A young fan, named Alex recently wrote to challenge me to a storytelling contest between me and his father! Here is my reply:
When I was a boy, my uncle used to visit us (in Chicago) from Los Angeles. He could not sing to save his life–he could not stay on tune–and he knew it, but still he loved to sing. I, on the other hand, was an excellent singer. As a gag, he used to challenge me to singing contests “for the championship in our family,” and my father would be the judge. I would sing, then my Uncle Julian would sing so badly that even he cracked up listening to himself. At the end he would turn and say to my father, “Now, who do you honestly think sang better?”
My father would say (I’m not sure how he kept a straight face while doing this), “I’m sorry Julian, but I think maybe Jim just barely edged you out again this time.”
Well, my uncle would pretend to protest, but in the end, he would just say, “Alright, but wait until next time.”
You reminded me of this.
I’m sorry, Alex, but I make it a policy never to enter such contests against someone’s father. I think a father (or maybe a mother) should always hold the family championship, and I am prepared to concede this contest to your dad. However, I hope I get to see you (and your family) the next time I am performing near your hometown, and I am happier than I can say to know that you and your family enjoy stories. Say hi to the family champ for me, please.
P.S. – I’ll bet you are a storyteller yourself too!