Sleep was one step ahead of me last night. No matter how hard I tried, I could not catch up to it. Time ticked and tocked as I stared blankly at the TV, then back to my phone, pushing buttons ceaselessly.
I hate sleepless nights. Fortunately, last night, there was a silver lining that showed up around midnight. My friend, M, called. I was shocked that he called so late, but thrilled to see that friendly face on my Caller ID. You see, M is a storyteller. In my view, that is a gift, most precious. An art form, truly, and M raises it to its highest standard. His storytelling is the crux of our friendship, I’d say. M loves to tell a good story, and I love to hear one. A story, well told, is better than any book or movie, as fr as I’m concerned. It comes from the soul of the one who tells it and pulls you out of yourself as you join in imaginations together. Words that are spoken cannot be edited or diluted. That is where the true talent of the storyteller comes into play. I could go on forever…its just an amazing gift to be able to tell a good story.
Being raised, as I was, amongst old men in bars, I developed a love of storytellers at a very early age. I found most to be characters, themselves, who lived just outside the norm enough so that their behavior provoked others to react in ways outside of their own norm. It’s really quite a game they play, although I believe it to be unintentional. The outcome is usually the most delicious story of human interaction. As a child, I especially loved war stories. They were always told with such passion and pride. Sometimes, the subject matter was so very terrifying that I’d wonder how a man could live through such a thing. I still don’t know. But, with 23 of our veterans committing suicide daily, I now understand that not all of them can live through those terrors.
My grandad, a WW2 Marine veteran who served in the Pacific, put me to bed every night with a different story of his time in combat. I marveled at his bravery and hung on his every word. He, himself, found the bravery of his brothers in arms much more interesting and special than anything he did. Night after night, he honored the memory of the fallen, and wondered aloud about what so-and-so had done after the war. Grandad was an excellent storyteller. At 93, he finds it more and more difficult to tell his stories, but they live on in me and my boys. That’s the thing about a good storyteller…they gift you with something that you actually take with you on the ride home, so to speak.
Back to M…I hadn’t spoken to him in a couple of months. He had been on vacation with his kids on the other side of the world. He called me a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn’t pick up the phone. I was so busy and was driving and just trying to get through the day. Four times, he called, each time I just had to ignore it, as much as I hated to. Turns out, he was calling me from Tokyo to tell me about his adventures. I thought that was so sweet. That anybody would think of me while having the time of their lives in some foreign land…it just…made me feel really good inside. But, that’s M. He’s a sweetie head. So…last night, I finally heard the Tokyo story. It did not disappoint! And then a couple of more stories, until I was all caught up on the delightful and funny stories of Hurricane M. lol! Like every storyteller I’ve known, he is such a character. He’s a GAWD AWFUL man, (I mean that in the most loving way), who enjoys being a man. Unapologetic, no politically correct bullshit…just male and enjoying marking his territory all over the world. He’s a great father to his children and he is a great friend.
I am so grateful that he called last night. Because I needed that voice and that fantastic distraction more than he could have known. God really does work in mysterious ways…