The Donald Trump phenomenon of saying whatever you want, whether it is true, false or somewhere in the fuzzy middle, with little challenge, has made me think about some of my experiences with unfettered storytelling.
When I was elementary school age, some of us guys would sit around and tell some whoppers to get everybody’s attention. We wanted to be the focus of the group. On one occasion, I told the amazing tale of seeing a wolf man walking through the pecan trees near my house at night. The veracity of the story, which received a lot of oohs and aahs, wasn’t challenged.
If someone had asked how could I see into the trees from my house in pitch-black darkness, I would have been stumped for an answer.
Some other boys swore they had seen the much-ballyhooed “greasy man” walking down the street. The greasy man, a mythical character in my neighborhood, was supposed to be a naked guy who would “get you,” but no one could catch him because he was slathered with grease.
Yep, that’s the kind of tall tales that got you to the top of the attention ladder, if only for a brief few minutes.
For the most part, though, deep down, we knew most of those stories were a pile of hooey, but you never really knew. There could be a nugget of truth there.
My son, before he entered grade school, would request, “Tell me a story out of your mouth” just before he dozed off to sleep at night. “Out of your mouth” meant he didn’t want me to read a story to him; he wanted me to make it up.
But as I would get a couple minutes into the story, he would murmur from deep into his pillow, “I thought you said he had a red bike” or “I thought you said his name was Greg.”
Dang nabit, what little kid raises those kinds of questions during storytelling time?
I’ve been thinking about those times more and more lately as I watch the ramblings of Trump and he says whatever comes to mind as he attempts to talk his way into being the Republican nominee for president.
I have become weary of news shows that are Trump all day, every day. Still, at this point, I know little about any major plan he has for changing America, other than that he plans to have a plan. Now, he did say he would be “good for women” because, as he said, “I cherish women.” Well, that should be enough for women to vote for him.
I have watched discussions by squealing talking heads and pundits on a number of cable shows. One pundit said the media is sleeping on Trump and that he is building momentum in small towns where people can’t wait to see him.
Trump and his bluster are like the yellow paper-covered sucker in my office. Because it is the only yellow-covered sucker, it has received a lot more attention than others in the jar. We all talk and joke about it, but no one wants to eat it.
Look, if four months from now Trump is still a serious contender — and I doubt he will be — for the Republican nomination, the GOP will be as nervous as a cat in a rocking chair showroom.
The talking heads say, “Look, Trump is leading the pack with 18 percent or 22 percent of those answering the poll.” But I look at that as 82 and 78 percent respectively that don’t want him. I must admit that as a former full-time newsman, it is disturbing to watch as Trump piles up his negative comments about his opponents and nations around the globe, while most of the media just regurgitate his blather with little challenge.
Lucky for the Trumpster that he doesn’t have someone like my once 4-year-old son posing questions as he pulls stories out of his, er, as he tells stories “out of his mouth.”
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is email@example.com.