By Chris MeadWhat is real?Is it our sometimes harried daily lives, or is it what we sometimes see when we leave town or otherwise shake up our routine? I’m at the beach with my family trying to make sense of things.The trouble began on day one of vacation, Friday. A Wall Street Journal reporter had been talking with me about my quixotic effort to chronicle the history of chambers of commerce. But there on the front page of the paper was my face in lithograph. I’m not that used to being a public figure, as my big brother Walter is. While driving to the beach and pouring coolant into my leaking radiator, I was feeling like a king for a day, sort of.This was even bigger than six years previously, when my newborn son was in the Journal after I’d sold his naming rights to a sponsor named ChamberMaster. (Please don’t think badly of me; it was only for two weeks.)On vacation, the family stories will come out. No, I am not going to spill any more beans on Walter. But my brother-in-law, Doug Lewis, did have an item that caught my attention and stretched my view of human nature.Someone broke into his truck a while back and stole his computer. Six months later, Doug received a phone call from Honduras. “What is the password for your computer?” the person asked.Doug was taken aback. Why should he help the person who took his computer? “The password is ‘kissmyass’,” he finally said.Five minutes later, he received another call. “That password didn’t work,” said the thief.Sometimes words alone aren’t sufficient to describe the challenges that reality throws at us. A commenter on Via Meadia already has outed me for having written a song 20 years ago, “The Taxman from Arkansas.” (I responded that BC has grown on me since.) But when passion moved me most powerfully, back in those years when I had no temporarily named young man to look after, I could only come up with a song title: “My Inner Child Is From Outer Space.” Perhaps that inner child will emerge on this Delaware beach.I’m not the first person to contemplate chambers of commerce while at the beach. Elvis Presley sang one of his most forgettable songs, The Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, about 50 years ago. If you wish to inflict pain on yourself, you can watch the video:[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5DiOJfUocU’]The weather was nice when they were shooting that film. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “chamber of commerce weather.” Elvis was experiencing it then.As I am, now. But for me, these things must sometimes take a back seat to other kinds of reality. I just stole into my younger daughter’s room and put a Snickers bar and five dollars, encased in plastic, under her pillow. She lost a tooth yesterday.All that dental magic is still ahead for little ChamberMaster.Whose reality, really, are we dealing with? In some other dimension, is the tooth fairy real? What about Al Gore? Deficit reduction?There is a lot to think about on these wind-tickled shores.Such as . . . what are they doing with that computer in Honduras?
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