From: (Matt Powell)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: FTSD:  The Old Man and the Tunnel
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 23:38:51 -0700
Organization: Eidetus Research Group
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Once, as I was driving through the mountains of Colorado, I came to a 
tunnel.  I had come to this tunnel many times in the past, usually 
traveling with my father.  The old man always told us the same thing, 
that this was a tunnel he heard about once, that people sometimes get 
lost in.  Then of course when you're in the tunnel, you realize how silly 
a thing that is to say, because the tunnel is only a few hundred yards 
long with no branches and the end is clearly visible.  This fooled me 
once I think, and the old man got a big laugh out of it.  And on the 
strength of that one success, or perhaps to relive the one moment, he 
repeated the joke every time we came to a tunnel for the next ten years 
or so.

I miss those days.  And I miss the old man.

It's not that he's gone, and it's not that he's different.  He's still 
here, and I speak to him frequently.  But gone are the days when I lived 
in his spell, when his reality was my reality, when a statement made was 
automatically true, because it was him that said it.

He's still right far more often than not.  Sit down with him, if you get 
a chance.  He knows more about life than the entire cast and all the 
writers on every sitcom made today.  Talking to him for twenty minutes is 
more informative and more rewarding than any hundred pages chosen at 
random from the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  But driving into that tunnel, I 
realized what had passed me by.  Because you see, for a moment, I thought 
I was going to get lost.

I never had to worry about what was real and what wasn't when the old man 
was around.  He always told me.  And sometimes perhaps he undermined that 
view of reality to prepare me for the time when I'd have to get that 
understanding from somewhere else.  And maybe he told that same joke for 
ten years to remind me that him saying something didn't make it true.  
The tunnel was the tunnel, no matter what he said.  Now that I'm on my 
own, I'd have to find my own way through the tunnel, and I suddenly 
realized that there are plenty of tunnels you really can get lost in.  As 
long as the old man made the joke, I knew it wasn't one of those tunnels.  
When I didn't hear the joke, that's when I'd really worry.  Any time I 
saw my old man grappling for the sense of something someone had said or 
done to him, or at a loss to explain some deep problem, I'd remember 
which world I lived in.  I'd see a tunnel, and I wondered if I'd make it 
out of this one.  So far I have, but there's a lot of mountains up here, 
and it's a mighty long road.