Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Story Game

I went out on a date with my wife Thursday night to an authentic old Western bar/restaurant in the bay area. Date night doesn't happen as often with a little one in the house now. I'm not talking about our baby, I'm talking about the mischievous, jig-dancing leprechaun that we recently adopted. Sure, at first he was a lot of fun, with his magical teleportation onto my ceiling and his crass joke telling..... but after a while I realized he was just a small drunk who hides my car keys.
We were sitting at the end of the bar, when a local regular shuffled in. With his walker leading him, it took 15 minutes for him to get from the front door to his regular barstool, which lucky for me, was right next to mine. He couldn't have been a year under 90, and I'm sure he was partially being slowed down by the weight of his cowboy hat. He finally sat down, his drink already waiting for him. The bartender motioned to him...
Bartender- "Hey there, Cowboy. How you doing tonight?"
Cowboy- "I'm here."

'I'm here'. And those were the only words he said all night. He was there and that was all that mattered. I began to wonder about the Cowboy. Did he have a hard day? A hard life? What's his real name? What's his living space look like? Does he have a closet full of those hats like Batman? How often does he come here? What time in the day did he leave to get here? Was he ever a real cowboy? Could I take him out if a bar brawl started? Is he packin' heat?
This is how you play the story game. My wife and I play it whenever we see interesting characters wherever we are. Airports, city parks, strip joints, nudie bars, gentlemen's clubs, church functions ....wherever there's people you can play it.
It's easy: you pick someone out, and to yourself, figure out their life story. Their name, occupation, family life, social situation, why they're where you are.....etc. Whenever I play this game I always wonder how close we get to the actual truth. But that's the fun part I think....not knowing. If I did know, I always feel I'd be a tad disappointed.
Take this photo that I stumbled upon on Google.

Soak in it's awesomeness. I googled the word "natives" for something I was doing, and this image popped up. Besides being in my top ten list of coolest pictures ever, I wonder what's the story here? Who is this tight denim shorty-shorts guy? Is he dating both these girls at the same time like some real life Archie dating Bettie and Veronica? Has he ever met these girls before this picture was taken? Is he married/divorced to one of them still today? Is that his jeep? Where are they? Who's taking the photo? Are these people still alive? Then there's the story of this actual photograph. This was taken with real film, which means it was developed at a photomat most likely, put in an envelope with the other photographs that were developed, given back to the photographer, they kept the photo (probably in the bottom drawer of their dresser with all the other photos they were going to put in an album...someday), and eventually it was scanned by someone and uploaded onto the internet. Why? Again, I don't want to know. The potential is better to me than the reality.

These are the universe's billions upon trillions of daily tiny questions that few know the answers to, and the rest of us will never know.
But it's also fun to just make up the answers yourself.

Unrelated question: Anyone know how to properly dispose of a leprechaun? I got mad and kicked him in the crotch and he split into two mischievous, smaller leprechauns...and they won't stop mocking me. Is there anything I can spray into their eyes to blind them?
Thanks in advance.


Andreas Schuster said...

i wonder who they are calling.
maybe they needed a phone and thats how they met the fella in the short pants.
OR they met because he wears those nice things and THEN they got talking and could not believe that he actually has a phone in his car.

and the best repelled for a leprechaun is a paste made out of old band shirts no one likes to wear anymore and 5 random items you find under your bed. works like a charm

joscha said...

Cool game. I like to make up back stories for strangers too.

Did you see or read Wonderboys? The main characters play a game just like this.

Anonymous said...

You want a good one for your story game? I was sleeping in my van one day in the parking lot of safeway when I woke up all bleary eyed and sat up pantsless in the back seat. I noticed a fella pull up right next to me with sunglasses lookin' all kinda... anxious or something. Then a lady with sunglasses pulled up right next to him. They didn't look at each other at all, but he got out of his car and walked over to some random parked utility van that was already there. Then she got out of her car and went into the back of the same van. I watched, too busy making up all kinds of stories to even think about putting pants on for the day. And I set the stop watch on my cell phone. After 4 minutes and 38 seconds the guy emerged and got in his car and drove away. The chick emerged and got in her car and drove away. And then some really really old dude came out of the back of the van and drove off.

The next morning I woke up in the same lot (hey, I'm a creature of habit, what can I say?) and there was a guy with huge binoculars watching .... something.

LHOOQtius ov Borg said...

Cat pee.

That is relevant to something in your post, but I can't remember what.

Whatever. I'm sure you can figure it out through trial and error.