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The Fisher of Stories


It’s happened innumerable times over the last fifteen years, and each time I thank God for the opportunity to learn more about my father’s legacy.

It happened again last night.

I was standing in Charlie’s Chicken, trying to get my family out the door, and an older gentleman looked at me.

imageAnyone who has ever had something like that said to them can attest to the time warp effect it can have. My mind immediately flooded with memories, all of which I’ve shared with you on this blog, and I looked the man in the eye and subconsciously stood up a little taller, straightened up, like a soldier in the presence of an officer.

I laughed and said, “Yes sir I am. How did you know him?”

“I worked with him for eight years when he first started at Unarco,” he replied.

“And what was your name?” I asked.


“Well it’s nice to meet you Jeff.”

He looked the other way for a moment, the way everyone does. I’ve never figured out why people do that, but it never fails, I can tell the words are coming the second their head turns:

“He was a good man.”

We went our separate ways, and I climbed in the car and told Alicia what had just happened.

With my eyes focused on the road to keep anyone from noticing any tears that might be forming, I said the same thing I always do, without fail, the only modification being the amount of years I have to add since he died.

“I hope people are still saying I was a good man fifteen years after I die.”

I don’t have to be known for great things, although it would be nice. But later in my children’s lives I want someone to walk up to them and say, “You must be Travis Sloat’s kid. He was a good man.”

I know I look exactly like my dad, and I know my children won’t look exactly like me. But I want people to know by how they act, how they carry themselves.

I’ll be thrilled with that legacy. Just like I’m thrilled to be Brian Sloat’s boy.

I’ve been in California now for a full 24 hours.
I can sum it up entirely with just one picture.

Seriously. Everyone.

Today is the day.

I’m sitting here watching The Missus—who took the easy way out and flew in last night—get ready, and all I can think about is today.
The day I get to see Josh for the first time in three months.
The day when I see him in his boot camp outfit, or whatever it is.
The day I see him march. Yell “Yes sir!” at the top of his lungs. Stand at attention, parade rest, all that stuff. Hug mom. I get to see how much weight he’s lost, how short his hair is, and how he stands taller and with more pride.
The day I see him grown up.
I’m not afraid I won’t recognize him. I’m not afraid he won’t smile and laugh when he sees us, and I know for a fact he won’t cry when he hugs mom or his girlfriend. That’ll be my job, just like now.
I wish to hell my dad could be here to see this.
I’m going to do my best to hold it together and get some pictures of him doing his Marine thing. Then they give us something called “Family Day.”

I am petrified of accidentally walking on the parade deck.

One thing keeps running through my mind after reading that.

“Your Marine.”
My Marine.
It’s My Brother. They will never take that title from him.

“I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!”
photo credit

We’ve all seen it. It’s plastered on Facebook and Twitter daily, hourly, secondly
The airing of grievances.
“Well, my baby daddy told me he was comin’ to get dis child, and he neva showed up, he a loser, I don’t know why I screw wit dudes like him, he worthless, said he was in a car wreck, that looser* betta hope he wrecked, cuz imma send my new boyfriend afta his sorry butt.” 
“If you got something to say to me, why don’t you say it to my face? I’m not going to mention your name here because that would be too obvious, instead I want to keep this anonymous so that maybe you feel like it’s your fault even though it’s not your fault.” 
When did social media become a sounding board for every disconsolate single mom, frustrated spouse, discontent family member, and opinionated TapOut wearing muscle head?
Before we continue, I understand that there are ways to ignore these people, and not see any of the content they post. I know that. But that’s not addressing the problem.
Also, I really don’t mind the political bashing, or bashing of Christians or atheists or pro-lifer or pro-choicers. As Christians, I don’t think we need to let folks know that they’re all going to hell, but in the same token, if you aren’t singling someone out, let your opinions fly. Free speech and all that. I’m really focused more on specific individual bashing, friends, family, or otherwise.
A few nights ago, I got into a fight with one of my brothers. Imagine that. Fighting with a brother. About midway through the argument, I picked up my phone and another brother looked at me and said, “Are you about to Facebook this right now?”
I just stared at him.
“Absolutely not. Why would I do that?”
Up until mentioning it here, no one knew that I had a fight with my brother except the other brothers and my wife. That’s how I choose to run my life. I don’t feel the need to express to the masses that I’m upset with someone, or that people in my family sometimes annoy the bejesus out of me. I think that’s a given. If you’ve known me for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably seen me argue with one of my brothers.
On the other hand, I want to share the good times with you. I want you to know that my daughter got saved, or that I’m happy to be celebrating nine years with The Missus, or that our son caught an enormous fish.
So why the good and not the bad?
I like to think you have enough of your own problems without seeing mine too. And while I love attention MORE than the next guy, I don’t want that attention to be focused on the negative aspects of my life. And believe it or not, this costs me.
I got a message a few weeks ago from someone telling me that they had honestly never liked me because I seemed stuck up and “better than everyone else.” Then, upon reading “The Road,” they realized that I had problems like everyone else, and their opinion of me turned around.
I could not have been happier. I apologized to the person for my aloof attitude, and assured them that I had my fair share of issues. If you’re reading this and you’d like to know a few of them, here you go.
The Missus and I fight about money. I like to spend it, and she has to be the bad guy and tell me not to. I struggle with the fact that our kids don’t like me very much because I come off as a stern disciplinarian and don’t spend as much time with them as I think I need to. I’ve struggled with internet pornography for years, and just in the last few years have I gotten it semi-controlled. I’m narcissistic and cynical, but I believe in the basic good of people. I love Jesus, but sometimes I cuss a little. I’m currently paying someone to take a college class for me. I can’t stand eating dinner at the table with my family, I like to watch TV when I eat. I’m selfish. I’m a very jealous person. I can be just a touch misogynistic in my words and actions. I struggle with my tolerance for certain things that I was raised to not tolerate. I struggle with control issues. I used to be mean to animals. And I can’t stand your driving. 
There. If you thought for one second I don’t have problems, there.
“After all, we all live in Hyde Park. We all have our dragons.”**
But Travis, isn’t airing them here the same as telling Facebook and Twitter about them?
Well, let me ask you this. Do you enjoy engaging with me on the social platform? If so, ask yourself why. Is it because 99% of my statuses are lighthearted and joking? I’m going to step out on a limb and say that hopefully you answered yes to those questions.
On the blog however, you have to digest the good with bad, and it’s not a three second glance over 140 characters and a quick dismissal or press of the “Like” button. You’ve committed to reading all of this, or most of it, and so it’s less of a constant barrage of negative streaming onto your cell phone or computer screen. Also, I’ll usually warn you that a blog is a “thinker,” and not a normal, funny, make you laugh so hard you spit coffee on your keyboard and then pee your pants blog.
Another reason is, when I’m on social media like Facebook or Twitter, I genuinely want to make you smile or laugh all the time. Sometimes I want you to think, and sometimes even cry, but I never want you to say, “Wow, I wish Travis would shut up with all that negative talk about his wife.” I want something that makes you feel.
Some will accuse me of pandering to people’s sentimental and emotional side. I’d ask those people to read my blog. I keep it real here.
So why do people feel the need to bash their exes, their family, and anything else incessantly on social media? Is it because they aren’t getting the attention they feel they need from people in real life? Is it because they get a thrill out of exposing someone for who they really are over the Internet? I really wish I had the answers for that. In fact, at the risk of becoming somewhat Maury-like, if you’re a constant basher of people on social media, why don’t you anonymously weigh in with a comment here. Tell us what makes you tick.
As for me, and thankfully for The Missus and my family, we will continue in the tradition of leaving each other alone on Facebook and Twitter. I am proud of that fact, and I hope you’ll consider joining me in making your social media feed a bit more positive. Focus on the good people have done for you. If no one has ever done anything good for you, why don’t you start by doing something good for someone else? The feeling you’ll get might be status worthy.
In the words of mothers for generations:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

*I absolutely misspelled that on purpose. Don’t think for one second I don’t know the difference between loose and lose.
** “The Oath” – Frank Peretti

This should not be confused with transition defense, which I’m terrible at.


I’d say that’s all I’m able to say…but we all know that it’s me, and that won’t happen.

I posted a blog last Wednesday, about a tragedy that had befallen our hometown. If you haven’t read it, go do so here, and this post might make more sense. It was a blog that was tough to write, but not for the conventional reasons that are normally associated with chronicling death. It was tough to write about because I was fighting my narcissistic nature the entire time that I wrote it. In fact, at one point, after having spent about 3 hours writing and deleting and rewriting, I finally had to walk away.

I’m so glad I walked away. You see, what I was writing was full of the word “I” and “me” and my thoughts and memories and opinions. And in the end, I’m not the person I needed to be writing about. So after spending a short time in prayer, I started all over. I listened to this song, and I allowed God to show me how he could be glorified, which inspired me to write the words that so many of you took the time to read and share. In fact, here are some of the numbers from the post, On Tragedy.

It has been viewed 2300 times in the last five days.
It has been viewed in 226 cities in 29 countries on 6 continents (the only one missing is Antarctica, and I can’t blame them really, getting an ISP out there is tough).
It has been shared 430 times on Facebook.
It has accounted for 5% of all my blog traffic in the past three years.

Those are the stats as of right now. Even as I’m typing this, I’m checking my real-time data on the analytics website, and people are still drifting on and off the page. And seriously, as much as I’ve always loved blog traffic and numbers, I’ve realized two amazing things that I love more.

  1. The gospel message has been viewed 2300 times in the last five days. I’ve not been given any knowledge whatsoever that there have been decisions for Christ made as a result, but I like to think there have been.
  2. The family has been completely unanimous in their expression that the post gave them peace and comfort.

They buried Kambrin today. No one has given me an official attendance count, but I’d say somewhere in the neighborhood of eight hundred were there. There was standing room only in even the overflow room. There were a lot of tears, but even more laughter. We got to hear her uncles tell stories, and remind us all that she wasn’t here anymore, but that we’d see her again one day.
We drove out to the cemetery. My family gathered around my dad’s grave briefly before the internment, and…we laughed. We joked about the size of coffin I’m going to need when I die. We talked about putting all four of us boys into a giant crypt with bunk beds in it, just like our room used to be. When the family arrived, we gathered closely around them and tried to give them comfort. There was more laughter, there were more tears. And then it was over.
And because I absolutely deplore anyone who I feel is “cashing in” on tragedy, that’s the last you’ll ever hear of Kambrin on this blog.
And so here I am. I’m sitting at home, much like five evenings ago, and faced with the most stress I’ve ever had when typing up a blog. In fact, I’ve been telling my wife all week that I have no idea how I’m ever going to write a new post. I’m wrestling with transitions.
You see, a lot of people who have never seen this site before have been here in the last few days. More are on the way. I know that, because today I was asked at least five times what a “blog” was, and then asked for specific directions on how to get here. If you’re reading this, I guess you made it. Thanks.
But it’s in all that traffic where the problem lies. You see, I’ve not always been a “spiritual” blogger. I’ve always had and openly talked about my faith, but I haven’t always represented it with the cleanest stories, language, or subject matter. If you look through my archives, you’ll see posts littered with profanity, off-color humor, and several other things that would offend a great many “church folk,” and my mom.
I could go back through the posts and delete the worst ones, and I might still do that. I could also go back through and edit out all the foul language and use words like “pickles” and “dangit” and “fudge.” And I might still do that as well. I haven’t made a final decision though. You see, those posts, those stories, they represent a part of me. They let people know (if any still exist that think it) that I’m not perfect. I have a history. And it’s not a “before Christ” history either. I’ve been a Christian for twenty four years now. It was simply a time where I was not as close to God as either one of us would have liked for me to have been.
I will say this though. If you think I’m going to turn my little piece o’ the internets into something other than a humor blog, you’re dead wrong. You see, tragedy and comedy are a lot alike. In fact, you can’t have one without the other. They are intertwined with each other, and both will ultimately lead to the other. So we’ll go on laughing here. We’ll go on telling stories about the athlete refusing to die and the fact that I’m a crybaby, or the time when I got what I deserved.
For you rookies that might still be reading this, if you click the blue text, it’ll take you to some funny stories.
Will as many people see this post as the one before it? I’d be crazy to think that. Will this post be shared 430 times on Facebook? Maybe by me…but that’s it. But the people that matter will be here. And they’ll read it, and they’ll know that even though I have a past, and even though I can form letters into words which might bring peace and comfort to some, ultimately I’m Travis Sloat, I’m a Christian, I’m proud to say my hometown is Okay, Oklahoma, This blog and I are a work in progress, sometimes I cuss a little, I love you all, and…I like to fish.

How you doin’?

(Picture enlarged to show sexiness)