The Listener

I had lunch with “the guys” earlier this week – former co-workers that helped make one of my many stupid jobs bearable. These are “the guys” who call me by my first name (and get away with it, because there’s no point fighting it and if I whine, they’ll only post the whine on their websites. Yes, they really did.). The guys who go shark fishing or gator hunting depending on the season. (It’s a cultural thing. See, in Texas, it’s up there with horseback riding, javelina roping and chasing down those stray tumbleweed before bellying up to the bar. The summers are always hot. The cicadas are always chirping and we all walk and talk real slow-like. Just like the movies.) The guys who are in “the band” and play in local bars and do iron man canoe races that stretch over several days (and then end up dehydrated and hallucinating on some random pier, but that was really just the once). The guys who had plans to be in Belize on New Years Eve 1999 perched atop some Mayan/Incan/Aztec something to ring in the millennium. Ten years later, not much has changed. Their adventures just have new backdrops. Every few years, we’ll get together, they’ll tell stories, we’ll reminisce about a time when we were more like characters from The Office and then we go our separate ways – all caught up and ready to embark on new adventures to share at some later lunch.

As the weak link in the group, I have one complaint – it’s that moment when “the guys” turn to me and ask, “So, what have you been up to?” Our good time ruined by their curiosity as I scramble for a story. I mean, how do you respond to a pack of shark hunting javelina baiters when all you can think to say is “Sam did this cute thing where she ate some cantaloupe – it was on the floor and stuff”? The only thing left to do at that point is to smile weakly and hope they’ll quickly remember that they had plans to snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef or walk the length of China.

See, I collect stories – other people’s stories and I collect people who can tell good stories – I’m a listener. Sure, some would call it the “creepy, quiet girl that is probably on the edge snapping at any moment”, but labels can be so cruel. As a listener, I’m held to a different standard and shouldn’t have to be burdened with coming up with adventure stories of my own. Now, you want some good adventure stories, I have a ton just waiting. However, they don’t feature me. But if you insist, well the closest thing I’ve had to an adventure was that time I went with Anna to the Ripley’s museum a few weeks ago, walked through a tunnel where the walls were basically a revolving tube with swirling lights playing off of it. Midway through I declared, “Anna! I think I’m actually tilting!! I can feel it” “Close your eyes, Beth.” Whew. Close call there. Another adventure down for the books.

So, if you’re out with me, just carry on – no need to ask Beth what she’s been up to lately. It probably involved Jay
or Sam or work or this one time I walked outside or maybe, if I’m feeling feisty, something about my website or how many books I’m behind in reading – the real riveting stuff.

But if you ask, I can tell you a great story about shark hunting. It’s not my own, but it’s a great story.

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One thought on “The Listener

  1. Tony says:

    The world needs its storytellers — the folks who do the outrageous stuff need to have their glory sung and their tales shared. That’s why we’re here! Revel in your role, cuz!

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