Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tellin' Stories

Our newest family TV obsession is Duck Dynasty on A&E.  It's "must DVR" TV for us because it is laugh-out-loud delightful.  I'm not naive enough to think that everything we see on this show happens organically, but even the staged scenarios and over-exaggerated redneck personalities are pretty high-lair-ious. 

What I like about the show is that there is no in-fighting, table-flipping, back-stabbing or gossiping.  These guys really do eat the squirrels they shoot and sport ZZ-Top-inspired beards as part of the family crest.  Maybe they fake a neighborhood pig roast or RV makeover, but their truth and humor is still far more interesting than other people's fiction.

Don't get me wrong.  I watch Real Housewives and Dance Moms too. I do that because those people are truly nuts and they make me feel better about myself.  Even on my craziest day, I know I would never drop an "F" bomb on my kid's coach or pout because I didn't have enough diamonds.  I can't relate to these shows the way I can relate to the real-ness in Duck Dynasty.

I think the mark of successful fiction is the element of relatability.  Let's take the Twilight series for example. Of course, we aren't werewolves and vampires, but I challenge anyone to tell me that they don't connect to the relationships within that monster mash. Who doesn't want to feel like they are part of an epic love story?  Or the Hunger Games - we don't live in a world where children compete to the death, but we each have our own stories of survival.

When I was in college, I took a fiction writing class as part of my major.  For the life of me, I could not come up with anything better than my actual true stories, so that's what I wrote about - and just pretended it was made up.  I remember one story in particular, when I described my childhood Presbyterian minister who had been a gray-haired man for many years, and then suddenly, one Sunday, like the miracle of water and wine, his hair turned brown.  It was a hot day when the brown appeared, and, as a result, the color from his new 'do rolled down his cheeks like a fountain of poo.

My professor gave me a "B" for the unrealistic storyline.  Of course, I couldn't tell him that it ACTUALLY HAPPENED, because this was FICTION writing class.  When I think about all the things that have ACTUALLY HAPPENED to me in my life, it does seem like a fairytale - and the makings of a great novel.  If I rolled through my greatest hits, I would tell you about so many things, such as:
  • When my 2nd grade teacher asked if I was deaf because the reading cassette headset was clearly on the fritz just for me --- and not my partner Jason Fikes --- and then my mom sent in a letter the next day stating that I may, in fact, have hearing issues.  I got to pass out papers the rest of the year.
  • When I got asked to the dance in middle school because everyone decided that the tallest boy and the tallest girl in class MUST be together. I was not ready for intimacy, and thus told poor Peter Albert when he tried to touch me that I had a sunburn - in February.
  • When my 2nd highschool boyfriend professed his love with a shadowbox, housed in a Gayfers' shirt parcel, highlighting key moments from Phantom of the Opera.  I knew then that I needed to expand my net beyond the Chorus Department.  2nd highschool boyfriend is now on Broadway --- and 1st highschool boyfriend is now head of the Log Cabin Republicans.
  • When, during a college summer abroad, a cab driver pulled over in the middle of the night while I wandered the streets of Oxford, England, and gave me a ride back to my dorm for free, because I was clearly lost and scared and unaccustomed to the drink.
  • When, as a married woman in a small apartment, I asked my husband to bring me home a chocolate pie, and he brought home a Jack Russell puppy instead - who proceeded to pee on my face in my sleep, make poo-poo murals in the kitchen, and get us kicked out of dog obedience school.
  • When I was fired in a bathroom, signing termination papers while women were unwrapping their tampons.
There's more, but that's what blogs are for.  So what's the point?  Well, the point is that when you are at your lowest, just review your story.  I think you'll find that there is more cause to laugh than cry, especially once you realize that everyone is crazy except for you.  Turn those lemons into lemonade.

And until next time, keep crowin'!

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