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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Spars

Packed house at Griffo Distillery's "Celebrations!"

We weren't in the regular performance space, but we were provided a pretty large storage room. In spite of that, the audience packed themselves between enormous storage barrels and spilled out into the parking lot.

Kay DeMartini wove a hilarious story between the stories told by the audience members about her first celebration, her first bra. There were several moments that had the audience nearly falling out of their chairs, and my favorite was her description of her grandmother's brassiere, which completely swallowed a chair when she took it off and placed it there. I believe one of the lines was, "It had cups the size of bird's nests."

The theme, "Celebrations," was meant to honor all the July birthdays there seem to be. There are many July birthdays in my family, including my son, my niece, and my aunt, among others. My late best friend, Robert Fullerton, was a July birthday too. Many of the stories were about surprise birthdays, but there were also some unexpected stories. The winner for the evening was Jeff Hanson, who told a story about his daughter, whom he had convinced to create a vision board to help give her guidance. There were years when she was simply lost to him, but now, celebrating the other end of a rough few years, they have become close again. She is covered with tattoos, which serve the same function as the vision board he once tried to get his daughter to make and abide by. It was really touching, and very well told. 

A Sonoma Academy parent told a story about taking a wild boat ride. A man named Jan told a great story about leading someone to their surprise birthday party, only to find out the surprise party was for him as well. Laurie from the Do Tell Story Swap told an excellent story about a surprise birthday party at Chilis, where she was forced to drink Margaritas, eat spicy food, and wear a large hat, none of which she enjoyed in the least. 

I was the featured teller, which was an honor at an event with so many great tales. Kay had asked me to tell the story about the old man in the jungle whose only words of English were, "Hello, I love you." Thankfully not everyone in the audience had heard it before. 

My real reason to celebrate was the presence of two of my former students, Sally and Hannah. They had graduated in 2009, which meant I had had them as freshmen fourteen years ago. As they approached me, I was struck by how elegant the two of them were, and then they confidently looked me in the eye and told me who they were. They didn't stand in front of me awkwardly and expect me to remember, which does happen more than it should. I was immediately taken back to the time when they were fourteen years old, even though they were standing before me as two mature, sophisticated professionals living in San Francisco. We had the most natural, enjoyable, hilarious conversation. I lost myself in memories I had shared with them... teachers, other students, school van rides. I completely forgot that I was performing, and then, when I took the stage, I was so proud to be able to mention to the audience that they were there in the back. 

The proceeds for the show went to a wonderful organization COTS that helps the homeless.

Long Story Short:Celebrations! at Griffo Distillery & Tasting Bar, July 12, 2019


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