The Storytelling Epiphany

The only blue ribbon I ever won was at a UIL competition in the first grade for Storytelling. (I relay these credentials to you simply because I can.) However, it wasn't until junior high that I learned the true value of the art of storytelling.

Laura C.--my best friend in the world at the time--had the gift of making people laugh, but not in a Robin Williams sort of way. Laura was much lower key than that. Part of her repertoire was what we came to call the "Celeste stories" which we would make her tell over and over....

In Laura's science class, the desks were in rows. She sat in front, Celeste sat behind her, and the cutest guy in school--Jay Dill--sat behind Celeste. Laura had a huge crush on Jay, and Celeste--being Celeste--decided to take advantage of that one day. As they were listening to the teacher, Celeste tapped Laura on the shoulder. Laura always mimicked Celeste's giddy face. She handed Laura a folded up note and said, "Here. This is from Jay!" Laura mimed opening the note.

Laura was excited and nervous. She unfolded the note, and in big letters it said, "Will you go with me? Check yes. Check no." So Laura checked a big yes, folded the note up and handed it back to Celeste--who wadded it up and shoved it in her pocket since she was the one who wrote the note in the first place.

Laura didn't hear another word the teacher said that day, because she was so excited about what just happened. When the bell rang, Celeste asked Laura what was in the note. "I'm going with Jay Dill," Laura said. (Having absolutely no idea that Celeste already knows that.) "C'mon," Celeste said, "Let's go tell all our friends." So, they did. Then Laura saw a girl walk by and slap Jay on the back and tell him how cool it is that they were going out together. Laura always mimed Jay's WHAT?? face, then Celeste falling on the floor in laughter, as she suddenly understands what happened.... (Luckily all worked out in the end and Jay and Laura had a brief middle school romance.)

Laura had multiple stories about Celeste, and it hit me in high school--when we asking her to tell them for the 100th time--that there was a reason they were significant.

As an adult, my whole day job is about the power of story. There is something about the retelling of events that provides both context and connection. We loved the Celeste stories, because we had all had friends just like her.

But it was Laura--with her humorous narratives--who gave us the power to laugh at them.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall