This is the first time I can ever remember asking Google what day it is. It was simple, really. I just typed in the question, “What day is it?” Google promptly told me it was Wednesday, May 20. I think I knew that, kind of. I usually put the date and all my events on my chalkboard in the morning. What time is Nannie’s Nursery School (online), what time is my ukulele class (online), what time is the seminar on Zelda Fitzgerald (online), and the list goes on. Never a dull moment, even in the wake of a pandemic.

Wednesday comes and I really do know it is Wednesday, kind of, but I am glad to be sure of it. (Yes, I could have read the date on the newspaper, but I shall blame all my weird actions on, yes, you got it, on the pandemic!)

So it is Wednesday, which means I am going to be involved in the Story Slam sponsored by Storytelling Arts of Indiana, tonight at 7. As a storyteller/performer, it has been slim pickings for the past two and a half months; actually more like null and void. I am truly so excited about this. I love story slams and poetry slams and everything about performing that puts the storyteller on edge in a contest of judges.

Ellen Munds, from Storytelling Arts, gave me the title early in the week, “It is to be about a pandemic dream or fantasy,” she says. Oh, I love the title and I get to work. As I always do, I pull out a clean legal pad and start working on my ideas. They flow like water, and I am gone, as is always the case, when working on a new idea or story. Time flies. The tablet is full and the only thing left to do is to choose, write and rehearse! This story is just to be five minutes. For every minute I go over, my score is deducted by one point. I will not go over. Cardinal rule number one for my speech students is always pay attention to time. Always.

I write my lovely, and I do mean lovely, story. It takes place in this house, of course. Well, why not? My house and I have bonded the past few months even more than usual, so here we are with my new story. Is it true? Hmm … true enough. It does not have to be true, does it? Ellen didn’t say that to me.

I plan my “costume” carefully. I adjust the light in my living room, aka parlor. I wear lip-gloss. (Yes, I have had many Zoom meetings this year, and I know how to set it all up!)

It is time for the slam, and I dial up Zoom. One by one other storytellers arrive. Most, if not all of them, are from Indianapolis. I am the odd man out from the metropolitan area of Angola! We are all greeted, and I feel so chatty. I love meeting new folks in real life or on Zoom. It is a bit harder to be chatty on Zoom — nevertheless, I try.

Lauren, the president of the board of Storytelling Arts, is the emcee. She is lovely and goes over the rules again. Then she says this must be a true story. “What?” I say to myself as I am listening. Mine is mostly true, a little embroidery here and there, but maybe it needs a bit of tweaking. One by one, the storytellers tell their pandemic tale. We do not know the line-up, which is good and bad. I smile. I clap. I do listen. All the while I am tweaking, tweaking in my brain. I am the last storyteller. Am I nervous? Well, of course I am. I tell my sweet story. I do love it. I watch my timer carefully so I do not go over the five minutes. (Five minutes!) I finish by 4 minutes and 40 seconds.

Now we wait for the judges to make their decisions and tally our scores. The moment arrives for the awarding of the prizes. I am happy to say I won second place. A young man won first for his pandemic dream of food. Yes, I loved that too.

My prize is a $25 gift certificate to Etsy. I am thrilled as that is the most money I have made in over two months.

There is another slam next month, and I have already signed up!

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola at the White Picket Gardens where you can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, teacher, writer, actress and a collector of front porch stories. She can be contacted at locketof time@aol.com.

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