Thanks to this little job of my mine, I am honored to receive cards and letters from all over this great nation of ours—even some from around the world. They all bear the same message: “Please stop writing.”
Friends, it’s not that simple. Storytelling is mankind’s oldest impulse. Well, before storytelling there was probably “The sky-gods are making boom-boom. Let’s run inside this cave.” Then “I’m biggest, so I’m in charge.” And “My loins are commanding me to do strange things I don’t understand.” Also “I could really go for some raw meat right now. Who else is up for some raw meat?” Or “Hey, this old dude isn’t pulling his weight. Let’s leave him to die under this scrawny tree.” Plus “Look, I am going to pee on all this stuff around here and if anybody crosses this line I’m going to conk him on the noggin with a rock. This is my stuff, get it?” And finally “All right, who wants to hear a story?” And everybody was like, “Me! Me!” So storytelling is, like, our seventh oldest impulse? Anyway, it’s way up there.
I suppose we think we’ve “evolved” since those days. I suppose we think we’re above all that, living in our air-conditioned skyscrapers with our martinis and shoes. I suppose we think we’re hot to trot. I suppose just because we drape some delicate cloth on our wieners that makes us better than cavemen. Maybe the cavemen had the right idea—did you ever think of that? You’ll never see a caveman waiting for an elevator like he thinks he’s so great. Look at us, going around with our noses stuck up in the air and our precious briefcases filled with important documents and our shiny hair with some kind of expensive gelatin product plastering it down and our butts poking out and our starched underpants and our chests swelled with false pride and our feet splayed in an attitude of arrogance and a hanky drenched in lavender pressed to our sensitive nostrils and our ear whiskers oh-so-carefully plucked and our cheeks ruddy with the effects of a secret afternoon drink and our eyes kind of half-closed with superiority. Oh boy, I hate us so much!
Yet if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we can’t deny that stories remain an essential part of our lives. From the old cowboy campfires where calloused heroes spun tall tales of bucking broncos (whatever those are; I assume it’s something sexual), to our modern made-for-TV movies set in your suburban neighborhood, all about your friend Millie who seems so nice but secretly she is a psycho who is poisoning you bit by bit so she can steal your husband, our hankering for stories has never abated.
Now, I’m just a simple country boy at heart, and certainly no big science expert with a fancy degree, but I reckon I’ve spent a mite more time than some of these city fellas just communing with our little buddies in the world of bugs and nature, and it may surprise and delight you to learn that there are stories all around us, borne even on the fragrant breeze of dusk.
Do you know what a bee does when he runs across a field of especially nice flowers? Well, sir, he hightails it right back to the old hive, that’s what, and he does himself a funny little bee-size dance that gives all his bee friends the skinny.
That’s Mr. Bee’s way of telling a story.
And I’m sure there’s some bee who was doing a little dance one day and the other bees were like, “What? I don’t get it. Where exactly are the flowers? We want to make some honey out of the flowers, or whatever it is we do— something involving nectar or pollination or whatever. You know, what bees do.”
And the first bee said, “No, this isn’t that kind of dance. I’m just making this one up. I’m just expressing myself. I’m sick and tired of telling you where the flowers are. Everything’s not about flowers and honey all the time. I contain universes within me!”
And I guess all the other bees probably got together and murdered that one bee.