This time of year makes me think of a story that happened a few years ago…
Shari and I were on a double date with some friends. After dinner, the date took a nosedive when we ended up at Ross (you know, as in “Dress For Less”). I was trying to make the best of it by finding random, ridiculous items for sale in the store.
The girls walked around the store together, so I stuck with my friend. He found some socks to buy and we stood in line, waiting behind several people. I noticed a bin of VHS movies near the checkout line and one of them caught my eye: 1987’s Buns of Steel workout video.
I couldn’t resist. I picked it up, not knowing what I was going to do with it – and then an irresistible opportunity came up. A husband and wife in front of us were busy talking with their backs turned to their shopping cart. I quickly and stealthily dropped Buns of Steel into their shopping cart.
They were up next. The woman was taking things out of her cart to give to the cashier, and it happened. She picked up Buns of Steel with a confused look on her face. She looked at her husband. Immediately, he said, “I didn’t put that in there.” She turned around and looked at us.
My friend did the thumb gesture, indicating me in the crime. The lady was visibly upset, “What!!???! I DON’T NEED THIS. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?”
I was just standing there shaking my head, thinking “No, no, no, no…..”
With that, she slammed the video down on the counter and walked out, leaving her startled husband behind with their merchandise. Did I mention he was a big dude? He turned to me and said, “Normally I would do something, like out in the parking lot, but because it’s the holidays, I’m gonna give you a free pass.” He paid for his stuff and left.
When it was my friend’s turn to pay for his socks, the cashier looked at us, smiled, and said, “I thought it was pretty funny.”
I think we need better stories. I know I do.
My daughter frequently asks, “Daddy, will you tell me a story from when you were younger?” I quickly think – is there a story I haven’t told her yet? One that’s worth telling?
Sure, I have my stories. A handful of them anyway. They’re cute and some of them are funny. She’s heard them all and she doesn’t complain when I tell a repeat.
Sometimes I wrack my brain trying to remember a story – one that is exciting or unusual or story-worthy from when I was younger. It’s embarrassing how difficult it is to come up with one. Either I have a terrible memory or I had an incredibly dull and uneventful childhood.
Recently, the process of digging through my memories was productive. I came up with 3 stories my daughter hasn’t yet heard…
1. The mud-ball war I started on my church’s undeveloped property.
2. Secret riders in Aubrielle Hopkin’s parent’s minivan.
3. I tried chew. Once.
I’m excited for the next time she asks for a story because I have some options now.
There is a common thread in those stories…
They all involve risk and mischief, miscalculation and mistakes. They describe true events, but they also elicit a reaction – laughter, surprise, and disgust. Those reactions leave a mark; they make an impression. In fact, they teach a lesson.
I am currently re-reading Bob Goff’s wonderful book Love Does, and I’m having the same reaction I had the last time I read it: I’m smiling and laughing and longing for more spontaneity in my own life. Side note: Love Does is now available on Kindle for only $2.99
This book makes me think, “I’m too boring. I need to risk more, go on wild adventures, do some things on a whim, and get into a little trouble once in a while.”
I’m pretty sure I need better stories.
I have a few good ones. Some are funny and some are sad. They’re my stories – they show where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and most importantly, they reveal who I am.
I don’t think my collection of stories is complete and I’m not convinced the ones I already have are the best.
It’s quite possible my best stories haven’t happened yet. In fact, I’m almost certain this is true – my best stories are still waiting to happen and are yet to be told.
Someday, when I am much, much older, I want to dig through my memories trying to recall a story to tell my grandchildren – one that is exciting or unusual or story-worthy from when I was younger.
And if it’s difficult to come up with one, I want the reason to be my terrible memory, not that I had an incredibly dull and uneventful life.
From now until then, I need to make better stories. Stories with risk and adventure. Stories with mischief and little bits of trouble. Stories with laughter and maybe even a few tears. Stories that are memorable and worth telling—ones that make an impression and elicit a reaction.
Maybe you can help me. Want to get into some mischief? Ready for some spontaneous adventures?
ADD YOUR VOICE / YOUR STORY:
What, in your experience, makes a great story? Do you want more of these in your own life?