Everybody Loves My Dad and with Good Reason

“When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh. So you become the hero, rather than the victim of the joke." --Nora Ephron

Don't you just love Nora Ephron? She's so right about the power of storytelling and how it allows you to take an embarrassing moment and turn it into a hilarious story.

My middle grade novel Tig Ripley was inspired by a failure my dad experienced in the 1960s. Daddy was in a band called The Orbits (perfect 60s band name, no?); he was the drummer and the band's leader, perhaps because he was the only one who had a van that could transport the band and their equipment to gigs. (At least that's the way he tells it--he's got a joke for everything.)

Daddy sang harmony on all the songs. At one point, he told the guys he'd like to sing lead on the song "Party Doll."

The first time he sang the song at a gig, Daddy noticed that the audience all seemed to have to use the bathroom at the same time. And he noticed that they never came back.

"Was it my singing?" Daddy asked the other Orbits. They told him the hard truth that yes, it was.

"Well, why didn't y'all tell me I can't sing lead?"

"We needed your van," they replied.

Every time Daddy tells this story, it brings down the house. He may have been embarrassed for a day or two, but that moment in his life has provided him with storytelling gold that's lasted for decades. He lights up a room whenever he tells it. It's such a great story that I had to use it in my novel about girls in a rock band.

By sharing this charming anecdote in his remarkable, self-effacing way, my dad taught me more than just how to tell a funny story. He taught me that it's important to be able to laugh at yourself. And to be generous enough to let other people laugh along with you (and to let your kid continue to mine your material!). It reminds me not to take myself too seriously.

Failures can be great learning experiences, and they can also be hilarious if you tell the story the right way. Just ask my dad.

Ginger Rue is the author of the Aleca Zamm series from Aladdin and the Tig Ripley series from Sleeping Bear.


Post a Comment