Story Time

On the Saturday before Easter I was determined to get my flat into order. We have been living here for about two months and there are still boxes and bags laying about. Burke went off to Dresden, and I rolled up my sleeves for a day of work.

And that’s what I did. I hoisted things organized, found cubby holes inside of cubby holes, and slid boxes and backpacks in a not-so-haphazard manner into them. I became friends with our storage unit in the basement, freaked out a little because of its direct resemblance to the setting in a Stephen King story, screamed and did a spider dance when a piece of yarn touched my wrist. Despite these setbacks, I got things done, stacked boxes, brought up a lamp, which I got a bulb for later. I cleaned and rearranged. At the end of the day I read on the bouch in the content pleasure of hard work that is also productive. My felt my more of a flat now than it had been before. I fell asleep with a book on my face at 10:30 on a Saturday night.  

And I have been telling everyone within earshot since then.  

I’m a repeater. Some of my students are in both my English class and my writing class and sometimes I have to beware not to repeat my stories in both classes. Or at the very least I have to put a disclaimer on the story (“some of my English lesson people have heard this one”) or sometimes I just change enough of the details so that it comes off as a similar story that has happened to two very similar men. With cats. Who live in my flat.

This is a family condition. My dad starts every joke with “Did I tell you this one?” Which wouldn’t be odd, but when he says that he hasn’t given me any information other than he’s about to tell me a joke. My answer is typically “I have no f***ing idea, just get on with it!” and then I’ll proceed to hear a joke for thirtieth time. Just like our quasi-unibrow and our overdeveloped calves, it’s a family trait.

It’s not the trait I’m terribly concerned about. I’m a repeater, so what? I’m a storyteller and telling stories to different groups is how I develop and practice a narrative, make it funnier, build up tension. Sometimes I skip the people entirely and just tell the story aloud while running, walking or eating with no internet. In any event, it’s practice for being an old man. Just add a porch, a rocking chair, and ludicrously little worry about holding back bodily functions in public.

When I was a young guy the stories were funny because of the tension involved. There was usually an intensely stupid plan put into motion and the humor was in that and in people’s harsh reaction to that plan. You should have seen these folks get so bent out of shape over one naked guy trying to get a piece of cake at a wedding reception. Later on the stories were essentially the same template, but I was one of the people reacting harshly. I shit you not, this idiot comes into the reception with a sock over his dick and a cake plate. What the hell’s wrong with these people?

Nowadays, life is different. I can’t drink enough to warrant public nudity anymore. And when I see naked people in public there are roughly 203,490 phone cameras around to catch the action, so there’s no need to tell the story anyhow. And whenever encountering true assholism in daily life I am usually too demoralized by the behavior to make myself repeat the story.  

No, what surprised me is what events hold genuine excitement for me these days. Cleaning the flat and having a quiet evening is not the remarkable aspect of the story as much as the amount of pleasure I acquired from it. At the end of a production day of cleaning I felt that I had accomplished something. This is what I wanted to convey, even though it lacks the obvious  temporal structure of a traditional narrative – conflict, climax, resolution, bridge.

I have grumbled to people in the past about the abilities to tell stories. My mother tells a narrative whose plot, goal, and resolution are the study fodder for students of the Avant Garde. People with babies are notorious for droning on about their offspring’s precocious development in the field of block stacking, number recognition, and name verbalization. And perhaps I have been too hard on these people in the past. I suppose we’re all excited about something. Tonight I’ll get into bed around 10 and think about it.

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