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Twenty-One

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 01/24/2024

Persevere show art Persevere

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's KIR, Cam Marston wonders if he could do the same thing for fifteen years and know, just know in his bones, that it would pay off. ----- I’ve just watched the documentary on Steve Martin called "Steve! A Documentary in Two Pieces." I’ve always liked Steve Martin. What caught my attention the most is that he did his standup act for fifteen years. The vast majority of that time, his audiences were very small. In one video clip, he’s counting the number of people in the room during his act – there were fifteen people there. He got what he thought were big breaks that bombed,...

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April's Fool show art April's Fool

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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Workplace Veterans show art Workplace Veterans

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

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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Need A Message show art Need A Message

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

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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Tell Them Both I Said Hello show art Tell Them Both I Said Hello

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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Parent's Weekend show art Parent's Weekend

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

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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Forgiveness show art Forgiveness

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

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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Squeezed show art Squeezed

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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Lent show art Lent

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

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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Dry January show art Dry January

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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Cam spent Monday evening at a big party for a small group of twenty-one year olds. To say the least, times have changed. Here's what he saw.

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A moment after midnight on March 4th, 1990, I stood on a barstool and declared loudly to the packed bar that I had just turned twenty one years old. I was in Boulder, Colorado. A moment later the bouncer had me by the shirt and said, “That means you used a fake ID to get in”, which was true. I was nearly carried, my feet barely touching the ground, to the door and tossed into the street.

Oddly enough, the same story happened to my wife, long before we met. It was a stroke after midnight on July 13th, 1991, and she was on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her declaration was not made atop a bar stool. She was greeted by cheers from her friends and was bought a round of drinks.

In both instances, our parents were not there. And, in both instances no evidence exists that any of it ever happened.

Monday night in Oxford, Mississippi, I was with my favorite oldest daughter in a bar called The Summit. All her crowd was there plus more. She and her friends who had turned twenty-one over the Christmas break banded together to celebrate. My wife and I were invited. We were, in fact, encouraged to come. Decorators created an Instagram-able background including a balloon-arch and streamers. There was a platter of cupcakes in the shape of 21.

Picture books were created for each of the birthday girls. The girls wore bawdy signs around their necks for the night. After a couple hours, my wife and I sensed the tide turning, the energy increasing, and a bar full twenty-one-year-olds were about to begin doing what bars full of twenty-one-year old’s do. My wife and I paid our part of the tab, hugged our daughter, posed for countless photos with her, and got the hell out of there. This is a low estimate, but approximately 55 million billion photos were taken in the two hours of the party.

This is not the way I would have wanted it, I kept thinking to myself. But the truth is, I didn’t have a pocket full of magic back in 1990. While it was her celebration, the cell phone and its camera, this magical device, drove the show.

I read somewhere that today mankind takes more photos in one day than we did from the invention of the camara roughly two hundred years ago to today.

The picture books she was given were made quickly compared to what it would have taken back in 1990 – imagine developing 35mm film, duplicates, photo booths. The sign she wore was full of images, printed as a whole, and laminated. It certainly took some effort, but simple compared to what it would have taken back in the day.

As much as I wanted to flinch, she and her whole party were a reflection of what technology has created. A natural consequence. Said another way, while I’d like to think differently, had the technology been available, I would have probably wanted the same. But I am indeed happy my parents weren’t there. And I am indeed very happy no evidence remains.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.