One of my favorite things about Nashville is how easy it is to get someone to tell you a story. You just give them a little push and off they go, telling you something interesting. Yesterday, I had to go to the store because I forgot chicken broth and I was telling the guy who was checking me about about how I never can remember the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock and I always send the Butcher to the store for the wrong thing. And he told me about a guy they had in the other day who was buying four gallons of milk and five boxes of Jello among other things and the checker caught a glimpse of his list and realized that the guy’s wife had numbered her list–“F. gallon of milk. 5. Jello”–but dude was reading the numbers as an amount. and they could not talk him out of his mistake.

So, I know this guy who shares the last name with a minor character on True Detectives. It’s a pretty distinctive Louisiana name, so every time it comes up on the show, I have this moment where I’m like “Now, how would she be related to K.?” So, I asked him whether he’s watching the show and if it’s weird to have someone with his name on it. And he said that there was only one original guy with that name, so, even if he couldn’t understand why her family has been living that far below Lafayette, she must be one of them, because everyone with that name goes back to that one guy.

I love this so much. I mean, I love the ways fact and fiction can blur (in fun ways, not in distressing ways) and I love a kind of largesse that says “everyone, real and imaginary, with our name is ours.”

But I think it’s a similar thing–this idea that you have to be prepared to meet narrative with narrative, that people are telling stories and you best be ready to tell one right back.

My family is good at story-telling in some ways. I mean, we can tell a mean story, even a demonstrably untrue one, with the best of them. But we have trouble inhabiting a space it’s so easy to fall into down here–where everyone is kind of bullshitting (I mean, four gallons of milk? Really? I don’t know.) for the sake of amusing each other

Sometimes, when I meet new people, I think that I talk too much. I don’t know how to be quiet with you until I know you. But it’s also that I enjoy telling stories and I have this impulse that, if I tell you a great one, maybe you’ll turn around and tell me one even better.


6 thoughts on “Stories

  1. Once when I was a baby waitress, I gave a bartender a numbered drink order for a table of eight that looked like this: 1) gin martini, 2) greyhound, 3) cosmopolitan, etc., all the way through to eight. I came back to a tray loaded with 25+ drinks and a smiling bartender expecting a big tip out. He wasn’t smiling for long.

  2. txmere, I think we have to guess, when she was staring at four gallons of milk, that she never numbered her list again.

    jfwlucy, that is hilarious.

  3. This is where I have to trot back out the story about the ex-boyfriend who, armed with a grocery list that requested, among other things, four Cornish game hens, brought home four whole chickens.

  4. I can identify with the unique last name story. Good old George arrived in the colonies in 1710 and I know anyone I meet with the same last name is a cousin of some sort. I was watching Lydia’s PBS cooking show and a relative showed up. It’s kind of fun.

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