The Spoken Words

19 11 2009

We had one of our better Two Stories Tall nights yesterday, as a couple dozen people graced our apartment with their presence and voices.  The gist of the thing, which we have held sporadically over the last 18 months that I have lived here, is that people read something aloud for the collective enjoyment of those present.  In college I had a few experiences of reading through plays, narratives and dialogues with friends and classmates, and I always enjoyed it.

This likely stems from how my dad used to read my brother and me Hardy Boys stories at night before bedtime.  I remember begging for another chapter, Skull Mountain (Dun, da-da-da Duuuuuuuuun), and the mud-covered license plate in the story about the signpost.  I remember my Dad reading other stuff too, but the Hardy Boys stories stand out to me a lot.  I hope I someday have kids that enjoy doing that as much as I did and do.

So, Randall transcribed (it took him hours) a Peter Wimsey mystery and delineated the various characters’ lines enough to be read by at least a portion of the people present.  It was a lot of fun.  We’ve had some fun TST nights before, but this one probably had the most people that actually wanted to be involved with it.  We had to draw names out of a hat to see who would get to read the parts, and people were noticeably disappointed and forlorn when they received none.  Thankfully, Randall also thought ahead enough to break up some of the narration, and others shared with those less fortunate.  And, when you add in the fact that one of our friends from the spring play Randall and I were in showed up from West Covina, you know it had to be a blast.  We heard voices and accents that probably should never see the light of day (most of those by me), but I think listening to a story with an audience is a commonly-enjoyed human experience.  We just don’t give it much of a chance these days.

And, speaking of things our society classifies as “just for children,” we also followed up the “Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag” story with a Grimm Fairy Tale:  The Girl with no Hands.  (Or something like that)  You can find it easily enough online (it’s public domain), but the thing is just horrifically violent.  I mean, this poor girl has her hands chopped off by her Dad because the devil made him do it.  It’s ok, though, because she is pious.  Man, stories were different back in those times.  And, by “different,” I mean awful.

Of course, anything can become awesome when read aloud by the right people, and it’s safe to say that the right people were picked.

You just had to be there. (Mostly to taste Cory’s Cornbread and Randall’s brownies, the girls’ sweet potato bread, the other girls’ brownies, Cream Soda, more food……)

And, unlike that ghastly story, mine has a moral:  Go read to someone.  You should read to kids, friends, spouses, fiancees, financiers and chancellors.  Just don’t let the timeless tradition of oral regaling die out.  (I blame stupid internet…)

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