Breaking Open a Storyteller

Beer as storyteller interests me. It is in the same vein as In Vino Veritas. Every experience we have can be turned into a story but where do we find the opportunity to tell these stories. I love that feeling on a Friday or Saturday afternoon, when the week’s work is completed, gathering with friends to partake in some wind-down storytelling. Often people meet in bars, pubs, restaurants or in their own homes and after a few cold ones the storytelling is enabled. It gets embellished, hyperbole is thrown in and it brings on laughter and tears.

Growing up, our dinner table always had wine on it. My dad would allow us a sip each from his glass and he and mum would always tell us stories of growing up in Greece. At family parties my uncle would bring his god-awful wine which was like poison but as it was home-made all the adults would drink some. I don’t ever remember anyone getting roaring drunk. They got “How’s it going, mate” happy. There was no overimbing ( how could there be – the wine was horrid), no vomitting but there was storytelling. Each person, one after the other, each louder than the other, sometimes agreeing with each other and other times calling each other crazy as their memories were so different.

I see this happening in my own home. We often will have friends over, a few beers, a few wines. No-one ever gets drunk but we all get storytelling. And as the night progresses and we’ve had a bite to eat, the storytelling gets louder and funnier.

One of my favourite stories, is actually my husband’s. He went to Mt Athos which is a monastic community in Northern Greece with one of my cousins for four days. While they were there, they met an English professor who invited them to a mountain walk to visit a hermit. My husband’s first thought was that it seemed to be a mutually exclusive activity visiting with a hermit. Nevertheless, he accepted. Once in the hermit’s house, he was offered moonshine that the hermit himself had distilled. This too, felt like it should be mutually exclusive. He drank the moonshine and then my cousin whispered to him “I don’t drink alcohol and the hermit may think I am rude if I don’t drink mine. Can you please drink mine and I’ll pretend it was me”. I’m not sure where deceiving a hermit rates in the sinning scale but my husband kindly obliged and found himself in the peculiar situation of being drunk at the hand of a hermit in a monastic community at nine in the morning. This is a story that usually comes out when he has cracked open a storyteller.

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I’m writing this because, storytelling has long been the predecessor to novels. Storytelling in families is an important way of passing down stories from our ancestors. Storytelling allows religion to be taught, reasoning to be understood, science to be examined, politics to be debated and jokes to be laughed at. I love when friends know each other so well that they finish each other’s stories, whether they are siblings, couples or friends from a long time back. I love that my kids know that when it is thundering outside it is Zeus angrily chasing Hera for she refused to make him a coffee. I love that my kids know this because this is what I have taught them and I was taught this because my parents learnt it from their own parents and it goes on.

So as it is a Friday afternoon, I will head out to the beautiful sunshine and have a storyteller with my husband and friends. I hope you all get to have a storyteller too.

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5 thoughts on “Breaking Open a Storyteller

  1. My favourite Storyteller is coffee, but you already knew that. Coffee has great power that leads to energetic storytelling. When I was little I drank a cup of “coffee” (milk in a coffee cup) as my mother told me stories about Grandma and the nasty, evil uncles and cousins who were mean to Grandma. Now, over a real cup of coffee (with a piece of pie on the side) my mother still tells me stories about the nasty, evil uncles and cousins who were mean to her and Grandma.

    • Coffee is also important storyteller for me too but I do find that it doesn’t loosen tongues as much as beer or wine….unless it is an irish coffee. I think any slow supping of food and beverage carries the promise of storytelling.

    • Oooh! I love that phrase! “Optimal ecosystem for storytelling”. I’ve just imagined the commuter who disassociates themselves from their physical state to create a mental ecosystem conducive to reading/listening to stories. Lovely!

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