Stories Are My Jam

I love them. I really do. Books, of course, but also TV, movies, and spoken word.

I set a timer to sit down at three o’clock on Saturday afternoons to listen to The Moth Radio Hour whenever I’m home. Three or four people tell stories on a particular theme. They’re hilarious and they can break your heart, often in the same piece.

I come from a long line of excellent storytellers, but even though I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone, I’d prefer to write mine.

My Dad could tell the spookiest campfire tale or something so funny you couldn’t breathe from laughing. He had a million stories locked and loaded and could whip one out to punctuate any topic.

After so many years of hearing about his high school pals and their shenanigans, I have to remind myself they were actually his friends instead of mine.

One of the things I wanted from his house after he died was a painting done by one of our, er, his friends from high school, Don Green, who came into renown in the art world in later years. The painting is called The Preacher, and it scared and fascinated me as a child.

The gist of it is that while my dad and his friends were out drinking beer after a softball game, this barroom character began preaching loudly from a bible he carried, but his words were gibberish. The owner of the bar threatened him with a baseball bat and kicked him out.

Months later my mom threw Dad a birthday party and Don presented him with this painting. It tells the same story in a different medium. It blew my widdle kid bwain to hear my dad tell the story in words while I was looking at the story Don Green had painted.

This lesson stuck with me. I used to teach games to reluctant readers and their parents to help them get better at reading and enjoy it more. One of the main lessons was that when they were reading, they should see a movie in their head.

With my own kids, I’d show them a painting and, because they were too young to write, they’d dictate to me the story behind it, as they perceived it. Charming, imaginative stories.

But one day, my four-year-old daughter began telling me about the “chicken picture.” Chicken had a family and Chicken had exciting adventures, but I had no idea what picture she was talking about. Then she pointed to this Picasso print hanging in our entryway.

“You know, Mom. The chicken.”

That led to a discussion about perspective, and has become a family joke.

One that my dad would have told to howls of laughter.

I know anyone reading this blog loves to read books, but how else do you consume stories? Do you binge-watch TV shows? Do you have storytellers in your family? Got a good family story to share? Do you see Chicken?

1 thought on “Stories Are My Jam”

  1. Yes that brings back memories. My parents worked at the propane store next door to mommom’s house and my brothers and I would stay there. She had me take naps in the ‘parlor room’ and sometimes I would not be sleepy. My uncle had brought back this painting from Germany and it was hanging on the wall above the couch. I would sit and think of all the wonderful people who would pass this bistro painting for hours. With my imagination you would have thought I would become a writer but alas I have continual writers block. 😎

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