It was pretty entertaining what crawled out of the wreckage tonight.
Secretly Y'All, Tell Me a Story's theme this month was "wreckage," and who among us doesn't like to hear about the shambles of other people's lives?
I'll freely admit to being an audio voyeur of the highest order.
The evening began with a long-time friend, Glynn, telling her story of "Wreckage I" about her Dad, a star athlete who lettered in four sports.
She even brought one of his letters. How cool is that?
He went on to fly planes and in 1936, there was a crash into another plane (not his fault), a failed parachute, a crash landing, and eventually two strokes.
The beauty of the story came when she told of accompanying her Dad to his high school reunion years later when the stroke impaired his ability to speak.
His first order of business was to go up to some of his fellow Japanese students and with a nod to Glynn, say, "Tell them."
She understood and apologized to them for the interments and land grabbing done by the U.S. government.
His next "Tell them," had her explaining to fellow students what had happened to him to bring him from Big Man on Campus to the man he was now.
That business over, he turned to her and said, "Now let's blow this pop stand."
Glynn is a consummate storyteller and her closer knocked the socks off the audience.
Next up was Les, telling about an attempt at a trip to NYC by him and two army buddies in 1960 for some R & R.
A failing generator caused their Hudson to die in Dawn, again in Washington and right at the start of the cherry blossom parade before an 18-hour trip home.
Not very restful or recreational.
Dave Brockie of GWAR went next and I'd heard from one of the organizers that he'd said he had a story to tell as far back as the very first Secretly Y'All and was just now getting on stage.
His tale of a misspent youth in the Zero Rat Race Messers gang involved setting baby dolls on fire.
When he admitted, "So we graduated to lighting a whole house on fire," he followed with, "I'm getting smiles and I'm getting frowns."
I guess it depends on whose house you're torching.
Wendy's story was "How I Lost My Fear of the Dark," and involved "doing the things unsupervised kids do," always a scary subject.
With a brother doing his best to scare her to death on a daily basis, she ended up being terrorized by her right arm.
Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.
We heard John's saga of "Me and the Canoe," which began at Pocahontas camp at father/son day.
"Dad's experience with canoes was riding the subway," he deadpanned. "And my Dad had an afro and none of the other dads had afros."
One of his funniest observations was, "EST is the way baby boomers rationalize being really self-absorbed."
When he ran out of time, he finished with, "Thank you. That's half of my canoe story."
But that's the way Secretly Y'All rolls.
You get five to seven minutes to tell a story and then the metaphorical hook comes out and pulls you offstage.
I also knew the next storyteller, Pinson, a talented drummer I've seen many times.
His story was "I Once was Lost but Now I'm Found" and told the story of his Cambodian father's (same name, too) time in the Cambodian navy.
When the Kmher Rouge began taking over, his father presciently converted most of his paychecks into gold sheets.
Laughing, Pinson said, "That's some weirdo Pinson Sr. shit," saying that it wouldn't have occurred to most people to do the same.
His father stored the gold in the cuff of his black jean jacket, wearing it non-stop from then on.
Pinson Sr. eventually escaped on a Kmher Rouge boat, going non-stop for hours to make it to safety (he thought) in Thailand.
He told Pinson it was the most psychedelic moments of his life.
And that's why I go to Secretly Y'All, folks.
I could have gone my whole life without hearing a Kmher Rouge story from someone whose father lived it.
Now I don't have to.
During the intermission, eager storytellers put their names in a hat for their chance to share wreckage tales.
First up was Herschel and his memories of a corpse bride were tragic and heartfelt.
"She taught me a fear of pipes, alleys and grates," he said.
Truth is, not every one can tell a story about a friend dying.
Clay told of being raised on twelve acres in Beaverdam by a Baptist preacher who punished him by making him build things.
Things like stone walls and split rail fences.
It got funny when he told of forging his mother's name so he could go to Skateland after she said no.
Needless to say, she found out and he had to build a woodshed. At ten years old.
"By the way, it was totally worth it because I got to hold a girl's hand for the first time," he said.
Despite the hard lessons learned (and almost cutting off a few fingers sawing), he concluded by saying he was grateful for his childhood because, "I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in my circle of friends who can build anything besides a sculpture."
Now there's a positive take on a strict upbringing.
As he left the stage, organizer and emcee Colin joked, "You know, Jesus was a carpenter, Clay."
Laughs abounded tonight.
Karen began by saying, "This is when the drunk people get up and tell stories."
Hers was about an alcoholic father, a family vacation in Florida and her Dad deciding to pee in an orange juice bottle as they drove up I-95.
Being a tightwad, he first made his son drink the juice which the son took delight in doing very slowly.
Gayle began by saying, "Is Glynn still here? No? Good because it takes chutzpah to get up on this stage after her story."
Amen to that, brother.
His tale of working at an ad agency and trying to save a client was a lesson in doing your homework first.
Kids in Germany and Holland are not raised seeing "The Wizard of Oz," he learned the hard way,
I also knew the last storyteller Steven, a filmmaker, from his days with Project Resolution.
Tonight's story was about growing his career while his parents' marriage disintegrated and his family home was sold.
All the while, he kept telling himself that his film work, which was significant, was what was important.
He worked with Daniel Day Lewis and James Woods, after all.
"I'm being called the wrong name by the someone on 'Arrested Development,'" he said as proof of how his career was on track.
But it was when, "I'm being tickled by a two-time Oscar winner because he liked to hear me laugh," he said, that he realized, "I wanna go home now."
Something about having no real home had finally gotten to him.
"Where do I go when I don't want fingers in my chest hair?" he pondered.
Wreckage is as wreckage does, I always say.
At least, that's what I say after a thoroughly fascinating night of hearing bits of other people's lives.
Secretly, y'all, I'm all ears.