Small Stories for a Big World

When Garnet, Sparkle Girl and Doobins went to the beach recently, they stayed in a place that had a recliner. Stretching out in a recliner was a new experience for Doobins, and he discovered that he liked it quite a bit.

Part of me would love to have a recliner at our house. If we did, though, I know the chances are excellent that it would doom any chance of ever being productive after I came home from work and, quite possibly, could lead to Garnet clocking me on the head with a broom one day when I said, “What do you mean that, after I worked so hard all day, you won’t serve me my supper in this extremely comfortable recliner?”

It could also lead to tussles with Doobins and the animals over the question of who had dibs on it at any given moment. My guess is that Garnet and Sparkle Girl would declare that they were far too dignified to sit in a recliner but that, one day, I might discover one of them lounging there with a copy of Coastal Living when I came back inside to retrieve the car keys I forgot.    

No, it’s just as well that we don’t have one.

The first recliner in my life belonged to my grandfather, Daddy Ralph. All the grandkids were welcome to sit there as long as he wasn’t in the room. The second he stepped through the door, though, everyone knew to scramble out of it right away, because the recliner was where he sat when he was in the den.

I trace my appreciation of stories told well directly to Daddy Ralph. He had entertaining tales galore.

When I was older, my uncle Harry secretly put a tape recorder under the kitchen table one day and urged Daddy Ralph to tell this story and that one. When I listened to the recording, I learned that, when Daddy Ralph wasn’t editing his stories for the delicate ears of grandchildren, they were even more colorful.

One trouble with liking to tell stories is it can be impossible to remember whether you already told a particular story to someone.

One of the things I like about meeting new people is that I can relax, knowing that, without question, it’s the first time they have heard the story about the man who surprised me by saying that the bowtie he was wearing was one of 350 he had made over the years, or the story about the hot-dog-eating contest that had a photo finish.

Unfortunately, for my family, when we have guests, I may forge ahead with a story knowing full well that, with Garnet and the kids, the only question is how many times they have heard it before.  

If Sparkle Girl can manage to listen one more time, she may offer colorful commentary. If the story has exceeded her limit, she may head to the kitchen to make sure she has all the ingredients she needs for those peanut-butter cookies she suddenly remembered that she’s thinking about baking.


ABOUT “Small Stories for a Big World”…

Kim Underwood and Garnet Goldman met when Kim asked Garnet whether she would be interested in illustrating his story “His Dogness Finds a Blue Heart.” “I don’t draw dogs,” Garnet said.

She eventually agreed to give it a go, though, and, in the process of working on the book they became friends. Garnet came with Sparkle Girl and Doobins, and, when Garnet and Kim married, they became a family.

Each month, Kim asks Garnet, Sparkle Girl and Doobins what he should write about. Doobins says it doesn’t matter to him. Sparkle Girl may suggest writing about the 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 convertible that she knows he is going to buy her when she gets her license.  

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