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Missing Left Sock Beast
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Coyote Musings
Coyote handsome
his coat the same brown
as the dust from which he rises


What is the sound of one hand slapping Schroedinger's cat?


The Quantum Duck goes "quark, quark."

September 2010
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Missing Left Sock Beast [userpic]
Holidailies, Day 4: Stories my Father Tells

I was raised to be a reader. I was read to from long before I was able to drag a book over to a related grownup (or my three-years-older uncle) and demand "readame." I get this from both my parents, who shared in the reading "chore," and who are both avid readers. Mom mostly reads Romance novels, while Dad's tastes are much more catholic though tending toward Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. We started with Dr. Seuss, naturally, and gradually moved on to Grimm's Fairy Tales and the entire Oz series. Dad did most of the reading after a certain point, I think largely because he worked rotating shifts and often wouldn't see my sister and I for a week or so except for storytime. Eventually, in the middle of the Hobbit, I decided I wanted to read ahead, and some time not long after that was the end of storytime.

Only it wasn't. Both my parents are readers. My father is a natural storyteller. If you can get him started telling a story, his voice falls into a natural rhythm, the cadence rises and falls appropriately, musically, and he forgets himself enough to get expansive with his body language.

In general, my father is a very quiet man; soft-spoken to the point he can be very difficult to hear. Get him started telling a story, and all that changes. Of course he repeats his stories; everyone repeats their stories. But the details don't change much. Sometimes, it's a dollar radio that my grandmother collects with a raging bull moose bearing down at her and my grandfather hollering at her from the car. Sometimes it's a $2 radio. It's always the radio, the blanket, and the picnic basket, and that bull moose charging down on her like all of Hell's fury, so that when she can get to the car with my grandfather she can look at the bundle in her hands and ask herself: Did I just risk my life for less than $5 (or $10) worth of stuff?

My parents grew up in a very rural area, where it wasn't unusual for kids to be taken out of school to go hunting for venison to help with the food bills during winter. And the hunting stories tend to come out on dark fall evenings; Dad will tell about the time he and his father were hunting at dusk, and he heard a rustle in the bushes behind them. He turned around to check, of course, and nearly had his wits scared out of him by the four-foot horned owl that had just taken off. Their feathers keep their flight silent, you know, he says. I never even thought to bring up the gun.

Or he'll talk about the buddy of his who went out hunting (was out driving in the mountains), shot a buck that keeled over (and had a bald eagle fly through his windshield), so Dad's buddy decided to tie the antlers to the gun to drag the deer back to his truck for transport back to town (figured no one would believe him, so left the apparently dead bird in the back seat of his car for proof) . Which was fine, until the deer (eagle) came to. Dad's buddy figured there were some very startled hunters out in the woods around his hometown (the guy with the eagle wasn't so lucky; he got clawed and beaked until he pulled over and let the bird out of the car).

That last one sounds like an urban (rural?) legend, doesn't it? And maybe it is. I know for a fact that the tale he tells about another high school buddy, driving alone at night through the desert and therefore going pretty fast, who suddenly was surrounded by a white light and a voice came down from heaven saying "SLOW THAT F*ING THING DOWN" is true, because I've met the buddy in question and confirmed the story. On the other hand, my father was the first person to tell me a variant on the Hit the Floor! urban legend (in Dad's version, the celebrity was Eddie Murphy, he had two bodyguards and a dog, and the order was not "hit the floor" but "Sit!"). The story made me uncomfortable at the time, as much for the racist element as for the fact that I had a hard time believing it was true - what woman of any sense would have gotten on the elevator in the first place if she felt threatened? - but it was still one of Dad's stories and I listened.

I try to always listen when Dad's telling a story. I'm lucky in that my father is not a very emotionally distant man, but it's still hard to get him to talk about himself, about his childhood, about his family, about what he remembers. But he's almost always up for telling a story, and it is therefore through his stories that I can best get to know him.


Your father sounds great. I really enjoyed this.

He is great. Thanks!

I'm a UU, too. enjoyed your memories about your Dad and telling stories. Are you a reader as well? I consider the gift of quiet time to read one of life's greatest pleasures. Maybe because it's so rare.

Looking forward to more posts from you during Holidailies.
Rhubarb (aka Sarah)

I am very much a reader. I'll read just about anything (though I'm not a huge fan of romances, I'll give them a chance, too).

Pleased to meet you. :)