Life is a precarious balancing act that often requires making big gestures, taking risks and going out of your way to reach someone else or to save yourself: you can call these efforts “going out on a limb.” On April 9, Rabbit Box reconvened at Sandy Creek Park where seven storytellers provided their own personal take on the theme “Out on a Limb.” Roger Stahl was the MC for the evening, introducing these varied, entertaining and occasionally sad stories.
Alex White told a story of a hiking trip when he was a Boy Scout in Florida. He and his father found a camera hanging on the limb of an oak tree and captured a moment that ended up becoming a special Christmas surprise.
Jim Ford took to the stage asserting that “any boat that floats can go under.” His story detailed his adventures as a vagabond living off a skiff in a fishing boat community. One particular boating trip took him to a lagoon surveying whales during mating season, where he explains an unfortunate encounter with a 40-ton whale.
Brittany Barnes described a time she took a dive into more adventurous, er, sustainable eating. Her story offered advice from the time she scouted out the finest meal on the streets: road kill. She walked us through the basics of finding a fresh deer and ways to prepare and cook it. And hey, if farm-to-table’s not immediate enough for you, road-to-table findings, as Barnes reminds us, are organic, local, fresh and antibiotic-free.
Scott Shamp told a story of connection in spite of racial differences. Rooted in the South, Shamp’s story involved him as a boy, and his grandfather, the day they were engaged in a surprising exchange with an African-American man. (I won’t say that I teared up a little, because I’m certain it was just dust in my eye.)
Shamp’s story closed off the first half the intermission, which rolled on longer than usual since people were fully immersed in the gentle process of making s’mores. Darkness was falling and fireflies were flickering, so it seemed more than appropriate to grab a stick, a marshmallow (or several) and gather ‘round the fire.
After the intermission, Roger Stahl announced the storyteller for the Crackerjack, a story by a volunteer from the audience, which he noted is “unpracticed and straight from the hip,” but usually very good.
He selected first-time Rabbit Box attendee Andy Slagle, who was no exception. Slagle found himself alone in Rome the week the Pope died, lost among thousands when his tour group left him behind. A story that conjures the theme from “Chariots of Fire,” it describes Slagle’s Olympic effort to return to his hotel, equipped with only a few words of entry-level Spanish and a will to go the distance.
The second half kicked off with long-time Rabbit Box collaborator and photographer David Noah. When he took the mic, he delivered a story about his shy 16-year old self and the day he skirted the top edge of the local water tower with his teenage crush–an assertive poet named Terry–for a game of “chicken.” He describes the self-revelations they made in the moments when they felt close to death and how these moments continued to connect them after they grew apart.
Bert Parks followed soon after with a story of his first night as a soldier in Fort Jackson, an environment he said at first felt like a jail. The prison-like feeling certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that Parks, exhausted from a day of work, found himself caught up in a fight with a loud-mouthed soldier who just wouldn’t go to sleep. Parks settled the matter in the most diplomatic way he could figure out.
The last storyteller to take the stage was our only non-Athenian of the bunch, Greyson Morris, who lives in Asheville. Her story was a hilarious, but poignant Odyssey of finding jobs, losing jobs and sustaining the will to carry on and survive through it all.
To hear these stories and more, click here.
*Thanks to Amy Moss for Photographing the event, and Lori Keong for writing the blog post.