The Cast: I can’t tell you.

I always find it funny when someone asks a question that they don’t really want to know the answer to but think that they do, and then, when they get the answer (that they didn’t even really want) they don’t know what to do with it.

The other day, my wife and I were rummaging through some old photos and came across one of my bunkmate from 3rd Phase in Infantry School. My daughter asked about him and I gave a quick explanation of how he had become my bunkmate because my previous bunkmate had disappeared.

Her response, “What do you mean, ‘disappeared’?”

“Just that. He disappeared.” And I said it in a way that she understood I meant it. There wasn’t going to be any more information, either because I didn’t know or I couldn’t tell.

That got me to thinking about a time—a couple years ago—where me, my wife, and our two youngest children were watching a movie and my son asked a question. Now, just to make you aware, in my military career I never did anything that “didn’t happen” and I’m okay with that. Nothing big. Nothing Earth-shattering. Just normal military service.

Anyway, it was one of those good action movies where there’s a cool tough/military guy with some kind of unknown past. The type of character where someone asks something stupid like, “You ever kill anyone?” and then laughs like they know the answer is ‘No’, but they really don’t know, and are just hoping it’s ‘No’. Then the other guy says something like, “That’s classified. Charlie deserved better.” Then he just walks away and everyone—including the audience—is all like, “Wha-at? Who’s Charlie? There’s not even a Charlie in the movie, is there? Did I miss something? Wonder what happened…” And you realize this dude’s got a mysterious past. That kind of a thing.

Well, one of those moments happened in the movie and my son—from the other end of the sofa—leans forward to be seen and asks me, “Hey dad, have you ever done anything that you can’t tell us about?” He said it with like a half-laugh and in a way that included a sub-text that said, “You’re dad. You’ve never done anything interesting.”

“Yes.”

“Wait, really? Like what?”

To which my wife replied, “Think about what you asked and what your dad just said.”

And that’s the story, of the story, of the stories that I cannot tell.

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