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No More Ketchup

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 12/16/2022

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston hypothesizes on what a parenting podcast from him and his wife would sound like. ----- My wife and I sat together at the beach last week laughing as we retold stories and reminded ourselves of the humor of parenting. Especially as Gen X parents. We decided to compose a social media post together. The date was April first, and that date matters. The post read the following: We are frequently asked how we’ve raised four perfect children. Here’s our response: We are excited to announce our new Parenting Podcast called Gen X Parenting Tools. Go check...

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On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston has some observations about the NCAA tournament. The old guys are winning, and he likes that. ----- Someone in my family is not pleased right now. As I write this Wednesday, I don’t know who. Last night the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA tournament. My wife is a Carolina grad. I was unaware people could like basketball that much until I met her. My son is a Freshman at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He was an avid sports fan moments after his birth. One of them lost last night and is...

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On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam is searching for a message and if he hears one, he WILL obey. ----- I think there is someone or something out there trying to send me a message. A few things have happened lately that seem, well, like there is a message coming or attached but I don’t know what it is. First, storms rolled through a few months ago knocking out the power. Fortunately our house has a generator attached and it kept a few rooms running for a little while. My friends began texting about their power being out. I proudly texted a photo of my comfortable and well-lit kitchen that...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

There's a grocery store Cam goes to when he's in a hurry. It's NOT the one closest to his house. That one is full of memories. Full of roots. ----- I saw him see me. He turned and headed my way. “Cam,” he said. “How’s you mother?” “Well,” I said. “She passed away two years ago.” I saw you at her funeral, I wanted to say. I remember talking to you. “Oh. Yes. That’s right. I’m sorry. Well then, how’s your father?” “Dad’s wonderful. He plays pickleball five, sometimes six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. He’s eighty-seven but I don’t think he knows it....

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On today's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares something he saw last weekend that made him feel a little bit better about things. ----- I'm in Starbucks. It's Saturday. It's Noon. I'm in Tuscaloosa at the corner of Bryant Drive and 8th Avenue. Sororities across the street disgorging young ladies for their morning cups of honey-dew latté with extra chai, extra vanilla essence and a dash of bumble bee eyelashes or something like that. Yoga pants as far as the eye can see. One girl wearing a T-shirt reading Don’t Date Frat Boys. Parents here for fraternity and sorority parent’s weekend. Dads wearing...

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On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares a story he's kept quiet for fourteen years. It's time to get it off his chest. ----- I’ve just boarded my flight. I’m headed home. Sitting here, a memory has resurfaced. Many years ago, deplaning in Chicago, I took a call from a young man. He’d studied my work and asked me to mentor him. He wanted to travel and give speeches. He wanted me to refer him when I was too busy, and he’d pay me a commission. He loved my topic and said he could represent me well. I was deeply flattered. He charmed me. A few months later, we sat at my dining room table...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam's phone has been ringing. It's a lot of his small business friends and they're experiencing similar things. They're feeling pressure. They're feeling squeezed. ----- When an orange is squeezed, orange juice comes out. We know this. We know that sun and good soil and water and maybe some fertilizer help that orange develop that juice. We know the ingredients, we somewhat control the ingredients, and we know the goodness that comes from a squeezed orange. What happens, though, when you and I are squeezed? What happens when life puts pressure on you and me? What ingredients are we drawing on...

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Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make. ----- Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level. As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association...

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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions. ----- Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen. The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a...

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What do you call it when your certain plans are suddenly upended? They're changed with no warning? You call it a God-stop. On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares his experiences with them.  ----- A friend told me a story about how he had applied for a job a long way from home. His potential new employer had said they were going to make a very attractive offer. My friend and his wife began discussing selling their home and moving their kids to a new school. It was certain to happen and then…it didn’t. The job offer never came. His calls to the new employer to get an answer or a...

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One condiment in particular kept my kids alive.

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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.