My dad snuck me into a bar for the first time when I was 16. I stood in line wiping my sweaty palms on my dress and hoping the doorman wouldn’t laugh and turn me away. By the time I was face to face with doorman I felt like I was going to pass out from anxiety but I tried to look aloof and nonchalant as my dad had coached me to do. I must have done okay because not only did the doorman not ask for my ID, he didn’t ask me anything…not my birthday or what year I was born or how old I was or what sign I was (all information I’d memorized).
“Go on,” he said, barely even looking at me.
When I stepped inside the bar, all my angst seemed worth it. It was a rockabilly roadhouse dive bar with dim lights and a pool table in the back corner. The smell of thousands of spilled beers and mens cologne swirled around me. I’d never been anywhere like this before. The women all wore dresses or skirts or jeans so tight you could see the lines of their underwear. The men had greased-back hair and stiff Levi’s with big cuffs at the bottom. The band was in the middle of a Johnny Cash cover and I could feel every hit on the drums shiver across the worn wood floor. This was why my dad snuck me in… not to drink but to listen to a band he loved and share it with me. Seeing live music like this was exhilarating.
My nervousness dissipated and I walked up to the bar and ordered a coke.
“That there is some skirt. How you doing?” the man sitting on the bar stool next to me said.
“Thanks,” I said. The man jumped right into his life story. How he’d just gotten out of jail for beating someone up. How he’d grown up on a farm. How he always loved his family’s chickens because they “didn’t seem to have a care in the world.” He told me how since he’d run away from home when he was 15 he’d never had a fried egg like the ones he’d eaten back on the farm. “There’s nothing like a fresh egg, the yolks are so tasty and sooo yellow.” I could have listened to him talk for hours but my dad walked up and took me to a table he’d found in the back. I listened to the band play old twangy country songs and rip through a couple rock classics. And then, it was time to leave.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the stories the man at the bar had told me. I’d never met anyone who’d grown up on a farm and I’d never eaten an egg that didn’t come from the grocery store. I wanted more tales of jail and fresh eggs and other things too, things that I didn’t even know existed.
That was the night I fell in love, not with that man or even with dive bars. I fell in love with stories. I did develop a deep crush on dive bars because they were the places filled with people who told the best tales.
In the many years since that night I’ve spent more evenings than I count sitting on a bar stool and listening to strangers tell tales of heartache and triumph and loneliness and loss and happiness. I’ve heard tales of war torn countries, the complicated joy of raising a child, disfiguring accidents, career changes, artistic struggles, saving lives and…so…much…more. I’m always in search of a good story. They don’t always come from dive bars. Sometimes they’re told by the fire on a camping trip or on a long walk or in the car on a road trip. When I need my story fix I know I can always download a Moth podcast. The Moth podcast features live recordings of stories from all walks of life, told without notes to standing room only audiences in bars, theaters, community centers and pretty much any place there’s space for people to gather to story-tell and listen.
In 2013 the Moth released their first book, a collection of some of the most poignant, funny, mind-blowing stories they’ve recorded over the years. I’m so excited to share this book with you in this month’s Dear Handmade Life DIY and business book club. It’s not DIY or business but I’m pretty sure any creative will love these tales. Along with the moth book we’re also featuring Hot Sauce by Jennifer Trainer Thompson, Freehand by Helen Birch and Weekend Handmade by Kelly Wilkinson. We love all these books and can’t wait for you to check them out too! We’re even giving two of them away!
*See below for giveaway details
Want a chance to win two of these books – Weekend Handmade and Hot Sauce? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us the last time you heard a good story. You don’t have to recount the whole tale – feel free to just tell us where you were or give more details if you’d like.
Leave your comment on this post by May 19th at midnight. Make sure to include your email address so we can get your address and ship you some lovely things to read.
We’ll email the winner on May 21st as well as announce it here.
This contest is now closed! Congrats to the winner.