Last week, my friend Gina came to town with her husband Frank. It was great to see them both. Frank is a champion storyteller. He teaches high school outside of Portland, and he runs an extracurricular social studies team that competes at things like geography bees. They made it to nationals a couple years ago and placed sixth.
One of the kids on the team actually failed Frank’s class. I guess he’s not all that interested in school, but he’s great in competitions because he knows any flag you show him. The superintendant of the district came in to talk with the successful team and asked this kid what he thought of the Israel/Palestine conflict. He said, “huh?” Some other kid interrupted and said, “he just does flags.”
Later, Frank was telling us about how he goes to the grocery store every day. I have that tendency too. But Frank is a pretty outgoing guy, and he talks to everyone. Apparently, one of the clerks gave him the employee discount and actually thought he worked there. He’d go through the line and she’d say things like, “are you working tomorrow?”
In the second half of last week, Eileen and I went up to Door County to camp with her parents in Peninsula State Park. Eileen’s mom has cousins in Green Bay who came up a few times to sit around the campfire. The Blaney’s. They’re Irish. They can tell stories.
In Irish families, you tell a good one and it will probably get recycled later; tell a bad one and you might get ridiculed. At some sort of family gathering, the Blaney’s were sitting around telling stories and someone told one that kinda fizzled out. Someone else, we’ll call him John, said, “That’s not how you end a story!” He proceeded to recount an experience with a patient of his who had come in for a blood transfusion or a plasma donation or something. The guy was blind, but on the medical history, it didn’t mention anything about his being blind. John asked the man about it, and the guy explained that in a psychotic episode, he had gouged out both his eyes! “Now that’s how you end a story!”