The Kidney Stone: I've Got A Great Face For Radio

I recently recorded a story for NPR's Public Storyteller after the host, Caren Neile, emailed and asked me if I had a story about South Florida. I wasn't sure what South Florida included, but I told her that a friend challenged me to eat something from every country at Orlando's Epcot Center, which I did, landing in the hospital. She jumped at the chance to hear of my misfortune - most people are twisted.

She came to the polo field and hopped in my car to record the story. Oh, it's high tech, folks! I had never told one of the stories I have written, only read them word for word. I showed up with pages of notes and salient points highlighted because I have no concept of time and she gave me a seven minute limit. Last time I was alone with a girl in a small space was for "Seven Minutes in Heaven" which, to a young gay boy, is a nightmare of a game consisting of shaking and prayer. That it's played in a closet is shockingly appropriate.

Before we started my story, I welcomed her into my car like a good host welcoming her into my home. I offered her a seat, (the passenger one) and a drink (some of my bottled Coke). She accepted the seat but politely declined the used soda. For entertainment, I asked her if she would like to stay and watch me play polo after the recording session, but she declined, explaining that her husband's mother had passed away the night before and she had to leave immediately after this and sit shiva.

I know a ripe opening for comedy -- and a good shiva is it!

She snatched my notes away and told me to just tell it. At first I started telling it to the windshield, and the empty polo field beyond, then my head turned and I just told her, like we weren't in my Highlander, but at my home, at a dinner party, with no mirrors covered and no dead mother-in-law. Soon I was gesturing wildly and taking full advantage of a live audience, instead of readers I can't gauge. I don't know if you readers are even wearing pants.

Mid-way through the story, about when I was at the point where I was being rushed to the hospital from Epcot in an ambulance, screaming louder than the siren, she covered her mouth to stifle a laugh or a yelp, and wiped a tear from her eye. I figured either she found my story funny, was sad about the shiva, or allergic to horses.

I finished just seconds over the seven minute limit, and in one take. She might have just really wanted to get out of my car.

I listened online to the live broadcast and was pleased that she and the commentator had a brief discussion, and thankful that the discussion was about my story.

It was interesting to tell a story I had written. I will never again take the luxury of typing and editing for granted. Why, even to type that last sentence I backspaced more than a Republican congressman caught with a choir boy.

Click here to listen.

Now, for my original writer's cut, much longer, and funnier - click here where I am free to type thousands of words and maybe not wear pants...

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