Had a buddy of mine several years ago who took a trip to New York City. He saw all the sights, did all the checklist stuff. But the story that got the most attention when he returned wasn’t about what worked out, but what didn’t work out. But in a good way.
He bought a Rolex from a guy on the street. Yup. And when he got home he was smiling about it. And we were laughing about it. Because he knew it was a fake before he bought it. Paid five bucks for it knowing it wouldn’t work.
Buying a Rolex from a guy on the street, especially if it’s in NYC, is a story. A legend. Someone a long while back bought that first innard-less Rolex, bad for him, good for us storytellers. If my friend had returned from New York with a fully-functioning Rolex, would we care? Nope. But a defective Rolex? Storytime.
Now, I didn’t go to New York, and I didn’t buy a busted Rolex. I did, however, find a pair of X-Ray Specs at our local Goodwill. Remember them? Used to see them advertised in comic books when we were kids, along with all the other kid stuff. And yes, I sent off for a pair when I was a kid. And nope, they didn’t do what I thought they’d do. I couldn’t see through anything. All they did was make a translucent outline around whatever I was looking at. But just like the five dollar Rolex, it made for a good story.
True enough, like the first defective Rolex buyer, I didn’t think it was funny at the time, but it evolved. The story, that is. And like a shared memory, all of us who had bought the sea monkeys, or the throw-your-voice kit, or the plastic tri-color sheet that could turn your black-and-white set into a color TV, we told the stories, adding to them, embellishing them. So, yep, I had to buy them when I saw them at the Goodwill the other day.
And they work just as well as they did way back when.
Keep writing, friends.