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The truth really, really hurts 

The headline for my column today, in case it was too big for you to read, says “The truth really, really hurts.� Ain’t that the truth. And don’t it hurt. Because it’s the truth.

As much as I like jabbing and sniping at people, I don’t like hurting them, which is why I don’t ever really write about the truth. I write about the rumors and innuendo that surround the truth, and nobody’s ever been hurt by a rumor. That’s a proven fact.

I heard that your father never really loved you. See? Didn’t hurt at all. I’m totally fine. Not a scratch on me.

Since I’m on a roll at not hurting people, now would be a good time to mention that a few tattle-tales have told me about Pismo Beach City Councilman Bill Rabenaldt’s noticeably sloshed Fourth of July activities. Now, see, I’m not actually saying he was drunk. I’m not even saying that other people were saying that he was drunk. I’m just implying, while winking and wagging my eyebrows, that I’ve heard that Bill was lucky he didn’t breathe on any lit fuses on Independence Day. Get it? You have to read between the lines for that one, because I’m saying that there was so much alcohol on his breath, he could’ve caught on fire. Now do you get it?

No, wait, I don’t know how much alcohol he had on his breath, or in his blood for that matter. Maybe he was just on some medication. Or was really, really tired. Or was practicing, via some sort of dramatic immersion method, so he could audition for the role of a drunk in an upcoming local community theater production. Maybe he was channeling Johnny Depp in the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Whatever the source of his rogue behavior, more than a few Pismo residents reported seeing Bill act a bit surly on the anniversary of our nation’s independence. But who hasn’t acted surly? Who hasn’t flared up a bit when asked to leave a stage? Who hasn’t threatened someone else’s job?
I did all three of those things before breakfast this morning, and I’ll probably do them again by lunchtime, and I’m completely sober. I have a raging hangover, but I’m sober—unless hangovers still count as being drunk. I can never remember what counts and what doesn’t.

And don’t forget that there’s another explanation for Bill’s behavior. These people who say that they saw him cavorting and capering in a most inappropriate fashion could be in league to damage his chances at getting elected mayor in the upcoming November election. People do that sort of thing. I should know. I did it before breakfast this morning, but I don’t think
I’ll do it again by lunchtime. My schedule’s too full.

In case these rabble rousers aren’t conspiring, though, I have some advice
for you, Bill. The truth hurts, but it can also set you free. If you really were more than one or two sheets to the wind that night, fess up and move on to other political battles. You know you’ve got enough of them there in Pismo.

And the same goes for all you accusers with your fingers pointing in condemnation. If you’re the ones fudging the truth, you should be ashamed of yourselves. If anything hurts more than the truth, it’s lies. I should know. I lied before breakfast this morning, and now
I have a pounding headache and my mouth tastes like cotton.

Had enough of Atascadero, yet?

I don’t want to be the journalistic straw that breaks the Atascadero camel’s back, but the city’s hits just keep on coming, and I’ve got to roll with them, just like my hero: Mohammed Ali. I base my investigations and writing style on his boxing theory, though I’ve added my own twist to the mantra: Float like a butterfly, sting like a series of paper cuts on the webbing between your fingers after somebody pours a mixture of lemon juice and sea salt into them. That hurts almost as much as
the truth does.

As if all of the eminent domain accusations and Wal-Mart wooing alleged against Atascadero city leadership weren’t enough, now the Atascadero fire department’s all mixed up in the mess. Looks like I’m just going to have to suck it up and smash that camel flat. Don’t tell PETA. I’m not sure if they care about anything other than pound puppies and rodeo horses,
but let’s keep this between
us, just in case.

Not to be too vague, but I’ve caught snatches of whisperings on the wind that
a certain Atascadero firefighter, who’s related to someone who was foolish enough to buy property where a new super Wal-Mart is clearly intended to set down roots, was pressured into pressuring said relative to sell. Get it?

Former Atascadero mayor and former Atascadero councilwoman Wendy Scalise, who stepped down recently for health reasons—maybe a case of Wal-Mart-itis?—has said that she doesn’t know anything about that property, and I don’t want to bug her any more. Her health is more important that my piddling little attempt at digging out the rumors that surround the truth.

To tell the painful truth myself, I don’t even feel like bugging City Manager Wade McKinney, or Assistant City Manager Jim Lewis, or anybody else in power up there in Atascadero. I have a bit of an upset stomach of my own. Maybe it’s my hangover. Maybe it’s that camel juice I got on my hands when I squashed it. Maybe I’ve got a case of Wal-Mart-itis myself. Maybe it’s those paper cuts and lemon juice. Or maybe I’m just faking so I don’t have to keep writing and can get back to drinking. You with me, Bill? ∆

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