'Hey, did I tell you the one about...'
My younger brother is chief storyteller in the family. He can take events from his life and weave a tale guaranteed to make relatives weep with laughter.
When we were growing up, this skill was a source of frustration to me for two reasons: One, my brother upstaged me at family gatherings, and two, I suspected that he "improved" on the truth to make better stories.
In his early teens, Andrew was able to set things up so that people were eating out of his hand. At Thanksgiving, he would wait until everyone was well into a second helping of turkey and sweet potatoes. My cousins, whose stories were funny in their own right, had unwittingly played warm-up act. Then it was my brother's turn.
It wasn't so much that he told memorable stories, it was more that he was an entertaining talker.
He had a gift for mimicry, an excellent grasp of the absurd, and no patience with hypocrisy. This lethal combination made for dead-on funny monologues.
Now that Andrew and I are adults and live in distant cities, I'm no longer a regular member of his audience. The latest stories have a more serious edge, like the one about returning to his truck after a late-night gig as deejay, and finding that a homeless man had expired in the front seat.
Undoubtedly, if we lived closer I'd be privy to more stories, funny or sad. But it's clear that the basic characteristics of a good storyteller are ones I admire in my brother: a voluble nature, a wry view of the world, and a willingness never to let facts get in the way of a good story.
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