The Stories We Tell

When I tell people I once had shingles in my mouth, they almost always take a step backward, away from me. That’s even before I mention that it’s the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I take pity on them at that point and quickly assure them that as soon as the doctor started me on the anti-viral, it cleared up. Then the look of horror on their faces fades and they relax. It’s one of my best stories and I seldom miss an opportunity to tll it, a (painfully) true story.

I told it two different times to strangers in the waiting room of the Safeway Pharmacy as I was waiting to get my second shingles shot plus a flu shot (one in each arm). I discovered that it is a fantastic place to tell this particular story. It’s the ideal setting. People are unusually receptive and shocked. I think the first woman who heard it actually backed up two steps. The second couple I told it to were sitting down, which was fortunate–they were unusually horrified.

It’s such a shame I can’t use it in more social situations when the conversation lags. Unfortuanately, it’s seldom as appropriate as it is in the Safeway Pharmacy Waiting Room.

I toyed briefly with the idea of going back to that waiting room the next day with a thermos of hot tea and maybe a doughnut and sitting for the whole morning. It’s flu shot season and I could tell that story over and over and over and then monitor the reactions I get. My life has been fairly uneventful. I don’t have a a lot of story-working material.

Is that true? Am I out of stories?

When I glanced out the front window this morning, the snowball bush was quivering–all the leaves looked like they were dancing, and without a breath of wind. What was happening? Finally I caught sight of a tiny brown bird, barely bigger than a hummingbird. That flock of bushtits had set the whole bush quivering!

Toshiba Digital Camera

The last few blueberry leaves

And I complained last week that the blueberry bushes out the kitchen window had shown no signs of changing color. Today they are a flaming red. How do they manage that so quickly?

Last night I read an essay about mountain lions, those beasts that are as long as the jungle lions, when measured nose to tail because their tails are so long. They’re curious, like the coyote that will sit up on the hill behind my house and watch me. At the time the essay was printed (1988), the author reported that only one person in this country had ever been killed by a mountain lion, a 14-year-old boy. Previous owners of my house used to watch mountain lions pad by the house at night, make their way down to the beach, and then come back up their trail and disappear into the woods behind the house.

So perhaps I still have a few other stories to share, although few of them rise to the drama of the shingles experience.

This is my 100th blog (I write one almost every month), and I had wondered if I was running low on stories. Maybe I can come up with just a few more yet.