Hi there - Nice to see you again.
I recently wrote the line “that year when I committed to writing a poem a day”.
Some of the most interesting people are the ones who casually toss “that time I ______” into a story as a side note in an almost careless, even accidental, fashion. Right? You know, those anecdotes that make you go, “Wait - What?! Rewind. What is that story?!”
Not that I was trying to be one of those fascinating people when I wrote that poetry anecdote. However, someone on Facebook commented on it, and it got these writer wheels turning.
Us writers often write to share experiences that connect us with others. Or, more poignantly, that readers can relate to. Whether particular experiences, or broad emotions, there is a comfort in reading something and knowing that you are smiling or laughing or crying along with the “others” who have read those same lines.
I’m taking my first improv class. Last week, the instructor shared his definition of “laughter”, which I found far more on point than the dictionary’s. Yes, laughter is “an expression or appearance of laughter or amusement”. (Thanks, dictionary.com). Yet it’s so much more than that. As he put it, we laugh because we can relate to something. It’s all about shared experience. Some of us prefer dry humor, while others favor the slapstick variety. Some of us at least tell ourselves that we’re too highbrow for crass humor, while others shamelessly make poop jokes at the drop of a hat.
But, like stories, laughter is about sharing something with others. We laugh because we need a release, or because something strikes a chord. Maybe it falls ridiculously outside our mental schemas, or maybe we’ve just been there, and we know how stupid it feels to slip on some water and completely wipe out, banana-peel style, on your kitchen floor, in your underwear.
We all have stories about those times we _________. And what astounds me is how our brains, constantly filtering out information as they need to do in order to function on a daily basis, bury those times until we actively think about them – at which point we go, “Oh yeah, that’s right! I wrote a poem a day for an entire year…”
Probably like you, I don’t consider myself a particularly interesting person. But I’m willing to bet that you have some very interesting stories that I would want to hear more about.
Here are a few that just popped up for me, in no particular order:
That time I arm-wrestled for the first (and only) time at a dinner party and broke my arm
That time I went on two different dates on the same day
That time I drove to New York for an anti-fur protest outside of Macy’s
That time I was on crutches, or wore a boot, for basically a year
That time I ate raw because I had no stove in my apartment
That time I saw my friends get kicked in the head and stomach by a Maori gang
That time I was fired for being too skinny
That time I almost smoked cigars with Alec Baldwin
That time I was on Good Day, New York
That time I ended up in the Vassar infirmary, dressed like Bonnie (of Bonnie & Clyde)
That time I sat in the back of a police car, after a man named Angel rescued our family on the FDR
That time I spent about $600 on a modeling comp card
That time I shook James Taylor’s hand and told him I was pretty sure I was named after him
That time I built an entirely new circle of friends
That time I earned a front-page photo in the town newspaper for getting 100% on the English Regents Exam
That time I got scuba certified
That time I flew to Utah for a second date
That time I made a sweet-ass save playing squash, the first (and only) time I ever impressed a Phys. Ed teacher
That time I ate roadkill
That time I spent four hours driving around Boston trying to find a yard sale
That time I partied with my aunt and a random crew of firefighters
That time I decorated a flan with kiwi slices so as not to disappoint my grandfather on his 90th birthday
That time I hit a double my first (and only) time at a skeet shooting range
That time I made 500 cookies in one day
That time I decided to move to New York without a job or a place to live
And, of course, that time I said my first (and only) “Yes” after only nine weeks
Okay, that’s enough for now. But you get the idea. We all have endless “those times”. So, you see? Maybe we’re more interesting than we think we are, after all.
Thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.