The magic of the everyday story

Child giggling

What’s making this child giggle? I bet it was a good story. Image courtesy of spike, Morguefile.

I have a relative who is a magician when it comes to saying funny things. It doesn’t seem to matter what he’s talking about; he’ll take the most ordinary of topics and make everyone who listens to him explode in laughter through his droll words.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it, how incidents in your daily life can be converted into side-splitting stories when you use the right wording? A family friend of ours, a retired policeman, is good at funny everyday stories. He would often tell us tales of not-too-bright thieves that he confronted while he was working and mimic their comically horrified expressions when they realized they were busted.

I have my own comic stories, too, such as the time the baby black snake attempted to enter my place (ugh). I opened my door to go outside and the snake wiggled his way in. I grabbed my broom and attempted to sweep him back out, hollering, “HEY! Get out of my house!” The more I swept, the more determined the snake became.

Luckily, a resourceful friend was staying with me at the time. My friend grabbed my flyswatter, scooped it under the snake and sent the snake flying into the air. The snake landed with a perplexed expression in the backyard, shaking its head a little as if to say, “Whoa! What happened?” Fortunately, the snake decided to slither elsewhere and took off, glaring at us.

These everyday stories get even better when a minor amount of disaster is involved. I was singing in the choir at a country church I attended when I saw the Advent wreath catch on fire. The Advent wreath consists of a set of candles in different colors and a decorative wreath; each candle is lit in succession on different Sundays. It’s a countdown-to-Christmas thing. In this case, the Advent wreath was made from pine branches resting on a wooden stand. Some of the wax from the candles dripped down onto the pine needles, a stray spark caught the needles and the fire got going. It was at the end of the service, so two men ran up and beat the fire out with their coats. Nobody got hurt, but I think the coats got a little singed.

Traveling, too, offers the chance to collect many interesting and/or funny everyday stories. I visited the country of Luxembourg years ago, visiting some friends. While I was there, I explored places such as Luxembourg City, Clervaux and Vianden. At Vianden, there is a magnificent castle built around the 10th century.

Vianden Castle

Vianden Castle. I bet the people who lived here had some great stories to tell, don’t you think?

I went up to the booth to buy my entrance ticket and discovered to my delight that the ticket man kept a cat with him for company. While buying my ticket, I allowed the cat to sniff my fingers and said, “Hello, Katze, sprechen Sie Englisch?” before stroking the cat on the head. The cat didn’t answer but he seemed to be an all-language cat; he liked everybody.

I travel because I like to see what’s the same and what’s different from my own country and to see places I’ve heard or read about. Along the way, I get to meet locals who have interesting stories of their own to relay and I delight in listening to them. And if I’m really lucky, the storyteller is funny and I can take these stories back home to relay to friends and relatives so that they can share the humor.

It’s all in the wording. Maybe someday I’ll write these stories down on paper and publish them in a book so they will be preserved.

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15 Comments

Filed under Writing

15 responses to “The magic of the everyday story

  1. Love this post! You’re so right – the ability to transform everyday happenings into funny or meaningful or beautiful stories is truly magic. (And one of my favorite things about Eudora Welty, who works wonders with the mundane.) Love the castle pic, too!

  2. My mother can transform the most mundane of incidents into interesting stories. She employs all sorts of expressions and funny sounds and makes the whole thing so amusing, it’s hard not to get affected by her story! I’ve kinda always wished I could do that as well, but I guess my forte is writing!

  3. Everyday stories can be the best! Now I can’t help thinking of Seinfeld, the show about everyday nothings!

  4. Oh yes, do write them down. That’s how I started — short funny stories. Lots of them about all sorts of things…They eventually became the memoir that I’m close to publishing. If nothing else, you have a delightful gift to pass on to your family.

  5. Val

    Or you could just write more here and publish your blog…

  6. Over the years I’ve met many people who spin a good yarn, it’s always great to listen to them (or in some cases read…). Great post!

  7. Wonderful post.

    I gave a little shudder at your snake story. Uck. Snakes; they’re so wiggly! Glad you had a friend help you out and send ‘im for a little sky soar!

    I found myself thinking of my own stories — the little things that I want to remember, and so, I jot words and blurbs down, wondering if I might find a way to tie them into a story, or a poem, or simply just have them for my own. Thinking about it now, I realize that our lives are not simply one story, but a kaleidoscopic story, consisting of millions upon millions of dull, sparkly, and unforgettable moments and memories.

    Blessings,

    Cara

SPEAK!!!

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