The Stories We Tell

Mark once read a book about a guy who solved people’s problems by telling stories.  The stories were cute and clever and forced you to think. All, obviously, good things.  After reading the book Mark decided he wanted to be a problem solving storyteller.  This was interesting because for a few weeks Mark was trying to condense his hour long monologues into short stories about tugboats.  Yes, about tugboats.  Or men on islands.  Or something.  I can’t really remember.

This was cute for a while, but then I got tired of being upset about not having any clients and having to listen to winding stories about Mexican farmers waiting for rain.  I quit responding to the stories, and he quit telling them.  Behavioral therapy.  Check it out.

Last week I was in a funk about something, I really can’t remember what, and Mark started to tell me a “story” to help me better understand my problem.  I gave him a look that told him I really wasn’t in the mood for a story about The Prized Tow Truck of Nappynose Valley.  So he took it upon himself to compromise…

“Why don’t you tell me a story? One about two people trying to get something and only one succeeding.” he asked sounding all excited like this was supposed to be fun.

“You want me to make up the story?”

“Yes, about two people trying to acheive some-”

I had to interrupt. 

“If you’re going to tell me what the story is going to be about, why don’t you just tell the story?  Oh.  That’s right.  Because I don’t want to listen to stories!  I. want. to. cry!”

He looked at me all sad because I wasn’t “letting him help”.  I can’t stand Sad Mark.

“Ok,”  I began, “here is the story.  Two turtles.  Two turtles who want to… trade shells.  The first turtle wants the second turtle’s shell, and vice versa.  So, they’re about to switch when the first turtle tears off his shell which was not a good idea.  He is now laying there in a bloody mess because turtle shells are not made to come off.  Naturally, the second turtle looked at him and said, ‘Dude.  Deal’s off.  Ouch.’  And the first turtle died a slow painful death.”

Let’s see you use that as an object lesson, Wannabe-Guru.

“Ok, ok,” Mark started, a little flustered at my rather gruesome tale, “well, what were some of the other options the turtles had, that maybe they hadn’t considered?”

He really wasn’t going to stop, was he?

“I guess they didn’t have to switch shells.  Especially when you consider that the only reason they wanted to switch was because they wanted a different color shell.  The first turtle was red and the second turtle was blue.  The red one died.”

“So they didn’t have to switch shells?”

“Nope.  I guess they could’ve helped each other paint their shells new colors.”

“That’s one solution…” Mark agreed, sounding confused.

“The thing is the red turtle was colorblind!  Can you believe it?  He died for absolutely no reason.  He had no idea what color he was!  Cah-ray-zee, right?” 

At this point, I was crying I was laughing so hard.  I felt amazing.

“You’re not taking this seriously.”

“No, I am!  And I feel tons better, thank you!  Seriously, that was a brilliant idea to let me tell the story… I’m so much funnier!  You’re a genius, thanks for talking this out with me.”

“Um, yeah…”  Mark said confused, never one to miss out on a compliment, “you’re welcome?  I think.”

I share this story for 3 reasons,

1)  Always let your friends/spouses/lovers help you.  Even when you don’t feel like it.
2)  Laughter is the best medicine.
3)  Make sure you really want what you say you want before you go ripping off your shell for it, or don’t start stripping no matter how awesome the money is.

And, no, I’m not “on” anything.  And don’t worry about trying to find a way to comment on this… I’m confused, too.

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