One of my contributions to social action through storytelling, which is the main reason I got into performance storytelling, is telling stories at rallies in support of social causes. I missed the Occupy Florida Atlantic University event, because I was busy doing a different form of social action—helping to give senior citizens a voice through storytelling. I rushed my students to the site of the rally and was so disappointed that it was over that I sat them down on nearby benches in the middle of campus and told them my variant of the folktale Elisa Pearmain and others call “Water, Not Wine.”
It seems that a man who had recently moved his family to a certain village wanted to throw a party for the movers and shakers of the community. He invited ten prominent men with the instructions that he would provide the food if each of them would bring a gallon jug of wine to pour into a huge communal vat.
On the night of the party, one of these wealthy men said to his wife as he was dressing, “I don’t know why I need to waste a gallon of wine for this thing. You know what? No one will notice if my gallon jug is full of water. That’s what I will bring. That way I’ll save my wine for another occasion.”
And this he did. He arrived at the party and quickly poured his gallon of water into the vat. When the men were seated at the table, the serving man ladled out each of them a cup from the communal mixture. Then they all lifted their glasses in honor of the host and took a large swallow of … water. Because, you see, each of the guests had had the same idea. Why not let someone else carry the load?
And this, my friends, is how a folktale can serve as a metaphor for the situation in our country. Too many of us bring to the table water, when we are asked to bring wine.
I had the pleasure of telling this story the day after I missed the rally to the Kiwanis group in Deerfield Beach, Florida. I ended by applauding the fact that there in that room were movers and shakers who did bring the wine, on a regular basis. They took in my words, I believe, as they never would have had I not dressed Naked Truth in Story. Which is another story, for another time.