Sneak Peek

image7

Sneak Peek

In a nutshell, “A Telling Experience tells all! Just ask Zoomer, my cat.   He knows a lot, and I’ll tell you what he knows. It’s all about the mystery of life! 

A Telling Experience - 22 Stories

image8

The uniqueness of this book begins with the one-sentence descriptions given for each chapter (story) in the Table of Contents. They indicate how funny (both funny-strange and funny-haha) the stuff is that happens to me, to you, and to all of us. Are you ready to ride in this boat, on this train through our own shared Twilight Zone? Come with me now! 


Story 1, The Tickle of Life: Tales Short and Tall. When you realize you are protagonist of your own story, namely your life, you can try to make both your story and your life as venturesome as possible. 


Story 2, It’s a Long Way to Santa Fe. A boy escapes an abusive parent by finding a home away from home on a train with that parent. 


Story 3, The Phantom Dogs of Ghost Ranch. A western sojourn opens the eyes to vast vistas and the imagination to infinite possibilities. 


Story 4, The Worst of Sins: A Tale from the Crypt. A boy is emotionally abused by his take on religion and damns himself in his own imagination. 


Story 5, We Don’t Talk About Things Like That. Sex is portrayed to the protagonist as the worst thing on earth until it is discovered to be the best. 


Story 6, One Shoe Off and One Shoe On. A man gets a job, loses his mind, and finds another job, and mind. 


Story 7, Rebel’s Grave. A  middle-aged man’s dog digs up a lot of roots. 


Story 8, The Road Runner. A desert thunderstorm serves as an initiation rite for a latter-day brave. 


Story 9, Lyric Love. Love is found and lost and found and lost and found. 


Story 10, The Mind of a Terrorist. The protagonist discovers he is his own worst enemy during the course of a ferry ride and a twenty-dollar lunch. 


Story 11, Piranhas at the Pond. A million things go bump in the night. 


Story 12, Night Run. A parched Mexican desert proves curiously refreshing to the imagination, which can’t even see where its owner is going in the dark. 


Story 13, Numb and Numberer. The adventures of superdog almost do in her klutzy master. 


Story 14, The Writing Well. The source of all solace is found deep within. 


Story 15, Wanna Be in Our Video? An evening jog on the beach turns into a romp, almost.


Story 16, What’s Up, Doc? One’s health is largely in one’s own hands, and feet. 


Story 17, Valley Boy. A man’s favorite haunt inspires him up, up, and away. 


Story 18, The Seventy-Five Dollar Grapefruit. The unexpected may be just around any corner. 


Story 19, When Friends Drop Out. The staying power and evanescence of all human relationships are simultaneously found on and off a tennis court. 


Story 20, The Life of Really. A swamp provides a fine reptilian, avian, and human habitat. 


Story 21, Where Did the Time Go? A hernia operation exposes some dark and light secrets of the universe, above all the sense of continual consciousness each of us has. 


Story 22, The Ghost Crab of Trinity Center. A small critter fails to reveal God’s purposes.  


The droll style of those capsule comments mirrors the entertainment value of the work as a whole. It’s a wild ride. You’ll laugh your head off and cry your eyes out but otherwise no harm done! 

Story 14 - The Writing Well

image9

[from Story 14, "The Writing Well," or The Well of Writing: The source of all solace is found deep within.] 


Shakespeare called music the “food of love,” saying “If music be the food of love, play on.” Music is also the food of poetry. Good poems are often melodic. In my career as a professor of English I was once designated as court poet for a madrigal singers Yuletide Feast. So I wrote a poem about music. 


Our Music is the Food of Love


December is a festive month for all,

And Music is the symbol of our feast.

Yes, Music yields us food, our made regale,

We stand, we sing, we smell the roasted beast.

We fill our throats with notes withal, the while. [Etc.]


But even more fun than food songs are drinking songs. At the high end of the spectrum of drinking songs is Ben Jonson’s “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes”: 


Drink to me only with thine eyes, 

And I will pledge with mine. 

Or leave a kiss within the cup 

And I’ll not ask for wine. [Etc.] 


At the low end of drinking songs is “A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I tried rewriting “A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall” for my grandfather-in-law’s hundredth birthday party a few years ago. It still boiled down to an old tired refrain: 

A hundred years and havin’ a ball, 

A hundred lotta little years. 

Take a frown, turn it upside down 

For ninety-nine little years, that’s all! [Etc., etc.] 


My aim was to show how long a hundred of anything is. The partygoers didn’t get it and didn’t appreciate singing it. The singing barely got down to “Eightynine lotta little years” when I knew that I had lost them. It flopped because I had messed with a drinking song. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, even if it’s ugly. 


So I set out to writing drinking songs from scratch. I saw a Guinness ad to write a poem and win ownership of an Irish pub, in Ireland no less. My poem would be tongue in cheek, ironic, with a twist. Wispy as Irish mist. Or bubbles evaporating from a heady draw: 


My Most Memorable Pint of Guinness 


Ah, distinctly I remember, ‘Twas a lovely day in September, 

Just like the one in May 

{Or was it last Saturday?} 

My Guinness, my love, in hand. 

‘Twas memorable, you understand. 

But the most memorable one, I think, 

May be the next one that I drink! 

Let’s see, shall we? 


Guinness should use it in an ad campaign. But they didn’t, their loss. 


The next contest I put in for was closer to home, a St. Patrick’s Day poem for the Wilmington [NC] Star-News. You had to mention a girl named Mary or Kathleen or Kate, mention a drink of beer, wine, or whisky, and tell a story in verse. Pretty general criteria, just right for a loose drinking song. I could already hear America singing my Irish thing, if it could make it past North Carolina’s Great Green Swamp hereabouts. It would express the double Irish tradition of dissolute hooliganism and irrepressible spunk. 


I Will Be Merry 


O I will be merry with Mary, 

And I’ll make a date with Kate.

I like to be seen with Kathleen. 

Any one of ‘em’s good for a mate! 


Here’s to us, here’s to them

Here’s to you and me! 

First you let yourself go to hell, 

Then you set yourself free. 


There’s wine and beer and porter, 

And also some liquor that’s quicker! 

I drink just as much as I oughter, 

Though my tongue gets a little bit thicker! 

[Refrain] 


When it comes to women and whiskey 

There’s not much distinction, you know. 

To fool with each gets a bit risky, 

But take ‘em and let the rest go! 

[Refrain] 


I don’t recall what the prize for this contest was, but it wasn’t a pub in Ireland. And the judges might not pick up on the quadruple entendre in my poem, such as in the word mate in the fourth line. “Any one of ‘em’s good for a mate” means: l) Good to make a wife of; 2) Good to have as a close friend; 3) Good for a quick round of sex; 4) Good for a jolly fellow such as I. Bet you missed at least one of those, eh? It’s just as well if they didn’t get all of it. Wouldn’t want to offend anybody. Actually it’s tame yet spicy. Its time will come. . . . 


*  *   *   *   *

In summary, “A Telling Experience” tells all! It travels through the Twilight Zone in real life—the absurd, bizarre dimension we all encounter from time to time. The chapters are not only simultaneously short stories and tall tales, they are simultaneously incredible, and true!