his — grandkids’!)


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