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NAX: A story worth telling is happening all the time - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: A story worth telling is happening all the time

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Posted: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 12:00 am

I always liked the work of Tom T. Hall, the singer they call The Storyteller. I particularly liked the song that he wrote and performed titled “Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine.”

The man has a talent for observing what others would probably see as ordinary goings-on and turning them into words worth remembering.

But then I guess that’s not surprising because I’m kind of in the same business. No, I can’t sing a lick. And fitting lyrics to music would drive me crazy.

Like Hall, I’m a storyteller. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to churn almost 4,000 of these columns out over a 27-year period.

Once, while serving on jury duty, a fellow panel member introduced himself during a break and said he’d noticed how I was absorbing the atmosphere around me and appeared to be making mental notes of everything.

Me? Shoot, I just thought my mind was wandering because the lawyers were beginning to sound like the teacher that Charlie Brown always hears.

Then I realized he was right. Otherwise I wouldn’t still be telling the story about another time on jury duty when one of the lawyers, during the selection process, started to explain why he was limping. The prosecutor interrupted at that point and explained that he’d already heard the narration in another court proceeding and promptly finished the tale, saying that his adversary had stepped out for a cigarette and had accidentally blundered into his swimming pool while gazing at the stars.

The attorney promptly rebutted by saying, “I’d like to submit that I was sober as a judge when I did that.”

And the magistrate, without missing a beat, replied, “I didn’t know you drank that much.”

See, if I’d had my Charlie Brown earphones on, I’d have missed a great story that is worth retelling when the occasion presents itself.

Anyway, I feel fortunate to have been listening in a place like Odessa where characters have been in great supply during my tenure. A lot of them are gone now, which is a shame. But it makes it easier for me to tattle on them for their exploits without worrying about them getting mad at me.

But I tell on myself as well. It’s sort of embarrassing to recall that I lost my first Christmas bonus at this newspaper the night before I got it while playing in a blackjack game on the seventh floor of the Inn of the Golden West. But the shame of having to take that check to the bank and promptly turn the cash over to one of the attorneys in the game was a great life lesson for a greenhorn gambler. I’ve never made a wager without the money in hand to pay off if I lost since.

The only regret, I guess, is that Tom T. figured out a way to make a lot more money off his stories than I did off mine.

You think that thought could somehow be turned into a country song?

Odessa, TX

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