All of a sudden story telling is so hot. At one point in my life—pre-journalism, actually—I was full of stories and even thought of “griot” as a profession. But now that I think back, once I became a professional journalist, the stories kind of dried up. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe the rigors of journalistic writing sapped all my ability to spin a yarn or the strict adherence to facts and concomitant fear of relying on the reporter’s own knowledge base in reporting a story robbed me of my oral history. Even my kids noticed that my stories were pretty lame; my wife has kicked my storytelling ass for five years.
But now that I’m independent again, I am all of a sudden full of tales. And I’m not the only one. Hundreds of people have been showing up to tell and hear stories at Boise’s Story, Story Night. I kept hearing about the event, which takes place monthly at the Linen Building. It goes like this: a few pros tell a tell, related to a theme and then they pick names from a hat and Jack or Jill Boise get five minutes to wow the audience with how cool they were way back when. I just kept missing the event. Until August.
I biked down to the Linen District, forgot a lock and left my bike on a rack hoping for the best. I was late as usual. The topic was Dog Days of Summer, and I thought back to my best summer … which was also the first time I laid eyes on the Salmon River. So I uncharacteristically threw my name in the hat thinking there would be little chance I’d get called up. I am the kind of person who likes to observe for a while before jumping into the fray, but I was feeling a little on the edge. And then, after the fist storyteller did a bang up job talking about a summer down south, the woman running the show called my name. Oops.
So here’s what I came up with. A bit rushed at the end, but I like it. I thought I would sound all nervous because my knees were involuntarily buckling the whole time, but I actually sound somewhat relaxed.
I didn’t win, but you can hear the story slam winner in iTunes by clicking here. A few younger people came up to me after the show and asked what Earth First! was/is. None of my students in my college composition class could place it either, though one did shout out “Treehuggers!” That about sums it up.
I have to say, getting up in front of a couple hundred mostly strangers (if there is such a concept in Boise) was a very liberating thing to do and I highly recommend it. It was also liberating to tell an Idaho audience that yes, it was Earth First! that brought me to Idaho in the first place. I’ve told very few people that over the years but it’s true. I’m still nostalgic for the Cayuga chapter actually. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.