Show & Tell – The Understory and Next Theme

Here’s Rob McRay’s understory from our May 2017 night “Show & Tell”

Tonight, Class, we had “Show and Tell.”

We showed a metal lizard that almost changed our life…until an encounter at Dead Man’s Tree revealed it was not gold—and we were a doofus.

We showed little Sarah with the frayed edges, the only one we trusted when Angie left. And years later, when he also left, we curled up again by our lifelong best friend.47-Show and Tell

We showed our hands that bounced her while we walked miles and miles, and that shook her bottle and beat her back…and raged at God. But they also showed her every day that she was loved.

We showed a black flag which we discovered after beer with Hungarian metal heads and kissing border guards and a subway ride to Ost-Berlin—where we learned that lonely figures are trapped between the armies.

We showed Beulah’s aging scrapbook, and told of Mom’s scrapbook full of boy pictures, and our own scrapbook with a “love-a-lint campaign.” And we are destined by the stars to be the keeper of the memories.

We showed our Turkish “football” jersey which we purchased from peddlers like flies on a dog turd. And we found the value of Caucasian Drivers Licenses and a Tennessee Drinking Licenses.

We showed a piece of Duplo and remembered Julie, and signing number songs and the biology of flies—and fleeing the torture. We have lost her, and found ourselves…and we don’t know how it ends.

We shared her perfect horse skull—which we found in the deafening hum of a slave cemetary, having become one with the land. She was present at bonfires, and presided at ordinations, and still whispers of the seasons to come.

We showed the food bowl that once belonged to a spherical mass of angelic fur—the “rabbit of the Andes”—whose birthday had been spoiled by a dead orphan bunny and our misunderstanding of the point of our ethics exam.

That was tonight’s “Show and Tell.”

Thanks to Wendell, Christy, Jeannie, Jordan, Amber, Irene, Caren, J.W., and Evert for your stories! Our next night is June 26 in partnership with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Got a story? Let us know here!

48-People Move

Show and Tell – The Understory and Next Theme

Rob McRay delivers another excellent understory at April 2016’s theme “Show and Tell.” 

Tonight, Nashville, we had “Show and Tell.”

33-ShowandTellWe learned what happens when a radioactive Southern girl goes through TSA with fresh fruit, mysterious powder, and explosive perfume…and almost gets engaged.

We learned about providing a home for abandoned cats and rescued kittens, even though they clutter your house with toys and make you sneeze.

We learned about pieces of the Titanic on late night TV, in worldwide museums, and in a genuine, authenticated, 100% pure plastic locket.

We learned about listening to cool sounds…and murmurs…and making hard choices…and unplugging machines…and watching the lines go flat.

We learned about hiking in some foreign land at some unknown point in time, and about ironic dog collars, and marking territories—which may or may not be useful information.

We learned about bizarre students at a hippie school gambling illegally on a boxing exhibition between Boom Boom and the Quickness.

We learned about misogynist snake-handlers, and boas in our hair, and metaphorical life-threatening serpents…and venomous systems that keep breathing in our ears.

We learned that you can’t make a short-wave radio out of a toy jumbo jet—no matter what an idiot with a flaming crew cut tells you.

We learned about stressful election nights, and frantic newsrooms, and the pride of earning a pith helmet from a masterful editor, whose bear hugs we will miss.

That was our “Show and Tell.”

Our next night of true stories at Tenx9 will be May 23. Our theme is “LOL.” Got a funny story about your life? Let us know here.

Kristen Chapman Gibbons – Show and Tell

Enjoy this story from Tenx9 regular Kristen Chapman Gibbons at May’s event “Show and Tell.”


Taking Steps: The Story of how an Iranian Feminist Pushed Me to Take Back My Life

Big Blue Dot Y'all

This video is from the latest Tenx9 Nashville storytelling event. This was our first time at Douglas Corner Cafe and the topic was “Show and Tell.” You can find more information here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Big thanks to my fellow storytellers and to our hosts Michael McRay and Cary Gibson.


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Show and Tell – The Understory

Cary Gibson, co-host of Tenx9, strikes again with another lovely story summarizing the 9 stories from May’s theme “Show and Tell.” Enjoy. 


Show and Tell.
9 objects tell 9 stories & meet to become one story.

Winning feels really good. But I am not a winner. The object of this story is not me. I’m running through the woods with this flag I captured – a red bandana – covered in another scout’s pee, and it’s the best feeling in the world. And I earned it. Oh, this guy? This toy monkey has traveled the world. Technically, illegal – he’s like a crushed nut shell mule. He once danced for Bono. With much gravitas I might add and to the rock star’s great amusement. I tried not to fan girl. One day he might dance for you. But let me tell you about the time I forgot I had a sister. To be fair, I had been in a coma and was recovering from a traumatic brain injury. This photograph of me and my family told me the story of her. And the people that loved me – the story of me. And I healed. Then on my first day as a teacher, when they handed me this bunch of keys to a school filled with students burdened by social disadvantage, I was overwhelmed and scared. But, by year’s end, this was not the class I’d started with. And I was not the teacher they started with. They changed me. I am better because of those kids – a better teacher, a better person. By the way, did you know that “A church alive is worth the drive”? You do now. Going to that kind of church meant in high school I had to read Harry Potter in secret. Because: witchcraft. One night in college I skeptically joined my roommates in purging everything Harry Potter we owned: holy ghost relief for demonic headaches. But like a thief in the night, I crept out to the trash can & I saved Harry Potter. Not just mine. Their entire stash. Which is how I came to own this DVD. While teaching philosophy and critical thinking, I let a surgeon who wouldn’t listen leave me in chronic pain, unable to walk and dependent on narcotics. An Iranian feminist doctor told me I needed to take control of my narrative. So I did. Which is how I walked over the finish line of the Nashville AIDS Walk in support of my HIV+ friends. It meant I hadn’t died. I had survived. I was more than the sum of my parts. I have this t-shirt to prove it. Let me tell you how my mother used to embroider messages on her clothes but also write words of inspiration in books to give away to other military families like ours. Words to make you think, to warm your day and lift your spirit. Those words were seeds. Crushed at the loss of my teenage dream, my mother gave me her words – a seed of love & inspiration. She gave me my sister too. And then my mother was gone. But that seed? I didn’t let it go. And like my tiny sister, it lived and grew. Something you should know about my parents is that they never talked about their relationship. I knew the dates and facts of their narrative. But not the truth. As a child, the truth of my world existed around me, unseen. Years later, I have fragments of the truth. Like a sweetheart’s letter. What really happened, of how my family came to be, is something I’m still not ready to tell. But now let me take you back to high school. After two years of wearing braces, I felt free as I clutched onto my expensive new retainer. With my new braces-free smile even the cheerleaders found me cute. I was confident. I became Mr. Comedy. Until at the height of my popularity, I lost my retainer in the cafeteria trash. I went from the object of admiration to the butt of the joke. But knee deep in trash, looking for my lost retainer, I found a new friend.