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Column: As years go by, storytelling takes more detours
When recalling the past, just fill in memory gaps with lies.
7/21/2012 10:00:00 PM
I love to hear a good story. I love to tell a good story. I have friends who implore, "Tell us a story, Casey." I think they ask not because I'm particularly good at storytelling (though I am), but because I am willing to sacrifice veracity for the sake of humor.
But as I get older (not too terribly old, just 40. It's not like I'm 45 or anything.), while my library of stories has increased, my memory of the particulars has definitely decreased. And I'm starting to do that thing that my grandma has done for years: use the act of telling a story as an exercise to remember minute details about my own past that are entirely irrelevant to the story.
I think we've all been subjected to stories like, "Well, we went to the store to get onions. Or was it strawberries? No, it was coffee. And we ran into Claire. I think her name was Claire. She used to stand by the side of the road and wave at all the cars that came by. Or was it Stephanie? Anyway, she stank."
Again, I've begun doing that myself. Sure doesn't stop me from telling a story, though. So, with all that in mind, let me tell you about the very brief time that I was an action hero.
It all started in the wild and wooly West that is northern Wyoming. I was living there with my wife in the 1990s. Or was it before we were married? Anyway, one mild May evening, my cousin, Christy and I drove to her fiancé's (now husband's) house in a small town about 15 miles from where we were living.
I think we were picking up some tools. Or was it an appliance?
We were upstairs, completing a very important chore that I can't quite remember what it is right now, when we first heard it. Boom.
It wasn't quiet, either. Then another boom. We looked at each other quizzically. Another boom, followed by a rat-a-tat noise.
I do remember how un-nerving that was. Okay, it was terrifying. The house wasn't actually in town, but on the outskirts. And the town itself was sort of in the middle of nowhere.
We first suspected (or was it just Christy? Maybe it was me, too) that another cousin of ours was throwing rocks at the house with some friends of his to scare us. Mission accomplished. And the barrage continued. It really did sound like something was smacking against the house, I think.
Anyway (these sorts of stories always include a lot of anyways), it was dark by then, and we couldn't see anything out the upstairs window. Boom! Bang! It kept going on and on.
Again, we were terrified. My cousin brought out the box containing her fiancé's handgun (it was a sweet 9mm, or a .45. It could've been just a .22. No, I think it was a 9mm because it was just like the one that I shot at that shooting range with my uncle. Or was it my dad?), and as she called her dad to let him know what was going on (please note that neither of us even thought about calling the police. Because we were stupid, that's why), I scouted the house, trying to think of an escape plan, the gun clutched in my hand.
(Serious note: I have had training with firearms. At no time was my finger on the trigger, nor did I ever point the gun at anyone or anything else besides the ceiling and the floor. I am many things: handsome, lazy, a bit prone to fits of insomnia, but I am not reckless or stupid.)
After she hung up, we decided to make a break for her car (it was red.). I bravely opened the door a fraction of an inch and pressed my eyeball to the crack. No one. As she cowered and gibbered, I spun and twirled to the car, striking several manly poses (though I probably looked more like the flaming silhouette at the beginning of "Charlie's Angels"). Within seconds, Christy was in the car. I made one last visual sweep of the vicinity to make certain that we weren't about to be ambushed. And what did I see?
Fireworks. The town was shooting off fireworks. I remember this moment very, very well. No details needed. We had been brutally terrorized by fireworks. Big ones.
I don't remember the occasion. It wasn't the Fourth of July. It wasn't even close to the Fourth, so I think we could be forgiven somewhat for our stupidity.
So, we weren't under attack. This wasn't "Red Dawn" come to life. We weren't being terrorized by young toughs. We were simply ignorant of a fireworks display.
So, that's my story. As Maya Angelou said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." So, go ahead and tell your story, and if you've forgotten some of the details, don't sweat it. Just make them up as you go along.
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