Tell me a story

I can’t count the number of times I said that as a kid. I still like to hear a good story. The adults in my life all obliged, in very different manners.

Great Nana’s stories were about her life, and I very much wish I had paid more attention or written some of them down. Her most frequently told story, that I recall, was about the “bums” (her word, not mine), who came off the railroad and tried to steal their chickens. Her mother would feed them so they would leave the chickens alone, but they were never allowed in the house. I don’t know why that particular story stuck with me, but I know that I spent a semester turning it into a short story for a senior writing seminar in college.

Nana, on the other hand, would simply respond to my “tell me a story” request with this: “I’ll tell you a story of Jack Anory, and now my story’s begun. I’ll tell you another of Jack and his brother, and now my story is done.” It did the job, at least until I figured out that she wasn’t really telling me anything.

Dad’s bedtime stories revolved around two sisters: Suzi and Sally. They were remarkably similar to Erin and I. Except their bedroom was always clean, they always obeyed their parents, and they never, ever, fought about stupid things like whose turn it was to turn off the light. (Seriously, Erin. You were closer!)

Grampy told some wild stories about his life, not all of which I am sure are true. But he did perfect the world’s shortest bedtime story. On the nights when I slept over his response to a story request was simply: “Once upon a time. The End.”

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